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

Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response" Newsletter
Issue #21: Niche Marketing


1. Niche Marketing?
2. The Mind of the Market
3. White Papers Made Simple
4. Powerful Points
5. Interview with...
6. Other People's Newsletters

Dear Friends,

This past month, I've been virtually chained to my desk — developing new direct mail packages for one of the largest credit card companies in America.

What can you say about credit cards that hasn't been said before?

How can you stand out in one of the most competitive industries in the world?
I racked my brain for inspiration — attended a few presentations, read a few books, and

remembered some interesting ideas — some of which I'd like to share with you.

Have a great summer!

Niche Marketing?

At the recent American Bank Marketing Association conference, I attended a fascinating presentation by Martha Barletta on "Marketing to Women."
She points out that women are not a "niche" market — but rather the largest and most lucrative market your company can address. According to the Economist, women control or influence 81% of all purchases of both consumer and business goods and services.

Some key points that I took away:

• Men are usually concerned about competition and being superior to other men. They respond to marketing that portrays them as successful, independent, in charge, maybe a bit of a maverick.

For example, Martha shows two car ads. One has the headline, "Follow the leader is only fun if you're the leader" and "Our 270-horsepower engine can beat up your...wait, you don't have a 270 horsepower engine."
These ads are clearly directed at men.

• Women are more concerned with cooperation. They want to understand other people and be understood themselves. They respond to marketing that empathizes with them, and talks about family, friends, and the personal aspects of their lives.

For example, Martha shows a terrific ad for insurance that shows a mother and says, "We never met a women who wasn't working."

When marketing to women, always remember:

1. They are primarily concerned about people and relationships.

2. They usually see themselves as part of a team, a group, but rarely on their own.

3. They want to see real people in ads - not idealized or impossible to live up to models. (Martha calls them "Barbie Dolls.")

4. They want as much information as possible. Unlike men, women seek out advice, directions, details that help them make decisions. And they're not afraid to change their mind when they learn something new.

5. They want the advertising to portray them as warmer - not winner.

These may seem like stereotypes to you - and of course, they don't apply to all women or all men.

However, I agree with Martha that there is an enormous opportunity to do more effective marketing to women, and that it's something your company should explore.

Martha just wrote a book called "Marketing to Women. How to Understand, Reach and Increase Your Share of the World's Largest Market Segment." I urge you to buy this book and read it as soon as possible.

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The Mind of the Market

If companies spend so much money on market research (and they do) why do nearly 80% of all new products fail?

A Harvard Business School professor, Gerald Zaltman, may have the answer. Zaltman has put together a brilliant new book called "How Customers Think. Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market."

How can I tell when a book is brilliant? When I've placed dozens of yellow Post-it notes on pages that I need to refer to again.

Zaltman says that traditional research such as surveys, questionnaires and focus groups don't dig deeply enough - and that 95% of our thinking happens in our unconscious.

So we need to understand what Zaltman calls the "mind of the market."

But this isn't a book that's only for researchers or academics. It's one of the best idea-stimulating books I've ever read.

"How Customers Think" includes a chapter called "Crowbars for Creative Thinking." These are ways you can both create and identify new ideas — and how to promote creative thinking within your organization.

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White Papers Made Simple

White papers are a very effective offer for a number of reasons.

They're a "low threshold" offer because it requires very little commitment from the prospect.

They can be used to teach your prospect what to look for in your industry or when they evaluate your products.

They position your company as experts, leaders and people who are willing to share valuable information. A good example is my little white paper, "101 Ways to Improve Response."

However, white papers are not always easy to do.

How do you research it? How can you make sure the information is accurate and current?

And who should write it?

Most agencies aren't equipped to do it — or they'll charge you a fortune. And most clients don't have the bandwidth to do it themselves. Plus it's hard for them to present a neutral, unbiased perspective.

One of my clients has an innovative and cost-effective solution.

They are a high technology client that makes KVM switches. They advertise in technology publications such as Information Week and Optimize.

They make arrangements with the editors and writers of these magazines to write their white papers.

The result: they get professionally-written, highly-credible white papers that reflect the latest thinking in technology - for much less than they'd have to pay an advertising agency.

Is this an idea that you could use?

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Powerful Points

As the guy who invented the "Direct Marketing on a Shoestring" Awards, I'm always looking for low-cost creative ideas. Here's one you may be able to use.

This is an idea from Ken Wax of Total Quality Selling in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Instead of sending out expensive collateral or brochures to your prospects, you might want to send them a one-page PowerPoint® presentation.

This summarizes your key benefits in a billboard fashion, giving them all the information they need on one page. It also allows you to customize your story to a specific client — which you can't really do in a brochure.

Ken Wax is an expert on presentations — and has led workshops and seminars in over a dozen countries around the world. He also has a number of very interesting articles on his website (

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Interview with..., me. Inside Direct Mail just did an interview with me that will appear in their May issue — and I thought you might like to see it before anyone else. I had a lot of fun answering their questions...

Q. What was your first job?

Even when I was a kid, I was always doing something. Delivering newspapers on my bike, mowing lawns (not on my bike) and I even set up carnivals in my backyard. In school, I worked on a moving van, and asked the owner to write me a letter of recommendation. My favorite line? "Alan picks up things easily."

Q. What made you begin a career in the advertising/marketing industry?

On a dare. A friend showed me a Creativity Test that Ogilvy & Mather published in a college newspaper. I took the test along with about 350 other people and they invited 30 of us in for a weekend training session. They hired two of us — including me. Years later, when I was appointed Creative Director of our Hong Kong office, I thanked David Ogilvy personally.

Q. What has been your most successful or memorable direct mail campaign?

My favorites are the ones that worked best. My team developed the lst check package to win customers back to AT&T. We never dreamed it would be that successful — or copied by everyone else! But it multiplied response. All told, we won back over 11 million customers.

Today, we're doing some very effective work for Working Assets Long Distance — who give a portion of their revenue to non-profit causes. Our projects require a unique combination of fundraising techniques and traditional direct marketing.

Q. What copywriter(s) have had the most influence on your craft and why?

I think I've read virtually every book on advertising and direct marketing. I've learned from the masters like John Caples, Max Sackheim, Bill Jayme, Ray Jutkins, Robert Bly, George Lois, Stan Rapp, Bill Bernbach and of course, David Ogilvy.

But I've also been greatly influenced by writers who never worked in advertising or direct marketing. Rick Reilly, from Sports Illustrated. Robert Benchley, the humorist. Elmore Leonard. Pat Conroy. Writers who know how to go past the head and touch your heart or hit you in the gut.

Q. What is your favorite book?

The answer to that changes constantly. Look at my bookshelves at home — and it looks like 14 different people live there, with completely different interests and tastes. But once I find an author I like, I read everything they've ever written. I'm currently reading Michael Shermer, who wrote "Why People Believe Weird Things."

From a marketing point of view, an excellent book is probably "Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion" by Dr. Robert Cialdini. If you want to learn how to motivate more people to respond — read this book.

Q. In terms of securing a client, what is the most daunting task facing copywriters today?

As a copywriter, you have to realize that the actual writing is the least important part of your job.

In my experience, most companies are hungry — even starving for creative ideas about their business — all you have to do is feed them. My philosophy has always been to give clients as many ideas as possibly - they always come back for more.

I wrote an article on this called "Letter to a New Copywriter" which I'd be delighted to send you, if you e-mail me at

Q. Any funny direct marketing snafus over the course of your career?

Funny? No. Snafus...sure. A few years ago, I did a direct mail package for a major investment company on Sector funds.

I did a year's worth of research in two weeks, and put together a masterful 6-panel 8 1/2 by 11 brochure. It had everything you always wanted to know about Sector funds, and was full of compelling facts, fascinating charts and scintillating statistics.

The only problem? This was supposed to be a lead generation package — and the offer was a "Free Guide to Sector Funds." After reading my brochure, there was no need to send in for it. Ouch!

Q. What is the strangest product you sold direct?

I never sell products — I was focus on the prospect. Or the main benefit. Or the offer. Charles Revson of Revlon was once at a party, and someone casually asked, "What do you sell?"

The cosmetic king answered, "I sell hope"

Q. Which companies do you find market best one-to-one?

It's always changing. One example I use in my seminars is Jiffy Lube. When they change your oil, they put a sticker in your car reminding you to come back by a certain date or specific mileage. And if you don't come back, they come and get you — by sending you a card that says "We Missed 29,450 miles"

That's smart database marketing — not from IBM or American Express — just Jiffy Lube. And if they can do it so well — so can we.

Q. If you had to choose another line of work, what would it be?

I wouldn't be happy if I had to work for just one company, or do just one job. But even if I had to leave the direct marketing business, I'm not worried. After all, "Alan picks up things easily."

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Other People's Newsletters

I just received an e-mail asking me which newsletters I read.

I'm sure you're really busy — and we all receive too much e-mail these days, but if you're interested, here are three newsletters that I highly recommend for direct marketers:

The Raphel Report. Murray Raphel is one of the smartest and most creative people I've ever met — and he loves sharing his stories and his ideas. He's also a terrific writer — and you can subscribe to his free monthly newsletters by e-mailing

Dealing Direct. From the wilds of Wisconsin, Grant Johnson puts out one of the best "how to" direct marketing newsletters. It's always filled with valuable and useful information, and you can subscribe (and read past issues) at

The Works of Marketing with Ray. Ray Jutkins is one of the world's best direct marketers — and has an enormous amount of great information to share. Visit to sign up for his free newsletter.

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