Why Perception Is More Important in Direct Marketing

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See, feel, and touch applies to purchases, repurchases, and returns.

In direct marketing, eliminating the wrong perceptions is the first step-creating positive new perceptions is the second step. What are some of these wrong perceptions that consumers have?

It Won’t Fit – Size Matters 

Frankly, the customer may be right, for there is no better or worse chance it will fit than when you read a size tag on a rack in a store. Mail order professionals have eliminated this problem by one-size-fits-all (wraparounds, muumuus, stretch socks, etc.), broad size ranges (S, M, L, XL), child sizes based on age, height, or weight, and ring sizes based on an enclosed die-cut set of holes you slip your finger into.

Most size problems are eliminated because the mail-order firm develops a perception that if it is not exactly right, you can send it back.

The Color Probably Won’t Be Right.

Science says color perception is very subjective. There are several ways to solve this problem:

  • Use basic colors only.
  • Include multiple colors in your product (that is, several cosmetic lip, eyeliner items).
  • Use high-key color photography.

Again, perception plays an important part. 

The Failure Of Electronics

Electronics, gadgets, certain housewares, and toys all fall into this category. Perception’s role here is to assure the prospect it will work by using brand names, executing meticulous quality control, and staying away from products with a high trouble ratio. Still, perception must be developed that convinces the reader or listener that the item really can be returned with no questions asked.

The guarantee is perception’s best friend. Guaranteeing your product or service guarantees the perception that eliminates the fear of wrong size, color, or the possibility that the product won’t work. That is why unconditional guarantees tend to increase response rates even further. The unconditional guarantee takes the remaining doubt out of the prospect’s mind. That is why successful firms always include an unconditional guarantee and make certain it receives important positioning in the communication.

The Distribution Channel Of The Shortest Length Is Never Expected

The best way to eliminate this fear is to ship your product or service quickly. That doesn’t solve the problem for the person who has never done business with you before.

You must include positive perception copy in your advertising. Many little things add up, like “guaranteed delivery for the holidays,” stamping “RUSH” on your order form, pre-clearances, such as a credit clearance, and “limited time offer.”

Complications That May Arise

Banks, thrift organizations, insurance companies, and loan operations have done much to create this problem and are now doing much to correct it. It all centers around response documents: order forms, response cards, coupons, reply envelopes, and applications. Your customers are people, and people shy away from things they feel they cannot do. Many perceive they can’t fill out a complicated order form. All kinds of excuses are voiced, with “I don’t have time” probably being expressed the most. It is a great excuse.

Lawyers and regulatory agencies have dictated that forms to fill out must be complicated. There are several ways to develop a positive perception that will do much to eliminate this hesitancy.

Tell them it is as easy as 1-2-3 to fill out the form. If you tell them it is easy, they will believe you. Spending a lot of time on your firm’s graphic presentation is usually more than worth the time involved. Carefully constructed graphics make complicated forms look easy.

An important part of your simplicity program will be to find out how much data is really needed. This means arguing it out with lawyers and those product managers who say, “this is the way they want it.” The use of a readable typeface helps.

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