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

Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response" Newsletter
May, 2001
Issue #4: What's Working Now


• Did you Laugh?

• What’s Working in DM now

• Marketing to the Affluent

• Participation Marketing

• Where I got the Idea

Did You Laugh?

By now, I hope you’ve received our new seminar mailing, with a baby picture of me on the cover.

So did you burst out laughing?

Sending it out was a risk. How many business people have you seen with drool on their chins? But I hope it cuts through the clutter.

um….I didn’t embarrass myself, did I?

Of course, if you are interested in a corporate seminar, please call me or Jodi Maffioli at 617-559-0999. Jodi is our Conference Director and in her spare time, teaches Public Speaking at Emerson College in Massachusetts.

You can also ask Jodi about any of these upcoming public seminars:

• "Improve your Direct Mail in One Day" — at the NEDMA Conference in Boston on April 10th.

• "The DMA Creative Strategy Course" — in New Orleans on April 17th and 18th, and also in New York on May 7th and 8th.

We are also doing a series of seminars in Europe in May — in Slovenia, and possibly Budapest and Vienna.

What’s Working Now

We have been doing a number of programs with some of the leading credit card companies in the U.S. and there are three trends that seem to be working well in direct mail.

1. Stickers in unusual places

They’ve always been a great involvement device, but stickers are now being used very successfully in very unusual places.

The new control for the AT&T Universal Card has a sticker on the outside envelope. The sticker says, "Free Gift!" and it asks you to place it on the reply envelope.

A health magazine recently used a "Happy Face" sticker and simply put it on their reply card. I don’t know why it worked — maybe it called attention to the offer — but it increased response by about 15% over their control.

So you might want to consider a sticker for your next mailing program. If so, consider calling TapeMark at 1-800-328-0135 for a package of samples, or visiting

2. Lose the brochure

If you have a product that needs to be shown — then a brochure is an important element in your package.

However, if your product is a conceptual product — like financial services — you might want to consider eliminating the brochure, and only including a letter.

Companies like American Express have discovered that this can actually lift response.

There are three possible reasons:

  1. It makes the package look less promotional — and more like a real letter about something important.

  2. It forces you to make the letter as compelling as possible.

  3. It forces the reader to go straight to the letter, instead of scanning the contents of the package and then possibly deciding not to go any further.

The best part of this technique is that it’s so easy to test.

3. Unusual personalization

The Post Office says that personalizing a letter will significantly increase response, but that’s juts the place to start.

A lot of companies are getting higher responses by using multiple personalization — on the envelope, in the letter, or even in the brochure.

One of my recent packages for a financial services company featured a personalized "status box" at the top of the letter. It had the prospect’s name, amount of available credit, and even how long they’ve been a cardmember. It’s beating their control by 36%.

My favorite personalization technique is to put a cartoon on the outer envelope. I think Advertising Age did it first — the caption read, "We’re looking for someone with vision, creativity and great marketing instincts — someone like Alan Rosenspan."

I thought this was the single best envelope I had ever received — until I realized that not every envelope had my name on it. It had the prospect's name on it.

Marketing to the Affluent

We just completed an article called, "Who Wants to Market to a Millionaire" and I’d like to share some of the highlights with you:

How do wealthy people treat advertising and direct mail? Do they respond to different approaches? And what should you consider when marketing to the super-affluent?

The opportunity is huge, because today, there are more affluent people than ever before. There are an estimated 5 million millionaires in the U.S., and 267 billionaires.

Before I continue, let me confess that I’m not one of them. This is only because I have carefully invested in buying books, watching movies, visiting good restaurants, and going on great vacations.

But I have worked for several companies that market to the affluent, including Steinway Pianos, The Private Bank and J.P. Morgan (before the merger) and I’ve learned a great deal.

The Millionaire Next Door

For a deeper understanding of the affluent market, I recommend reading the best seller, "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.

The authors were commissioned by an international trust company to do a focus group of people worth at least $10 million.

Now they couldn’t offer to pay these multi-millionaires — it might even be considered an insult. So they hired two gourmet food "designers" to create a buffet that included four different pates and three kinds of caviar.

The first multi-millionaire to arrive was offered a glass of wine -- very expensive 1970 Bordeaux. He replied, "I drink Scotch and two kinds of beer — Budweiser and Free!"

By the end of the two-hour focus group, not a single person had touched the pate or the vintage wines.

The book continues with, "Today, we are much wiser about the lifestyles of the affluent. When we interview millionaires these days, we provide them with coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer, scotch and club sandwiches. Of course, we also pay them between $100. and $200 apiece."

What Motivates the Affluent?

Another source of information about the affluent consumer is the Robb Report, a glossy 250-page magazine with about 10 times as many ads as articles. It sells for only $7.99 an issue, but it can be hard to find. I got my copy — the 25th anniversary issue — in the lobby of the most expensive hotel in Boston. What do rich people buy? Here are some examples of the things that have been advertised:

• A sterling silver tennis ball can for $1,750.

• A brick from Al Capone’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Wall — which has "seized the interest and imagination of collectors and crime buffs from around the world."

• The "world’s most expensive bow tie" in 24-karat gold with 22 karats of inlaid diamonds for $140,000.

• Noble Titles — "Acquire with confidence an authentic Scottish title of Baron or French Title of Marquis, Count or Baron."

• An 18-karat gold Space Traveler’s Watch which displays mean time, star time, the age and phase of the moon, for $350,000.

But rather tellingly, there are also ads for:

• Earn $10,000+ monthly within 6 weeks, and:

• Make $4,000 per day playing baccarat.

My favorite ad is "TP for the VIP" — customized toilet paper imprinted with the name of your boat, your airplane or business — or any photograph you choose -- 8 rolls for $49.95.

Who do you want to get even with?


What Techniques Seem to Work?

Here are some ideas you may want to consider when developing a program towards the affluent market.

1. Affluent people love to save money — that’s probably how they became affluent.

Even the prestigious Robb Report includes a bind-in BRC with a subscription offer — save 35% off the cover price! — just like People magazine and Guns and Ammo. And in a recent issue, they ran an advertisement for used cars. (Okay, it was for Rolls Royce -- and they called them pre-owned, but they were used)

2. Affluent people like to be acknowledged as affluent.

However, when it comes to direct mail, you need to be careful. An outer envelope headline that identifies the prospect as a wealthy individual may be a breach of their privacy, and even raise security issues.

3. Affluent people also like to be acknowledged as something more than just affluent.

They’re not just richer — they’re smarter, more sophisticated, more demanding, more worldly. They’re connoisseurs, collectors, gourmets. A recent ad for Aglaia Jewelry had this headline; "Your aspiration for perfection is your essence." Not your bank balance, apparently. And our most successful positioning for The Private Bank was "Why do so many affluent and accomplished people rely on The Private Bank?" (Italics added)

4. Affluent people respond to exclusivity.

They long to be charter members, or even charter subscribers. They want to believe they are in good company, with access to things that are beyond the rest of us.

5. Affluent people want the things that money can’t buy.

One of my favorite techniques for marketing to affluent people is to offer them something that their money can’t buy. It may be information on the best beaches in the world, or a listing of the 10 most exclusive hotels. It may be meeting a famous celebrity, or sports star, someone that would not normally be accessible. It may even be an experience that cannot be duplicated. I ended the article with the following:

Alan Rosenspan is incredibly wealthy — he has a loving wife, two beautiful children, and two highly affectionate, if not obedient, dogs.

Participation Marketing

When I was 12 years old, I first kissed a girl.

I was an absolute gentleman about it. I approached the object of my affections (She was a stunning 11 year old) and asked meekly,

"May I kiss you?"

She nodded her head, extended her cheek, and I awkwardly complied.

That’s Permission Marketing.

Several years later, I kissed another girl. But this was different. She didn’t just give me permission, she kissed back. And without revealing all the juicy details, it was a far more involving and rewarding experience.

And that’s Participation Marketing.

Permission Advertising is like shaking hands with a stranger. Participation Marketing is the marketing equivalent of playing "Twister." You’re not quite sure which part of your program belongs to the company or to the customer.

We’re doing a Free web seminar called "Beyond Permission Marketing" on June 6th at 2:00 that explains the principles of Participation Marketing.

Just e-mail me at if you’d like to attend.

Where I got the idea for my brochure

There’s an ad for Fortune magazine that I’ve always loved — and tried to live up to.

It has a gorgeous photograph of a baby, with the following headline that I wish I wrote:

"We’re all created equal. After that, baby, you’re on your own!"

Have a wonderful Spring.

We'd Love Your Comments

Please feel free to forward me your comments and suggestions on the newsletter or any of the topics I've touched on here.

You can reach me at:

Alan Rosenspan & Associates
281 Needham Street
Newton, MA 02464

Tel: 617-559-0999
Fax: 617-559-0996
E-Mail: Please visit:

Forward or Backward, and a Few 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, surrendered, exchanged, auctioned, listed, traded, given, bequeathed, transferred, distributed, swapped, bartered, circulated, or passed along to anyone else.

Thank you

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