8 Advertising Pointers from Veteran Direct Marketer Jeffrey Dobkin

Don’t assume your customers care about you

Customers care only about what you can do for them, Dobkin cautions. That’s why self-serving newsletter and Web sites are the kiss of death for a marketing campaign. He says that customers listen only if you say things they recognize as valuable to them.

Never suppose that most sales prospects will read your direct mail

Maybe two out of 100 people peruse a successful mailing, Dobkin estimates.

Don’t try to educate your market with “image” advertising

It’s safer to assume that few people will change their buying habits in your favor, Dobkin cautions. Forget image advertising, he says. Instead, calculate the return you need on your advertising investment and concentrate on producing that response.

Never think your products will sell themselves

Even if your products are truly the best on the market, they will succeed only if your marketing is on the beam, Dobkin advises. “Poor marketing will result in no new business coming in the front door,” he observes.

Don’t count on your next promotion to make money

When pigs sprout wings, Dobkin says. If you don’t make money on a promotion, you might not be able to afford any next one. “You need to make a profit in business, not just get experience,” he advises.

In mail-order magazine advertising, go with the crowd

The synergy will help your ad generate response. Readers of the magazine will be shopping with their pens and check books in hand. If your mail-order ad is the only one in a magazine, chances are it won’t work. Study the latest year’s issues and look for ads for products like yours. “This is the only way to tell; every-thing else is a crap shoot,” Dobkin says.

Never test an ad in three consecutive magazine issues

Magazine production time is three months, Dobkin points out. “So when your first ad appears, it’s too late to cancel ads two and three. If your first ad sinks like a stone, your other two will follow it right down to the bottom. So will your money.”

Follow magazine readership seasonality

“Circulation figures stay constant, but readership goes way down in the summer,” Dobkin advises advertisers. Except for seasonal merchandise, he says, the most productive months for magazine advertising are January, February, and March. The worst months are June, July, and August.

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