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Want more prospects to respond to your marketing? Here’s how





Marketing exists to support sales. It is also used to create awareness and build a brand image. But ultimately, if your marketing doesn’t motivate customers to take action, it’s probably not doing the job. If you are under performing when it comes togetting customers to respond to your marketing messages, you need to look at your campaign.

Here are six factors that may stand in the way of customer response, plus tips on what to do to improve your response rates:

1. Ads Are Out of Context.

Due to the proliferation of specialised media, it’s easier than ever to reach prospects in the right place at the righttime. For marketing success, your customers must be exposed to your message when they are in a receptive frame of mind. Suppose you owned a landscape nursery; you wouldn’t place your newspaper ads in the business section – you would run them in the gardening section because readers there are more likely to be interested in landscaping their properties and would find your ad relevant. You’d follow the same principle if you used TV advertising by running your ads during gardening shows, not general programming, in order to present your message in the right context.

2. Benefits Are Weak or Missing.

Sometimes marketing campaigns that reach prospects in the right context fail because their message is all wrong. No matter whether you’re running advertising, sending direct mail or even placing PR, it’s vital to create a benefit-oriented message that will capture the attention of your target audience and motivate them to take action. What specific benefits will your prospects derive by responding to your marketing? Benefits may be tangible (like saving money) or intangible (like peace of mind), and they should help to differentiate your company or its products and services from competitors.

3. The Offer is Off-target.

When a campaign fails, the real problem may lie with the principal offer, such as when the product or service lacks the right appeal. This can often be overcome by including additional features that meet the special demands of the target audience. If a special offer is used to motivate responses, it’s not unusual to test several different versions to find the one that works best.

4. The Execution is Poor.

Many forms of marketing are not do-it-yourself projects. Creation of advertising is something that should be left to experts. Even then, it’s important to enlist the right people. Some designers and copywriters specialise in direct mail and collateral materials, while others create ads for magazines. Marketing failure is often the result of poor copy or design execution. At other times, the advertising or materials may look great, but they just don’t work because tried and tested rules have been ignored. It takes experience to create marketing that produces results.

5. Your Marketing is Invisible.

Your prospects can’t respond to your ads or place orders on your website if they never see them. When it comes to advertising success, business owners tend to under estimate the amount of frequency required for their ad placements to be remembered by prospects or to achieve “penetration”. The exact ad frequency required for each unique campaign will vary, but the bottom line is that multiple placements in a single publication or within specific broadcast programming are essential. If you want to make sales on an e-commerce website, you’ll need an effective online advertising campaign to send prospects there. It’s unrealistic to expect high traffic volume without one.

6. It’s Too Hard to Buy.

No matter how compelling your marketing campaign, if you ask prospects to take too many steps, or if there are other sales barriers (such as uninformed salespeople or out-of-stock products), you’ll lose them. For example, you send out a direct mail package for a service business. Interested prospects respond by calling your toll-free number, but get voice mail – and most hang up. Only a few highly motivated prospects leave messages on your voice mail. Then you call them back, miss them and leave messages of your own. At this point it’s unlikely your prospects will return your call. Get the picture? For best results, walk through your sales process to eliminate any unnecessary actions and to make sure the prospects who respond can quickly take advantage of your offer.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Consumers Don’t Have An Attention Problem. It’s Just That Your Advertising Isn’t Very Good

With so much media available to consume, quality matters more than ever for ads.

Brendan Gahan




If a brand releases an ad and no one sees it, is it still called “advertising”?

People have more tools than ever before to skip out on ads entirely. More than three-fourths of the people in North America engage in automated ad-blocking, and 10 percent of them block ads across four kinds of media or more, according to Deloitte. Much like the question of trees falling in forests, what good is a brand’s message at a time when people generally don’t want to hear its sound?

Ad units are shrinking in the wake of ad-blocking technology, but human attention span remains unchanged. Today’s consumers are surely more distracted than any previous generation, so they guard their attention spans more mercilessly. When advertisers can successfully command that attention for a minute or two, it means the consumer is watching an ad for the same reason he or she binge-watches Stranger Things on Netflix: The ad has managed to present itself as relevant or vital to the viewer. It wins every time.

Just 10 years ago, Gillette dominated the razor blade market. Its ads were comfortable, predictable 30-second units that reminded everyone of something they already knew: You need razor blades on the regular, so you might as well buy Gillette.

Related: Advertising Consulting Business Plan

But, the market had to reorganise itself with the appearance of Dollar Shave Club and its distinctly off-the-wall messaging. The notorious startup used quirky 90-second ads to spread its word online, presenting itself as unignorable by comparison to the competition. Even though we live in a time when people can skip ads, block ads and avoid ads, Dollar Shave Club’s marketing won major viral attention. It didn’t exactly kill Gillette’s Goliath, but it sure made Goliath sweat.

The lesson here is that people don’t hate all ads, they just hate the crappy ones. The bar for perceived quality in advertising is so low these days that many choose not to engage with anything on principle alone. People even close web pages they want to visit when the page auto-plays a video ad. When job number one of the advertiser is to interest consumers, it’s never been easier to annoy them.

Far from the rise of the six-second ad unit, there’s strong evidence that people generally want long-form content.

Ooyala reports that long-form video content consumption is up 30 percent from last year. Instagram used to be all about sharing individual photos and short videos, but now with the launch of IGTV supports 60-minute videos. The most widely subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie, regularly posts 20-minute-long videos to a community of millions of fans. Joe Rogan’s podcast blends comedy, politics and philosophy for two to three hours at a stretch, and is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.

People can, of course, handle stories and follow them over time. It’s one of the defining characteristics of humanity. But, there are so many stories competing for our attention nowadays that we are extremely selective about which ones we let into our lives. If any of these opt-in narratives will come from advertising, those ads must first run the ad-blocking gauntlet, then be immediately relevant and spectacular to the consumer upon arrival. The bar for perceived quality in advertising these days is actually quite high.

Related: 9 Strategies For Memorable Advertising When Your Audience Is Chronically Distracted

But, there is meaningful assistance on your way to clearing it. Social listening tools trawl the internet to learn what’s being said about and around different brands. With help from a company specialising in consumer insights and some Nielsen data, brands can better learn who their customers are, what they love and what they don’t love. This is key information in designing a vital, relevant message. In simplest terms, a brand must know its audience. The marketing needs to reflect what the audience is interested in, not what company leadership is interested in.

From there it’s only a matter of iterating and optimising. The great thing about digital advertising is that you get feedback instantly. You can iterate a campaign to make it better. Simple tweaks in copy, reframing key ideas and A/B testing can help make your campaign truly great.

Otherwise you run the risk of a mediocre campaign and a wasted media spend. No one wants to hear that sound.

This article was originally posted here on

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6 False Advertising Scandals You Can Learn From

Don’t stretch the truth the way Volkswagen, New Balance, Airborne, Splenda, Rice Krispies and Red Bull did.

Jayson Demers



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New entrepreneurs are often tempted to exaggerate what new products or services are capable of. No wonder: Presented to a powerful investor, a stretch of the truth just might help land that series A funding.

And, less seriously, a bit of marketing flair or showmanship, in many cases, will help an entrepreneur accomplish his or her without many repercussions.

But, in other cases, if you’re that entrepreneur who is caught deliberately misleading investors or consumers, you could face false advertising charges – and the ruin of your brand’s reputation. Consider these six examples:

  1. Airborne
  2. Splenda
  3. New Balance
  4. Rice Krispies
  5. Volkswagen
  6. Red Bull
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Forget Everything You’ve Heard — Fear Doesn’t Sell

If consumers associate your product with fear, they may not have a strong connection to your brand.

Scott Brown



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Sixty percent of Subaru owners have dogs. So in 2008, when the company decided to sponsor Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, it made a major break from previous advertising campaigns — ones that showed drivers with other cars getting stuck in the snow, for example. Alongside a pledge to donate $250 to charity for every car sold, the company began to understand how to appeal to its core audience through their own interests — and how those tied together in a Subaru.

Since 2008, the company has been running a campaign called “Love,” one that brings together all the attributes that Subaru is known for — including safety and reliability. Instead of talking to customers by telling them all the bad things that will happen if they don’t drive a Subaru (e.g., getting stuck in the snow), the company began speaking in a more positive language — including bringing furry friends along on drives.

For many, the instinctive approach toward marketing is to tell an audience why they have to buy your product. Bad things will happen otherwise, and yours is the best in market. The others won’t help you reach your goal. The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of brand image on product marketing. Sure, you might skid in the snow without a Subaru, but you need to think positively of the company as a whole if you’re going to be drawn to its products in the first place.

Related: How do I know that my product is market-ready?

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