There are many ways to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing messages…and while it is sacrilegious for a serial direct marketer to put marketing material (sales letters, email, display ads, Facebook ads) out into the marketplace simply “hoping and praying for responses,” without measurement, it happens all the time.
Sometimes it’s due to irresponsibility. Hard to justify that.
But sometimes it can be intentional, and dare I say, it can be justified.
And I’m here to tell you today that it’s OK as long as you have your eye on the prize…which always involves getting paid back…and not always with money.
In direct response marketing we were all taught at a young age (I hope) that every piece of promotion in every medium, has to “pay out” eventually.
It can be immediately, in 6 months or even in a year or two, depending on how much cash you have on hand for investment in new customers, how many products you have on the back end and/or if you have repeat business (e.g. renewals).
My term for this was “the bogey” which I learned from the legendary Dick Benson, the smartest man who ever practiced (and taught) the art and science of direct mail.
I drill down on this concept extensively in Overdeliver which is something that was drilled into my head by Benson.
If you never heard of him you can read, Don’t be afraid of “The Bogey Man.”
Or you can grab a PDF of his classic book, Secrets of Successful Direct Mail, at www.OverdeliverBook.com (along with 10 other priceless bonuses). It’s #10 of 11 on that page.
However, even with all that drilling into my head (and then in turn, doing the same to my readers), I have learned a lot making the transition from offline to online marketing.
I have, in a way, turned the bogey on its head…without violating completely (I hope!) the essence of direct (measureable) marketing.
This is not an easy task, mind you, with all of that drilling going on…it’s more than a little noisy.
Being a skilled offline marketer who has explored, tested, and been taught by the masters in the world of email (and other online media), has given me license, I believe, to violate that holy grail of direct marketing (i.e. to only play in media that pays).
I presume that Benson would need a more plausible explanation than that…which I will attempt to explain today.
It’s important since if I am unsuccessful with this explanation, my fear is that he will rise from the dead with a chainsaw replacing his drill. Although I guess he could kill me with the drill as well. ☺
The idea of “everything (i.e. any medium) paying out” online can take on new meaning when patience enters into the equation…along with inexpensive media…and a goal of getting rich slowly rather than getting to a pot of gold immediately.
Here’s that new online equation:
PATIENCE + LESS EXPENSIVE MEDIA = GETTING RICH SLOWLY (i.e. LONG TERM WEALTH)
In the past, with offline (e.g. direct mail), we were forced into patience due to expensive media.
We had to be more precise and disciplined because of the additional costs of printing and postage.
You can’t simply hit “send” and hope for the best when you’re paying upwards of $500 per thousand pieces mailed on a million piece mailing.
And that doesn’t include the cost-of-goods sold (i.e. your product) since we weren’t selling digital products but rather physical products.
Direct mail was not only expensive media but it was slow media (in terms of getting the mail out the door, receiving responses, reading responses and making determinations on what worked and what didn’t).
All of that takes time…and patience.
I know. Poor us.
You folks who market online only can send promotions, receive responses and read responses in 6 hours rather than 6 months (the time it took to do the same in the horse and buggy days).
So why would I want to be patient when the media is less expensive online (when I don’t have to be)?
What is there to be patient about today? And why do it?
When I looked at the price of admission using online media vs. direct mail I was bright-eyed (and my tail was bushy too).
It was more than a little refreshing to see the calculation changing significantly when the post office is not involved…and neither is a friendly printer.
I was, however, at the time, intrigued by the claim (i.e. rumor and soon to be urban legend, circa 1999) that I checked the history on Snopes:
Claim: The U.S. Postal Service is going to impose a 5¢ surcharge on every e-mail message sent via the Internet.
That would have changed things significantly, no? ☺
Anyway, it’s easy to be sold on cheap media…and with no need to be a patient marketer.
Of course that is no reason to be sloppy with your marketing messages regardless of medium…which is the thesis of Why paying postage made me a better marketer.
Online, especially with email, getting rich slowly has become a rallying cry for some (me included)…but I don’t think we are the majority.
However, recklessness doesn’t necessarily have to be synonymous for the norm.
I received an email yesterday from one of you in my online family, with the subject line:
I Really Appreciate Your Email Style!
I had no idea what he was going to say.
I was a little surprised, yet gratified, by what he said; and it supports my premise of “patient marketing” online:
I just avoided getting into a long circular argument with strangers about Email vs Social Media Marketing thanks to you. I find that your selling style has a soul. You don’t sell anything, yet I buy everything you sell. Go figure. Literally, I have bought everything you sell except for Titans Xcelerator which I have to save up for. Thanks for your content, it’s like Gary Halbert Newsletter 2.0.
What struck me here was
- That my content is meaningful to him.
- He buys despite the fact that I sell patiently.
- That I even have a “selling style” (since these blogs are all about content with references to the educational products I sell). I didn’t know that was a “selling style.”
- The comparison to Gary Halbert—a master copywriter who I can’t hold a candle to—made my day.
- The Gary Halbert Letter, now that I think about it, was a more patient approach than the direct mail he wrote (see below). Of course he used a more “impatient” approach when attracting new customers which ended up being some of the greatest direct mail of all time…and I am flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence as him.
Getting rich quickly is possible if you change the equation to:
IMPULSIVE MARKETING + LESS EXPENSIVE MEDIA = GETTING RICH QUICKLY (i.e. SHORT TERM CASH)
However, Halbert did this with the most expensive medium, direct mail.
Equations don’t always add up I guess.
And I rest my case about his copywriting prowess.
What I really want to say though is that both equations are valid as marketing philosophies…and there is praise for both and no criticism for either.
As long as you know what you are doing in either case…and you do it with integrity.
Since the subtitle of Overdeliver (and the subtitle of my life as well) is, Build a Business for a Lifetime Playing the Long Game in Direct Response Marketing, I guess you know which equation I live by.
But I am well aware that I leave a lot of money on the table with no guarantee of ever recouping that…which I am OK with…because I know what I am doing, I like the way I do it. No regrets.
The email from that family member above is a reason why I am OK with selling this way and his email is not a one-off…I get that sentiment a lot (at least my first bullet that my content was meaningful to him).
I also get emails from buyers of the books I sell and members of the mastermind groups I host telling me that they’ve been on my list for years and finally “bought something from me.”
If they never bought anything but open my email every Sunday and get value, that’s also OK with me…kind of like my “top tier freeloaders.” ☺
When they are ready, I am waiting for them and ready to help; if they are never ready, that’s fine too.
Regardless, all are part of the ROI on these blogs…I get rich from emails like the one above, and others too, even without a purchase.
And one bought everything and another bought one thing–over three years–which is all gravy.
Note that I am not a non-profit operation so purchases are still very valuable…they keep the lights on.
But that’s not the first thing I think about when I flick on the light switch in my office every morning.
It is about serendipitous ROI…the money comes when it comes, from people who I sell to and people I don’t sell to… and it is always the direct result of a labor of love.
Since my “long game” has spanned 40 years, and I am “very rich” (by a standard where money is only one piece of the puzzle), I’ve got some testing behind me that proves this email style works…and “person to person, phone, pony express style B.E.” (Before Email) works too.
Maybe I’m not the “most rich I can be” (adding money into it)…but I remember my mentor Marty Edelston saying to me (and note that he was very wealthy in all ways including money):
“I can only eat three meals a day, drive one car at a time, and sleep in one bed at night.”
For me, patience plus inexpensive media gave me a new opportunity to live by another quote, attributed to no one I could find so I will temporarily take credit for it (until proven otherwise):
“Customers refund transactions, not relationships”
The relationships you create through “patient marketing” may not be better than the transactions you create by impulsive marketing (based on how you calculate “better” and also measure ultimate success).
They do, however, seem to stick around longer.
And calculating relationships over transactions may also not directly correlate to a return on investment immediately (or for a very long time)…especially if it’s only cash you are looking for to become rich.
But whether you are playing a game of transactions, relationships or a combination of both, playing a “lifetime bogey” is always your best bet.
P.S. Last week I told you about 6 legendary “Mad Men” of advertising, who looked like general advertisers but they were actually direct marketers disguised in general advertiser’s bodies.
They were committed to accountable advertising during a time when it was not fashionable.
This week’s post shattered a bit of that commitment to measurable advertising with a different spin…so to get back to reality, here is last week’s 10 minute video to get you back on track (in case you missed it):
Some people thought the post and video combined for a good “pep talk,” others thought it was chock full of solid fundamentals.
However, one of your fellow family members was very observant noting that it was solid–but that the video was more than 10 minutes.
Guilty as charged! It is 13 minutes…including an intro from Joe Polish.
Please don’t ignore it because it looks like I deceived you…and please don’t hold it against me! 🙂