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

Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response" Newsletter
Issue #18: 2003 Edition


• Intro

• Face Time

• Retail Idea That Rocks

• Tracking Your Competition

• Opportunity Calling

• What You Were Thankful For?

• Viral Marketing


Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

May the best of your past -- be the worst of your future.

I'd like to use my first newsletter of the year to introduce my two new colleagues – Alex MacAaron and Walter Bumford.

Alex is the past Chief Operating Officer of Direct Results Group – a Boston-based direct marketing agency. She's also the Vice President of the New England Direct Marketing Association.

Walter was her Creative Director at DRG, and he and Alex have won a number of awards for their excellent work. These include two Gold Echoes for their "Marketology" package.

And so we've upped our capacity, improved our capabilities, and are gearing up to serve our clients even better in 2003.

Please call me at 617-559-0999 and let me know if you have any projects for us.


Face Time

For a long time, I've been recommending that you should always put photographs of people in your advertising and direct marketing.

There are two reasons:

  1. People are drawn to pictures of people – much more so than to pictures of "stuff." No other visual has the same stopping power.
  2. The first question anyone asks when they see an advertisement or direct mail piece is "Who is this for - people like me?" Using a photograph allows you to show your target market.

I recently did a series of advertisements for Systems Paving that proves the power of showing people

Systems Paving makes and installs beautiful inter-locking stones for driveways, walkways and patios. (See Newsletter #15 for their remarkably innovative offer.)

I developed a number of creative approaches – but there are three ads I'd like to focus on.

Ad #1:

This had a photo of a house with a beautiful driveway done by Systems Paving. The headline read, "Could You Use a Better Parking Space?"

Ad #2:

This ad had the exact same photograph – but we put in a happy couple standing in front of the driveway. The headline read, "Yes, You Can Afford it."

Ad #3:

This ad showed a close-up photograph of a beautiful young woman with the surface of an old driveway super-imposed against her face. You can see the ugly cracks and chips.

The headline read, "Does Your Driveway Need a Facelift?"

When I've shown the three ads in my seminars, there's no question which one your eye is drawn to. People are drawn straight to Ad #3 – hands down.

But what's really interesting to me is that Ad #2 seems to get far more attention than Ad #1 – even though the photographs are almost exactly alike.

The only difference is Ad #2 has people standing in the driveway.

It seems just by adding two smiling people to the photograph – it dramatically changes the impact of the ad.

So if you're not using photographs of people in your advertising or your direct marketing – you might want to start now.

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Retail Idea that Rocks

Terry Pesce of Parable Books is one of the brightest, most creative people I've ever met at one of my seminars.

She recently sent me a holiday promotion that makes excellent use of psychology.

The promotion is for a restaurant called "Left at Albuquerque." After your meal, they hand you a small envelope. On one side, it reads "You Won't Hurt Our Feelings If You Bring This Gift Back."

On the other side, it has instructions:

"Come back in January with this envelope (UNOPENED) to receive one of the following: $100 gift certificate, $10 off your meal, Free Dessert of 99 Special Margarita"

As Terry says, "This totally rocks! A gift certificate for a free dessert wouldn't bring me back. But three intriguing chances, in a SEALED envelope, create such an air of mystery and potential."

I'm trying to find a way to use this idea in direct mail.


Tracking Your Competition

Wouldn't it be smart to look through all your competition's mailings – to see what they're saying; what they're not saying; and to make sure your direct mail stands out?

You probably already keep a file with competitive samples, but here are two ways to make sure you don't miss anything they do.

  1. Inside Direct Mail (formerly Who's Mailing What) maintains a file of over 115,000 direct mail packages, updated every month.
    You can search online to see what your competition is mailing. You can even order copies of the work.
    Simply go to or call 215-238-5225 for personal assistance.
  2. A newer service called comperemedia goes a step further.

They've signed up over 10,000 households in the U.S. and Canada to collect and report on their direct mail.

So not only does comperemedia provide detailed information about the direct mail package - but they also include a demographic profile with the age, income, and region of the household who received the mailing.

Comperemedia might be more expensive than Who's Mailing What – but you can find them at

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Opportunity Calling

As I'm sure you've heard, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just announced it will create a national do-not-call registry.

Consumers will be able to call an 800 number or register on the web and opt-out of receiving telemarketing calls.

No timetable for this was set, and the Direct Marketing Association is considering legal action against the FTC – but what can you do in the meantime?

Get customers to call you.

In business-to-business, we've always known that it's better to have a prospect call in instead of sending in a reply card or going to the web.

The reason: when prospects call in, you can (A) qualify them right away, (B) understand why they're calling and exactly what they need, and (C) use that information to accelerate the sale.

In consumer marketing, getting someone to call in gives you a remarkably effective way to upgrade the sale. If they call to order one item, you may be able to sell them two or three items.

So how can you encourage prospects to call in? I have 6 suggestions:

1. If you don't have one, immediately get an 800 number. It doesn't have to be clever, or an acronym. Any 800 number will do.

2. Put your 800 number in several places throughout your direct mail package. Make it prominent.

(Note: even in e-mail, including an 800 number always increases response)

3. If possible, show a photograph of a happy, smiling person just ready to take your call.

4. Consider giving people an extra incentive to call – a special report, free shipping, etc.

5. Let people know when they should call. If you're not set up for 24/7 service – make sure you list your hours.

6 .And of course - make sure you ask them to call!

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What You Were Thankful For?

In my Thanksgiving newsletter, I asked readers, "What are you thankful for?"

I offered a free copy of my new book, Confessions of a Control Freak to the person who gave the best answer.

As you can imagine, I received a number of heartfelt replies – many of which were too personal to be shared here.

But the winning answer was a message that all of us can take to heart. It's from Anita Lewis – and it's simply this:

"Thank you for reminding me to be thankful! Life has been stressful recently, however, I have a lot to be thankful for."

I'm sure you do too, if you just stop to think about it.


Viral Marketing

So I go down to my ATM to do my own banking, pull into a gas station to pump my own gas, then head to the local salad bar to make my own lunch.

And it occurs to me – in these do-it-yourself times – why can’t you get customers to do their own marketing?

As a matter of fact you can, through a number of innovative ideas and techniques.

It's called Viral Marketing, and it usually applies only to e-mail. It's very successful too. According to Jupiter Research, over 70% of people will happily forward an e-mail if you ask them too.

However, there are also a number of ways that you can make Viral Marketing work for you in direct mail. I have a short article about this that I'd love to send you. Just e-mail me at

And why not forward this newsletter along to a friend or colleague?


We Respect Your Privacy

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.

To unsubscribe, just send me an e-mail that says "Remove" and I will understand.


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Sharon, MA 02067
Phone: 781-784-8283