What if everything we know about marketing is wrong?
I’ve had a handful of conversations that — to me — suggest that within the next 10 years we’re going to see a massive shift-change in what “direct marketing” looks like.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT giving up direct response. And I don’t think you should either.
I still give away free copies of the Claude Hopkins masterpiece, Scientific Advertising (in ebook and audiobook). And I 100% believe its core principles will apply as much 100 years from now as they did when they were being laid down 100 years ago.
It’s still worth studying the recent and much more mature classics of direct marketing. My list of the top 10 best copywriting books is a great starting point.
But something else is going on.
The democratization and bastardization of the media…
We have two competing forces going on right now.
And it inundates all the media we consume.
First, media is easier than ever to create. You can have a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, and more for basically ZERO investment. If you have the will, there’s a way. With this, anybody and everybody can create their own media empire. This is the democratization of the media.
Then, there’s the bastardization of the media. This refers to the fact that all media now has an agenda. It can be relatively benign, as in simply getting clicks and social approval. It can be nefarious, as in creating propaganda or deception. It can be profit-oriented, such as content published to sell or get ad revenue. Or it can be value-driven, designed to better your life. Or, more realistically, a mix of these and other agendas apply to each media channel.
Between these two competing forces, media is both more appealing and less trusted than ever before.
Our relationship with media is changing…
We’re growing more and more addicted to it — but also more wary of it.
We love it and we hate it.
We consume it and we reject it.
This is important. Because we are consumers. We are our markets. We are our prospects. And the relationship we have with media is the relationship our prospects have with media.
They’re curious, but suspicious.
They want to hear what you have to say, but don’t want to believe you.
And since marketing is delivered through media, you have to adapt to this changing reality.
TRUST is growing more important than ever…
And this is your opportunity and advantage, and signpost toward the new rules for direct marketing.
I was talking to my coach, Joseph Rodrigues, last week.
I’ll paraphrase what he said to me, off the cuff…
“We are evolving to be teachers of how to be more authentic in our communications and marketing, because that is what works now.”
Joseph’s marketing model is interesting. He’s very much a direct marketer, but doesn’t run traditional funnels or paid advertising.
He has a YouTube channel. He delivers massive value in his content there. He offers a free download of what he’s talking about if you sign up for his email list. If you’re on his email list, you also get links to new videos.
And then occasionally, he’ll put out a very short announcement of new training he offers, or a new coaching offer.
It’s all very value-driven and authentic. It’s low-key. It’s not hard sell.
But it works — and it works well.
Valuable content, with the occasional offer.
Is there room for improvement and optimization? Yes. As in every business. But it’s also a very effective approach.
And, in fact, it’s arguably a stronger approach than the sell-sell-sell you’ll get from some of the (even recent) classics on direct marketing.
This reflects the new model of direct response…
It starts with authentic, genuine conversations with your audience, meant to deliver value.
There’s actually less room for copywriters in this model, unless the copywriters are on the front lines creating this content. In which case, there’s more room than ever for the copywriters who can do it.
This value-driven content then points engaged audience members to a place where they can stay engaged, and stay in touch.
This is the traditional “list,” but in today’s media environment that’s growing more vague by the day. A retargeting list who has never officially opted in can actually be a highly-profitable list, even if you have to pay to reach them each time.
From this list, the prospects are driven toward offers. Sometimes, long-copy still works. But often, it’s unnecessary. What’s just as effective is another piece of off-the-cuff content explaining why the offer is valuable to people who’ve engaged with the previous content.
Again, it comes back to authenticity. To integrity. To offering legitimate value. Both early on, before any offer is presented, and through the offer, sale, and customer experience.
There is still room for the core direct response principles here…
Your list is your relationship with your market. The better your relationship, the bigger the audience, the bigger your sales and profits.
Lifetime customer value is even more important. Connecting with your audience should be to deliver them a lifetime of value, and you a lifetime of profits in return.
Offers are as important as ever. The better they meet the needs of your market, the better you will do. You should have the best possible solution to their problem, and if so you will be rewarded.
Persuasive communication may be more casual, but it’s still critical. You will be rewarded if you internalize sales formulas like PAISA — problem, agitate, invalidate, solve, ask — so you can create content that doubles as copy on a whim.
Perhaps the biggest consideration today is to make sure you prioritize audience building as much as short-term sales. Zero-day profits on an advertising campaign are still HUGE. But investing in a lead so you can turn them into a customer in 10, 20, 30 days as you start a relationship could be even more powerful in the long run.
Most of all, it’s all about the value. The more you give, in a truly authentic way, the more you’ll get in return.
The next 10 years…
Will be an evolution. We already see this model working. Just look to the people with podcasts, YouTube channels, email lists, blogs, Facebook and Instagram followings, whatever… Who are using those as a jumping off point for driving sales of all sorts of products and services.
Most are not pushing you straight into a sales letter or VSL. Some barely use long copy at all. But the best of them are all using the principles above. And with that, are driving massive sales.
It’s already happening. It will continue happening. And you can be aware, be prepared, and use this to guide yourself to success.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,