The Best Marketing Research Is Free?

February 06, 2011  |   Posted by :   |   Copywriting,Research,Slideshow   |   Comments Off on The Best Marketing Research Is Free?»

The Best Marketing Research is Free?

You can spend a ton on marketing research–or absolutely nothing at all. Does one approach work better than the other? Before you answer, read this email from Bob Bly, one of America’s best known and most successful direct response copywriters. What you hear may surprise you. I’ve reprinted Bob’s email, with his permission, in its entirety. You can check out his work at Thanks, Bob…


Dear Direct Response Letter Subscriber:

Big corporations routinely spend thousands of dollars on
expensive and elaborate market research studies designed to help
them get inside the minds of their customers.

These can include mail and online surveys, telephone interviews,
and focus groups.

Entrepreneurs running small businesses become worried that if
they don’t do this kind of expensive market research, they won’t
know how to reach their prospects and will fail miserably.

But for many small companies, the cost of even one study from one
of the big market research companies would wipe out their entire
marketing budget for the year.

Relax. The good news I’m here to tell you is that focus groups
and other formal market research studies are completely

“But how will I understand my customers?” you may ask.

Simple: just use Michael Masterson’s “BDF” formula – which stands
for Beliefs, Desires, and Feelings.

The “BDF” formula says that you can understand your prospect by
asking yourself three simple questions:

“What do my prospects believe? What are their attitudes?”

“What do my prospects desire? What do they want?”

“What do my prospects feel? What are their emotions?”

There’s no market research required, because you already know
these things about your prospects … or else you wouldn’t have
chosen to start a business that caters to them.

Or to quote Dr. Benjamin Spock: “Trust yourself. You know more
than you think you do.”

For instance, a company that provides “soft skills” training to
Information Technology (IT) professionals was promoting a new
on-site seminar.

They sent out a flier where the headline was the title of the
program: “Interpersonal Skills for IT Professionals.”

It generated less than half a percent response. (The offer was
more detailed information about the program.)

So the marketing manager and the owner brainstormed and asked
themselves the BDF questions.

Here’s part of what they came up with….

* IT professionals BELIEVE that technology is all important … and
that they are smarter than the non-techies they serve.

* IT professionals DESIRE recognition … respect … continuing
opportunity to update their skill set in new technologies and
platforms … job security … more money.

* IT professionals FEEL an adversarial relationship with end
users … they are constantly arguing with them … and they resent
having to explain their technology to us ignoramuses.

Based on this BDF analysis, the company rewrote the letter and
tested it.

This time, it generated a 3% response – outperforming the old
mailing by 6 to 1.

And one third of those inquiries purchased an on-site one-day
training seminar for $3,000.

That means for every 100 pieces mailed, at a total cost of about
$100, they got 3 leads … and one order for $3,000 … a 30-to-1
return on their marketing investment.

Oh, and the headline based on the BDF analysis? It was this:

“Important news for any IT professional who has ever felt like
telling an end user, ‘Go to hell.'”

Says the company owner, “The BDF formula forced us to focus on
the prospect instead of the product (our seminar), and the result
was a winning promotion.”

Amount of money spent on market research before the mailing? Not
a dime.


Bob Bly

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