Top 3 Questions I Hear About Direct Marketing

Clients and friends who are traditional marketers often seek my advice on direct response. Here are the answers to the three questions I hear most frequently:

Unknown peopleTraditional marketer clients and friends often seek my advice on direct response. Here are the answers to the three questions I hear most frequently:

Question No. 1: What Kind of Response Rate Should I Expect?

There are response rate benchmark studies published by the DMA and others, usually organized by industry and type of offer (lead generation, free information, cash with order, etc.). These reports can provide you with some guidance in setting your expectations, but they can just as easily lead you astray. How? If you’ve seen one campaign, you’ve seen just that: one. But some marketers fall into the trap of applying previous results to various campaigns.

Your response rate is driven by three factors, listed here in order or importance:

  • Media: If you don’t get your message in front of the right people, your response will suffer. It is the single most important driver of response, so choose wisely.
  • Offer: What’s your value proposition to the prospect? Simply stated, your offer says, “Here’s what I want you to do, and here’s what you’re going to get when you do it.” If your offer is not appealing or relevant to the prospect, the response — or lack thereof — will reflect that. Also, keep in mind that soft offers, which require little commitment on the part of the prospect (e.g., get free information, download a whitepaper, etc.), will generate a higher response than hard offers, which require a greater commitment (request a demo, make an appointment with a sales rep, payment with order, etc.).
  • Creative: It’s hard for traditional advertisers to believe that this element is lower in importance than the first two, but it is. And the biggest driver of response from a creative standpoint is a clearly stated prominent call to action.

Question No. 2: We Have a Strong Campaign Coming Out of Market Research. My Client/Management Wants to Get This Out As Quickly As Possible. Why Do I Have to Test?

Three reasons:

  • You may have a well-researched creative position but it can be executed in a variety of different ways (see the third bullet under Question No. 1, above). Furthermore, your market research couldn’t predict the response rates from different media. But knowing whether email lists, websites or social media fare best for your audience and offer will be crucial to generating the highest response rate.
  • You want to be able to optimize the three factors above to determine which combination gives you the most qualified leads at the lowest cost per lead.
  • Most importantly, you want to avoid a potentially catastrophic result if you’ve gotten one of the three key elements wrong. It’s better to do that with a small quantity rather than a full-scale effort. It’s always disconcerting to hear people say, “We tried direct. It didn’t work.” Keep in mind that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen one. Previous successes and shortcomings won’t apply when you tweak the context.

Question No. 3. How Big Should My Test Be?

Your test should be large enough to produce statistically significant results. There are two parts to this: the confidence level of your results and the variation you’re willing to accept.

There are statistical formulas for calculating sample size, but a good rule of thumb to follow is that with 250 responses, you can be 90 percent confident that your results will vary no more than plus or minus 10 percent.

For example, if you test 25,000 emails and get a 1 percent response rate, that’s 250 responses. That means you can be 90 percent confident that (all things held equal) you will get between 0.9 percent and 1.1 percent in a rollout.

A smaller number of responses will result in a reduced confidence level or increased variance. For example, with a test size of 10,000 emails and a 1 percent response rate at a 90 percent confidence level, your variance would be 16 percent rather than 10 percent. That means you can be 90 percent confident that you’ll get between 0.84 percent and 1.16 percent response rate, with all things being held equal.

The 1 Simple Way to Sell via Your Webinar

Want to sell with your webinar? Actually go for the close at the end or generate an appointment for your reps to follow-up immediately? Stop wasting the audience’s time with blather about your speaker.

Want to sell with your webinar? Actually go for the close at the end or generate an appointment for your reps to follow-up immediately? Stop wasting the audience’s time with blather about your speaker.

Ok, it will take more I admit. The rest can be done by getting to the point fast and helping your buyer become attracted to the idea of talking more about the itch your speaker just scratched. Here’s a three-step process to getting that done.

You Have the Email but not a Lead
The word webinar itself has a negative connotation. At best it is something your prospects attend while they check email and put out any number of fires. You might argue, “Sure, Molander, but I have the prospects’ email.”

True. But you don’t have them on the way to becoming a lead. You blew it. How? By wasting every single moment from “go.”

It’s time for tough love about your Webinar and the lousy leads it’s sending to sales. Of course, I’ll also offer three simple steps to help produce Webinars that spark customers’ curiosity in what your solution can do for them.

No. 1: Avoid all Introductions Like the Plague
“I find the need to hear the presenters personal story for 10-20 minutes a huge turn off,” says sales coach, Iain Swanson of UK-based Kolzers. “In most cases I have literally switched off and missed the content of the call.”

Enough said. And let’s face it. You’ve probably done the same. Or perhaps you make it habit to join the webinar late in an effort to avoid the irrelevant blather.

This time-wasting tradition needs to stop. Right now. How? NO introductions.

Your potential buyer isn’t attending the webinar to hear about the backgrounds or experiences of the presenter. Nor what the sponsor does, for whom or how well.

They’re there for one reason: To take from you. They want as much as they can get, for free, as possible. Why? They’re human.

Let them take. Let them gorge.

Just structure the way you release the information. Copywrite it. Yes, copywrite it. Scripted? Yes but only for the pros. If you come off as canned you can kiss the leads goodbye.

Start by canning your introduction. Shock your audience by immediately getting to the point. They’ve already qualified the speaker. They’re there, after all.

Brighten their day. Surprise them. Make them think, “WOW, he/she just skipped the boring introduction stuff!”

This is how to sell using Webinars. Trust me, it works.

No. 2: Promise Viewers Something They Don’t Already Know—Then Deliver It Fast, Clearly
Start your webinar by telling prospects, “You’re about to hear information that you probably don’t already know.” Then, follow the Golden Rule of communication. What if prospects already know most of what you’re about to tell them?

You’ve designed the webinar to fail. Just like a whitepaper that looks sharp but is worthless, your Webinar must contain useful information and new know-how, tips or knowledge. If it does not contain enough new information you will not hold the audience.

Build in useful, actionable and fresh information and present it according to the Golden Rule:

  • Tell them what you’re about to tell them (the main insight, short-cut, better way or remedy)
  • Tell them the “better way” (at a high level, yet specific)
  • Tell them what you just told them (come back and remind of the main point)

This approach serves the most essential goal: Getting customers clear on your message. Without clarity your webinar will fail.

Remember the last time you were clear—really clear—on something? Remember how you felt?

Remember the sense of confidence that came with your “ah-ha moment?” You might also recall a feeling of wanting to know more—wanting to have more clarity, more confidence. That’s what we’re after.

That’s your webinar’s job: get buyers crystal clear, confident in themselves and trusting you.

No. 3: Help Them to Want to Know More
When is the last time you attended a Webinar and learned something new? Think about a time when the presenter gave you everything they promised they would at the beginning of the presentation—and more. Did you want more from them? Were you ready to act on that impulse?

Give your best insights, tips or warnings away. Give away all of your best knowledge. All of it.

“But, Jeff, giving prospects my best advice for FREE will help them to do it without me!”

Doubtful. Be careful to not confuse customers qualifying you with what you perceive as their purchase intent.

The act of looking for answers does not always translate to customers’ wanting to do what you charge money for themselves. Even when it does “signal” a customer’s desire to do it themselves, what customers want can change.

You want to be there when it changes.

Most importantly you need to create a craving, deep inside your prospects. A desire to know more details about your big claim, better way, short-cut or system.

The only way to get prospects hungry for more of you is to attract them to the idea of talking to you. Attraction takes a reliable, effective system.

The idea is to structure (copywrite) the content you release in a way that makes asking more questions irresistible to your attendees. Yes, questions can be answered in Q&A. That’s fine. This builds trust and creates more intense curiosity in you—a hunger for more of what you can offer.

But only if you are careful about how you answer those questions.

To get started, present the answers or solutions clearly but in ways that provokes prospects’ curiosity. Answer questions always creates more questions about the details (relating to what you sell).

To create this hunger:

  • Make your words specific, filled with integrity, true and useful
  • Be action-oriented (make your answer clear and easily acted on)
  • But be incomplete (make a credible answer yet leave out most of the details)

Tee-Up Your Call to Action
The idea is to create hunger for a short-cut at the end of your webinar. In other words, the goal of this three-step process is to get prospects hungry for a faster, easier way to get all the details you just spent 40 minutes talking about.

This faster, easier way can be:

  • a lead generation offer
  • your product/service.

The idea is to present content that helps customers begin to desire your lead generation offer. Or at least be primed for the idea of taking action on it.

Making the pitch for viewers to buy at the end of your webinar? Help viewers see buying your product/service as a logical next step in the journey you just started with them.

Using this three-step process transforms what you sell from “something I need to think about buying some day” into “the obvious next step I should take right now.”

Your fee or price tag becomes a logical investment that “feels right, right now.”

Good luck!

3 Ways to Waste Time on LinkedIn, but Feel Good About It

Ever feel like beating down all those bad tips for LinkedIn that we’ve all had enough of? You know, the tips and tricks that give us a week’s worth of satisfaction—followed by that sinking feeling. “Ugh… why did I invest any time in that?!” Well, today is your day to call out those time-wasters and discover what to do instead.

Ever feel like beating down all those bad tips for LinkedIn that we’ve had enough of? You know, the tips and tricks that give us a week’s worth of satisfaction—followed by that sinking feeling. “Ugh … why did I invest any time in that?!” Well, today is your day to call out those time-wasters and discover what to do instead.

No. 1: Share Quality Content Focused on Providing Value
“I have seen little (okay, I’m exaggerating) to no success using LinkedIn,” John Reeb of the Colorado Leadership Institute told me.

“I have tried to add value to anyone who reads what I post … so that they gain some kind of expertise or learning that helps them in their day-to-day work… yet I’ve receive virtually no feedback nor any sales from it,” Mr. Reeb told me in a candid LinkedIn exchange.

LinkedIn gurus claim being seen as an expert in your field is the killer strategy. But it’s not. It’s the reward for having an effective approach.

We’ve been told “share and they will come.” But merely sharing valuable content on LinkedIn won’t help you find clients. Instead, start bold, truthful discussions in LinkedIn Groups. Post updates on issues that competitors wouldn’t dare go near.

Give potential buyers a reason to listen to you, to care about your words-to pay attention to you. Tell the truths your competitors don’t want told. Tell the truths you’re a little scared to tell!

Ask yourself what shocking truth can you reveal that:

  • Gives insight on an idea customers never heard before.
  • Busts a myth your clients have been told is true—that isn’t!
  • Confirms their suspicion that some sellers are telling “white lies.”

Successful social selling often means helping prospects believe in a new, more useful point-of-view-in a way they can act on. That’s where your lead generation offer plugs in. In fact, what to post on LinkedIn updates isn’t nearly as important as how you post.

No. 2: Comment Frequently on Group Discussions and Prospects’ Updates
You can’t throw a cat without hitting an expert espousing this time-wasting tip. Let the truth finally be told. Participation on LinkedIn is the cost of entry. Learning how to apply social media copywriting is the force multiplier.

Success depends less on how frequently you update your profile status, how often you participate in Group discussions or what you say. You’ll get more responses (and leads) by investing time in structuring words to be provocative.

Instead of wasting time patting people on the back, disagree once in a while. Invent ways to make potential buyers curious about your ability to solve a problem, remedy a pain or fast-track a goal.

Don’t get caught up in the popular nonsense: show you’re human, give-give-give before you get and (my personal favorite) tell a good story. As with any relationship in life, having personality and being interesting is the entry fee. It’s essential. Makes sure you know how to write social media posts so they provoke a response.

The key to turning LinkedIn interactions into business leads is following a social media copywriting process.

At the highest level, this process involves:

  • Getting to the point immediately.
  • Having something honestly new (and useful) to say.
  • Not saying too much too fast. Being a little mysterious.

No. 3: Connect With Prospects
Perhaps the most dangerous tip is connecting with prospects you don’t know. Again, self-appointed gurus are the problem, not the good people (you) using LinkedIn.

Have you ever been banned by LinkedIn for requesting connections with prospects you don’t know? Know anyone who has?

Being temporarily banned by LinkedIn for this practice is very common. Yet we never read anything about it or hear anyone talking about this problem at conferences.

Fact: If your connection requests are not accepted often enough, LinkedIn will remove your ability to make requests.

LinkedIn prohibits contacting distant prospects. LinkedIn is not a good place to contact people whom you don’t have (at least) a second degree connection with, and whom you don’t have specific knowledge about.

If you have a new prospect—who you’ve never spoken to-it’s probably not a good idea to request a connection on LinkedIn (outside of an InMail message). That is, until you have better proximity to the prospect … better ability to approach once they know you or have a high probability of accepting the connection request.

From a practical view, here’s why: Because this is not what LinkedIn is intended for. It’s not what the founders built LinkedIn to do for sellers.

In fact, LinkedIn wasn’t originally built with “social selling” in mind. Just like Facebook wasn’t built for marketing.

That said, LinkedIn and social selling are evolving into a great match. In fact it’s the bedrock of their growth plan as a business. But be careful. Connecting with prospects is where a lot of sellers go wrong and pay the price!

Questions about any of my tips? Disagree with my perspective? Let me know. Good luck to you!

Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Blogging to Generate Leads

Blogging to generate leads can feel overwhelming. We’re being bombarded with “must dos” from content marketing experts who make it seem effortless. What’s their trick? It’s a practical, refreshing approach to blogging. Here are three pitfalls to avoid and a proven system to create leads. Let’s start with busting a popular myth: Blogging to generate leads demands LOTS of blog content.

Blogging to generate leads can feel overwhelming. We’re being bombarded with “must dos” from content marketing experts who make it seem effortless. What’s their trick? It’s a practical, refreshing approach to blogging. Here are three pitfalls to avoid and a proven system to create leads.

Let’s start with busting a popular myth: Blogging to generate leads demands LOTS of blog content.

No. 1: Writing Frequently at the Cost of Proper Form
Yes, we need to blog frequently and “have a rhythm.” However, the pressure to crank out a tons of blog posts causes problems. In the rush to “just do it” we often forget effective blogging fundamentals. We forget to:

  • start with customers pains, goals, fears, ambitions or cravings and
  • structure blog posts to teach, guide or answer in ways that
  • creates hunger for more of what we have to offer (a lead generation offer).

Beware: Investing too much time and energy in writing frequently can torpedo you. Tired of the stress of wondering, “Am I blogging enough?” Give up the habit!

Focus on following the structure outlined above. Form the habit. Start putting this process to work for you.

No. 2: Losing Visibility by Forgetting Google Authorship
In its effort to clean up the Web, Google launched Authorship. The essence of becoming a recognized Author with Google is all about one thing:

Giving authors of high quality blog articles (you) more exposure.

Here’s how. Google gives maximum attention to registered Authors by including a photo next to ALL blog posts appearing in its index. This grabs eyes. This beats out competing writers who aren’t Authors.

This drives more leads to your page!

You’re losing visibility if you’re not aligned with Google via Authorship.

No. 3: Investing Too Much Time Writing ‘Epic Content’
For a long while, I invested time writing blog posts that convert leads really well. Every single post I made “counted.” However, Google would only rank them on page 1 sometimes.

This wasted my time. I was literally writing great articles that nobody would ever read. Ouch.

Even more frustrating, sometimes Google does rank our articles—yet nobody clicks. Ugh!

So here’s the fix: Invest time in getting ranked on page 1 or 2 first. THEN, monitor for visitor traffic … and THEN tweak to optimize lead generation from your post.

I don’t recommend writing total crap. However, take the pressure off. Write, first, for search engine ranking. Use an effective blog post writing template (that generates leads) but don’t over-invest your precious time.

Here’s how to get into the habit. For example, let’s assume you:

  • completed keyword research—you know what customer pain, fear or goal you’ll address in your post;
  • understand and practice the 3-step system summarized in No.1 above; and
  • know how to make an effective call to action and are ready to earn leads.

You know how to get prospects to your site and what to do with them once there. You’re armed and dangerous. You can earn attention with magnetic headlines, get prospects to read and act on your post.

This blogging system is quality-intensive. But it can be a trap!

It’s very easy to over-invest time in a post that nobody will ever read. So write to get found in search engines first. Be diligent about structure (for search engine and human discovery). However, don’t over-do it. Wait.

Protect your time investment. First, write to be discovered. Don’t neglect proper form but don’t over-invest in polishing … optimizing it for peak lead generation performance. Good luck!