Three Essential Elements To Make Ads And Direct Mail Profitable


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Financial advisors and their firms waste millions of dollars monthly on promotions that don’t pay or produce anemic results. In many cases, these direct mail and advertising promotions can be profitable by insuring these three elements are included in the promotion.

The first thing you need is an emotionally grabbing headline that you can only compose when you know your target market better than they know themselves. This step requires that you have a target market such as retirees, business owners, executives in the glass industry, etc. A general headline like “Seeking Higher Returns with Mutual Funds” is destined to flop because it has no focus on a target market. If, for example, you are interested in marketing mutual funds to retirees, then your headline should be “Losing Money In Mutual Funds? Learn How Retirees Can Preserve Assets. ” (See sample at Run that ad in senior publications and you’ve got the beginnings of a winning ad.

It’s critical when composing your headline that you know your target market’s most powerful motivator. For example, if you prospect business owners, you cannot assume that more profits, cash flow or lower taxes are their primary concerns. Such an assumption is based on your logical thinking, not on the facts. You get the facts by meeting with 10 or more business owners and finding out what motivates them. People in the marketing department usually skip this research; they never meet with clients and often make their best guess in composing promotions. The worst case is when you have a 30-year-old marketing graduate, who has never met with clients, writing an ad targeted at seniors. The result is a promotion lacking sufficient profitability if any. To write effective copy for ads and direct mail, you need to know what your prospect’s think before they think it. Do your research because it pays larger dividends than you can imagine. Note that you must really listen when doing your research and free your mind of your own assumptions.

Ads, as well as letters, should have a headline. I know you were taught that a proper business letter has a specific format that does not include a title. That’s what your English teacher told you, but a marketing or sales letter without headline will miss opportunities for response (see sample at

Secondly, your promotion must promise a benefit in the present. A benefit is not “Learn Retirement Strategies. ” That’s a feature. A benefit is “Protect Yourself Against An Irreversible Financial Mistake” or “Start An Income For As Long As You Live­­—Guaranteed. ” Notice that both benefits are to be gained NOW. Too many advisors and financial marketers make the costly and frequent mistake by stating benefits as a future gain. Such an approach yields weak response because humans have a hard time digesting the reality of their future. Take this example: you know that cheesecake is high in fat and could contribute to high cholesterol with the long-term threat of stroke or heart disease and death. That’s a future cost but you eat the cheesecake anyway because it tastes good TODAY.

Any benefit can be stated in the present. Let’s say you have an investment designed to produce a more financially secure retirement that may be 20 years away. You must pull that benefit into the present with any of the following phrases:

“Have Piece of Mind Today That Your Financial Future Is Secure”

“Ensure Your Family’s Well Being by Starting Your Plan Now”

“How Millions of People Have Invested To Retire Early”

Last, you must make a non-intimidating offer. You cannot say “Call 800-xxx-xxxx” as this is intimidating to many people. They are afraid being trapped on the phone in a sales pitch or being talked into something they don’t want or being told information that will not understand.

A non-intimidating offer is as follows:

Call for free booklet, leave your address 24 hours, 800-xxx-xxxx

Send in the reply coupon

Attend a free seminar in your town on August 25

In all three cases above, the prospect understands that there is no fear of being trapped, as they do not need to talk to anyone.

Make your promotions work. Develop a winning headline, state a present benefit aligned with your market’s emotional concern and make a non-intimidating offer. These three variables make a huge difference in marketing effectiveness and increase your income right away.

Larry Klein CPA/PFS, CFP®, Certified Retirement Financial Advisor™ , Harvard MBA helps advisors get wealthy by being great advisors. He is co-creator of the Advanced IRA Rollover and Distribution Training and creator of the Certified Retirement Financial Advisor designation and training. Over 14,000 financial professionals use his marketing and lead systems and attend his educational programs to obtain more and better clients, serve them better, increase sales of financial products and services, increase commissions and fees, and earn more while working less. His programs are in use by brokers and planners at most major securities firms, many NASD firms, and by hundreds of independent insurance agents and captive agents with large, well-known insurance companies. Details on his winning marketing systems and his complete book on Marketing Financial Services to Seniors are available at .


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