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National Mail Order Association (NMOA)
Direct Marketing
and Mail Order

Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response" Newsletter
Issue #17: Thanksgiving Edition


• Intro

• A Private Opinion

• The 4 cents difference

• Back Issues

• Happy Thanksgiving


Dear Friends,

I know it’s only been two weeks since my last newsletter — but I wanted to share some insights from an important presentation that will affect every business.

Also, my book "Confessions of a Control Freak" is now available at and if you buy now, you can be among the first to review it for them.


A Private Opinion

Privacy. It’s the 600-pound gorilla of direct marketing. And it’s beginning to rumble…

According to Robert Weintzen, President of the Direct Marketing Association, there are over 1500 Privacy initiatives that will be considered by federal and state governments in January.

Many have already been passed on a state or local level.

Because of this, the New England Direct Marketing Association recently held a Town Meeting on the Privacy issue. We considered the subject to be so important — the meeting was free and open to all.

Attorney David Bertoni gave a presentation called "Privacy. Navigating Treacherous Waters." Mr. Bertoni’s firm handles several large direct marketing companies and he is a legal advisor to the DMA.

Most of his presentation was focused on the Internet, but the principles apply to virtually every kind of customer communication.


How are companies getting into trouble?

According to Mr. Bertoni, there are three areas that are causing the most concern for direct marketers.

1. Privacy Policies.

2. The use of "surveillance" techniques such as web bugs and cookies.

3. Unsolicited commercial e-mails or "spam."

Privacy Policies are the one that I would like to focus on.

A Privacy Policy is your company’s statement (either on your printed materials or more commonly, the web) that lets people know how you treat their confidential information.

What kind of information is considered confidential?

Medical records, social security numbers, credit card information, e-mail addresses. These are all the traditional ones, but today I believe people consider everything to be confidential.

By the way, we recommend to all our clients that they shift from a BRC (Business Reply Card) to a BRE (Business Reply Envelope.) This usually increases response.

If you don’t have a Privacy Policy — you should develop one right away. It makes customers feel more comfortable working with you.

But there are two things you need to consider.

First, your Privacy Policy has to be accurate and fully disclose what information is being collected, and how it will be used.

Second, if you change what you do, your Privacy Policy must reflect that. And you may not be able change much. For example, if you promised people that their names and personal information would never be sold or traded — you can’t simply change your mind. You need to alert people to the change and get their express permission.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking at these things very, very carefully these days. They’ve doubled the number of people working on privacy matters in the past 12 months. And the avalanche of lawsuits has already started.

It’s worse for direct marketers outside the States. Canada just passed their National Privacy Law, which is being phased in over time. And the European Economic Union has some amazingly tough privacy laws and guidelines.


What can you do?

• Make sure your house is in order — by developing a Privacy Policy or reviewing the one you have.

• Stay on top of this issue — or it’s going to smack you in the head.

I’ve listed a few websites below that you might want to visit on a regular basis.

The FTC website:

General Privacy Resources:

Canadian Privacy Laws

• Contact the Direct Marketing Association or visit their website to get a copy of these two booklets.

1.Do The Right Thing. A Guide from the DMA Ethics & Consumer Affairs Department.

2.Privacy Promise. Member Compliance Guide.

If you can’t get them from the DMA — let me know, and I’ll try to help.

Finally, Mr. Bertoni recommends you hire an outside firm to conduct an official "Privacy Audit" that examines what you do, where you do it (different states have different laws) and how to protect your company.

You can contact him or receive more information by visiting


The 4 cents difference

So, I’m at a meeting of the New England Direct Marketing Association, and a guy I don’t know hands me his business card.

I smile, ready to exchange it for one of mine, and — wait a minute — his card was laminated!

The card belonged to Michael J. Reilly, a freelance copywriter who laminates his business cards. It only costs about 4 cents a card (or less) but it makes a lasting impression.

With his permission — I immediately stole the idea, and have been using it every since.

Business cards are the most popular form of advertising and direct marketing in the world -- but also the most under-utilized.

Everyone has one, but almost every one looks exactly alike.

What does yours say about you? And how can you make it stand out? I have an article about business cards that provides a number of creative and practical ideas. I’d be happy to send you it to you if you e-mail me at


Back Issues

Remember our popular Creativity Contest in issue # 9?

How about the valuable lessons of "DM in a Downturn" and the fascinating story of the Poor King in issue #7? Or the World’s Most Delicious Offer in Issue #5?

Just a reminder: You can access all our back-issues on our website at


Happy Thanksgiving

I’d like to share something with you. You may not know this about me, but I was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma 25 years ago this Fall.

Since that time, I’ve married and become the father of two (almost grown) children. I’ve traveled to 36 countries on business and vacation. I earned a black belt in Shotokan Karate at one of the toughest dojos in the world. I’ve worked as a volunteer at Sloan Kettering hospital in New York.

I have so very much to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for? I’d love to hear from you…the best answer wins a free copy of "Confessions of a Control Freak."


Forward and Backward, and a Few Additional Words about Privacy

You are welcome to forward this to anyone else who you believe may be interested.

To unsubscribe, just send me an e-mail that says "Remove" and I will understand. And once again, please let me remind you that your name and/or e-mail address will never be shared, sold, circulated, or passed along to anyone else. Thank you.

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Sharon, MA 02067
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