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How about an appeal from one intelligent person to another?

I've been writing about newsletter marketing for more than 25 years and, over that time, I've heard many debates about what the most critical factor to success is.

* The Envelope (and good teaser copy) because the best package in the world won't sell if it doesn't get opened.

* The List. Again, the best package won't sell to the wrong names.

* The Sales Letter. Makes a more effective presentation of a full year of editorial benefits than any single issue can convey.

* The Order Form. Needs to encapsulate all the benefits of the offer so, if it's the only piece of the package that gets saved, it can do the selling job.

* The Offer. The price has to be right for the market.

* The Premium. Generally editorial, it can make the difference between break-even and profit.

And more

In recent years the forced free trial has come to the front. My take is that FFTs sell to a portion of the marketplace that can't be convinced by any direct mail package.

Wraps are a clever way to combine a sample issue (and sample issues still work in some markets) with the selling power of a letter.

Newsletters, special reports and large sections or whole books have been written (some of them by me) about these procedures. And, added together, all these points have become the conventional wisdom that has sold many, many subscriptions over the years.

Conventional wisdom aside

So, conventional wisdom aside, I enjoyed stumbling over some notes in my files from our friend Llewellyn King, currently publishing White House Weekly (NL/ NL 6/16/06)), who takes a contrarian view.

"Actually, I have very little faith in the 'pseudo-science' we've erected about the practice of direct mail. I have tremendous faith in the efficacy of a smart letter sent to a smart person," Lew said.

"That's what I did when I launched The Energy Daily in the paleolithic era (1973). Admittedly, the product was in the right place at the right time, but the concept has continued to work when we have tested it against some creations that top copywriters and consultants have done for us.

"The only and all-important thing is having the right lists--the right names to mail to.

"I try to put myself in the position of the recipient as well as a producer of direct mail," Lew continued. "I take a field in which I'm personally interested, like aviation, and there are a lot of aviation publications. When I get a mailing from one, if it sounds intelligent, I subscribe, but if the sales letter goes on and on, 'and with your subscription you also receive absolutely free ...,' I say [expletive deleted] and throw it away. It tells me that they have no real faith in the quality of their publication.

Your only competition is yourself

"The key thing to remember is that your direct mail offer for a newsletter is only in competition with itself. People do not comparison shop for newsletters. It would be different, of course, if all the promotions for all your competition also hit the prospect's desk on the same day.

"As it is, what you are asking the prospect for is his or her time and I believe in doing it in an intelligent manner. I think many of us in direct mail have become too clever by half--often you can't even figure out what it is that is being sold."

Only five words

Lew said that there are only about five words you should use in business newsletter direct mail:

* Timely

* Concise

* Informed

* Inside

* Essential.

And there you have perhaps the only copywriting advice for newsletter marketers ever written that didn't recommend the words "Free" and "You receive."
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Title Annotation:newsletter marketing
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 17, 2006
Words:620
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