19 of Dick Benson’s Direct-Mail Rules of Thumb

  • A two-time purchaser is twice as likely to buy as a first-time customer.

  • A credit or bill-me-later offer will improve results by 50% or more.

  • Token or sticker involvement devices always boost response.

  • Magazines linked to membership affiliations—like the National Geographic and the Smithsonian—renew better than plain subscriptions by 10% or more.

  • You cannot sell two things at once.

  • Offering installment payments for items costing more than $15 will boost response 15%.

  • Dollar for dollar, premiums make better incentives than cash discounts.

  • A “Yes-No” option will increase orders.

  • Long copy works better than short copy.

  • Personalized letters pull better from customer lists than from “cold” lists.

  • Folders and letters should stand alone— each including all information about your offer.

  • Subscriptions sold at half-price for eight or more months will convert just as strongly as subscriptions sold for a full year at full price.

  • A reduced-price offer to a house list will more than pay its way.

  • Beginning with the second week’s orders, you can assume that you will receive as many more orders as you have received in the past week.

  • A follow-up mailing two weeks after your first mailing will pull 50% of the orders generated by the original mailing.

  • When you offer both cash and credit options, you will depress net response.

  • Subscription offers including two optional terms (i.e., eight or 16 months) will pull more money, but 10% fewer orders.

  • In selling subscriptions, a “soft” offer (“Try a complimentary copy at our risk”) pulls better than a hard offer (cash with order or “Bill me later”).

  • “FREE” is the magic word in direct mail.

See also:

Direct Mail Home Page

Marketing Home Page

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