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The 3 Ms of Successful Direct Marketing Campaigns If you can get your message, market, and media right, you'll be on your way to marketing dominance.

By Dan S. Kennedy

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The following excerpt is from Dan S. Kennedy's book No B.S. Direct Marketing. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

There are basically three components to marketing: a message, a media to deliver it, and a market to receive and respond to it. None can function without the others -- each feeds the others.

There are a number of ways to render the marketing triangle powerless, but there's only one way to get it right: Right Message, Right Market, Right Media.

Now let's look at getting all three parts functioning effectively and in sync with the others.


When you choose and use media, it's vital to know who you're trying to reach, attract, interest and persuade, and how they prefer to be offered and receive information and offers. When you craft your message, you need to know who it's for (and who it isn't). The who you want as a customer gets to govern everything.

Yet most marketing remains product-centric, not customer-centric, and most marketing is very broad, vague, and generic, not narrow, focused and specific. Sadly, most businesspeople cannot accurately and completely describe exactly who they want to respond, who their ideal customer is or who their current customer is; for the most part, they're playing blind archery.

I have dealt with many, many examples of this over the years. Let me tell you about one example that's instructive.

I was doing a lot of work with a particular chiropractor, and we meticulously analyzed his records and surveyed his patients, to discover the majority of his fee-for-service cash patients had two things in common: One, they paid using their American Express cards, rather than Visa or MasterCard, and two, they subscribed to Prevention magazine. The majority.

In the commercial mailing list marketplace, you can rent the list of Prevention magazine subscribers by zip code (as well as by gender, age, etc.), and you can rent the list of American Express cardholders by zip code. My client took only the duplicates, the people in his market area on both lists. Because he had to rent 5,000 names from each list as a required minimum, it cost him about $700, and he only found 27 prime names in his area -- a cost to find them of about $26 each. A lot of business owners would scream "Too much money!" But from sequential mailings to the 27, he got 11 into the office (40 percent response -- vs. a 1 or 2 percent norm from mass mail); nine became patients, producing $27,800 in immediate revenue, plus long-term value, plus referrals. That's the potential power of laser beam targeted marketing.

If you're new in business and have no backlog of data about your market, check your trade association or even competitors for some clues. Or start out with your own preferences. Who do you want as client or customer? One way or another, get out of the anybody "n' everybody place at your earliest opportunity.


People are most easily and quickly interested in information directly related to what interests them -- espe­cially information that promises fascinating secrets, solutions to problems, prevention for dire threats, promises of seductive benefits or timely "breaking news." This is the breakthrough prescription for magnetic communication.

A good way to think about information you may create and offer is as bait, and a key principle is "Match bait to critter." In marketing, "bait" means two things: your message and whatever "thing" you offer to spark direct response, whether that's literature and information, a free service, or a gift of one kind or another.

Most businesspeople get poor results to their advertising and marketing because they either put out no bait, lousy bait or the wrong bait for the critters they hope to attract.

No bait, that's ordinary image or brand advertising, rather than direct-response advertising. Lousy bait is boring, uninteresting, unappealing bait. A free report on How to Buy Insurance is lousy bait. A free report on How to Outfox the IRS and Legally Avoid All Estate Taxes might be better bait -- for the right critter. Wrong bait for wrong critters -- the free report on estate taxes, if you want to attract young married couples.

Then, there's a bigger issue regarding bait: Most business marketing is generic, one size fits all. Most marketing is done with generic tools: one brochure, one catalog, one website for everybody. But one size never fits all. What's magnetic is a message just for me! As soon as I see it, I jump out of my skin because it's clearly for me, about me, matches me and my pain, fear, passion, hopes.


Your list of media choices is long, and they keep expanding at a rabbit-breeding pace. So how do you decide what will work and what's essential?

First, it varies a lot by business. But more importantly, it has to do with who you're trying to reach. Do they pay attention to and respond to the media? The one sure thing is this: If the media can't be used to deliver a direct response message, skip it.

A warning: The media you prefer using, the ways you communicate and access information and entertainment, and your ideas about what nobody does anymore or what everybody does now don't mean squat. Only what your target customer audience actually prefers and engages with matters.

Your mandate is to try to find ways to use as many different media as you possibly can. Most business owners become lazily dependent on only one, two, or three means of getting customers, leaving themselves vulnerable to sudden business disruption and entry of more aggressive competition.

Dan S. Kennedy

Author, Strategic Advisor, Consultant, and Business Coach

DAN S. KENNEDY is a strategic advisor, consultant, business coach, and author of the popular No B.S. book series. He directly influences more than one million business owners annually. 

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