And in today’s episode of Mythbusters, we take on the “mousetrap” myth, so prevalent among entrepreneurs and especially inventors!
Hey there Rainmaker…
Incredible lesson below, make sure you read through to Brian Kurtz’s lesson learned in direct mail, that applies in any media.
The chapter is called “Getting In Front Of Your Ideal Customers.”
Before I break for that though, a quick update on my book, The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid. I believe I’ll have copies to start sending you on August 10th.
That’s when a box of the first 50 copies will hit my doorstep.
And I’m going to make an incredible deal for the first 50 buyers.
I’m actually going to send the book out to you at a small financial loss to myself on each copy.
That’s how much I care about getting it into your hands.
I’m going to ask you to pay a reasonable shipping and handling charge.
And I’m going to send you a physical copy of the book plus give you a handful of options for downloading digital copies (PDF, mobi for Kindle, epub for other readers). All for one ridiculously-low price.
I’m still working on making that happen, but that’s what I know now.
In the mean time, enjoy the chapter below, the first chapter in the section of my upcoming Breakthrough Marketing Secrets book on How To Reach Your Customers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in one sentence, set up thousands of future American (and other) entrepreneurs and inventors for disappointment.
His quote, paraphrased, “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door,” has been repeated as gospel. Its impact has spanned centuries.
And yet, what you may or may not know, is that thousands have built better mousetraps.
In fact, the mousetrap is the most patented invention among all the classes of inventions at the US Patent office.
There are over 4,400 patents on file for presumably “better mousetraps.”
And yet, the mousetrap most-used today to get rid of these pesky critters (aside from nature’s own mousetrap, the cat) is the same design invented in 1897 by James Henry Atkinson. The flat wooden base, wire fastenings, and spring trap are good enough for most.
Dozens of new mousetraps have been patented every year since. Still, for most of the world, it’s Atkinson’s spring-loaded trap that is the mousetrap of choice, when critters come calling.
Yes, about two dozen inventors have made small personal fortunes on “better mousetrap” designs. Humane versions usually being the best-sellers to the subset of the market who want to catch without harming. But two dozen out of 4,400 isn’t very good odds.
Here’s a hint. The problem isn’t in the mousetrap.
The problem is in the second half of Emerson’s quote. The inventors who bought Emerson’s myth hook, line, and sinker didn’t do it because they were particularly interested in building a better mousetrap. They did it for the promise of easy riches. It’s “the world will beat a path to your door,” that they found most appealing. That’s why of 4,400 patents, 4,376 didn’t improve their inventor’s lot in life.
It’s because you can’t wait for your market, your customers, the world to beat a path to your door.
You have to beat a path to their door, make a compelling offer in a way that piques their interest and builds their desire to have your product…
And then and only then will they come beating a path to your door, money in hand.
Having the “better mousetrap” is only step one of a multi-step formula. Once you have your product or service, you have to go out and sell it.
And to do that, you have to reach out to prospects and customers.
In this section of the book, we’re going to discuss many different methods of reaching out to target customers. How to get on their radar. How to put your offer in front of them.
Here’s what you should know in terms of the core strategies involved with putting your “better mousetrap” in front of your target market…
First and foremost, you have to understand that your ideal customer is currently devoting their attention to something.
Every waking minute of the day, they’re doing something. Spending time with family. Driving. Eating. Working. Going to the gym. Or the bar. Surfing the internet. Checking their email. Or their postal mail. Reading books, magazines, or other media. Updating their status on Facebook, and scrolling the feed for distraction. Searching on Google for answers to questions and solutions to problems.
They’re always paying attention to something. If you want them to pay attention to you, your message, your offer, it’s smart to first understand what that something is that they’re already paying attention to.
I read recently that 1 in 5 minutes on a mobile phone are spent on Facebook. (Recognizing that at some point that reference will be outdated, as-is a reference to MySpace, or AOL, or Compuserve, or… The list goes on.) For some demographics and product categories, that’s a perfect place to make first contact.
But if your target market all reads the same news — whether that’s a website, a newspaper, a magazine, or some other news source — that can be a better place to reach them.
Much of the world still gets daily postal delivery — despite the failing economic model of every-door direct mail delivery here in the United States, ours is delivered daily, rain or shine. If your market is trusted to check their mailbox every day, and you can reliably target them through direct mail, that’s another medium to consider.
Anywhere that your target market reliably puts their attention is a place worthy of consideration for you to put your marketing and selling message.
By reaching out through a medium or in a place where your target customer is already putting attention, you have a much better chance of getting their attention.
A counter-intuitive lesson learned in direct mail, that underscores this point.
My friend, client, and colleague Brian Kurtz was responsible for approximately 2 billion pieces of profitable direct mail during his 34-year tenure at $100-million-plus direct marketing giant Boardroom, Inc.
It’s not an easy feat to make a consistent profit sending 2 billion pieces of direct mail.
Much of their success was in publishing large books of compiled information, including on the topic of health.
Now let’s imagine for a moment that you’re in Brian’s shoes. You have a successful direct mail piece, written by one of the world’s best copywriters, selling a collection of the year’s biggest health breakthroughs and alternative treatments for common ailments.
You’ve tested the piece to the first 100,000 names, and you have a clear winner on your hands.
The first thing you’re going to do is to find all the direct mail lists you can rent from people who’ve sold similar products in the past. So, you’ll find all the direct mail buyers of health books, and rent those to send your winning promotion to.
But as one of the largest players in the space, Brian found that they were capable of renting every “affinity” buyers list (that’s a common term for this) and not exhausting their promotions.
So they’d very quickly go looking for where else they could rent other lists of mail order buyers that superficially would not seem like a fit, but that would still be responsive.
That’s when they discovered something very interesting. You see, Brian and his colleagues at Boardroom were pioneers in a direct mail format called the “magalog.” This is a direct mail piece that “looks like a magazine but sells like a catalog.” Most are 24 pages or more, with a collection of complimentary articles, features, and mini-ads that all lead the recipient and reader to buy or try a single product.
Well, here was Brian’s stunning discovery.
When they had a success that was a magalog mailing, one of the biggest predictors as to whether or not they could get a rental list to work was the format of the direct mail piece that got that buyer on the list in the first place. So, if there was a list of investment book buyers that had all responded to a magalog, and the demographics fit Brian’s target market, they’d test. And frequently these tests were fruitful.
Suddenly, with this discovery, they could mail to market after market of mail order buyers lists that may have purchased products that had nothing to do with health… But because they all responded via direct mail to an appeal delivered in magalog format, Brian and his team at Boardroom could profitably send a health magalog to them.
(Brian tells me this worked with many different direct mail formats — NOT just magalogs.)
By connecting with his target market via a medium they were already known to consume and buy from, Brian significantly increased his success in reaching and selling to this audience.
In the coming chapters, we’ll discuss a number of different methods for reaching prospects and customers. As you read on, remember this lesson. The best media to use is not the one that’s easiest or cheaper for you, the marketer. It’s the one they’re most used to paying attention to, and responding to marketing offers from.
Want to read the previously-released chapters of this book? Click here.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets