5 Things to Know Before Starting in Direct Response

By Richard Parkin

New year, new start, as the saying goes. 

If you’re reading this blog, you probably know at least a little about Direct Response – maybe you’ve seen some of the results that major players in the industry achieve, maybe you’re just starting out as part of a Direct Response team, or maybe you’re just taking a new direction in your career.

Whatever your story is, this blog’s all about getting you up to speed. I’m going to start with a quick introduction to Shockwave Solutions, to explain what we do for major Direct Response entrepreneurs, before diving into 5 million-dollar strategies, positions, and concepts.

Of course, if you want to skip straight to the money-making steps, just click here!

Introducing Shockwave Solutions

Shockwave Solutions is an operations company specializing in the Direct Response sector. We’re going to cover operations in more depth a little later on, but here’s the simple summary:

We help our clients make more money, keep more of that money – and stay out of trouble.

Right now, we work with some of the single biggest entrepreneurs in the Direct Response space, building their profit margins while removing the little day-to-day fires that stop them from focusing on growing their businesses. 

In this piece, I’m sharing some of the baseline strategies we use – the basic steps we build on for every one of our clients.

1: Test, Test, Test!

So, you’ve got a funnel that works well. Your ads bring in a lot of engaged potential clients. You’ve got a sales letter that they want to listen to. You’ve got a product that makes a difference, and you’ve got a solid set of upsells and downsells to vastly increase your average order value.

That’s it, right? You’ve got everything working, so why mess with it?


‘Good enough’ isn’t the goal. You need to optimize every offer you’re running, or you’re leaving money on the table for no reason at all.

And optimization means testing everything. Ads, funnel, offers, emails – everything. If you’re not running tests, you’re throwing away that money for no real reason.

And even if, somehow, you’ve built the perfect funnel from day one, here’s a fact you should know – funnels don’t work forever. 

Let’s say it’s 2019 – you’ve got a high-performing funnel, your products are converting really well… right up until 2020 hits. 

All of a sudden, everyone’s got a different set of priorities. Everything’s turned upside down, and your marketing message just doesn’t quite hit the same any more. You’ve got 3 options. 

Keep everything the same, hoping to wait it out… Panic and change everything… Or carry on testing until you find what works in this new environment.

It’s a dramatic example, but smaller changes happen all the time, and can turn your strategies into yesterday’s news faster than you can imagine.

There’s only one thing that lets you know you’re always getting the best possible results – always be testing.

2: Hooking Customers

There’s a long-standing belief in marketing that the average person has a 30-second attention span. You’ve got 30 seconds to make the case that your viewer should spend their hard-earned money on whatever it is you’re selling.

In Direct Response, we’ve found two problems with that belief. 

One – it’s more like 5 seconds. Most Direct Response ads are pushed out through social media, where there’s a near-infinite number of competitors for a viewer’s attention, cutting down attention spans to mere moments. 

Two – 30 seconds isn’t enough to sell most Direct Response products – and 5 seconds isn’t really enough to effectively sell much of anything.

The solution? Building the perfect ‘hook’…

A sudden burst right at the start, to grab the viewer’s attention, and force them to keep on watching. 

That hook typically won’t be about your product – because there are very few products interesting enough to make that work.

Instead, the hook is usually a short, hyper-emotive statement that the viewer is going to relate to their own problems. You’re going to take the problem your product solves, and give the viewer a worst case scenario: I couldn’t see my grandkids because the pain was so bad – I got jilted at the altar because of my snoring…

You’re letting them fill in the blanks – ‘that could happen to me’… and once you build that emotional connection, they’re not going to break it by clicking away.

3: When you Scale, so do your Problems

This is one thing that entrepreneurs just do not realize. It’s why so many clients seek us out. They’ve not focused on operations, have just papered over the cracks while scaling their business… and are just now realizing how big those cracks have become. 

Here’s the fact: problems don’t go away when they’re ignored. 

There’s a pretty clear reason why people ignore operations – they’re not glamorous, and there’s so many fires that need to be put out, so many profit opportunities to chase. Operations get pushed to the back of the line… until it’s too late.

Get your house in order before you start scaling, and you’re going to save yourself a huge headache later down the line. 

While I’m not going to stop to give a full, hours-long explanation of how to get your operations in order, here’s 3 basic points that every Direct Response entrepreneur has to address… sooner or later:

1: Have a clear focus and purpose for your company – and make sure your team knows those, and their individual role in them.

2: Define expectations and processes for all repeatable tasks in your business, ensuring consistent, scalable results.

3: Build clear paths for accountability – if your team doesn’t know who’s responsible for what, tasks don’t get done, they just get lost. 

4: Use your Email Lists!

Your customer journey doesn’t have to end with a purchase. The email contacts you collect through checkout, exit intent popups and signups are one of the most valuable assets you have access to…

If you know how to best utilize them.

By harnessing affiliate offers, list rentals and quality goodwill content, you can keep your audience actively engaged for far past their initial purchase.

While every audience is going to respond better to different setups, here’s a basic look at how you can monetize your buyer list:

Once the basic transactional emails are sent and the buyer is fully onboarded, you may want to send a few goodwill messages.

As the name suggests, there’s nothing salesy about these messages. You’re sending the buyer interesting content – a recipe, a Youtube video, maybe a free eBook.

Here, you’re aiming to accomplish two things:

1: Signal to the buyer that they should keep on opening and clicking your emails, because the content is going to be interesting.

2: Signal to various inboxes that you’re sending high-value content, not just spamming offers and sales.

After this initial push, you can start making money. Send out affiliate offers for a sales-based commission, send out exclusive deals for your other products, or rent out portions of your list to interested buyers.

Over time, you’ll be refining that list, developing more in-depth sequences, turning your list into one of your most valuable possessions, a consistent source of low-cost additional revenue.

5: Compliance Matters

This is, bar none, the single most important thing this blog can teach you. There’s a real tendency for Direct Response visionaries to believe that compliance is something for other people… 

That you don’t really need to pay much attention to the rules.

This is an incredibly dangerous belief. 

You don’t get to break the rules forever. While agencies like the FTC and FDA may move slowly, they do that for a reason – because they take the time to gather every single piece of evidence they need, to make every case a slam dunk, and every win a big win. 

Any long-term Direct Response entrepreneur is going to tell you the same thing – you don’t win against the FTC/ FDA/ ETC. If they come knocking on your door, your best course of action is usually going to be to shutter the company.

Of course, that’s a pretty drastic step, your best option for the worst-case scenario…

Here’s a better way to handle things:

Be compliant from day one. 

But what does that actually mean? 

Compliance can be complicated, especially in a field as fast moving as Direct Response…

Good news for anyone starting out in Direct Response: the legal superstars over at Gordon Rees literally wrote the book on compliance, and they’re giving it away [completely free]. 

I can’t put it any simpler than this: if you’re looking to start in Direct Response, then whatever you’re selling, whatever you’ve planned, you need to read that book. 

That’s not an exaggeration – understanding compliance means the difference between a multi-million dollar profit… and a multi-million dollar fine.

That’s about it for this introduction to Direct Response. We’ve covered some of the most important topics in the industry, some of the big game changers we implement for our Direct Response clients…

But the simple fact is, Direct Response is one of the fastest-evolving market sectors there is, where tried and tested strategies become outdated every single day. 

So before you start your Direct Response journey, there’s just one more step to take – sign up to the Shockwave Solutions mailing list for regular updates on everything happening in Direct Response.

Join Our Newsletter


Leave A Comment