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If you're planning to promote in Europe, here are some lessons learned.

Specialized information publishing and marketing in Eastern Europe is about where it was in the U.S. 30 or 40 years ago. Of course they have problems, but their markets are wide open and receptive to information products.

While in the U.S. publishers of titles for hospital administrators are spinning off products covering sub-markets like software programs available for hospitals, in Poland and Romania publishers are successfully launching titles on reducing your taxes and writing effective business letters--broad horizontal areas long since burnt over in the U.S. market.

Beginning with its first mailing in April of 1997, K&K publishing in Warsaw (an affiliate of Verlag Norman Rentrop [VNR] in Bonn, Germany) has expanded to three titles of looseleaf reference services and anticipated revenues approaching 8 million zlotys annually ($2 million). In Romania at Rentrop & Stratton, another VNR "daughter firm," its newsletter is one for managers.

As almost everywhere else in direct marketing, they are learning that the answers to most of the questions they have appear to be either "you have to test" or "it depends."

* When they began they made strictly hard offers--cash up front--which had been the usual practice in Poland, but when they tested the soft offer of "14-day free trial" (pay later), which was new in the market, response more than doubled. (Pay up is excellent, over 90%, which is good because under Polish law once they send an invoice to a subscriber, taxable income to the company is assumed.

* Since VNR publishes similar titles in Germany, in every case it has tested translations of the German control package into Polish against new packages they create in Warsaw. For its tax advisor product, its first title, the German package--a 16-page "infolog"--was the winner. (It resembles an issue of a newsletter rather than the 4-color magalog designed to look like a magazine.)

For the other titles, The VAT Advisor and one on effective letter writing, the "Polish" packages are doing better. "Traditionally," senior marketer Magdalena Sukniewicz explains, "prospects in Poland respond well to shorter letters with colorful illustrated brochures showing the product." (The German packages feature longer letters and less use of 2nd and 3rd colors.)

Their first mailings drew astonishing responses, 8% paid and higher, but later mailings are returning responses more in the 1% area.

Like DMers everywhere, they are constanting testing.

* For The VAT Advisor, a kraft envelope package with light teaser (1.2% response) and a white envelope with heavy teaser (1.5% response) were both winners.

* For their effective letter writing title, a headline offering "Save 83% of your time" outpulled "Write Better Letters."

* For the letter-writing title, they have already had a "classic DM disaster." A double window envelope purported to show part of a letter to the prospect reading something like, "Your application had to be rejected because your letter of request failed to...." Apparently in smaller cities and towns their business prospects were offended. DM is still new enough in Poland that they feared postal workers and others now "knew" that the prospect had "failed" to achieve something they attempted.

Conversely in Bucharest their biggest success was a sales letter purportedly written by a "mole" within the Ministry of Finance promising insider information about government planning. It drew wide attention from print and broadcast media. Rentrop & Stratton hasn't revealed the identity of the "mole," but veteran DMers might be able to guess.

Coming problem--K&K has compiled a house list of about one million business names. Previously mailing lists were sometimes sold in Poland--now more often they may be rented--but brokers as known in the West are nonexistent. Now the Polish government has passed a stringent opt-in law requiring that no one can be mailed an advertising solicitation who has not previously given written permission. "Which we can get I suppose," says marketer Maciej Okinski, "if we send them an 'illegal' mailing requesting the permission."
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Newsletter on Newsletters LLC
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Sep 30, 1999
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Next Article:How to test the most newsletter ideas for the least amount of money.

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