Why SMEs Should Use Direct Response Marketing

As a nation, us Brits have always been very creative.


Whether that’s the incredible inventions that have come out of these tiny islands or the creativity of our marketing and advertising.


I always cringe when I see ads on TV that have been created for other European markets and then used here.


 They’re just so cheesy.


Think of the Ferrero Rocher ad. Creative, it’s not.


There’s a great Armstrong and Miller sketch where a group of marketing people get stranded on a desert island.


They need to create a message to get themselves rescued – HELP or SOS would be the obvious thing.


But no, that’s not creative enough for them. That’s tired and lacking imagination, so they spend hours brainstorming and “blue sky thinking” to come up with something original.


The end result is that their creativity stops their message from being understood by planes flying over which means they don’t get rescued.


Genuinely funny and not a million miles away from the truth. I used to be a director of a marketing agency in Central London and it used to drive me mad when creativity got in the way of the message.

Marketing Minds

Now back to the desert island – those guys had one job and one job only – for their message to attract attention and to stimulate a response which is exactly the same as the job your marketing has to do.


You see, as SMEs, we have to use direct response marketing. The target audience is attracted by the message and driven to take action.


Brand awareness isn’t what we’re looking for. You can’t pay the bills with brand awareness.


Big corporates with huge budgets can worry about brand awareness.


Us SMEs want sales and we want them now.


For every pound we spend on marketing, we want a return of £2 or £3 and we want it in our bank accounts asap.


Whether you’re talking about an ad online or in traditional media or a direct mail letter or an email or whatever, each part of the communication has a specific role to play:


  • The headline has to grab attention and persuade people to engage with the ad
  • The opening text has to identify the problem your readers are suffering from and draw them into the body copy.
  • The main text has to show how what you offer is the right solution
  • The special offer has to provide the motivation to take action
  • The time limit on the special offer has to make them take action now
  • The call to action tells them exactly what to do
  • The PS has to remind them of the key message


Now I’m not saying that creativity is wrong. I love creativity, it’s just that tried and tested will give you reliable and predictable success.


If you want me to prove it for you, give me a project and I’ll show you how it’s done.

So get in touch by emailing me on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk, calling 01483 200387 or contact me via the website www.marketingsurrey.co.uk and we’ll get some direct response marketing generating sales for you.

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Comparing Traditional and Digital Marketing

The purpose of the article is to look at and comparing traditional and digital marketing and assess which is most appropriate for small businesses in 2016.

If you look through the local paper there will be loads of advertisements for local businesses but the question I always wonder about is how successful are they?

I say this as most of them are what you would call “brand adverts”.

That is they are advertising their name and probably what they do but little else. There’s no special offer, no benefits and no call to action.

What they’re trying to do is to get their name out there – to build brand awareness.

So what’s wrong with that – isn’t that what all the big companies do?

Well yes it is, but big companies have the benefit of people already knowing what they do and what they stand for.

Small businesses, like yours and mine, should be doing direct response marketing. Marketing that makes targeted special offers within a limited time frame and demands action.

To illustrate what I’m talking about I’m going to take a completely hypothetical example which I’ve just made up involving two local bakeries, who will fight it out on your local high street in the run up to Easter in a couple of months time.

“Cracking Cakes” goes the standard route of building brand awareness while “Simply Brilliant Bread” decides to go down the direct response route.

So this is what happens……………

“Cracking Cakes” decides to run a series of ads on the local radio and to take a series of quarter page ads in the local paper.

The ads look nice and pretty and talk about the wonderful smell of fresh baked bread and cakes, how good it is to know where your food comes from and how you should feel warm and fuzzy for supporting your local retailer.

However the ads say nothing about particular products and give no specific reason why anyone should buy from them in the run up to Easter.

Now the people in “Simply Brilliant Bread” take a very different approach.

They create a special seasonal product – a hamper filled with lots of festive products and then they create a digital campaign to support it.

They start by creating a web page featuring the hamper. Also on the page is a free download featuring several festive baking recipes.

To drive people to the sign up page, they create some banner ads and then some re-marketing ads which they target to local people.

They also do some Facebook advertising, tightly targeted at their key demographic of 30 – 60 year old mums.

They support this activity by emailing their database, telling them all about the special offer, with its cut off date shortly before Easter and then another series of emails, this time pushing the free baking recipes.

So there you have it – two very different campaigns.

So who makes the most money?

 “Cracking Cakes” will probably have generated a little extra business – a few people might have been motivated to go there just by being reminded of their existence but they haven’t given them any reason to take action and a lot of their spend will have been wasted on people not in their target audience .

“Simply Brilliant Bread” have been pretty clever.

They’ve targeted their audience precisely in a way which will avoid wastage, they’ve made them a seasonally relevant special offer with a built in cut off date and their messages have been delivered by extremely cost effective mechanisms.

So I hope you can see why this kind of business should avoid brand advertising and focus on direct response. Now this doesn’t in any way mean that I think all traditional forms of marketing no longer work. Direct mail, for example, probably works better now than ever.

Traditional advertising always had its drawbacks and nowadays there are so many better options than advertising.

If you want to see what direct response marketing can do for your own business get in touch by emailing me on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk , calling me on 01483 200387.