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

Alan Rosenspan's
Improve Your Response Newsletter

Issue # 32: October 2004

1. New Format
2. Consulting
3. You Ought to Be in Pictures
4. Do Something Different
5. Copywriting Course
6. Out of this World
7. Telemarketing Scam

Dear Friends,

I just got back from China — after a two week tour with my client Viking River Cruises.

It was an extraordinary trip. I walked on the Great Wall, visited the army of terra cotta warriors at Xian, cruised the Yangtze River and spent a couple of days in Shanghai — one of the biggest, busiest and beautiful cities in the world.

If you're interested, I'll be happy to send you a brochure, or PDF's of some of my photos.

Back to work...

P.S. We just won a 2004 DMA Gold Echo for our Scotts campaign — which we presented in Newsletter #28. Out of 1,077 entries, only 14 golds were awarded.

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New Format

As you may have noticed, we have a new, more graphic format to our newsletter. This will enable us to show you actual samples in the future.

We did it through Constant Contact; an online marketing firm that helps you create more effective newsletters and e-mail campaigns. You can learn more at

If you have any problems viewing the new format, just send an e-mail to and we'll send you the text version.

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There was a terrific cartoon in The New Yorker magazine that showed two men working on a charter fishing boat.

One says to the other: "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach a man to fish...
...he'll never need you again!"

The same approach is taken by many consultants. They may help you identify your problems, but the last thing in the world they want is for you to be able to solve them yourself.

We've been doing more and more one-day consultations with companies, so I wanted to share some of the lessons we've learned.

Why use a consultant?

You may be an expert on your product, your business and your market - but a consultant can add value in two different ways.

First, because they don't work for your company, they can give you a fresh and outside perspective on your issues and opportunities. This is often very valuable.

Second, because they work for many different companies, they can show you how other companies have solved similar problems or accomplished similar objectives.

You probably know what's happening in your industry, but you may not know what's working in other businesses and industries. These ideas may spark your thinking and offers solutions you haven't considered.

What should the focus be?

It's really up to you to decide on what the consulting should accomplish. And the more specific you are about your problems, your objectives and your goals, the more useful the session will be.

Our consulting has three distinct parts to it:

1. Generating Prospects

This could involve generating leads or direct sales, in a variety of different media, including mail, e-mail and telemarketing.

It includes discussion of the best media, the best offer (this is a very important area) and lead qualification - because you don't want just tire kickers who will waste your time and resources, you want those people who are most likely to become customers.

2. Improving Conversion

It's not enough to have a large number of incoming leads, you need to convert them into customers. And for many companies, that process doesn't work as efficiently as it should.

3. Customer Development

Your existing customers are your best prospects. They know you. They've already bought from you. They are very likely to want to buy again.

This area addresses what you can do to (1) generate increased revenue from your customers, (2) identify and protect your most valuable customers and (3) create an effective customer referral program.

What should follow the consulting?

The last thing you want is to be left with a bunch of ideas, and no plan to implement them.

You might want to spend some time prioritizing the ideas and programs, and determining which will bring the most return on investment. You may also want to consider which can be implemented immediately, and which require more time and energy.

For example, during our day of consulting for Scotts LawnService, we were able to identify several "quick fixes" that included changing their outer envelope, and revising some of their letters. This had an immediate impact on their response.

If you're planning your 2005 direct marketing campaigns right now, why not give us a call at 617-559-0999 or e-mail me at

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You Ought to Be in pictures...

Digital photography is helping companies create more innovative marketing programs.

  • First National Bank of Omaha has just introduced their "One of a Card" Visa®. It lets you put your favorite photo on your credit card.

You can use a photo of yourself, your children, your pets, your home, or anything else you choose. All you have to do is go to

  • The US Post Office has adopted a similar program - and now you (or your company) can put your own image on the stamps you use.These are real live stamps — not just stickers.

The cost is roughly double the cost of regular stamps — but might be a great way to get your company logo out there. There are some restrictions — but if you go to you can see what they offer.

You can also select a photo of endangered species, and the Post office will donate the entire sales price — less the cost of the actual postage — to the World Wildlife Fund.

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Do Something Different

For years, I've been talking about the importance of standing out from the crowd — and making your direct mail piece, your radio spot or your advertisement look different from everyone else's.

Imagine my surprise when I found a book called "Do Something Different" published by Virgin Books.

Written three years ago, the book includes dozens of quick case histories where people have transformed their businesses.

Here are two examples:

  • BigStar, an online video and DVD retailer wanted to make sure people thought of them as a "real" company — even though they had no retail locations.

They paid for the BigStar logo to be painted on several hundred trucks belonging to different companies in L.A., San Francisco and New York.

Why choose different companies? Um... BigStar has no delivery trucks — they use UPS. But now people started seeing "BigStar" trucks everywhere.

  • A gardening service called The Lawn Jockey wanted to increase their business.

They printed signs to stick in lawns that they think could use some help. The sign says "Keep Off The Grass" and underneath, in small type, it says "Give us a call, and you'll never have to set foot on your lawn again..."

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Copywriting Course

So you'd like to be a copywriter?

A good place to start might be with the Copywriters Training Course from the American Writers & Artists Institute.

Their program is called "The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting," and after reading through it — I can tell you it's an excellent course that I wish I had taken when I first became a copywriter.

The course includes a 457-page textbook, which is filled with practical advice, writing and selling tips from quite a few direct marketing experts.

But it's more than just a guidebook. Each section includes writing exercises that you can do and submit for critique.

You also get a bonus of their "Hall of Fame" book, which includes 50 of the most successful direct mail letters and direct response advertisements.

This — for me — was the most valuable item in the box. It included classic letters such as The Wall Street Journal Two Young Men package, and other examples of great ideas and compelling writing.

The introductory copywriting course sells for $457 when you pay it all at once. There's also a more expensive "Master Course." Both come with a 100% moneyback guarantee. You can reach The American Writers & Artists Institute at 1-877-879-2924.

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Out of this World

Do you know the exact date that your prospect or customer receives your direct mail?

If you did — you might be able to synchronize your telemarketing or e-mail so that your follow-up efforts come at exactly the right time.

This capability (still fairly new) is called PLANT coding and is offered by the U.S. Postal Service. It's a web-based database system that creates and assigns a unique bar code to every piece of direct mail.

So, on an hourly basis, you can determine exactly when your mail will arrive and then coordinate all your other marketing efforts to follow suit.

Victoria's Secret used PLANET coding to significantly increase the volume of sales from their catalogues. They sent an e-mail to customers to let them know that their catalog just arrived in their mailbox — and to highlight a special offer.

The MetroGroup Corp. in New York has more information on PLANET coding and offers a complete solution. You can get more information at or contact your Post Office.

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Telemarketing Scam

The following message was left on hundreds of answering machines to promote a specific (and probably worthless) stock.

"Hey, Tracy, it's Debbie. I couldn't find your old number and Tammy said this was the new one. I hope it's the right one. Anyway, remember Evan, that hot stock exchange guy I'm dating? He gave my dad that stock tip and it went from under a buck to like three bucks in two weeks and you were mad I didn't call you? Well, I'm calling you now."

"This new company is supposed to be like the next Tommy Bahama, and they're making some big news announcement this week. He said it's cheap now, like 50 cents. Sorry, I'm eating, but I'm starving. It's (NAME OF COMPANY) and it's 50 cents now and it's going up to, like, five or six bucks this week so get as much as you can.

"Call me on my cell. I'm still in Orlando. Dad and I are having brunch tomorrow and I already called Kelly and Ron too. Anyway, I miss you. Give me a call. Bye!"

No wonder so many people have signed up for "Do Not Call".

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Opt in, Opt out, Options

1. Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to a friend or business associate. I'd appreciate it.

2. You can access all our back-issues on our website at

3. To unsubscribe, just send me an e-mail that says, "Remove."

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, Alan

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Sharon, MA 02067
Phone: 781-784-8283