16 Direct Mail Watchwords

The late Chicago agency head and author Bob Stone wrote that in his more than 30 years in the marketing trenches these 16 direct-mail principles held true more than 90% of the time:

  • Your best customers — probably only about 20% of your mail-derived total — will produce around 80% of your repeat orders.

  • A customer’s second order is more important than his first transaction with you, because a two-time buyer is at least twice as likely as a one-time purchaser to buy again.

  • Test “hotline” names. If they don’t pull, any other list select probably will not work.

  • Merge/purge names from two or more lists will out-pull names from any single list in which they appear.

  • Mailing to any list overlay will boost response.

  • A follow-up mailing to a list within 50 days of your first drop will pull 40% to 50% of the initial mailing.

  • Optional Yes/No offers consistently generate higher responses than a “Yes” choice alone.

  • Negative-option offers will out-pull positive offers by at least two to one.

  • A credit-card option will outperform cash-with-order transactions by two to one. In catalog selling, it will leverage orders upward by at least 20%.

  • Time-limited offers citing a specific date out-pull no-time-limit propositions almost always.

  • Free-gift offers consistently produce higher response than discount offers.

  • Self mailers certainly are less costly to produce than envelope-enclosed mailings, but virtually never generate more orders.

  • A pre-print of your next space ad, in an envelope that also includes a letter and a response device and a reply envelope, will generate 50% more sales than a post-print advertisement.

  • A brand-new catalog mailed to your existing customers will outperform a cold list by 400% to 800%.

  • Your average dollar value of an order is easier to increase than your response rate.

  • In business-to-business mail, the closure rate from qualified leads is two to four times as effective as cold calling.

See also:

Direct Mail Home Page

Marketing Home Page

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