Posted on 31. May, 2010 by in Marketing Fitness

David Bartons about the only guy I know that can get away with ads like this.

Even though this isn’t an example of direct response, this ad for DAVID BARTON GYM is clearly making a strong offer.

There was a time when I was once an innocent trainer with a very humble view of what it meant to be a trainer.  I was looking at what everyone else was doing and based my plan off of that.
So like everyone else, I was “working hard”, hustling for clients, and goofing off the rest of the time.  Then I decided to start my own training business.  Not too long after that, I decided it might be nice to actually make some money at it.  I then discovered DIRECT MARKETING.  Nothing was the same again.

You could say that’s the day I lost my innocence, because it was then I stopped being one of the sheep and instead became a hunter.  If you want to make the same change yourself, Direct Marketing is the only kind of marketing you should be doing.  It will force you to think aggressively about who you’re selling to, track how much you’re spending, how much it’s pulling in, and the effectiveness it’s having.  Get this right, and it’s the closest to printing money you can ever get.


When you’re growing up, everything you see around you is usually dominated by brand advertising.   Every commercial and most magazine ads can be put in that category; they’re just an effort to get the brand into the customer’s head.  The statistics show that they’re usually not very successful at it.

The problem is when a lot of small business owners start to advertise, they just follow what they’re used to and what everyone else is doing.  But if you’re a reader of this and other industry blogs, you’re probably starting to get it. You’re starting to understand the difference between Brand Advertising and the Direct Response Marketing you should be doing.  In case you don’t know, I’ve put together some general concepts for you that will help you understand exactly what it is and what you should be trying to achieve.

This post is kind of answer to the mistakes I see a lot of the small business people I know making, as well as the questions I’ve got from hundreds of speed coaching sessions I’ve had with SIX-FIGURE owners.

Hopefully it’ll get you thinking very critically about the subject and make you some money.



A simple definition is that advertising sells products, and direct marketing sells offers.  If  you need a bigger and broader definition, take this:

Advertising seeks to change behavior; direct marketing seeks to repeat or model it.

Advertising deals largely in emotional imagery. Direct marketing deals almost exclusively in facts (specific benefits derived from enumerated features, backed by proof, including performance comparisons, user testimonials, etc.)

Advertising design is often image driven.  Art and photography are frequently the primary communicators.

Response design must be functional and disruptive.  It supports the copy as the primary communicator.

If advertising is an art, direct mail is a science.


Your goal in direct marketing is to take an individual that you decide to target down your sales funnel.  Here’s what the sales funnel looks like: SUSPECT > PROSPECT > CUSTOMER > CLIENT > ADVOCATE.

You are looking to create a relationship that guides them down this course.  As a suspect, they are someone that you can potentially direct your marketing at.  A prospect is someone that has raised their hand, and indicated they are interested in what you have to offer.  A customer has made a purchase from you.  A client has made repeated purchases from you. As an advocate, they have done repeated business with you and now help you bring more people into the funnel.


Measurement is the cornerstone of all Direct Response Marketing.  You need to measure what you’re spending, who’s responding, and how much they’re worth. This will then dictate how much you continue to spend, leading to an ongoing cycle of testing and tracking.  If you get this wrong, or rely only on hunches instead of accurate measurements, you’ll only be doing a fraction of what you could be.  Get it right, and you’ll be able to print money.


When you measure the ROI of your campaigns, you will start to make these mini-assessments on all of your other business activities  You’ll start planning your time better.  You’ll change how you communicate with employees.  In general, direct response takes over your brain and starts to change how you think – it all becomes about measurement and results, and nothing else.


E-book, anyone?

E-book, anyone?


The first thing to know is that direct response marketing is bigger than any medium that you find it in.  Whether it’s the internet, print, television, or sky-writing, they are all only mediums – they have nothing to do with the message.  Whenever you hear internet marketing referred to as the be all and end all, that’s just a savvy marketer creating a message – it’s a technique they are using to get sales, but doesn’t tell you how or why buying happens.

If you learn the basic principles behind direct marketing, such as what goes in to a powerful offer, what people buy, and why they buy, you and your family will never go hungry.


Despite the fact that the internet is just a medium, it’s probably the greatest thing that’s ever happened to direct response marketing.  You can put an offer up immediately, get immediate sales data, and the entire process is nearly free.  There are so many benefits to it, that it would be foolish for you not to master this medium and everything that’s possible with it.  It can be your stepping stone to understanding and mastering all other aspects of marketing.


The goal of advertising is to “get your name out there”.  With direct response, the goals is to get their name in HERE.  They key is to market to just the people that want to be sold to.  For that, WHO your leads are is the most important thing.  Find out who they are, and get their names in here so you can sell to them.


Your List: 50-80% – who you’ve decided to target.  The quality of this list is also a big factor.

Your Offer: 25-50% – whether what you have to sell is compelling enough to buy.

Format: 15-25%  – the medium you chose, and how you use it.

Copy: 10-15%  – copy, what most amateur marketers spend the most of their time on, is the least important.  If you were selling to thirsty people in the desert, the only copy you would need is a big sign that says WATER.



The offer consists of everything that impacts the value or perceived value of the product or service, and everything that impacts the process of getting it from seller to buyer.  It’s the “deal”.  The quid pro quo.  I’ll give you a free trial, a demo, a free issue, a free report, an on-site needs assessment, a video, a calculator, a video, a calculator, a sweepstakes price, a special, a limited time price.


With any offer, you need to make a guarantee.  Or else you’re just blowing smoke.


With your marketing, you don’t want approval or agreement, you want ACTION.  That’s the difference between direct response and advertising.   You wan to tell your prospect: THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO, AND THIS IS WHAT YOU STAND TO LOSE IF YOU DON’T.  You’re not just looking for a positive response; you want immediate action.


Good direct response ads won’t win a style contests; they get results.  To the world at large, your friends, and peers, your ads won’t look good.  But the right headline will scream out to the person looking for it.  Think of how you read the newspaper, or the next time you see someone reading one, watch them do it.  They don’t read the articles that look the best – they read the articles that apply to them.  They are hynpotically drawn to them, based on the headline and opening body of text.  That’s the response you’re looking for.


Adhering to these principles has allowed me to beat the pants off of anyone that doesn’t know them or chose to achnowledge them.  Keep them in mind with all of your marketing, and you’ll be doing the same.

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31. May, 2010

You might want to change the picture of the lemonade stand you used as an example. First of all, Alex is a girl and started the most successful lemonade stand in the history of lemonade stands and she started it when she was 4 years old.

I was in Walgreens the other day and saw “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” on the packages of Mike n Ike’s. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised over $30 Million dollars for cancer research. Again, not an example of what NOT to do.

Just wanted to give you a heads up.


01. Jun, 2010

Thanks for the heads up on that Brittany.


01. Jun, 2010

You’re very welcome!! Love your blog.

Travis Tucker

01. Jun, 2010

Killer shit as always dude.
– TT


01. Jun, 2010

Awesome post Kaiser. Yes, direct response is the only way to advertise. If you’re not making an offer, what the hell are you saying? And if you’re not tracking, how do you know what to spend?

Glad you made all of that clear here – great work.

Devon NYC

01. Jun, 2010

Hey kaiser! I loved your email. You totally hit the same fears I had and still go through with my fit biz. But thanks to your help and your courses, I’m making more money than I ever have, and I can tell you it’s a great feeling!

(ps I totally agree – nothing beats the city in the summer!)

Rick Kaselj

02. Jun, 2010

Brilliant article, Kaiser. You’ve made a clear case of highlighting the advantages of direct marketing over advertising. The principles are sound and effective. Keep up the excellent work.

Rick Kaselj


02. Jun, 2010

Great article, where I work right now they spend shit load of money every month in advertising, but the way they get new members to the gym is by referrals and good relationships with business people, such as restaurants, coffee places etc etc… is all about good conections.


02. Jun, 2010

Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback. Hope the article was helpful in making you more money –

Raquelle Valderama

02. Jun, 2010

I thouth this blog was awesome Kaiser!
I’ve had completely thr worng idea about advertising for a long time, but this blog and your book have really helped a lot –
Thanks for all of the super info!


09. Jun, 2010

Kaiser, I really needed this post. Your book has helped me a lot on marketing that;s for sure. I have been getting great results – lots of clients now that I am “solo” – but I need to step up my marketing game. I want to start a bootcamp and I know I will need to do some marketing. This post really helped me get focused. Thanks for everything man.


12. Jun, 2010

Really helpful post Kaiser – thanks.

Kaiser Serajuddin

12. Jun, 2010

Hey Jeremy – with the bootcamp model especially, direct response and eying the numbers is especially valuable. Your Offer, tracking your costs, ROI per customer, and follow up, as well as referrals is vital. It’s almost the perfect business to apply these principals too. I just wrote an article for PFP for this, mainly because using direct response, I was able to start a profitable bootcamp from day one. Good luck with yours buddy.


11. Aug, 2010

Another amazing post Kaiser! I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer. Do any of you have a good direct marketing service that you reccomend? I have a few buildings in nyc that I want to do a postcard campaign and dont know where to look. I only know if but dont know if they are any good.

[…] It’s hard to estimate how much we owe to him – the truth is a lot of us wouldn’t be in this business without him.  He popularized fitness in America through his long running television show.  He invented much of the gym equipment we see today, owned a chain of gyms (that eventually was bought by Bally’s), and made a fortune in direct marketing. […]

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