Ed Mayer was an international authority on direct mail and direct marketing from the mid-1930s. He developed the 40/40/20 rule that has been a staple for the direct marketing industry ever since. The rule states that 40 percent of your direct marketing success is dependent on your audience, another 40 percent is dependent on your offer, and the last 20 percent is reserved for everything else.
But from my experience seeing a large number of successful, and unsuccessful direct campaigns, my view is the new rule is more like 60/30/10 [...]
Audience/List (60) Having a highly targeted audience is crucial to direct response campaigns. So what is a “highly targeted” audience? Ideally it is a list of prospects that are already familiar with your business and have given you permission to reach out to them. This is the audience that will pull a 30%+ response rate. If you don’t have the time or resources to acquire this type of audience, your response rates will be significantly less.
Offer (30) The offer can also make or break your direct marketing campaign. Giveaways, sales, rebates and bonus will give the recipient a reason to be interested. Any kind of value that is a scarce commodity can be a value as well--it really depends on your specific business situation, but you have to find that value and offer it to the customer. Try to approach the offer from your customer’s perspective. What do THEY think will be valuable? Don’t give away the farm, but make it significant enough to drive responses. But wait! There’s more!
Everything Else (10) Everything else is the design, medium, and copy that you choose to deliver the message. Simple is usually better, and the design should make the call-to-action obvious. But the rules for “everything else” ends there.
Never forget, without the right audience or offer, your direct responce campaign is sure to fail.