My first exposure to Direct Response Marketing was way back in the fifties. I read an ad
in a Superman comic book. It was about a 90 pound weakling who wasn’t strong enough to
defend himself against a muscle bound bully. He decided he would change that and become so
strong no bully could bother him; and he did just that. The ad said if I sent him a dime,
he would teach me how. I didn’t weigh any where near 90 pounds but I wanted to be strong,
so I sent Charles Atlas my dime.
A few weeks later I received his reply. I could build a strong body by using his Dynamic
Tension Program. All I had to do was send him, what seemed to me at the time, an enormous
amount of money. Well since I was maybe 10 years old and didn’t have an enormous amount of
money, I never learned about Dynamic Tension.
I did however, get my ten cents worth. I learned what Direct Response Marketing was
although at the time I didn’t know what it was called. Basically Direct Response Marketing
is simply offering something free or at a low cost. When they request whatever it is you
are offering, you present them with a sales offer.
Back in those days, there wasn’t any email or Internet. Television was just in its infancy. So, most of the Direct Response Marketing was done by using print media and the U.S. Mail service.
Around that time, I was a very curious kid. I mean some stranger made 10cents from me and
I wanted to learn how to do it too. I learned about the two step concept. If you had a
product you wanted to sell for $10.00, you had two ways to advertise the product.
The first way was to advertise the product and show them the price. People would send you
a check for the product. That was known as the one step method.
The second way was to offer something for free, or just ask them to write to you for more
information. The information you sent was your sales materials. This was the two step
Things haven’t changed much. The technology is different but the basics of Direct Response
Marketing remain the same.
Yester year, the two main tools of the Direct Response marketer were the print media and
the post office. Today, although marketers are still using print media and the postal
service, the Internet and television has a larger share of the ad revenue and credit cards
have pretty much replaced the customer mailing in a check to make the purchase.
Over the years I have seen all types of Direct Response business and practices. I have
looked at hundreds and hundred of “work from home” business opportunities. Most of what
you see on the Internet is just plain junk. Scams abound. I have to admit, even with all
of my years of experience, I too have fallen prey to some of these worthless opportunities.
However, even though I lost money on some of these so called work from home opportunities,
just like when I mailed my dime to Charles Atlas and never became a body builder, I learned
from the experience.
For much of my life I was in the Ministry. I served as Executive Director of several non-
profit agencies. I raised most of the funding using Direct Response Marketing. I mailed
out a Newsletter every month. Enclosed in the Newsletter was a postage-paid envelope for
the recipient to mail in a contribution.
One of the things that I have always credited my success to, whether in the “for profit” or
the “non profit” sector was operating whatever I was doing with integrity. For example the
only thing I knew about Spam back then was it was a not-so-tasty canned meat product.
However, I never sent my Newsletter to people unless they asked to be on my mailing list.
Sure, I could have purchased the names of known donors to other charities. I just chose
not to do that.
Another thing I learned in the ministry was the importance and great satisfaction you get
from helping others. As the pastor of a church I enjoyed teaching. As a work from home
entrepreneur I enjoy teaching. My church grew in numbers largely because of my teaching
ministry. My Direct Response business I operate from my home is also all about teaching
others to succeed.
Today I am active with a work from home business. I still only contact people who have
expressed an interest in the products I am selling or the business I am involved with. I
do not buy leads that are of people who just expressed an interest in a home business. The
only way to get on my list is to either ask me about one of my products or about my
Of course that is easy for me. My Direct Response Marketing is done with television
infomercials. People see a product on one of the infomercials, they call the toll free
number, My phone rings, they buy a product and I make money. I don’t have to
contact anyone that has not expressed an interest in what I have to offer.
That’s Direct Response Marketing today.
I didn’t like spam (the canned meat) back then and I don’t like spam (Unsolicited
Commercial Email) now.