Tax & Accounting Blog

The 40/40/20 Rule

Marketing September 23, 2013

Marketing MondaysSo you’ve decided that you want to do a marketing communication, direct mail, or email. It’s tempting to immediately start thinking about a clever message. Or maybe you’re imagining an impactful graphic image or presentation. According to the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing, you’re already in trouble.  

The 40/40/20 rule says that 40% of the success of your campaign will depend on your list selection, 40% on your offer, and only 20% on your creative execution. Guess where most marketers spend 80% or more of their time? Yep – on the creative. Because that’s the fun part. But it’s not where your success will be determined.  

It Starts with the List

40% of your success depends on the list that you mail or email to. If you’re sending to current customers or prospects that already know you, then you have an excellent list. But if you’re trying to grow your practice beyond those audiences, you need to ensure that you’re talking to good prospects who are likely to be interested in your services. 

So how do you do that? A good way to start is to look for things that your current clients have in common. Maybe your clients tend to specialize in a particular type of business (vertical market). Maybe they tend to be newer businesses that have opened in your area, or maybe they’re new homeowners. Once you’ve determined a profile, you can put together (or often purchase) a list of new prospects that fits it. 

What’s Your Offer?

What’s in it for your audience? 40% of your campaign’s success depends on the answer to that question. So you’ll want to make sure that you give your audience a compelling reason to respond. 

Offering a discount is a possible offer, but it isn’t the only one, and it may not be the most effective. A free half-hour consultation or a white paper dealing with a tax or financial issue that could be impacting your audience may be a better option. This is related to the call to action that we talked about last week. What, specifically, do you want the prospect to do? What will they get in return for doing it?

Now You Can Start the Creative

Only after you have determined your audience and your offer should you start working on the creative. The understanding you gained during the first two steps will help you and/or your marketing folks craft a much more effective communication. At this point, you’re executing a plan. You know who you are talking to and what you want them to do. That knowledge will make it much easier for you to craft a message that drives to the specific action that you’re seeking. And that will ultimately improve the effectiveness of your campaign. 

Designing a marketing communication around a clever idea or presentation can be fun. But remember the 40/40/20 rule. Give careful thought to who your audience is and what you would like them to do, then give them a compelling reason to take the action you want. This will maximize the effectiveness of your campaign and the return on your marketing investment.