Direct Marketing: Rules vs. Laws

The following post comes courtesy of guest blogger, CDI Creative Director Dave Dumanis (thanks Dave!):

In demand generation, we have this phenomenon called best practices. In other fields, they’d be called rules, or guidelines. They’re pieces of information or advice that, if closely followed, can boost our odds: frequent calls to action, selling the offer rather than the product, making use of “learning benefit” bullets, and making sure emails and their associated landing pages look like they came from the same planet.

Break these rules, and we risk crippling our response—unless we do so carefully, knowingly, and selectively, preferably in the context of testing.

But there’s also a law that comes into play, a law any high school physics student knows: the law of inertia. Simply put, audiences want to take the path of least resistance.

Great advertising, including demand generation advertising, has to include something that inspires those audiences to get off their duff—figuratively speaking—and fill out that form.

Now, you can follow all the rules, and you might get a piece that’s kind of OK, and you might even generate a “kind of OK” response.

But if you want an outstanding piece that gets outstanding numbers, you also need to include some magic—some life … some fresh imagery … possibly some wit. Some spark of humanity. And this is the hard part: it all has to be in service of selling your wonderful free offer to your specific audience, which of course you know like the back of your hand.

Then you’ll be respecting, not just the rules, but the law.

3 thoughts on “Direct Marketing: Rules vs. Laws

  1. Jim Rogers

    It is amazing how much junk get’s mailed out because people break the rules all the time. I get the same generic postcard from people all the time – they don’t even try split testing.

    They need to personalize all the marketing messages.


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