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"Improve Your Response"
Issue # 26: JANUARY 2004
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
1. Toll-Free Advice
2. The Future of Database Marketing?
3. Self-Mailer Controversy Settled
4. Blitz versus Orbitz
5. News about Newsletters
6. Spanish Creativity
Im traveling a lot these days
with consulting assignments
in Utah, Virginia, California, and upcoming seminars in Australia and
On a recent trip, a striking young woman sat down next to me on an almost
empty flight. My immediate reaction was to ask her to move, so I could
spread out and sleep.
But as I was about to talk to her, I noticed she seemed upset, and was
struggling not to cry.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"No," she said, "I'm not okay. I hate flying...I'm terrified. Can I hold
"Absolutely," I reassured her. She clutched my hand to her..., well,
she held my hand pretty tightly for about an hour or so. I encouraged
her to talk to take her mind off the flight and she told
me she had just graduated from college and was going to San Francisco
to join a dance group.
Every time the place would bounce a bit, she'd practically crawl into
my lap. And I'm feeling pretty good about the whole thing...until the
end of the flight.
We stand up, and she kisses me lightly on the cheek. And then delivers
the devastating blow...
"You remind me so much of my Dad!"
I dont think Ive ever felt older
Have a great year,
P.S. Id like to add a special welcome to our new subscribers in
India, Israel, Rumania, Saudi Arabia, and the Ukraine.
In recent weeks, Ive had a couple of clients ask me how important
it is to include a prominent 800 number in their direct marketing
Im astonished at the question.
As far as I know, the only companies who dont use an 800
number are the book, video and music clubs. The reason: they dont
want to make it easy for you to cancel your membership.
In my experience, the use of an 800 number substantially increases
response in direct mail, advertisements and even e-mail.
(Ill come back to that last one in a moment)
The reasons are:
- You capture people who are interested but not quite sold. They
may call for more information - and the telemarketer may be able
to persuade them to respond.
- You capture anyone with a question. Even if you try to anticipate
questions and provide a Q&A, there are some questions you
might forget to address.
- You portray yourself as a customer-centric company. You don't
want people thinking, "Gee, they don't even have an 800 number.
What if I have a problem down the line? Will I be able to reach
- You capture a subset of people - particularly older people
- who need to talk to someone before they make a decision.
In e-mail, it doesnt seem to make sense to include an 800
number. After all, people can just respond online.
But many people print out their e-mails. And tests weve done
show that putting an 800 number in the e-mail can increase response
Would you like to discuss this further? You can reach me at our
toll-free number 1-866-559-0999.
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The Future of Database Marketing?
This imaginary telemarketing call was forwarded to me by
my good friend, Ray Considine. It isnt as far fetched as it may
Operator: "Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. May I have your..."
Customer: "Hi, I'd like to order."
Operator: "May I have your NIDN first, sir?"
Customer: "My National ID Number, yeah, hold
on, eh, it's
Operator: "Thank you, Mr. Sheehan. I see you live at 1742 Meadowland
Drive, and the phone number's 494-2366. Your office number over at Lincoln
Insurance is 745-2302 and your cell number's 266-2566.
Customer: "Huh? Where did you get
all this information?"
Operator: "We're wired into the system, sir."
(Sighs) "Oh, well, I'd like to order a couple of your All-Meat
Operator: "I don't think that's a good idea, sir."
Customer: "Why not?"
Operator: "Sir, your medical records indicate
that you've got high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Your National
Health Care provider won't allow such an unhealthy choice."
Customer: "Damn. What do you recommend,
Operator: "You might try our low-fat Soybean
Yogurt Pizza. I'm sure
you'll like it."
Customer: "What makes you think I'd like
something like that?"
Operator: "Well, you checked out 'Gourmet
Soybean Recipes' from your local library last week, sir. That's why I
made the suggestion."
Customer: "All right, all right. Give me
two family-sized ones, then.
Operator: "That should be plenty for you,
your wife and your four kids, sir. That comes to $49.99."
Customer: "Let me give you my credit card
Operator: "I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid
you'll have to pay in cash.
Your credit card balance is over its limit."
Customer: "I'll run over to the ATM and
get some cash before your driver gets here."
Operator: "That won't work either, sir.
Your checking account's
Customer: "Never mind. Just send the pizzas.
I'll have the cash ready. How long will it take?"
Operator: "It'll be about 45 minutes. Will
there be anything else, sir?"
Customer: "No, nothing. Oh, yeah, don't
forget the two free liters of
Coke your ad says I get with the pizzas."
Operator: "I'm sorry sir, but our ad's exclusionary
clause prevents us from offering free soda to diabetics."
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Self-Mailer Controversy Settled
Last issue, I asked you for your opinion about self-mailers.
Just to clarify what I mean, a self-mailer is any direct mail package
that doesnt require an envelope. The name and address are printed
right on the piece.
Its been my experience that they dont work as well as letter
packages. Most of you agreed with me with a couple of exceptions
that Id like to share with you:
1. Double postcards can double your response
For certain kinds of companies, double postcards are extremely
effective. I almost always recommend them for low-cost lead generation.
If youre not familiar with the format, they are two postcards,
with a perforation between the two cards. One side of both cards
is personalized, and the prospect simply tears off the reply part
and sends it back.
Double postcards have worked very well for magazines and newsletters,
as well as for travel companies and even business-to-business.
In his book, Million Dollar Mailings, Denny Hatch shows
71 of the most successful direct mail packages of all time.
Four of them are double postcards.
Worth a test?
2. Self-mailers can work well when you have
an untargeted list.
When youre mailing to large numbers of (yet) unqualified
people, a self-mailer may be your best solution. This is particularly
true of retailers and catalog companies.
As one person wrote, "Our main client, a Spanish cataloguer,
uses self mailers as the most cost-efficient tool for prospecting.
It seems that prospecting has like a ceiling, a maximum response
rate. The extra response of a letter package doesn't pay the extra
cost of the mailing."
3. There is a case where a self-mailer flat-out
beat a letter package.
but its the only one Im aware of.
Grant Johnson of Johnson Direct did a self-mailer test for Blue
Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin.
The first solution took the form of a traditional package, with
five different elements including a glossy four-color brochure
and a personalized letter.
However, the agency also designed a three-panel, four-color self-mailer
as an alternative solution, and because they know the importance
The traditional letter package was sent to 75,000 recipients. The
results were 858 leads, for a 1.14% response rate.
The self-mailer was sent to 50,000 recipients. It pulled 1,091
leads and almost doubled the response rate of the letter.
Not only did the self-mailer work better than the letter package
but the cost per lead dropped from $75 to $17 each!
As I said, this is the only case history Im aware of where
a self-mailer outperformed a traditional letter package but
now I know: never say "never" again!
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Blitz versus Orbitz
I used to book most of my airline tickets on Travelocity.com
but the only time I ever heard from them is when they wanted to
sell me another ticket.
They constantly send me e-mails about special offers, last minute deals,
anything and everything I might possibly be interested in.
Recently, I used Orbitz.com, and I had a different experience.
Orbitz.com actually seems to care about me as a customer with
exceptional (but not obtrusive) customer service.
- They sent me an e-mail entitled "Prepare for your Trip
Richmond" that reminded me Id be flying in a few days, and
gave me all the trip details again.
- They continually send me "Travel Brief Updates" and "Flight
Status Notifications" to alert me to delays or potential problems
relating to my trip.For one (horrendous) trip, they send me 6 separate
e-mails each time the flight was officially delayed.
- Each e-mail was short, to the point, and also included my Orbitz
record locator number, in case I lost it or had any questions.
- When used properly, e-mail is a great way to provide cost-effective
customer service and value. Its not an excuse to blitz customers
with a relentless stream of offers.
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News About Newsletters
In most companies, a prospect holds up his or her hand, fulfillment material
is sent, and then a salesperson may or may not call.
If that person doesnt buy right away, they usually go back into
the database, where they are treated the same way as any other prospect.
They sometimes keep getting the same mailing they responded to!
A better strategy is to keep in touch with that prospect and keep
giving them information and adding value. So that when they are ready
to buy theyll buy from you.
Newsletters are an excellent way to accomplish this goal. Theyre
also a good way to stay in touch and communicate with your existing customers.
If youre currently doing a newsletter, or planning one, here are
three important things to keep in mind.
1. Publish a paper version, not just an online
"But its so much cheaper to do it online
you might think.
Yes, but a print version makes it more likely to be noticed and
read. It makes it feel real. It allows people to more easily
save them and share them with other people. Also they can read them
wherever they are - they don't need a computer.
My recommendation is to offer people a choice. But youll
most prefer a printed version.*
2. Make it "customer-focused."
The best newsletters are about customers and solutions - not about
your company, or how good you are.
People want to read about how other companies have solved problems,
used the product, benefited, etc. They don't care that Susan Lewis
just made Vice President.
3. Make it interactive
Newsletters should always have an interactive part - someplace
where readers can vote, share an idea, an opinion, etc. This gets
It could be as complicated as the "Creativity Tests"
which Ive done a number of times in my newsletter. Or it could
be as simple as "Do You Have Any Suggestions?"
*Alas, the Shoemakers children never have shoes.
I really should publish a printed form of this newsletter!
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Creative Director Gorka Garmendia of CDirect in Barcelona recently
came to visit me, and showed me an outstanding mailing campaign for his
The mailing consisted of three envelopes, sent to one prospect within
a short period of time.
- The first one included a small buckslip that talked about all the
benefits of working with the agency. 9 out of 10 people would probably
just throw it away
but thats what they counted on!
- The second mailing had the exact same buckslip as the first mailing
ripped and crumpled up as if it was discarded.A yellow Post-it
note is on it with a handwritten note - "Dont throw me away
again!""Call me and Ill show you how to improve your
results." Its hand-signed by Gorka along with his telephone
- The third mailing is in a similar envelope but very bulky.
Inside is obviously something thick and substantial. The envelope reads,
"Try to Crumple This Now!"
- Inside is the same buckslip printed on a small block of wood!
The message: "This time, its easier to call me than to destroy
Some of the best work in the world is coming out of Spain these days,
and this campaign is a great example.
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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.
To unsubscribe, just send me an e-mail that says "Remove" and I will
understand. And please feel free to forward this newsletter on to a friend
or business associate.
Thank you, Alan
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Sharon, MA 02067