#104 Blog Post - Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Posted by Denny Hatch
Direct Response TV: Denny's 12-Point Checklist
years ago, we downsized to a two-bedroom apartment in a Philadelphia
center city high-rise with a postage-stamp balcony. It's our only
Obviously I have zero need for a marvelous new, incredibly sturdy, ultra-lite 50' garden hose.
However, I was dazzled by a magnificent two-minute textbook correct TV spot for the BionicFlexPro hose.
Quite simply, I loved it!
memory was jogged back to our gardening days when I did fierce combat
with heavy rubber hoses that behaved just a badly as those shown in this
great TV spot.
If BionicFlexPro were available in our burbs life 30 years ago, I would have ordered it in a heartbeat.
On TV or in Digital Marketing, the Product Comes Roaring Alive!
Mail, Space (off-the-page) advertising and telephone Marketing are static media.
You cannot see the object of sale in action. Rather we have to rely on
headlines, text, still photos, graphs, drawings or a disembodied voice
on the other end of the phone to make a sale.
Only TV and digital marketing can deliver walloping visual impact.
example, the BionicFlexPro versus clunky old rubber garden hoses is
brilliantly contrasted at the outset: problem, Problem, PROBLEM...
SALVATION! Aggravating scenes are followed by the wonders and delights
of the easy-to-use, lightweight non-kinking BionicFlexPro!
My Weekly Phone Call from Readers
As editor and publisher of WHO'S MAILING WHAT! and Target Marketing
magazine, I would routinely get one or two calls a week from readers
with this question: "I have a great idea for a product to sell by direct
mail or maybe on TV. How do I get started?"
"What else do you have to sell?" was my immediate reply.
"Huh? What do you mean? I don't have anything else to sell."
"Then stay away from direct marketing."
"But why? Don't you want to hear about my product idea?"
you rent outside lists or buy TV air time to sell a product, you are
spending money to acquire customers as well as selling something. If you
want to make money in this business, you must have additional products
or services to sell to those customers you have bought and paid dearly
for. It costs six- to seven times more to acquire a new customer than
sell to an existing one. In short, you need a business."
"But don't you want to hear about my product?"
"My advice to you is to look into testing small space ads. Or retail, or QVC or Amazon or catalogs.
Denny's 11-Point Checklist
1. Is Direct Response TV a Good Medium to Test?
the case of the BionicFlexPro hose, TV is a natural. TV reaches 95.9%
of the 115.9 million housing units in the U.S. One out of three raise
food and a watering mechanism is needed. Most have at least a few flower
beds to water.
may seem obvious, but number one is your product selection. Your
product should solve an immediate problem. It should appeal to the
greatest number of people possible. It should be easily demonstrable."
your product (1) solve an immediate problem? (2) It is easily
demonstrable? (3) Does it appeal to huge swath of consumers (or
businesses?) Or are you looking for a niche market?
2. Steal Smart!
• At a Direct Mail Writers Guild luncheon in 1982, the speaker was Dorothy Kerr, circulation director of U.S. News & World Report. "If you want to be successful in direct mail," Kerr said, "watch your mail. see who's mailing what. Track those mailings that come in over and over again... then steal smart!"
• Type the following into Google or Bing:
"tv direct response advertising samples"
See what others are doing—big corporations down to individual
consultants and entrepreneurs. See what direct response agencies are
touting as their best work. (They won't show you any losers!) Download
those efforts that excite you and save them to a private archive of
Likewise, if you see a direct response commercial on TV that you like,
type the name of the company or product into Google or Bing. You will be
directed to the website and the latest TV commercial which you can
download and study.
• Peggy and I launched the newsletter and archive service, WHO'S MAILING WHAT! after three years of collecting, analyzing and cataloging direct mail samples.
you commit to direct response TV, become an expert by creating a
private archive of TV direct response commercials and infomercials.
3. Examples of what to Look for.
• Is the sales story totally voice-over (à la BionicFelxPro)? Or are on-camera pitchmen used such as Billy May or Ron Popeil?
• Are testimonials delivered by happy customers included?
Especially pay close attention to how the ordering process is handled.
"What is the most dramatic, startling, convincing way to demonstrate
your product or service? Your TV spot needs to accomplish two distinct and
sometimes contradictory objectives: First to sell your product; second
to be spellbinding, entertaining and capture attention of people who are
• "Your job is to sell, not entertain." —Jack Maxson
Do you have a world-class specialist or agency in Direct Response TV commercials to conceptualize and produce your TV spot?
5. Buying Airtime.
• Do nor place your own ads.
Hire a top media buyer who works with direct response TV advertisers.
You will cash in on many years experience of someone who knows what was
advertised at what prices, what offers worked and what bombed. More
important, media buyers know how to buy advertising airtime at
discounted prices. As Iris Shokoff of Iris Shokoff Associates once said
to me, "I've never bought an ad at full rate in my life."
Are you working with a seasoned media buying consultant and/or agency?
6. How much can you afford to pay for an order?
• All successful direct marketing is driven by math.
• The arithmetic hinges on how much you spend for your product and the markup.
In direct marketing, DRTV wizard Steve Dworman says you need a 5/1
markup. (Selling price is 5x the cost.) Guru and teacher Dan Kennedy
says you need a seven- or eight-to-one markup. I'm comfortable with 9/1
Do you know precisely what it costs to produce your product or service ready to ship in various quantities?
7. The Offer.
• Hard-wired into your DNA should be Ed Mayer's formula for a successful direct marketing effort: 40% Lists, 40% Offer, 20% Everything else.
• This is true for all media—Direct Mail, Telemarketing, publications chosen for print ads.
you use TV, your list is the broadcast area you are buying. That's your
list—your 40%. Suddenly the offer becomes 80% of the formula.
Remember Ed Mayer's Formula: 40% Lists, 40% Offer, 20% Everything else.
8. A Sampling of Offers.
Low, low price. Big discount for ordering now. Buy one, get one free. Piling on additional goodies and premiums. ("Wait! There's More!"). 90-day money-back-in-full guarantee. Free Shipping. All of the above.
your private archive of Direct Response TV efforts, make a list of the
various offers. Steal smart (adopt) those that appear most frequently.
9. The Order Mechanism.
it easy to order and obvious how to order? Is the process user-friendly
and absolutely clear. Are there multiple opportunities to order any
time during the presentation? •
For example, in the BionicFlexPro spot, the URL appears at the bottom
of the screen at 00:15 (fifteen seconds after the start) and runs
continuously by itself for one minute until 01:15. At that point, the
big 800-number is posted and the two elements run together for the final
One sobering statistic: the average abandonment percentage of all
digital shopping carts is roughly 70%. In other words, for every 100
prospects that start to order, 70 say "The hell with it."
you studied the ordering mechanisms—and the instructions—of myriad
other Direct Response TV spots or full-dress infomercials?
10. Your 800-number Inbound Service.
"Usually, 80% of the calls are received within an hour of when the
commercial runs. The telemarketing operator follows a script
pre-approved by the client." —Andrew Cohen
Your inbound service should have your advertising schedule in hand well
in advance of the big one-hour spikes in calls when the TV ads run.
• All incoming calls should be answered no later than the second ring.
Engage a backup 800-inbound service to handle the overflow. Often these
are in-home workers with a dedicated phone. When it rings, these reps
drop everything to pick up the receiver (or click on their smartphone)
by the second ring. These temps must also be fully trained in your
product's features and benefits.
Is your inbound call system ready to rock-'n'-roll and not lose orders during spikes?
11. Shipping and Delivery.
• We've all been spoiled by the same day/next day delivery by Amazon and other big players. We love instant gratification!
• You absolutely, positively do not want returned merchandise from an unhappy customer.
• Get the product on its way to the customer that same day or no later than the second day.
The longer it takes for the product to arrive, the less memory the
customer will have of ever ordering it at all and the greater the chance
it will be returned.
• "The sale begins when the customer says yes." —Bill Christensen
• "When the product arrives it ideally should be better than what the customer expected." —Marilyn Black
• Always include a welcome letter.
• "Always say thank you. It's the polite thing to do." —Roger Craver
The person writing the welcome letter should be the writer of the
original offer/script who knows the benefits and features cold and whose
words the customer originally responded to.
DO NOT assign some clerk in the shipping department to include the
all-purpose, impersonal drivel that is sent to any customer that bought
any product over the past 10 years.
• "When the product arrives, make sure it is accompanied by instructions so clear that an idiot can understand them." —Don Jackson
you are not selling a single product. Your are welcoming a new member
of your extended family whom you hope to delight for many years to come
and who will yield terrific lifetime value.
12. Use outsiders—not in-house colleagues familiar with you and your business.
Before you commit to the final fulfillment package, make up 5 dummies
that include the actual product and all the accompanying literature and
other goodies. Give these fulfillment packages to 5 strangers to test.
If all five get the product up and running with as little fuss as
possible, go with the package. Say thank you by gifting your secret
testers with a fulfillment package containing product and goodies.
Line up a private panel of secret testers who are looking to find fault with your work.
Word count: 1813
You Are Invited to Meet Denny Hatch: http://dennyhatch.blogspot.com/2020/03/87-geezer-fast-yoga.html
At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press.
He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S.
Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business.
He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and
start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter
and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how
to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years
he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising
copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is
the author of four published novels and seven books on business and
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