Best Practices for Advertising and Direct Mail

Have you wasted money on advertising that doesn't work? Have you dropped thousands of dollars purchasing a list and sending direct mail to prospects only to get a 1% return?

I feel your pain.

But if you think we're going to suggest you abandon all your advertising and direct mail and go with a 100% online approach, you're sorely mistaken.
What we recommend is a hybrid approach: combine offline and online, and implement direct response model that gets your users from the offline world into the online world.

We recommend the Two-Step approach to advertising and direct mail

John Jantsch, in his book Duct Tape Marketing, coined the term Two-Step Advertising. This was in response to the decreasing effectiveness of advertising and direct mail.

The two-step approach consists of the following:
Step one: Create something of value your customers want: a special report, workshop, evaluation, trial products, checklists, newsletters, courses or tip sheets. In your ad copy or direct mail copy, sell this free offer, not your company or service.

Prospects will ignore advertising or throw away direct mail that promotes your business or product, but they'll be very interested in learning something new.

For example, if you sell landscaping services and you typically hang door-hangers on front doors of residential neighborhoods, instead of having them call you for a free quote, offer a report such as '7 Steps To A Beautiful Yard That Will Make You The Envy Of Your Neighbors.'

Step two:Provide this report in exchange for their email address (see previous blog post on building your email opt-in list), and start marketing to them like crazy!

Landing pages are the key to two-step advertising

The interface between your offline advertising and your online marketing efforts is a well-designed landing page that converts your visitors into subscribers or customers.
Make sure you have a simple URL, because prospects will be reading your ad offline, and they won’t have the ability to click.

The URL should be short as well, especially if your ad is a 1/16th page rectangle at the back of your local newspaper.
On the landing page itself you should include the best practices mentioned in our previous post on content marketing and email opt-in lists.

However, we summarize them here:

Keep your most important information above the fold. Advertising is an interruption tactic; prospects were not waiting for your message, so when they come to your page and it’s full of long content they’re more likely to go away. Keep benefits, sign-up forms and videos above the fold, for example.

Sell the offer, not your company or product.The reason why prospects responded in the first place was because your advertisement or postcard or letter advertised your workshop or special report. Respect their wishes and sell the workshop or special report on the landing page.

Keep the form short.Ask for name and email address only. Your purpose is to sell them on giving up their email address in exchange for your free offer so you can continue to market to them. Your next email may be an invitation to come into your store, but at least the email was welcome, as opposed to advertising or direct mail, which is an interruption in your day.

Make your landing page scanable. Use lots of sub-heads, bold text, images, bulleted lists, Johnson boxes. You want your prospect understanding what you're offering without having to read the fine print.

Use video. Did we say video is big? It's huge…and it plays well with prospects who love their smartphones, especially if they see your advertisement on a billboard (warning: don’t navigate to a landing page while driving!) or at your local coffee shop.


There's an old saying: what's old is new. Advertising, and especially direct mail, are making a come-back. But not the same way they were pre-Internet.

If you send postcards, direct mail letters, or advertise in the newspaper or in one of those community bulk mail services, use a two-step approach. And use a well designed landing page to make it work for you.