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Pet peeves: 11 things not to include in your marketing package and offer.

I've written a number of pieces about what newsletter marketers "should do" in sales letters, offers and package design, so today I'm allowing myself to vent some pet peeves in the "Thou Shalt Not Do" category in newsletter marketing.

1. Mystery Envelopes. I think prospects have long since figured out that a blank envelope--or one with only a P.O. Box address--contains a selling message. Either go First Class with a full return address and inkjetted address--that's what personal business mail usually looks like--or admit it's an ad and use some "interesting" teaser copy. As Bill Jayme put it, "Any competent secretary can recognize advertising mail."

2. Pre-printed postal indicia. Stamps, 1C or Standard Rate, are effective for some types of mailings, metered indicia also usually for business mail. Preprinted is never the most effective choice.

3. Leading with the savings offer. A carrier envelope that shouts "Save $400" or "Your $500 Savings Certificate Enclosed" tells me only that whatever is being offered is really expensive. Similarly, "Save $40" in the first paragraph or even the headline of a sales letter--before I even really know what the product is--also seems ill-placed. Exception: If the product is universally known, like The Economist or Sports Illustrated, then you can lead with the great price offer.

4. Skimpy Discounts. Deals offered on many business-to-business newsletters seem chintzy. How motivating is $40 off a $387 newsletter? Now, moving all the way to $297 might make a measurable difference.

5. Too Much EMPHASIS. A sales letter should still look like a letter, although I'm less sure that still always means "typewriter type." However, while you can do it on your PC, too much use of bold, italics and underlining destroys the illusion. Handwritten notations and color highlighting need to be used even more sparingly.

6. Threats. Don't use language that intimates that if I don't order quickly enough I might not get the premium. "Quantities are limited." As you would expect, I also don't like "FREE to the first 100 orders received."

7. Undated Deadlines. To me, "Respond with 10 days" is the same class of DM schlock as the pre-printed indicia mentioned above. But I have heard from marketers who swear that "it works."

8. Missing Testimonials. I want to know you have satisfied customers. Products featured in general advertising are always "new and improved," while I tend to think the perfect DM product is one that can be portrayed as "We've been doing this for 100 years. We never change. Satisfaction guaranteed." Mr. Bean's original hunting boots and the Kiplinger Washington Letter come to mind. I can't imagine not taking advantage of the "third-person pat on the back."

9. Poor fulfillment. "Your first issue will arrive in 4-6 weeks." How anachronistic is this in today's world where customers expect real-time responses to their e-mails?

10. The dreaded asterisk. The DM-savvy prospect who knows a blank envelope contains an ad also knows that the appearance of an asterisk means, "The offer to which this is attached is not true." Think of the current DisneyWorld ad on TV that shouts FREE HOTEL* (restrictions apply) and FREE RENTAL CAR * (restrictions apply).

11. Wimpy guarantees. "Unmailed issues?" A strong guarantee is what allows us to convince the prospect who doesn't know our newsletter or our company to pay in advance for a year's subscription. Top cataloguers lead the way here. Check out Lands' End. I cringe when I see catalogs or special report offers with copy like "Returns, Call for authorization."
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Title Annotation:DM Notebook
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Feb 20, 2007
Previous Article:Lighten up your newsletter and website with illustrations and cartoons.
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