Chances are you don’t have a Direct Response Mindset. Not yet anyway.

It’s more likely you have a Branding Mindset … because that’s the popular view.

A Branding Mindset sees advertising as an exercise in exposure – getting your brand or your message seen and remembered by as many people as possible.

Marketers build brands through effective media buys, attention-getting creative and repetition.

Brand marketing is a long-term strategy that requires an extensive investment of time and money.

To the small business owner with little understanding of advertising, brand building is the usual approach because it’s easy to understand.

It’s intuitive.  You put your advertising message in front of your target audience enough times and they will remember you when it comes time to buy.

Seems logical.

Yeah, but it’s not enough.  Not if you have a Direct Response Mindset.

Direct Response has higher expectations

A Direct Response Mindset has a much higher expectation of advertising.

It sees advertising not simply as a way to reach out to prospects, but as a way for the audience to reach back and identify themselves as leads or customers.

For small business owners who need to see results right away, it should be the approach of choice.

A Direct Response Mindset doesn’t come naturally, however.  It needs to be developed and it needs to become a discipline.

When you have a Direct Response Mindset, your first impulse isn’t to start working on creative ideas, messages and concepts.  That’s important, but it comes later.

No, your first impulse is to think about how you’re going to generate response and how that response is going to fit into your sales process.

Questions that need to be asked

This is when you think about the offer – and start asking all the questions related your response strategy…

  • What offer is going to generate the right response for you – white papers, special reports, how-to booklets, price lists, videos, demos, webinars or seminars?
  • Which of these offers already exist and which need to be produced?
  • What alternative titles can you try to improve response?
  • What contact information will you require respondents to provide to receive the offer?
  • What response channels will you use to capture the response?
  • How many responses can you realistically expect from this promotion?
  • Will this be sufficient for your sales team?
  • How will you qualify the response?
  • What type of follow-up plan do you have to nurture and convert your leads?
  • At what point in the sales process will the sales team receive the leads?
  • How will you monitor and account for the sales leads?
  • What should you measure and what can you measure?

This is what you think about first if you have a Direct Response Mindset.  Only after you complete this process should you start developing your creative.

Sadly, this is not the way it always works.

Too often, the entire response strategy – including the offer – is treated as an afterthought or forgotten entirely.  Ads and direct mail packages are created with a Branding Mindset but with an 800 number or some other response device thrown on at the end.

Although sometimes this approach can produce response, it will never produce the same level of response as a direct response-focused ad or direct mail package.

No doubt, some will scoff at the distinctions I am making here between a Branding Mindset and a Direct Response Mindset.   This should not surprise anyone.

People understand and accept brand marketing.  It makes sense to them.  Direct response is a new idea for some and unfamiliar to many more.

But for marketers and business owners who want to see real, tangible and measurable results from their advertising, it’s time to step out of their comfort zone – and start to embrace the Direct Response Mindset.


This article may be republished at any time as long as it includes the full bio and associated links below.

Bob McCarthy is a marketing consultant specializing in helping companies with lead generation and lead nurturing.  He has two reports you can download:  Step by Step Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing and Making Snail Mail Work – 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy.

About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."