It's such a great question and yet such a difficult one to answer! Nonetheless, I'm going to try my hand at answering this exact question without making your eyes glaze over and your mind turn to cottage cheese. Understanding what makes Direct Response different can mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and an unsuccessful one.
Just like American politics is divided primarily between Republicans and Democrats, the world of marketing is generally divided between what you would call "Brand Marketers" and what you would call "Direct Marketers." To be fair, these two worlds often do intersect (even though the staunch advocates on either side would never accept that idea!) and the one school of thought compliments and blends into the other.
Remember - these are just 2 schools of thought. There's nothing set in stone that says you absolutely must market yourself in any particular way. In fact, some of the best marketing is about learning from the greats and then adapting, evolving, and breaking out of the mold. So in your pursuit to master direct response, don't fret about doing it perfectly or following some formula. Just focus on the principles and make it work for you.
Direct + Response = Direct Response
Ok, I know this little formula I cooked up looks obvious, but it should be! The two words "direct" and "response" reveal the great mystery that lies behind the ideas of "Direct Response Marketing." This is *direct* marketing (targeting the exact person you want to reach) focused on generating a specific *response* (what you want that person to do next).
Let's contrast this with the other school of thought, brand marketing, where the focus is entirely around embedding your image, your brand, and what you represent into the mind of your target consumer. So brand marketing doesn't focus on generating an immediate and specific response. Instead, it focuses on creating a long-lasting impression.
What Is Direct Response Marketing For Small Business?
If you're like most small businesses, your #1 goal is to grow your business with more sales, more revenue, and more profit. So based on these simple definitions above, which approach do you think is going to help you achieve that goal fastest?
I hope you said "Direct Response Marketing."
Unfortunately, most small business owners approach their marketing more like Brand Marketers than Direct Response Marketers. Since most of our cultural education about marketing comes from major corporations like Starbucks, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, etc, it's really no surprise. This is what people see, and so naturally it's what people emulate when they don't really know any better.
I want to challenge you to start implementing more direct response marketing strategies in your business starting today. Obviously, this post just introduced you to the basics, and the "rabbit hole" definitely does go much deeper. But inch-by-inch you can start learning more about Direct Response, how it works, and how you can put it to work to help you grow your business.