11 Personal Development Lessons From Direct Marketing (Part One)

By Jamie McSloy / September 14, 2017
personal development lessons direct marketing part one featured image

11 Personal Development Lessons From Direct Marketing (Part One)

Direct marketing is a set of principles that apply to any business that wants to increase profit and decrease costs. It works for getting more sales, more customers and learning more about how to please the customers you have. But that’s not all it does. As a complete framework, you can use direct marketing for personal development as well.

So here are eleven lessons that I’ve learned from direct marketing that apply to people in a broad sense.

Note: This turned out really long. I’ll split it in two and post the next instalment tomorrow.

Haters? Who Cares. 99% Of People Are NOT Your Target Market

In direct marketing, there’s a correct assumption that 99% of readers don’t matter. If you send out a letter to a thousand people, then you know that 900 of them are not going to buy your service or respond to you in any meaningful way. That’s just how it works.

Not everyone wants to buy your stuff. Not everyone wants to like you on Facebook. Some people would do those things but they forget, have no money or their dog throws up all over the kitchen floor just as they were going to respond.

In direct marketing, that’s a given and you simply cater to the 1% of people who do want to respond to you.

In people’s personal lives, there’s a tendency to do the opposite. Whether it’s putting time into relationships with incompatible people or spending hours trying to get good at a hobby you’ve got no real passion or talent for, people often concentrate on the 90% of rubbish they should be avoiding.

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Not everyone is going to like you. It doesn’t matter. You’re not going to get every job you apply for… that’s ok. You share the planet with billions of people, and if you only connect with 1% of them, then that’s tens of millions of people.

Don’t waste your time trying to impress people that don’t like you because there’s a 99% chance it’ll never work.

Funnels: Over Time, You Should Work Less To Get The Same Result

When you’re starting out at anything in life, assuming you want to succeed at it and it’s a goal worth having, you’re going to work hard.

I’m distrustful of anyone that sells you a shortcut, and you should be too. It’s just not how the world is set up. You put in effort and you get results out.

Direct marketing is a lot of work upfront. You delve deep into the psyche of some person you’ve never met and work out what triggers them to do things you want them to do. That is hard work. Life is also hard work.

But here’s the thing that direct marketing teaches you on that front: After you’ve done the hard work, progress gets easier. You set up a funnel. You write a letter, optimise it and then send out the better version. Hours of toil and brain intensive work disappear and are replaced by incremental improvements.

This is true of every facet of your life. If you’re a slob, there’ll be an uphill struggle to get fit, change your wardrobe and learn some social skills. But once you’ve climbed the mountain, maintenance should always be easier. If it’s not, you’re doing something wrong.

“Not All X Are Like That” And Why Universal Everything Is A Stupid Idea

Later on in this, I’m going to write about how biology is king, and how most people are programmed to respond to certain cues, triggers and psychological games.

Whilst a lot of people like to slap their hands over their ears and shout, “La, la, la” at the very notion that they can be psychologically profiled, it’s pretty well established in actual reality.

Now, before I go through those sections it’s worth pointing out the flip side to this coin.

There are those who use the notion that humans are biological robots and take it to an extreme. Whether it’s the more extreme fringes of the human biodiversity crowd, the pick-up artist who maps female behaviour down to the placing of the hairs on their head or the business statistics guru who thinks he’s created some new thing that can model financial markets ahead of time and make you billions, there are plenty of people who think that humans have no free will at all and are all exactly the same.

This kind of thinking puts you well on the road to dork-ville and it won’t get you anywhere.

If all women behaved the same in every circumstance, it’d be a lot easier to market to them.

If all men responded to the same cues in every circumstance, the world would be different.

You can paint broad strokes with marketing, but not broad enough that they cover the human race. It doesn’t work like that.

What People Say Doesn’t Matter: People Hide Their Needs From Themselves

Alright. Let’s talk about humanity’s elephant in the room.

Absolutely everyone has an aspirational version of themselves and it’s that that they tend to present to the world. That much is blatantly obvious when you watch a politician say they’re going to change everything for the better and then proceed to spend years doing precisely the same as everyone else that went before them does.

It’s also evident when you poll people for, “Do looks matter?” and they all say, “nope… I love personality and I’m totally not shallow.”

Then some guy with a chiselled face and Greek god body wins “Sexiest Man Of The Year” and a drop-dead gorgeous girl with an hourglass figure and the face of an angel wins the female equivalent.

That’s obvious. What’s not so obvious is that people don’t know what they want.

We’re great at lying to ourselves and many people actually believe that their aspirational self is the real one. It’s even true … until certain buttons are pushed. Then a person will be whatever the button tells them they are.

Even you.

P.S. I’ll continue this tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to drop any lessons you’ve learned from direct marketing in the comments!

  • Jakub says:

    12. People Like To Hear They Are Right.

    Confirm their beliefs, fears, worries, suspicions, and ideas. Disagree with them and they’ll dislike you. Tell them what they want to hear, what they believe – and they can’t get enough.

    13. Logic doesn’t matter.

    A few years back, I spent a whole year ‘convincing’ my willing best friend that religion is false – using logic. Did not work. Even though he agreed with the logic – historical records, logic on the morality, burden of proof, etc…

    He didn’t FEEL it.

    And feelings are all that matters to most people.

    Speak to their feelings. Logic doesn’t convince.

    – Even applies to yourself. You logically know what you should be doing, eating, what habits you should have. Why don’t you?

    As WSPs said… The only skill you need to succeed in life is controlling your emotions.


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