Cumulative Effect and the Consumer Adoption Process [VIDEO]

The most common mistake we see companies make in their direct marketing is inadequate frequency and thus, insufficient cumulative effect to move prospects to adoption.

Typically we’ll find a company that will try a direct marketing piece or two and conclude the results aren’t worth the cost and just suddenly stop. They may try it again later with a similar result and conclude that direct marketing is expensive, doesn’t work in their industry or isn’t right for their product.

At SCG we believe electronic and conventional direct marketing is one of the best, most cost effective weapons a marketer has, especially in this challenging, flat economy. It allows for precision targeting of key audiences qualified to buy, and also creates an ideal opportunity for measurement. The benefit of measurement can change direct marketing from an expense to an investment, especially if you look at it as a strategy rather than a tactic. Companies that under-invest in direct marketing are generally just wasting their money. On the other hand, companies that optimally invest in direct marketing can steal share and build their brand while they’re at it. One key to building a successful strategy in direct marketing is to consider cumulative effect.

The model below highlights the consumer adoption process. It takes a different, often more aggressive approach to shift someone from unaware to aware; for that jump we have found the best way is through the use of creative leverage. Once prospects are aware, they are ready to become interested and get informed (here’s where rich content comes in), and ultimately, they’ll be ready to try the product (this is where the personal touch comes in).


A simple way to summarize this process is to think about how each wave of your direct program has a cumulative effect. For example, though a recipient may not respond directly to your latest direct marketing wave, you may have made them interested and ready to begin the process of getting more information about your offering.

Looking at cumulative effect from the standpoint of the consumer adoption process makes the concept easy to understand. Used properly, direct marketing can contribute substantial new revenue to your business at a manageable cost that is a sound investment with a measurable return. A key ingredient to all of this is paying attention to cumulative effect.

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Patrick Strother

Patrick founded Strother Communications Group (SCG) in 1992. His background is unique in that he has led both a public relations firm (Rowland Worldwide – Midwest) and an ad agency (Cevette and Company.) SCG was founded on the premise that […] Read Bio »


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