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

Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response" Newsletter
Issue #9
: Innovative Formats


• 1. Your Feedback
• 2. The Irish Telecom Piece
• 3.Creativity Test
• 4.USA Today
• 5.Tall Story
• 6. DM Update
• 7. American Slide Chart

Dear Friends,
The response to our Special Edition Newsletter about the recent Anthrax emergency has been terrific and heartfelt.

Many thanked us for "sensitive coverage of a delicate issue!" Others wrote, "your tangible suggestions were very helpful" and "We feel better knowing that we've done many of the right things."

Grant Johnson of Johnson Direct wrote: "Well stated. I've done four interviews here in Milwaukee trying to let people know that the mail, is indeed safe and that direct mail is the safest of all mail because of the standardized procedures that must be followed to get it into the mail stream"

Some readers had very specific suggestions that they’ve asked me to pass along to you.

"Here's one thing I have recently done regarding a current large direct mail campaign:

"Realizing that companies may impose a new mailroom policy preventing our customers from receiving any 3rd class mail, I emailed all those on my campaign mailing list and asked them if they have a mailroom policy that would prevent them from receiving my piece (I fully described what I would be sending them).

"First of all - I received a 45% response to my email blast. Second, of all of those who responded, only 1.5% stated that they would be prevented from receiving my direct mail piece. Many thanked me for informing them ahead of time, many said they would alert their mailroom that it was forthcoming.

"Hope this helps."

Mitch Silver of Printable Promotions sent information about a new postcard that includes a small attachable 3D item shrink wrapped directly on to the postcard. He wrote:

"The items are limited only by the sender's creativity and are incredibly diverse ranging from a small bag of airline peanuts (to promote low prices) to a travel packet of Aspirin (experiencing headaches?). Other items include a golf tee, stretch man (pulled in a million directions?), toy dinosaur (are you about to become extinct?), pair of mini sunglasses (future's so bright...) + 100's of others."

"I think this type of campaign is perfect for today's climate because postcards do not need to be opened like a letter in an envelope."

You can see a sample at

Finally, many direct mail companies are putting "stickers" on their envelopes that re-assure the recipient. I recently received one that said, "Inspected and Sealed for your Protection."

Irish Telecom

The best direct mail is interactive – it involves people, and sometimes in highly creative ways.

Let me give you my favorite example. Dialogue is a direct marketing agency in Dublin that did a direct marketing package for Telecom Eireann, the Irish phone company.

Their goal was to mimic the frustration of trying to find the right person in a company when you call. So Creative Director Des Columb designed the piece so that you had to go back and forth between the pages.

It began right on the cover of the brochure, with a picture of a friendly operator.

The headline read, "Hello? Erm, yes…just a minute, putting you on now."

You turn the page, and you see a confused guy, "Hello?…sorry pal, I dunno why they’ve put you through here. You should go to page 7."

You turn to page 7 and see a busy executive, "Yeah? …what? Who’s this? What? No, you’ve definitely got the wrong place – try page 4."

You turn to page 4 and read, "Hello? Oh, yes, of course I think I can help. Pardon? Ah…to be honest, that’s not strictly my area…If I were you I’d try page 9."

Page 9 reads, "Look, I don’t know who you are and I don’t know what you want. You should have gone straight to page 11."

And page 11 has the headline, "Frustrating, isn’t it?" and finally reveals that they are selling a service that helps route customer calls to the right person right away.

The best part of this brilliant piece was the musical chip, which played typical "on hold" music, while you were looking through it.

If you can involve your readers, you may be able to substantially increase your response.

How creative are you?

To involve you, I invite you to take this creativity test. Try to come up with a creative answer to any of the three problems below. It doesn’t have to be the right answer, just a creative answer.

The best answer for each question will win a copy of my new book, Pushing the Envelope. And everyone who enters will automatically receive a free "Creative License."

You can use this at meetings, conferences, presentations and even new business pitches. So the next time someone says, "You can’t do that!" You can say, "Sure I can -- I have a Creative License."

Here are the three problems:

1. You want to create a product the helps children brush longer – at least a full minute. What could you do with the toothbrush? The holder? The bathroom?

2. You’re a Boston-based agency pitching the Steinway piano account, based in New York. How do you convince the client to hire you over a local agency that’s in the same city?

3. You’re in a car with two friends and the driver pulls out a pint bottle of Blackberry Brandy and begins drinking. You’re miles away from civilization, so you can’t get out and walk. How can you get him to stop drinking?
The answers will appear in the next edition of our newsletter.

The Lesson of USA Today

Adweek recently came out with an article called, "Learning to write for an audience that doesn’t read."

They wrote, "It’s hard enough to create just the right sales pitch. But what if even the right message is unintelligible1 to vast numbers of consumers?"

Adweek cited an amazing statistic published by The Federal Education Department: Nearly 50% of U.S. Adults can’t read English enough to cope with a bus schedule or a deposit slip.

What are the implications for direct mail? "Evidently, the threshold2 of complexity3 at which you start to lose much of your audience is very low indeed."

Which is a rather complex way of saying "Keep it Simple, Stupid."

Direct marketing Guru Ray Jutkins believes you should always write to the reading level of a 13-year old.

You also need to keep it visual. The most popular newspaper in the country isn’t The Wall Street Journal. It’s USA Today.

How does USA Today present information? They do it visually. They show charts and little graphics. They almost never have huge blocks of type. And they keep their language simple as well.

So maybe we should borrow a page from them, and start doing the same thing in our direct mail.

1. unintelligible – adj. Not intelligible; that cannot be understood; incomprehensible

2. threshold – n. 1) base of, 2) the entrance or beginning point of something,3) the point at which a stimulus is just strong enough to be perceived to register a response.

3. complexity – n. 1) the condition or quality of being complex, 2) anything intricate or complex

Tall Story

I walked into a Big & Tall Men’s Clothing store, for the first time, more than a little embarrassed.

A salesman approached me and asked, "First time in the store?" I nodded. He reached behind a display, and tossed a pair of pants into my arms. "Try these on" he said.

"I’m not here for pants" I answered. "Try them on." he urged, and led me into a dressing room. I tried them on, and the pants fairly swam around my waist. I stepped out of the dressing room, and the salesman smiled

"Can you believe that these are too tight for some of our customers?" he asked.

"Now what can I do for you?"

And suddenly I felt great. The pants were a size 64, but I was a svelte 42!! I ended up buying several pairs of slacks, and some shirts to match. The salesman was an absolute genius!

Make your customers feel comfortable, and they will buy more and more from you.

DM Update

On November 19th, the New England Direct Marketing Association held a special meeting on the issues affecting direct mail, including Anthrax and the economy.

The meeting was chaired by Hank Hoke, the publisher of Direct Marketing magazine.

Pete LaCamme, a Postal Inspector, said that so far there have only been four letters with Anthrax, all of them mailed from the Trenton, New Jersey facility.

The Post Office is devoting all of its efforts to protecting their employees and sanitize the mail – by radiation machines, and also to catch the culprit. They believe it is only one person, and that there is no direct connection to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Phil McAvoy of Chadwicks shared with us that catalogue sales have not been affected by the scare – in fact, many have increased their sales as people are less willing to go to shopping malls.

He added that this is a great time to shop for clothing – because most retailers are offering extremely deep discounts.

Rose Cameron of Mullin advertising gave a presentation on how to protect your brand during these difficult times. Rose does research at Mullin (in fact, she was in New York doing focus groups at the time of the attacks.)

She says people are now embracing different values and that may influence your marketing. These values include trust, security, reliability, home and family. (Home Depot sales are up 30% this quarter.)

And Nancy Harhut, the President of the New England Direct Marketing Association, shared the highlights from the latest DMA White Paper, "How to Market in a Downtimes" which is available at

American Slide Chart

I just received an envelope full of terrific samples from American Slide Chart.

One of them was an Inquiry Cost Calculator, which enables you to determine exactly how much you spend for each inquiry you receive.

You can request yours free at

Forward and Backward, and a Few Words about Privacy

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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, circulated, or passed along to anyone else. Thank you.

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