5 Direct Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

By: Dan Kennedy on: April 19th, 2010 8 Comments

In my previous posts we began our discussion on direct marketing and I begin with an understanding of direct marketing versus other types of advertising, promotion and marketing.

Let me remind you of the three other types of ‘less effective’ marketing that I pointed out to you which were:

  1. Institutional advertising
  2. Non-measurable response advertising
  3. Public relations and publicity

As I mentioned, all three of these types of marketing probably have some place in a business’s total marketing plan.

It is my firm belief, however that these methods are grossly and deliberately oversold to clients by media and professionals because of their resistance to results measurement.

It is also my opinion that most businesses, the owners of small businesses and the executives of large companies stupidly waste outrageous sums of money on these non-measurable marketing options.

I would much rather see money spent where the results can be definitively and accurately measured so the changes can be made to develop successful response levels for every dollar spent – for that you must use these small business marketing strategies.

Included in small business direct marketing is:

#1: Media advertising that asks for a direct response. For example, the ad is a coupon to be cut out and sent in or brought in. Or a phone number to call with a code somehow attached to identify the source of the call or an order blank to use in making a purchase. Direct response advertising is 99% measurable. I’ll explain the 1% added benefit factor later.

#2: Media used that asks for a direct response. An example of this could be coupons sent through the mail to be redeemed at stores, or dealers. Or by email, a sales letter announcing a sale with an invitation that must be printed out for admission to the store after hours. Other examples include a postcard good for a two for one dinner special at a local restaurant or a mail piece that asks the recipient to call to request a certain free booklet.

#3: Radio or TV commercials that ask for a direct response, that ask the customer to call in or write in or come in and mention the station’s call letters in order to get a discount or free gift. Any advertising media can be converted to direct response type advertising and can be results measured.

#4: Telemarketing that asks for a direct response, such as an appointment for a sales person, an actual purchase right there on the phone or inviting the person to come into the place of business either by appointment or with a certain assigned code entitling the customer to discounts or gifts.

#5: I’ll tell you about one of the greatest elegantly simple direct marketing strategies for a small business that I’ve seen. My home doorbell rang, I answered the door and there was a young guy in a clean, neatly pressed gas station uniform. He handed me a vinyl wallet with a cardboard insert filled with little coupons. One for a free front-end alignment, one for free lube and oil with filter purchase, a free battery recharge, $30.00 in gas discounts and so on.

He quickly delivered a pitch ultimately offering me the $240.00 coupon book for $25.00. I bought instantly partly because it was a great deal and partly because I appreciated the technique and the initiative.

I asked around during the next few days and found that my brother, a person in my office, and a neighbor had bought too. I suspect that the sales person keeps most; maybe even all of the money, the service station acquires the new customers. It is a brilliant direct marketing idea that many different businesses could use.

Of course of all the direct marketing methods there is one that I am most partial to, which I will discuss when you read my next post in just a couple of days.


Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to www.GKIC.com

8 Responses

  1. Great post!

    An easy way to track ads discreetly is to use different names for different operators, like “ask for Alice” in one ad, “ask for Lucy” in another… or you can use codes (lke many mail order ads) “department Q”….

  2. Charles Ra says:

    vinyl wallet with a cardboard insert filled with little coupons. One for a free front-end alignment, one for free lube and oil with filter purchase, a free battery recharge, $30.00 in gas discounts and so on.
    great idea indeed Dan.

  3. Charles Ra says:

    Isaamar, this is a great idea, thanks.
    “ask for Alice” in one ad, “ask for Lucy” in another. or department Q

  4. Rob Anspach says:

    I like using “mention code” and put some letter number sequence… That way every ad is trackable- you can even include it on your website offers too!

  5. I like the idea that Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg used actually, asking for a different name to track responses – a bit more original than the “quote reference number 123456” etc.

    Great idea!


  6. Simon, Thank you for the kind words :)

    a less obvious way to do this as well is to use different phone numbers, (a block of 800 numbers is free and you only pay per call), or giving a different special with each ad (free doohickey in one ad, different free doohickey in a second ad.)

  7. Rob Anspach says:

    Yep that is truly a good idea there Izzy – my luck I will say to the customer calling I’m sorry there is no one hereby that name.

  8. If you ever work with Craigslist for advertising, which is what I used to do as a music teacher, to test for response have the reply-tos sent to different e-mails to find out which ones are getting more attention and spot trends. Let’s say you have a rotation of 16 ads, and ads #1 and #2 you put out on a Monday at staggered times (9 AM and then say 5PM). You would put the reply to as xyz@yourdomainhere.com. Then on Tuesday you would put ads #3 and #4 at staggered times (different from Mondays say 8AM and 6PM) and the reply to address would be abc@yourdomainhere.com, and so on.


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