2. Perhaps the most important element is the list since an

excellent offer, with a striking carrier and compelling copy - if

mailed to wrong list - can be a disaster. Others belive copy is

most important, but don't let ranking bother you since each

element is important. Take all reasonable steps to get, use and

keep the most accurate and up=to-=date lists possible to increase

your margin of success. Set up a system to add names and keep'em


3. Heed "Daly's Law" - "Everything takes longer and costs more!'

So. it's wise to start project in ample time to make all elements

come together in easy manner. Use "reverse timetable" to plot

what needs to be done and when. For instance, you probably need

to order lists first. Then, don't forget the envelopes, printed

stock, other enclosures , etc. Allow time for delivery and return

action plus follow-up mailings.

4. Direct Mail is a demanding taskmaster, so if it fails it's

probably you who missed somewhere, not the medium.. If possible,

"test" some or all portions of your program so you can alter

methods if needed.

5. Writing compelling Direct Mail copy only seems simple so

don't be deceived. Heed basic principles of writing to single

person in simple, straightforward manner - yet with style. For

success, remember the 3 "S's" of successful copy are: (1)

Simplicity, (2) Sincerity, (3) Serenity. Long copy is not

necessarily bad, in fact it can outpull short copy. Focus on main

message you intend to convey. Never forget you want action to

occur...NOW. Be sure copy answers the always-asked questions:

"What's in it for me?" Always keep reader's perceived needs in

mind. Do the necessary research to determine them.

6. Closely analyze your potential markets and your offer so you

can hone lists and copy to target your approach. Though you mail

by the thousands, remember Direct Mail is more akin to a rifle

than a shotgun. Write your copy to be read by one person at a


7. Remember Direct Mail is a substitute sales representative.

Where an in-person sales representative can immediately answer

prospects' questions and overcome objections when raised, Direct

mail copy must anticipate all aspects and insure logical points

are covered.

8. Incorporate an action device - coupon, order form, reply card

or envelope, phone number - to make it easy for recipient to take

desired action.. Repeatedly tell recipient what action you want

and make it simple to do. Put nothing in the way of getting an

order or response. Use all action devices cited.

9. A letter almost always works better in a Direct Mail package

than a package - even a catalog - without a letter. Don't worry

if the letter repeats what's in the catalog, brochure or order

form. It's there for a different purpose. The sales letter is a

one-to-one communications to explain and sell, to get the

recipient to act. The postscript is often the most-read part of

the letter.

10. If all elements of package are good, it is imperative repeat

mailings be made. It's difficult to wear out a good list and,,

unless mailings are overdone, you can't wear out your welcome.

Let statistical probabilities and the laws of economics work in

your favor rather than allow difference about making frequent

mailings deter you. A common error is not to mail often enough or

to a wider list.

11. Keep detailed records of everything you do.. Follow a

"systems approach" so you know what happened, when and why. That

way you can repeat successes and avoid failures. Sometimes the

difference of a tenth of a percent or less is all it takes to

tune a marginal performer into a winner.

12. Study all elements of your package so you can know what's

working. Is it the price? The geography? The timing? The phrasing

of the offer? The list? The copy? The product? Which of those

myriad elements, in combination or without one element, makes the

critical difference in the return? Analyze your records closely

and continually until you know why you're winning and can repeat


13. Keep current with changing postal rules, rates, regulations

and procedures. Regularly monitor your procedures to insure

you're in full compliance. To illustrate expensive errors, a

frantic client called after the Postal Inspector visited. We can

help with postal problems.. Had he checked with us before the

visit, the $5000 per word differential postal cost and worry most

likely could have been avoided. We offer professional

authoritative postal expertise but seldom can avert unchecked

mistakes. Check in advance. (We can supply you with a checklist

of valuable postal publications upon receipt of addressed, double

stamped #10 envelope.)

14. Save, subdivide and study the good Direct Mail you get to

learn what to do - and maybe what not to do. Remember some of the

things that appeal may, in fact, be "tests" that, when results

are known, are failures. Never underestimate need for simplicity

and complete honesty.

15. People who take actions by mail are different from those who

don't. Thus it is wise to isolate them so you can easily remail

with new or different offers. Remember the axiom: "People who buy

by mail"...buy by mail...buy by mail..." Best lists are of mail

buyers of similar products or services who recently purchased in

same price range.

16. Do what's necessary to make your maill stand out, even "look

peculiar" since it has to fight all types of competition. If it

doesn't get opened, looked at, and read...there's no chance it

will bring the action you want. Clever "teaser copy" on outside

of carrier can work wonders.

17. Wise mail merchants work at differentiating between

"suspects," "prospects" and (best of all) "customers." Once they

can distinguish names on lists among those three categories they

are able to achieve cost efficiencies that novices can only

dream about. So keep good records of what happens and when it

happens with mailings to a particular list with a particular

offer. Capitalize on success.

18. Testimonials can be effective promotional tools, especially

if they're heartfelt and cogently express what the average user

might feel about a product or service.. They're even better when

offered by celebrities or persons well-known to the audience.

Treat testimonials like the jewels they are and gather more.

20. There's no such thing as a "normal" percentage of return

that's universally applicable across a wide range of products and

services but, over time and by keeping careful records you can

determine what some norms are for your offer (s). Goal then is to

"beat your best"...if only by 1/2 or 1/4 of a percent!

21. In producing Direct Mail programs these seven words may be

cliche - but only because it's true: "Nothing is as simple as it

seems." Continual care needs to be exercises at every step of the

planning and conceptual stage, though any step in the

conception-production process can become critical if close

attention isn't paid to what's happening. "To error is human."

Yes. I'm aware of the error but that's exact spelling of sign I

spotted in printer's window and I reproduce it to emphasize how

vital it is that extreme care be given to this facet of

production. Proofreading in a professional manner is essential.

22. Direct Mail Copywriter John Yeck long ago cautioned me to be

aware of these two "sinful" acronyms: KISS and CIPU. The first,

"Keep It Simple, Sweetie" describes how to tell your message,

while the second cautions us to avoid lapsing into business or

industrial jargon which "we" understand but most everyone else

doesn't. CIPU stands for "Clear If Previously Understood."

23. While the Power of Mail will long be with us (even though the

nature of the Postal Service might change) wise direct mailers

see themselves practicing in the fields of "direct Marketing" or

"Direct Response." They become knowledgeable of the synergistic

value from use of print media (magazines, space ads, newspaper

inserts, etc) as well as electronic media (radio and/ or TV) to

supplement their mail promotional efforts. The combination can be


24. Continually study and be alert to what's happening in this

dynamic medium. It may seem that not much is new, when in fact,

there are subtle but important shifts in many of the areas

delineated in each of the four elements cited in Principle #1.

(Our seminars, workshops and speeches point these out to

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