My name is Rich Gorman and I am a direct response marketer. For those of you that don’t know what direct response marketing is, direct-response marketing is a form of marketing designed to solicit a direct response which is specific and quantifiable. The delivery of the response is direct between the viewer and the advertiser, that is, the customer responds to the marketer directly. This is in contrast to direct marketing in which the marketer contacts the potential customer directly.
There are several steps you can take to ensure a successful direct response campaign. In this article I will ennumerate those steps. Prior to doing so, I wanted to add one caveat: The cardinal sin of the direct response advertiser is to just throw up a website, jump on a ppc campaign, and start processing sales. Why is that? I have been there before and got my behind handed to me. I received thousands of sales but completely lacked the platform to handle the customer service issues that arised. Before I knew it I was inundated with chargebacks, consumer complaints for lack of service, and complaints to the BBB. All of the complaints were centralized around one thing: Customer Service. While that was happening I was actively working on a campaign to improve my customer service. So after close to a decade of trial and error, here are the key steps you must take before you launch a direct response campaign:
1. Apply to several good merchant processors: You do not want to have just 1 merchant account, you’ll need several. I suggest contacting a consultant such as Total-Apps.com who can put you in touch with financiers, teach you how to get compliant before you submit your applications, and will work with you on getting your merchant accounts setup. One of the mest merchant accounts out there is Litle.com.
2. Choose the right CRM: There are very few good Direct Response CRMs (Customer Relationship Management Databases) on the market. A good CRM will practically eliminate your customer service complaints, as it did mine. I currently utilize Salesforce Enterprise Edition, which is the edition you need so you can enable API with your website (this allows the customers information to automatically get stored in the system so you can handle. Recently we came across LimeLightCRM.com, which we are getting ready to move over to. I think that it is probably the best CRM for direct response marketers.
3. Choose the right call center: Do not make the mistake of handling calls in house. There are some pretty good call centers that start off at just a minimum of $60 per month! We utilize Per-Com.com.
4. Shopping Cart: Make sure you build a custom shopping cart, don’t use an off-the-shelf shopping cart. It can be hard to find a good programmer that will do your cart for less than 5k. WebMation.com usually does custom shopping carts for around 2k and they’re pretty good with their turn around time.
5. Website Designer: Make sure you find a good freelance designer, do not go to a big firm. You’ll get overcharged and the quality of the work won’t be nearly as good as a freelance designer that you can establish a close personal relationship with.
6. Staff: For small scale operations, you won’t need more than 1 partner for support. Many direct response marketers work from the house. I work in a nice but small NY office part time and directly from my home. In fact, I know the owners of large scale direct response campaigns that process millions per month and only have 1 partner. Then there’s ibinc.com, the makers of TrySensa.com, that employ over 50 staff members full time.
7. Fulfillment: You should start inhouse with a PitneyBowes.com Mailing System, usually $30 a month. Ship via USPS and you’ll save big. Once you start to pick up volume, outsource your shipping needs to a good fulfillment center.
Once you have these in place you start your growth campaigns which I’ll highlight in the next article.