WAY West of Jewfish Creek
Dear Friend & Subscriber,
I am now about to talk to you on the subject
of direct mail like nobody has ever talked to you before.
Listen: Last month I promised you that this
month I was going to reveal unto you 20-ways to increase the
response of your direct mail without changing a word of your
I am now about to keep that promise.
First of all, my ideas on increasing your
direct mail response without changing the verbiage of your
sales efforts are based on four main concepts.
will respond to your mail unless they read
will read your mail unless they open
will open your mail unless the post office delivers
post office will not deliver your mail unless your
mail is delivered to
the post office.
What's that? You say all this is obvious? You
say your mail is already being delivered to
the post office and being delivered by
the post office and being opened and read by all your
prospects? You say you've got all this elementary stuff
Surely you jest.
Let me tell you what in
reality is happening to a lot of your mail. First, all the
mail you are paying to have printed and assembled is not
always being delivered to the post office by your lettershop.
Why? The answer is simple. You see, it is much more profitable
for your lettershop to assemble only 90% of your mail than it
is to assemble 100% of your mail.
Of course, you don't believe this is
happening, do you? I mean, after all, your lettershop gets a
receipt from the post office for the number of pieces of mail
it delivers to the loading dock, doesn't it? And that receipt
is given to you, isn't it?
And receipts don't lie, do they? Especially
ones that are signed by an employee of the almighty U.S.
Federal Government, right?
Be serious. Try and picture this scene in your
mind. I want you to imagine a guy named Jose who works on the
loading dock of a big city Post Office. I want you to know a
little about this guy. I want you to know that he has six kids
and a nagging wife, a seven-year-old car that needs a valve
job, a drawer full of overdue bills, worries about how he's
going to swing Christmas and also, the hots for a little
co-worker named "Roundheels" Rhonda.
Now ol' Rhonda isn't too particular about her
gentleman friends as long as they come equipped with a
well-stocked personal pharmacy.
So anyway, our guy Jose has all this on his
mind when the truck from Larcenous Lettershop drives up and
out pops the owner, Mr. Ferdinand Letscrewem. Ferdy then walks
up to Jose (who he's known for years) and starts up a
it goin, Jose? Getting any action lately?"
much man. Just the ol' lady. I'd sure like to get next
to Roundheels again but you know Rhonda... no blow, no
yeah. Say that reminds me. I got a little something
for you. It's Peruvian flake, man. Root canal
man, you're O.K.! You just saved my cojones from early
to do it, man. Hey listen, I gotta get a receipt for
this mail. I don't know how it's gonna weigh out but
it's supposed to be about 100,000 pieces and that's
what I need a receipt for, you dig?"
worries, good buddy. Just have your men put the stuff
on the cart over there and I'll get the paperwork for
you right away."
And so it goes. What happens is ol' Mr.
Letscrewem delivers 90,000 pieces of mail to the post office
and gets a receipt which he gives to you for 100,000 pieces.
And why are the principals in this dreary little drama
unafraid of repercussions? Quite simple: You see, both of
these guys know that since your mail is "junk mail"
nobody will be the wiser if all of it is not delivered.
Let's face it, how will you ever know?
So anyway, let us continue our story. You now
have 90,000 pieces of mail sitting on a post office dock that
eventually (after a long, long time) gets sorted and delivered
to the loading docks of the other post offices, from which it
is supposed to be delivered to all your prospects. And then,
after another long, long while, some lazy mental midget
finally ends up with your mail in his mail sack and he starts
going about his daily rounds. After an hour or so he gets
tired. The mail sack is getting heavy. And besides, he's
getting sick of looking at all that junk mail. Not only that,
his customers hate to receive it. He hears it everyday:
"Hey man, why don't you bring me some good
news? How about a big lottery check or something instead of
all this junk?"
And so, every once in a while, guess what our
mental midget decides to do? You're right, every once in a
while he decides to throw your mail away!
Much, Much, Much,
Much More Often
Than You Would Ever Believe!
And why not? It's junk, isn't it? Nobody's
going to miss it, are they? Throwing this stuff away is doing
everybody a big favor, right?
And so, about 17% (minimum) of all your mail that is correctly addressed never gets delivered simply because it
gets thrown away. And, of course, since you are mailing bulk,
your mail also never gets forwarded to those folks who have
moved which on any given list at any given time is about 7% of
Let's see now. So far, 10% didn't get
delivered to the post
office, 24% didn't get delivered by
the post office and now (finally) we've got approximately
66,000 pieces of mail (out of the 100,000 that we've paid for)
that has actually been delivered.
So what happens next? I'm glad you asked. What
happens next is that at least of your 66,000 pieces of mail
that did manage to get
delivered gets immediately
Here is something I want to burn into your
mind. I want you to remember it and remember it well. I also
want you to remember that it was me, Sir Gary of Halbert, who
first told you that...
Most Of The People
In America Sort
Through Their Mail
While Standing Over
A Waste Basket!
But, of course, as one of my subscribers, you
already knew that, didn't you? Whatever. O.K. now, we've got
33,000 letters (out of 100,000) that have actually been
delivered to the post
office, delivered by the post office and opened by our
But wait. We started cheering too soon.
Why? Because now, perhaps another 20% of our
remaining mail gets thrown away as soon as it was opened. Darn
it anyway. Here we get 33,000 people to open our mail and
6,000 or 7,000 of those folks said "Oh yuck!" when
they saw that bewildering collection of brochures, order
cards, yes-no stamps and so forth.
But hey, we have
gotten about 26,000 folks to at least read
our letters. And that's not bad, right?
Actually, it's not. What the hell, if every
one of those 26,000 people order, we'll be figuring on getting
a 26% response and gosh, that's not bad at all.
But, of course, all 26,000 of those who do read our mail do not order.
Some of them who read our letters don't order because they
don't believe what they
are reading. But don't worry, we can fix that. At least, on a
percentage basis, we can fix a lot of it!
And now, we are left with those folks who
don't order because they don't want what we're selling and
I'll accept that.
Or because they don't want to pay our price
and I'll accept that.
Or because they are short of cash and I'll
But I won't accept, and neither should you,
not getting orders because my letters were not delivered,
opened or read.
So let's stop sniveling and start curing these
problems. Are you ready? Good. Here then, after another
atrociously long preamble, are 20-ways to improve your
response without changing a word of your copy.
your mail to the post office yourself.
Want to try a really instructive split-run
test? Do this: If you mail say, 100,000 pieces per month, send
half of your work to Lettershop A and the other half to
Lettershop B. Tell Lettershop A to proceed as usual and
deliver your mail to the post office and make sure they obtain
and give to you a mailing receipt. Then, have Lettershop B
deliver the mail to you and then you
deliver the mail to another post office and you
get the receipt. Continue doing this every month for a year.
Guess what will happen? Lo and behold, you are going to
discover that, over the course of a year, Lettershop B
dramatically outpulls Lettershop A.
Isn't that curious? Let's press on.
using live stamps on your envelopes instead of using a
postage meter or a printed indicia.
using direct impression addressing (heat transfer, AD
MARK, laser, etc.) instead of labels.
your company name from your corner card.
rid of all teaser copy on your envelope.
the word "RUSH" in red on your envelopes.
Let's pause for the cause here a moment. All
of those last five suggestions are designed to make your mail
look more like first class mail and, as we all know, first
class mail (or mail that looks
like first class) is more likely to get first class treatment.
From your lettershop.
From your post office.
From your customer.
It's all a matter of respect. Did you know
that the post office is about to bar the use of those fake
Federal Express type envelopes because those envelopes have
been fooling postal employees?
True. Those envelopes (even when mailed bulk rate) get a very
prompt delivery and sometimes the postman even asks his
customers to sign for
them. And, did you know that first class mail (or mail that
looks like first class) even gets more respect (and less
trashing) from your lettershop?
Enough about envelopes. Let's talk about your
it and use wider margins and more subheads. Also, make
certain things stand out by showcasing them in bold,
like I'm doing in this
Do all this to provide "eye relief."
To make your sales message more inviting and less formidable
when your prospect first sees
away your brochure or hide it in a plain white
envelope so your prospect doesn't see it as soon as he
opens your envelope. Ditto with your order coupons.
You already know why; it's to avoid the
"Oh Yuck!" reaction.
your 10-day or 30-day or 60-day guarantee to a full
Did you know that the longer the customer has
to request a refund the less likely he is to do so? Yea,
verily, it is true. You see, if you offer a 10-day guarantee
your customers will be very conscious of it and the refund
deadline will be in the forefront of their beady little minds.
No good. Give 'em time to forget about getting
a refund. Give 'em a year.
By the way, the longer the guarantee period,
the higher your response rate will be too.
a photo of the author of your letters on your
letterhead. For some reason this usually increases
response. I think it does so because it tends to
"personalize" your letter and, also, I think
people like to have a mental picture of the person
with whom they are dealing.
your order card on yellow stock instead of whatever
other color you are now using. The reason? Simple -
yellow and black is the easiest-to-read color
combination when it comes to print. This is especially
important on order cards since many of them contain
relatively small type.
Bill Royal (804-648-4168) and tell him you are one of
my subscribers and ask him to send you samples of the
new envelopes he has designed. He's the guy who
originally designed those envelopes the post office
wants to outlaw and he's come up with some new ones
that are real "high impact" beauties. By the
way, remind him of those young girls he promised to
fix me up with if I got him any new business.
your phone number in the body copy of all your letters
and invite your customers to call you if they have any
This makes the prospects feel like it is safe to order. Like they can "reach out and touch you" if
necessary. And, of course, the safer they feel, the more
likely they are to order.
By the way do
not use an 800 number for this purpose, use your
And while I'm at it...
using an 800 service and starting taking your call-in
Listen: If you do this and you do it right and
if you write a little "script" that teaches your
employees how to "bump up" call-in orders, your
gross will immediately
jump 20% and your net by 40% or so.
Plus, it will make your 800 service (if you
still use them at all) a little nervous and they will start
doing a better job for you.
your package weighs an ounce or less and your unit of
sale is $39.95 or more stop
mailing bulk and start mailing first class.
When you do this, you will get a higher
response and a much faster rate
(isn't cash-flow important to you?) of response. Plus when you
mail first class you can start to...
A DAILY LOG OF YOUR NIXIES.
Now wait a minute. How in the world can
keeping a daily log of your nixies improve your response rate?
I dunno, really. All I know is that when you keep a
"nixie log" (and when you make sure your list broker
and all list owners know you are doing so) you will, after a
while, tend to start getting lists that are cleaner and more
responsive. Also, keeping a nixie log will do wonders when it
comes to raising your consciousness level and sharpening up
your mind. In addition, it will improve your vision by taking
some of the stars out of your eyes.
renting more responsive mailing lists.
Start fighting for hotline names. Start
networking (isn't that a dandy buzzword?) with five
list brokers instead of just one. In fact, why not contact 10
or 20 or 30 or 40? And while I'm at it, why don't you contact
the list owners and ask
them if you can pay extra to get the hottest segments of their
lists like the multi-buyers, the hotline names, the big ticket
buyers and so on?
test by mailing first class even if
you are going to roll out using bulk!
Time is money. You can read first class
results much faster. In fact you'll know how good your mailing
is going to be within 12-days of your drop date. And hear
this: The sooner you know what's likely to happen, the more
able you will be to stop what's likely to happen from
happening or, if you prefer, the more likely you will be to make
what's likely to happen, happen.
team" everything you do!
Use more than one lettershop. Use more than
one list broker. Use more than one printer. Use more than one
copywriter. And believe it or not,
mail at more than one post office!
Some post offices are "black holes"
where advertising mail routinely gets lost.
Spread your business around and let everybody
know you are doing so. Keep everybody on their toes. Make sure
your mail gets accounted for and is treated with respect from
go to woe.
And now, for the most important suggestion of
GARY HALBERT YOUR CONTROL PACKAGE AND ASK HIM FOR A
I'm serious. If you subscribe to this
newsletter, one of the perks is a free critique of your ads
and letters. I'm happy to do this because:
It keeps me sharp
It helps me make new friends
It sometimes gets me into profitable business
of course, I like to do it because, let's face it...
I'm A Prince
Of A Guy!
Gary C. Halbert
month's newsletter is going to be special. When you
read it you are going to think you died and went to
direct-marketing heaven. You are going to learn how
(and, I'm not
kidding) to use direct response to make bundles of
money and improve
your sex life at the exact same time.
Stay close to
your mail box.
might also try getting a celebrity to sign your
letters (ask me how) or maybe using multiple stamps
instead of just one, or, if you are going after a
really big sale, you might try sending telegrams
instead of letters, or how about including a free
standing "polaroid" of whatever you're
selling? Say, have you tried attaching something like
a penny to the top of your letters and then
telephoning your customers a few days later and
"referencing" the attachment like this?:
Listen. This is Mr. Smith at ABC Widget Company. Did
you get the letter I just sent you? You'll remember it
if you did; it had a penny attached to the first page.
You do remember? Good. Look, the reason I'm calling is
Try this. If you
do it right it will multiply your sales by 500%!
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights