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

Alan Rosenspan's
Improve Your Response Newsletter
Issue # 39: November 2005

3. Bed of Nails
4. Way Cool Statistics
5. God Has an Image Problem
7. A Simple Thank You
8. The Best Advice

Dear Friends,

I'm back from the DMA Annual Conference in Atlanta, and I must tell you — it was one of the best ever.

I congratulate President & CEO John Greco, Ann Schaefer and the rest of the DMA team who did such an outstanding job. A few highlights:

  • A wonderful Echo Award Show hosted by the very talented Wayne Brady, of "Who's Line is it Anyway?" The Echoes were won by companies from a dozen different countries, and it was very exciting to see such creative — and effective — campaigns from all over the world.
  • A 300+ page Conference Program, which, for the first time in my memory, had copies of the presentations.
  • An exhibition of over 500 vendors and suppliers who showcased the latest solutions for tracking, e-marketing, digital printing and much, much more.
  • Informative sessions from direct marketing's leading speakers, thinkers and practitioners including Nancy Harhut, Amy Africa, Carol Worthington-Levy, Richard Rosen and many, many others.

It was also a great opportunity for me to meet my clients, make new friends and enjoy long conversations with luminaries such as Grant Johnson, whose agency does some of the best direct marketing work in the country.

If you missed attending, you can purchase a copy of all the presentations on one DVD from the DMA. Just visit

And you can get a free copy of my presentations at our new FTP site, which is listed later in this newsletter.

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It's not industrial espionage — but it's close.

Now you can view samples of what your competition is mailing without breaking into their offices; luring away their employees, or stealing other people's mail.

The service is called Comperemedia, and they monitor hundreds of thousands of direct mail packages in both the U.S. and Canada.

When you subscribe at, you have access to:

  • Full color scans of competitor's campaigns, which you can download, save, print or include in presentations.
  • Full descriptions of the offer, key features and incentives in the mailing.
  • Online searching tools so you can quickly find what you're looking for.

And when you subscribe, Comperemedia will even alert you by e-mail, when a relevant campaign has been added to their database.

Comperemedia is more valuable for some categories of direct mail than others. Their website is also a good source of updated direct marketing information.

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Someone once compared me to James Brown and described me as — "The hardest working man in direct marketing."

Guilty as charged. I gave four different presentations at the DMA Annual Conference, and over 100 people from around the world asked for copies of them.

Because they are so huge, I can't send them out as ordinary e-mail attachments. So I now have an FTP site where you can download them.

The addresses are:

You can also download a copy of my booklet "101 Ways" to Improve Your Response at:

Please be aware that these FTP addresses are case sensitive. Also, the files are rather large (40-100MB each) so the download may take some time depending on your system.

And please note — there is some duplication in beginnings of the different presentations.

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Stavros Cosmopolous, one of the founders of the Hill Holliday agency is one of the few actual geniuses I've ever met. He came up with a terrific analogy that I used in my recent seminars.

He asks, "Has anybody here ever seen or heard of someone laying on a bed of nails?" Most people nod yes, it's been done.

"Okay," he continues, "Has anybody ever seen or heard of someone laying on just one nail?"

Everyone shudders — and he makes his point.

"Advertising (or direct marketing) that tries to make too many points just doesn't break through — just like a bed of nails.

"Advertising and direct marketing that makes just one point — has a chance to break through the clutter." It's always tempting to try to add to a package, an advertisement or even an e-mail; to include more benefits; to provide even more information; but unless that one main point stands out — you might be making it less effective.

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I've never met Marcia Yudkin, but I've been getting her weekly newsletter for years.

The reason I mention her is that each edition, which is e-mailed every Wednesday, makes just one point. And it's often extremely timely and useful.

Her most recent newsletter talks about the power of statistics — which I've written about before. But Marcia has a different way of looking at it. She writes:

"Numbers are anything but dry when they help you romance customers. Spin a story from statistics, and you can anchor a promotional piece in the charm of unexpected truth."

Last week, for instance, I read that Massachusetts, where I live, tops the other 49 states in the age at which couples marry. This fact bloomed in my mind as I envisioned clever companies playfully using it:

  • Dating services
  • Hotels
  • Financial planners
  • Real estate agents
  • Executive recruiters
  • Fitness clubs
  • Jewelry stores
  • Sandwich shop

This fact could star in an ad campaign, a postcard or sales letter, a news release, a newsletter, a special event, a menu and more. To find captivating research, read inner pages of newspapers. Or browse web sites like, from organizations that collect and report statistics. You'll get greatest mileage from data that got little or no media attention or that debunk popular notions.

For a free weekly marketing tip, subscribe at

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That was the challenge presented by a network of 150 Christian churches in Singapore.

Research showed that many people found God to be distant and unapproachable. So the agency's job was to "reposition" God as someone with a sense of humor, that you like to have around.

The agency used a variety of media — including billboards, transit ads, e-mail and text messaging. And the creative was out of this world!

On billboards:

"I hate rules. That's why I only made ten of them."
- God

On buses:
"Please don't drink and drive. You're not quite ready to meet me yet."
- God

On banner ads:

"I could make you click here. But I believe in free will."
- God

On cell phones — they sent text messages targeted for the day of the week. For Friday, the message was:

"Thank me, it's Friday"
- God

On Saturday, the message was:

"Coming over to my place tomorrow?
- God

They even posted little stickers on fruit!

"I grew this apple especially for you."
- God

The campaign was extremely successful — and won a number of international awards.

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My good friend, Erik Van Vooren is the founder of the Direct Marketing Institute in Belgium, and a world-class direct marketer. I've learned so much from him over the years. I recently gave a half-day seminar for Erik's group in Ghent, and he passed along a fascinating newsletter called Trendwatchers.

The most recent edition focused on innovative product placement — which they call "TRYVERTISING." Get it? It's not AD-VERTISING, it's TRY-VERTISING.

The newsletter explained that "TRYVERTISING is not about old-school sampling, but about real-world product placements, integrating your goods and services into daily life, so that consumers can make up their minds based on their experience, not your messages."

For example:

This summer, Sony launched its new range of DVD handy-cams, teaming up with the London Zoo to offer consumers the chance to borrow DVD handy-cams for one hour, free of charge. After a two-minute demonstration, families were free to roam the zoo and record all their favorite family moments. After their visit, the DVD handy-cam obviously had to be returned, but participants could keep their DVD. And when they played it back at home — they found it also included product and purchasing details!

As you can imagine, the campaign was very successful, and Sony sold a lot of handy-cams.

If you want to keep up with trends in advertising and marketing, simply register at

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Is it possible to improve response just by simplifying your package?

Two years ago, I did a credit card package for First Bankcard, which works with hundreds of individual banks and other affinity groups.

The letter looks and feels like a personal letter, and it has the name and title of an executive at the bank right at the very top. The copy begins with a simple:

"Dear <Sample A. Sample,>

I am writing you personally because you are a valued customer of <Name of Bank.>

That's why we have reserved a special Platinum Edition® Visa® card with a 0% APR* in your name."

The lift note is also very simple. One side has a big "Thank You." The reverse side continues with "...for being a good customer. We know you have a choice of banks, and that's why we want to thank you for choosing ours. We hope you will take advantage of this special offer."

This package has improved response 70% above their control — and consistently beaten much more complicated efforts. A simple thank you was all it took.

And by the way — thank you for receiving my newsletter!

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Last issue, I asked you for the best advice you've ever received. And we received dozens of great responses.

I couldn't possibly include them all — but here are some I'd like to share with you:

From Russia:

"As for the best advice I ever got, it was a copywriting advice I got from my colleague once. I've always followed it ever since...I remember having written a copy which I absolutely loved. I did good prep work, elaborated on the text and the result was a very strong and beautiful (as I thought) letter. I was about to click the Send button to forward it to my client, when my colleague told me simply to wait and "sleep on it". So I did. As it turned out next day I saw many flaws in the text that I wasn't able to see being fascinated by my own work. In the end I almost totally re-wrote the letter."

Alexei Kruzhkov
Managing Partner



From a real direct marketing expert:

"Measure Twice, Cut Once
Or in DM Terms:
Measure Twice (through testing), Then rollout."

Grant A. Johnson
Johnson Direct LLC



"The best advice I ever received was from a women who was a banking and marketing veteran. She told me that if you're 60% sure of an idea and your gut makes up the other 40% - then go for it. Never wait until your head says 100% because it'll probably be too late as the competition moved when they were at 60%."

Stephen Spiers
Senior Brand Manager
Brand Marketing — Capital One



"Be kind to everyone you meet — it'll make you feel good and you never know if that person will end up being your boss or related to you!"



From an expert author:

"When I was a freshman in high school I was given the opportunity to display my B&W photography at the local public library. While I was arranging the photos for display, the husband of the library director came up to me, complimented me on my work, then asked if photography is what I wanted to do with my life.

"I said I didn't know yet. Then he said something I'll never forget: "Most people don't know where they're going. If you do, they'll move out of the way for you."

Jonathan Kranz
Author of Writing Copy for Dummies


"The best career advice I ever received was: No matter what you choose to do in life, always make sure you are creating value."

Monique Mazejka
Marketing Manager



"When you lose, don't lose the lesson."

It says a great deal to me as fear of failing is a weakness of mine.

I find it to be direct, compelling and freeing."

Judith Capone
Marketing Assistant
Cape Cod Cooperative Bank



"He profits most who serves the best"

Which actually was a very old Rotary Motto that was adopted by my former employer. Paul Davis of Paul Davis Systems.

Fritz Thompson
Professional Carpet Systems


From Belgium:

"Several people have mentioned it: "If you would like to have success, just do what you love to do".

"I just didn't know how it would work for me as a copywriter. I found the answer in 'The Copywriter's handbook' by Robert W. Bly: "Write articles about writing to get new leads".

"So I gathered a couple of tips and tricks on writing direct mail, press releases and web content and send my articles to 7 different magazines in the trade press. I thought it would be nice if one of them picked up my article with my name and website address. But guess what? Four magazines let me know they were glad to receive my content and published (or planned to publish) my article in their journals!

"From the first publication three businessmen contacted me to write direct mail for them. So: do what you are best at. For me that is writing, and it worked the best for me."

Katleen Van Landschoot



And one that I have on my wall:

"Life may not be the party we hoped for.

But while we are here, we should dance!"


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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 Rosenspan & Associates
281 Needham Street
Newton, MA 02464
Tel: 617-559-0999
Fax: 617-559-0996

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