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

Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response" Newsletter
Fall Issue
Issue #7: Down Economy Issue


• 1. An Attractive Idea
• 2. Forget Me Not
• 3. No Junk Mail
• 4. Put Yourself in the Mail
• 5. Word of Mouth Advertising
• 6. Great Strategy!
• 7. Do You Have a Guarantee?
• 8. Pushing the Envelope

Dear Friends,

Home again! After four seminars, five consultations, eight flights, and over 39 hours in the air -- I'm finally back from New Zealand. And I'd like to share some of the direct marketing ideas that I discovered along the way.

An Attractive Idea

If you've followed my "DM on a Shoestring Award Show," you may remember one of the famous examples - for O'Neill's Auto Body Shop.

Stavros Cosmopolous of Hill Holiday created a black postcard for them on beautiful glossy stock. It read, "If your car looks like this, you should visit O'Neill's Auto Body Works. "

But before they sent the postcard out - they crumpled it up!

A similar company in New Zealand, Aaron McLauchen took this idea one step further.

They wanted to target cars that had rust on them - but how do you find a list like that?

So they created magnets with their message and phone number on it. And every time one of the employees saw a rusted car, they put a magnet right on the rust spot!

The magnet read, "Need Rust Repair? Call us at…" They generated a 20% response.

Can you come up with an innovative or surprising way to reach your prospects?

Forget Me Not

I did a project for a new manager at AT&T and she sent me a thank you card.

It was the first one I had ever received from a client. It made such a powerful impression on me that I hung it up on my wall! Plus, whenever this client had a new job - I made sure I did it personally, rather than giving it to my group.

So this client bought my undivided attention, my absolute best effort, and some of the most effective work we ever did for AT&T - all for the price of one thank you card!

A catalog company in New Zealand thanks their customers on a regular basis.

They always put a thank you note on every bill or invoice they send. And when a customer falls behind on a payment, they sent a little packet of "Forget me Not" seeds!

(By the way, Abbot Cards of Marblehead Mass. makes a wide variety of "Thank you" cards for businesses to use. You can reach them at 781-631-0106)

No Junk Mail!

How much direct mail do you think people receive in New Zealand? It's an average of only 2-3 addressed pieces a week.

They still think that's too much. On 1 out of every 3 mailboxes I saw, there were signs that read, "No Junk Mail" or "No Advertising Materials."

Regardless, New Zealand direct marketing is some of the most creative and effective in the world. They've been winning DMA Echo Awards every year.

Put Yourself in the Mail

New Zealand Post has just introduced a very innovative program where you can be on a stamp. They're called Personalized Stamps™ and Post will print sheets of stamps that include any photographic image you send them (next to the regular stamp.) You can use a photograph of you, your product or even your company logo. The cost is about twice as much as an ordinary stamp - but worth every penny. Of course, you have to be mailing in New Zealand…

Word of Mouth Advertising

Word of Mouth advertising can be extremely effective - in most cases. I took a 4-wheel motorbike safari in New Zealand. We rode through a tropical forest and down a breath-taking beach off pure black sand.

Only problem: on the way back, the front wheel came off, the bike flipped over and I landed about 10 feet away. Luckily, nothing broken, and I still had a wonderful time.

I asked the owner, "Do you want me to tell people about your company - or keep it quiet?" "um…are you going to mention the wheel?" he asked.

Word of Mouth advertising is covered in length in a terrific book called The Tipping Point. How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

It's by Malcolm Gladwell, a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and it analyzes how some products, ideas and ways of behaving cross a threshold, or "tip" and take off.

For example, remember Hush Puppies? In 1994, sales of these old-fashioned shoes were down to 30,000 pairs a year. The company that made them was thinking of phasing them out.

But something happened….a New York designer called and wanted to feature Hush Puppies in his Spring collection. In Los Angeles, another designer put the a 25-foot inflatable basset hound - the Hush Puppies logo - on the roof of his Hollywood store, and turned the adjoining art gallery into a Hush Puppies boutique.

Suddenly Hush Puppies were red hot, and sales zoomed up to over 2,000,000 pairs a year. It had hit "the tipping point."

The Tipping Point even includes information about direct marketing, and the "Gold Box" technique invented by Lester Wunderman. This simple idea multiplied sales four times over for Columbia Records.

Great Strategy!

I read this story recently - and I wanted to share it with you.

Jhuge Liang was one of China's most creative generals.

In a famous battle against General Tsao Tsao, he was faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem. His army had run out of arrows.

Liang came up with an idea. Before dawn, he had 20 boats filled with straw and ordered them across the river. Laing's men began beating their war drums as if a major attack was taking place.

Hearing the drums in the darkness, Tsao Tsao ordered his archers to shoot at the sounds. As the drums continued, the archers kept firing. And all their arrows went directly into the bales of straw.

When the boats returned, they carried with them over 100,000 arrows!

Do You Have a Guarantee?

Chances are, your company has some kind of a guarantee policy.

If something goes wrong, or a customer isn't satisfied, you'll either make it right or refund the money. It's not altruistic - it's good business.

However, most companies rarely use their guarantee in their marketing - possibly because they're afraid that too many people will take advantage of it. This is a mistake.

The most famous guarantee is L.L. Bean, and they've been using it with great success for many years. It reads as follows:

"All of our products are guaranteed to give you 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory."

L.L. Bean will actually take back virtually anything no matter how long ago you bought it -- and they are delighted to replace it. They may even write about it their catalog, or put the returned merchandise on display in their store up in Freeport, Maine.

The reason why is that they know for every customer who abuses their guarantee, there are hundreds of people who will become customers because they won't worry about making a bad decision. They'll think, "If they took back that, I'll have no trouble getting my money back if I'm not satisfied."

By the way, make sure and put your guarantee in a prominent place. Ideally, on the actual order form.

How important is a good guarantee? When Lands' End began offering their German customers a lifetime guarantee -- an organization of German retailers sued them. They felt it gave Lands' End "an unfair competitive edge."

They lost the case - but that should give you some idea of the power of a guarantee!

Pushing the Envelope, Again

The manuscript is finally complete - with great thanks to my editors, Mary Robbins, Ray Considine, Nancy Harhut and my wife Laura, who edits and improves everything I write.

An excerpt of the book will be published in the September 2001 issue of Inside Direct Mail.

While it is not yet available for sale, we are printing a number of advance copies. If you'd like to order one, please send an e-mail at

I'll be presenting at the Annual DMA Conference in October, and I hope to see you there.

All the best, Alan

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. See our contact info below.

Forward and Backward, and a Few Words about Privacy

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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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