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Free Classifieds Free Marketing & Promotion Newsletter
Weekly Internet Promotion Articles

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Vol. 1 issue #177 Nov 18, 2005



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Two-Step Marketing - An Old Idea Come Full Circle
2005 By Dan B. Cauthron

Whether out of necessity or perhaps wisdom, cost
conscious mail order direct marketers of past decades
did manage to develop and perfect a unique
promotional method that, if applied correctly, still
cuts a wide swath in today's market.

Using a two-step approach toward market contact,
employing small classified advertisements as the
vehicle, they learned to validate prospect interest
at the front end, increase bottom line profit, and
cut cost of sale to the bone by eliminating cold
broadcast mailings and other fruitless marketing

To this day, one can scan magazines, tabloids, and
even local newpapers to see countless offers that are
still being promoted with small two-step ads. Many of
those tiny ads have been running without stop for
years on end, while the foundation of the entire
system lies with the ad itself.

A great two-step ad is carefully worded, with only
two reasons to exist:

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- to create interest or curiosity in the reader

- to prompt her toward taking an action.

That is the essence of step one in a two-step mail
order promotion. The reader was typically promised
"further details" or a "free report" in exchange for
her postcard or letter sent to a designated postal

In his turn, the direct marketer would then exercise
step two by returning an appropriate reply, again by
postal mail. While it proved immensely profitable,
the process was labor intensive and time consuming at
its best.

Still today, even with the advent of Internet
marketing technology, the underlying concept of two-
step marketing has changed little. The singular
difference is that the prospect is no longer required
to mail a letter, or wait days or weeks to get the
information she desires.

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Instead, she can acquire that information immediately
by sending a simple email to an autoresponder system,
by visiting a website, or by calling a toll free
telephone number. Her action in step one still
qualifies her as a highly targeted prospect, but
there is no cooling off period while waiting for the
postal mail to arrive. The opportunity for further
action on her part (ie. making a purchase) is
presented immediately, while her interest is at peak

So it goes without saying, this current evolution of
the two-step classified ad, coupled with modern
methods of instant information delivery, has forged
one of the most powerful marketing strategies
available to today's direct sellers.

Still, to achieve maximum effectiveness with two-step
marketing, there are a few rules to be observed.

Rule 1 - Don't Try to Sell From a Small Ad

Once again, a two-step advertisement has one purpose
only - to create interest or curiosity in the reader,
and prompt her to take a desired action. That action
is, of course, to contact the marketer for further
information. Selling is not the issue at this point.

Rule 2 - Advertise Benefits and Solutions

Many experienced two-step marketers say the product
or service itself should never be directly mentioned
in the text of the ad. Instead, the ad should only
convey benefits the reader can gain, or possibly a
solution to a defined problem.

Rule 3 - Convenient Contact

Make it as easy as possible for the reader/prospect
to get the information she wants. It's best to
include at least two contact methods within the ad
text (ie. email autoresponder, website URL, toll free
telephone number.)

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Rule 4 - Follow Up for the Sale

Depending on the statistics one reads, as little as
20% of all sales are made on the first contact. That
means as much as 80% of potential profits hang in the
balance, depending on multiple follow up contacts to
close sales and render a profitable campaign. Email
marketing by autoresponder has infinitely streamlined
the multiple follow up process, without adding any
appreciable amount to cost of sale.

Rule 5 - Test Several Ads and Track the Results

Two-step ads are traditionally small, often comprised
of only three to five lines of text. Since each
single word should be weighed and measured for
effect, it's important to develop several different
ads for any promotion, and to track the results from
each ad. The pulling power of one ad will frequently
outweigh all others by virtue of a few simple word

Rule 6 - Consistent Placement of Ads

Small classified type ads do not carry the immediate
credibility of a larger display ad, a webpage, or
even an email solo advertisement. A typical reader
may need to see the ad more than once in the same
venue, before she feels comfortable in making a
response. This writer's own campaign tracking has
revealed the majority of response from two-step ads
often comes after the second or third ad run in any
particular venue. On the other hand, one time
insertions have, more often that not, proved a
financial loss.

The decades old concept of two-step marketing has
evolved and meshed perfectly with today's electronic
marketing technology. When used properly, it can pre-
qualify prospects, generate high
value emailing lists, dramatically reduce cost per
sale, and improve bottom line profit for small and
large direct marketing companies alike.


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