The Secret of Physical Action

“Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.” – Alfred Adler

In your marketing campaigns, it’s a good idea to encourage your prospects to take some sort of physical action.

For instance, a mail-order marketer of pipes (the kind you burn tobacco in) told his buyers: “If you are not 100 percent satisfied with the pipe, snap the stem off and mail it back to me in an envelope for a full refund.”

One reason this worked is that it was dramatic and unexpected: The marketer actually told the customer to destroy his product if dissatisfied. But it also made the guarantee more tangible by linking it to a physical action: The copy creates a mental image of breaking the pipe in two with your bare hands.

Another example was in a successful mailing that sold an annual directory of drug information: Physicians Desk Reference (PDR). The challenge in selling an annual directory is to get your customers to buy it every year. To do that, you’ve got to convince them that (a) there are so many changes in the new directory that the old one they have is out of date, and that (b) using outdated information is bad.

The PDR promotion included a sticker that said, in bright red letters, “WARNING! This PDR is out of date and should not be used for clinical decisions.” Copy in the sales letter told the recipients to put the sticker on their old PDR until they received the new book and could replace it. It was a clever and effective way of dramatizing the claim that the old directory contained dated and potentially dangerous material.

Another great use of physical action in marketing is to tell the prospect how he can test or demonstrate the product by himself at home.

One mailing for a nutritional supplement to sharpen vision said, “Measure your vision today with an eye chart. Take the supplement for six weeks. Then measure it again and note the improvement.” To make it easier for the consumer to check his vision before and after taking the pills, the marketer enclosed a free optometrist’s eye chart.

Another mailing for a nutritional supplement featured a pill for “oral chelation,” claiming that taking the pill could improve cardiac health by removing plaque from your arteries. The copy brilliantly described a simple test the consumer could do at home to prove that the supplement was working. It said that if, after taking the pills for several weeks, you urinate into a glass container and swirl it, you will see a “white tornado” of sediment in the urine… proving that particles of plaque have been flushed out of your body.

My all time favorite “take action” marketing campaign is a magazine ad for a fireproofing compound. The headline of the ad boldly stated: “TRY BURNING THIS COUPON.” The copy tells the reader: “Hold a match to this ad. It will start to burn. Now take the match away. It will stop burning, because it is treated with our special fireproofing chemical.” (The ad was an insert sheet coated with the chemical, not a regular page of the magazine.)

Now here’s the thing: These marketers had no idea how many people, if any, were giving themselves a urine test. Or an eye test. Or peeling off the sticker and placing it on the cover of their old PDR. Or lighting the ad on fire.

But it doesn’t matter. Whether or not people took the recommended action, these promotions were extremely successful.

The conclusion: Telling your prospect to take a specific physical action – whether to demonstrate or test the product, request a refund, or for any other purpose – can increase your response rates.

Why is this so?

The fact that such an action is given – and that you are inviting him to take it – lifts your credibility enormously… even if your prospect doesn’t do it.

It also gives him confidence to go ahead and order, because he knows he can test the product with your instructions (though he is unlikely to actually do so).

Finally, we know that exercise – even mild exercise – releases endorphins that improve one’s mood. Perhaps a small amount of endorphins is released by even a little physical activity… or even the idea of it… energizing the prospect and rousing him from the stupor in which he receives and reads most of his advertising mail.

Think about an action you can encourage your prospects to take – either to demonstrate how your product works (or that it works) or to boost their confidence in you in some other way, such as by dramatizing your guarantee.

Example: You promise customers that if they try your stress-reduction program, their blood pressure will be reduced. Give them a simple log where they can record their daily BP for a month. Tell them they will see a definite improvement or you will give them their money back.

By the way, if they say their BP has not improved, take their word for it and issue the refund. Do not ask or require them to send you their completed log. Consumers dislike and distrust conditional guarantees that require them to jump through hoops before getting their refund.

[Ed. Note: Master copywriter and best-selling author Bob Bly is the editor of ETR’s ETR’s Direct Marketing Masters Edition. a program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business. Sign up for Bob’s free monthly e-zine, The Direct Response Letter, and get more than $100 in free bonuses.]