I hope you had a safe Happy New Year, and I wish you continued success, happiness and prosperity in the coming year.
This newsletter includes a couple of follow-up articles from our December issue, as well as some new information that I hope you will find useful.
All the best,
Last issue, I wrote about two classified ads that a woman in Massachusetts ran to sell her cat. Just to remind you, here are the original two ads.
And the bottom part read:
As you can imagine, the ads created quite a stir. If the Internet was around back then, it would have probably gone around the world.
I promised to share the follow-up ads she ran — and here they are:
The bottom part read:
Modern Postcards is hosting a three-day marketing conference in San Diego from February 7-10.
The company has grown dramatically, by producing high-quality postcards at an excellent price.
The way they do it is print dozens of different postcards on a single sheet — and then sort them automatically.
Modern Marketing Days has become the premier direct marketing event on the West Coast and will feature over 25 different speakers. The keynote is Harvey Mackay, who wrote the book, How to Swim with the Sharks (without being eaten alive) — which is a classic on how to retain and grow customers.
Mackay is the President of Mackay Envelopes, and has long made it a practice to call a customer a day — just to see if they're being treated well. The customer is usually surprised to hear from the President of the company — then extremely impressed.
When's the last time you talked to one of your customers?
Modern Marketing Days will also give you the opportunity to hear Ken Schmidt, former director of communications for Harley-Davidson, Stan Slap, Steven Little, Keith Goodman, Ann Fishman and me.
The cost is only $495, and includes your choice of a Golf Tournament or a whale-watching trip. You can find out more at www.modernmarketingdays.com
And not only that — but the man who wrote it, Martin Conroy, just passed away. His obituary appeared in the New York Times on Friday, December 22nd.
The famous "Two Young Men" letter, which I've written about before, was first mailed in 1975, and was in continuous use for almost 30 years.
It has been beaten once or twice along the way, but never conclusively until now. As Sharon Cole writes in Inside Direct Mail, the new control package is just a voucher attached to a simple half-page letter. The theme is "I Read it in the Journal." It also includes a guarantee — which was never part of the Conroy letter. And there's a bookmark/buckslip enclosed.
Voucher packages — meaning ones that simply list the benefits — have become very effective in today's fast-paced world, mainly for newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
It might be something you should test.
One caveat: it only works for a well-known publication — not a new one.
We scanned in the new Wall Street Journal package. If you'd like a PDF, just e-mail me at ARosenspan@aol.com
Our best-performing packages for THE MAILBOX and Teacher's Helper magazine use them.
Our ECHO-award winning campaign for Scotts LawnService uses one.
And we've started including them in more and more packages with impressive results. I'm talking about stickers.
Why do they work so well? I think they accomplish two things. First, they get people's attention. A sticker adds another dimension to a letter or even an envelope.
Second, they involve the reader. Instead of simply checking a box on a reply card, they have to lift the sticker up and place it below.
If you've never tested a sticker, here are three quick ideas.
When they lifted the sticker, they saw the following:
Stickers were very popular at one time — and then they were over-used. Today they can be very effective — and may be worth testing for your next mailing.
By the way, the first time I did a sticker was about 25 years ago. Self-adhesive stickers weren‘t available, and I remember racking my brain for a polite way to tell people how to attach it.
"Lick the back" didn't sound all that appealing. But what else could I say? Eventually the answer came to me.
I wrote — please moisten it.
In our last Creativity Test, I invited you to write a headline for an ad selling the Bible. And I promised the winner a free copy of my book.
We received dozens of responses — here are a few I especially enjoyed, plus the winning headline:
The winner was Anne Morin — who came up with five different headlines. (My favorite was the last one)
Last issue, I shared Desiderata with you — which prompted Barbara Mikkelson to follow-up with this correction:
"Almost every copy of Desiderata carries the claim that the original was found in Old Saint Paul's Church in Baltimore in 1692. It's comforting to believe that some truths are universal, that the beauty of the human spirit is unchanging, ever present, and inviolate."
"That it's an unsigned piece makes it all the more beautiful: one sees these inspirational words as the anonymous writer's gift to the world.
His humility kept him from signing it ... and maybe there's another lesson for us in that."
"As pureheartedly meaningful as its words are, Desiderata's history doesn't quite match up with the fable built around it.
The poem was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann, a lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana."
If you'd like to know the full story — just e-mail me at ARosenspan@aol.com and I'll share it with you.
Barbara's e-mail prompted me to write my own version of the poem, which I hope you will enjoy:
Go placidly amid the noise and haste of new media, and remember what power there is in direct mail.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all vendors. They can harm you as well as help you.
Speak your benefits quietly and clearly, and listen to your customers, even those who leave you, for they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive copy, for it is irritating and almost never works.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter — instead compare yourself with yourself.
You are your own "control."
Study your failures as well as your successes.
Learn something from every mailing you do.
Keep interested in your own career. Keep learning and growing. Remember that this job is just a stepping-stone to your next job.
Exercise caution in your copy, for the world is full of trickery, and you don't need to add to it.
Avoid exaggeration and hyperbole!!!
Rather try to appeal to people's higher interests. Many people strive for high ideals and everywhere, life is full of heroism. Use it.
Be yourself. Keep your copy simple and down-to-earth. Write like you would talk.
Pay close attention to offers, because after list, they are the most important element in a direct mail campaign.
Unless you have an offer they can't refuse, refuse to do direct marketing.
Nurture case-histories and testimonials to use when you need them. This increases credibility.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You will fail with up to 99% of your direct mail — but that's okay. Think ROI, not response.
As a direct marketer, you are a child of the universe, no less than general advertising people; and frequently much more. You have the right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
If not, make sure you test.
Leonardo Da Vinci is universally known as a remarkable artist, a master scientist and inventor...but he was also a canny direct marketer.
In 1482, he wrote a letter to the Duke of Milan, Lodovico Sforza. His reason for writing — he wanted a job. I don't know whether resumes were invented at that time, but Leonardo knew enough about direct mail to list all the benefits he could provide to the Duke.
The letter read as follows:
Having, most illustrious lord, seen and considered the experiments of all those who pose as masters in the art of inventing instruments of war, and finding that their invention differs in no way from those in common use, I am emboldened without prejudice to anyone, to solicit an appointment of acquainting your Excellency with certain of my secrets.
But Leonardo knew even more about direct marketing than that. He even included an offer! The last sentence read as follows:
"Moreover, I would undertake the commission of the bronze horse, which shall endue with immortal glory and eternal honor the auspicious memory of your father and of the illustrious house of Sforza."
Leonardo got the job — and kept it for sixteen years. And it was during this period that he painted his masterpiece, La Gioconda, also known as the Mona Lisa.
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