The Marketing Formula

marketing formula

Last week I was talking with the owner of a small IT services company about the poor results he had gotten from a direct mail piece. He mailed about 1500 postcards to a list of medical offices he had purchased. He mailed the card Chris Ripleyand about a week later he followed up with a phone call to the recipients. He only got one prospect from all of this work (and they never became a customer) and expense and said he would never do direct mail again for his business.

While I can understand his disappointment with all this effort and the lack of results, I think it might want to reconsider his decision to abandon direct mail.

First of all, I consider this a random act of marketing. Ben Glass, a legal marketing expert, goes around handing out buttons with “random acts of marketing” and the big red line diagonally across the button – in other words – “no random acts of marketing”. They say it takes seven touches before someone will trust you enough to consider doing business with you. He had only made two touches.

The other place to look is the content of the postcard (also understand in this discussion we could be talking about almost any media – online or offline). Did the postcard grab the attention of the prospect? Did it educate the prospect as to why they should choose this IT company over any other IT company they may be doing business with today? Was there a low-risk offer for them to take the next step in the sales process?

Any marketing or advertising effort should have four elements:

1. Interrupt – Hit the qualified prospects hot buttons with a headline (in print or verbally) that break through the clutter and force them to pay attention to your marketing effort. Your headline should identify the prospects problems, frustrations, and annoyances when doing business

2. Engage – If your interrupt based on your prospects hot buttons they should be ready to be engaged. With a sub-headline make a promise to your prospect that if they listen or read on they will learn critical information to help them solve the problem or concern they have that you mentioned in the interrupt.

3. Educate – Now that you’ve interrupted and engaged you need to deliver relevant information to your prospect to convince them they would an absolute fool to do business with anyone but you, regardless of price. This should be detailed, specific, delineated information. You need to build a case for your product or service much like an attorney builds a case for a client.

4. Offer – Make a specific low-risk offer to encourage prospects to take the next step. The offer could be for more information to further educate your prospect and build on your case. It could be a free report, brochure, seminar, audio CD, or DVD to educate them even more. The goal is to allow the prospects to feel in control of the final decision.

When you follow these steps you not only capture the “now” buyers but you also capture people who may respond to your offer but aren’t ready to buy today. Keep touching these people on a regular basis and soon you will have customers coming out of the woodwork to do business with you.

Chris Ripley is a Waldorf-based marketing and business development consultant and author of “Online Marketing 101” available at and He is an adjunct professor at the College of Southern Maryland and the University of Phoenix. His Web site is and you can find him on Facebook at or Twitter at chrisripley. You can contact him at or 301-328-2113.