I recently worked on a direct marketing campaign with mediocre results.  I saw a 7.5% response, which in direct marketing would be considered very successful, but I was hoping for something north of 20%, considering the free offer provided.  I don’t have any historical data indicating that I should have gotten 20%; it’s just the number I put in my head that I thought I needed to generate the ROI I wanted on this campaign.

Next time, I am pretty sure I can improve on that number by modifying the creative, sweetening the free offer a bit and making the landing page easier to navigate.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?  I was pretty obsessed with the response and ROI of THIS campaign.  That’s not a bad thing.  I mean, marketing has to give an acceptable ROI, right?

I think what’s wrong with this picture is that I am forgetting about The two biggest hurdles for successful marketing: patience and trust.

With patience, it really takes time and consistent delivery of a message before a consumer responds.  I think this is the case for most products.  Some have such a nice “WOW” factor to them that the consumer will respond quickly.  But in general, most products take consistent messaging to generate a response.

What do I mean by trust?  Well, I think that trust is the scarcest thing available to companies.  Consumers have become leery and cynical towards companies and business in general.  They don’t trust that they will do what they say or deliver on their promises.  You can’t blame them.  Look at the exaggerated claims that companies make about their products and services, and then never deliver.  Or, how about the difficulty in returning a product or getting helpful customer service.

It’s not just company-consumer trust; its business-to-business trust, too.  Companies don’t trust sales people who come calling, selling them the latest and greatest.  Companies don’t trust consultants and other business service providers.  This has evolved, I think, because of competition: to be heard and get your marketing or sales message through all the clutter, you have to make more and more exaggerated claims about your products and services.

To really succeed, marketing requires patience that your message will resonate and get through.

Patience means consistently marketing so that customers can see that you are around for the long-haul.

This leads to trust, which will cause them to buy your products, and if they are good products, buy them again and again.

As this cycle continues, consumers will develop more and more trust in you, your company, your messaging and your products.  That’s how you get good ROI on your marketing.

So, the lesson here is that this was just one campaign, and I will want to stick with doing many more of the same campaign in the future so that I can slowly build my target market’s trust that I am here, I’m not going away, and I’ve got real value to offer in my products.