I’m going to break an important rule of direct response advertising to get right to the point. I have a confession to make. I am addicted to the roller-coaster ride of a career in direct marketing…a dog-eat-dog business that provides a real challenge to me and to you.
Why is direct response advertising so addictive to many of us? Psychologists say it’s because of the principle of intermittent reinforcement. In our business, test after failed test is punctuated by success so joyful, you can’t stop coming back for more. If you win every time or at the same consistency, psychologists say, you wouldn’t actually feel the same excitement and reward from your successes.
I embrace this theory of intermittent reinforcement. It explains why the direct response radio business is one of my favorite Marketing Architects capabilities. After years in the catalog, direct mail, database, print and television businesses, my greatest challenge by far has been my last 17 years in the DR radio business.
I believe making radio work for direct marketers is the most difficult challenge in direct response advertising. Just spend five minutes with one of the hundreds of direct marketing veterans who have tested radio and failed. You’ll find countless stories of mass frustration and dashed expectations. But that is precisely why I took on the challenge of making radio successful.
After 17 years in direct response radio, I’ve learned that if you want radio to work, you better find a brilliant soft offer. There are no easy one-step sales in this channel. Your salesmanship in your call center, on your website and in your collateral material better be rock-solid.
I recommend the following tips:
• Use a quality toll-free number.
• Don’t focus on weekends.
• Be open to all formats.
• Start on a Monday.
• Limit frequency of airing (I’m serious).
• Produce your creative around a single, unique selling proposition.
• Hammer your benefits home to listeners.
• Be clear and concise in your copy.
• Don’t skimp on voice talent.
• Have enough margin ($100+) in your product.
These elements are shared by almost all successful radio campaigns,and they are key ingredients of the supreme secret of success in direct response radio advertising.
However, just when the mystery of DR radio seems to be unfolding before my eyes, I realize that in the business of direct response, good results are never good enough. Clients continually push the bar higher. The mythical finish line keeps moving forward.
Should you consider the radio channel? You’ll probably never be famous there. The work to achieve success is harder. But remember why the psychologists think you are in this business in the first place: to reap the rewards of achieving success in a business that gives up success so intermittently and so sparingly.This article originally appeared in Electronic Retailer