Just Because You Don't Like It, Doesn't Mean It Doesn't Work


At First Chair Partners, we have a client who has a web application. That client does about $16MM in revenue annually, on about 21,000 subscribers. Want to know how they’ve driven most of these subscribers?

Direct response.

Yup, direct response. You know, that type of marketing that bombards audiences with relentless messages, hoping they’ll eventually cave. When we first engaged with the client, I have to admit - I was a little disgusted at the thought. I mean, direct response? Really?

That said. It works. It works well. And there’s a lesson in there.

There are a lot of things out in the world that you or I don’t like. Popup ads, direct response marketing, billboards, commercials, dumb social games on Facebook. But, just because we don’t like them doesn’t mean they’re not successful and effective. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea that DR drives so much revenue (well, I love it and I hate it), but the numbers don’t lie. $16 Million. Hard to argue with that kind of cash flow.

Now, the counter argument goes like this: “Yeah, that may be so, Justin, but if they used more sophisticated techniques and approaches, they could be doing $30M, so they’re actually doing damage”. But is that true? It’s a beautiful straw man, but my suspicion is that oftentimes, these arguments are suspect (not always, but more than the parties involved would like to admit). To quote the intro of a show I sometimes listen to on XM Radio: “In God we trust; all others must bring data”.

So, here’s the deal. When you’re discussing things like this with someone, keep a bit of humility. You may see the world a completely different way (“Popup ads?! Seriously?!”), but the person on the other side is just as convinced. Often, they have data to back it up, and unless you’ve got data that can refute theirs legitimately, it might be best to listen and critique objectively, instead of turning to emotionally entrenched positions.

I’ll be the first to admit that when I heard about the direct response thing, I was legitimately put off. My gut was to jump all over it as an antiquated strategy that could surely be replaced by something more sophisticated. But $16 Million. I don’t have data to refute that. We can test new initiatives, see how they stack up (Cost of Customer Aquisition comparisons, all that), but ultimately, I have to admit - DR is working. A lot of things I don’t like are working.

Related Posts

How to Turn Off Facebook Live Notifications

Facebook Live is cool, but the constant notifications about new videos aren't. Here's how to turn them off and get some peace.

If You Don't Have a Feedback System, It's Not Agile

Everyone loves to throw around the 'agile' word, when talking about how they approach development. But, who's actually doing it, and who's just pretending?

When Employee Retention is a Bad Thing

Having employees that stay around for awhile is a great thing, right? Maybe not always.

Review: Project 333

In a desparate attempt to declutter our space, we gave this radical program a try. Game changer, for sure.

There's no such thing as B2B

B2B doesn't exist. You're always selling B2C.

Review: Figma

A look inside of one of the newest tools out there for user experience and visual designers.

How to Trim the End of a Path in Javascript

Need to trim off the end of a path in Javascript? Here's a one-line solution.

How I'm Planning My Meals This Year

Eating is something we all have to do every day, and with a solid plan, you can keep it efficient and healthy. Here's how I'm planning out my meals, so it doesn't distract me from the important things.

My 2017 Reading Plan (And How to Read 50 Books this Year)

How I'm setting myself up to crush my reading goals, and how you can do it too.

Strength Training with Stronglifts 5x5

Looking for a workout program that gets results and keeps you on an intentional plan? Check out Stronglifts.