The Best Format To Use In Advertising If You Are Going To Use Direct Mail

In my advertising seminars, I always get asked about direct mail…specifically ADVO, Val-Pak, and the magazines that are full of coupons. I’m not talking about direct mail to your customer list. I’m talking about the “marriage mail” that is sent to every resident in a given area…Junk mail.

There are really three formats:

The envelope stuffed with coupons and loose offers. Val-Pak is an example.

Direct mail postcards. These are bundled with the rest of your mail, and are very cheap.: usually less than a dime each. ADVO is an example.

The book of coupons & offers. This looks like a magazine. It may cost a few cents for a full page (81/2 X 11 inches) ad per recipient.

My choices? I’ve used all three formats repeatedly. The advantage of the postcard is that everyone will at least look at the postcard before they throw it away. And ADVO will blanket a large area for a little money. I remember (just a couple years ago…the last time I used them) getting 40,000 postcards printed, addressed, and mailed for less than $900.

I only stopped using them when I realized that I got a better result from the magazine type mailer, and the ADVO ads were cannibalizing the results from the magazine ads.

(Claude’s law #4657…Don’t send out two (or three) direct mail ads out at the same time. Your results won’t be higher than if you just sent out the best ad. If the readers read two of the same ad…they won’t buy twice as much. They will buy the same as if they just saw one ad)

We have always got the best result from the magazine style mailer. In our case The Town Money Saver. Most of you reading this will not be in their area. But there is usually a company publishing a magazine style mailer in your area.

Their sales pitch (from The Town Money Saver) is that the customer will keep the mailer longer because it’s in the form of a magazine. At first, I didn’t believe it, but there is some truth to the claim. Our response to a monthly mailing is this; a few sales the few days after the ad comes out…followed buy a high end sale every couple of days…with a few sales that last day the mailer is good (there are expiration dates on all our ads)

Here is a HUGE advantage of this format…

You can write a far better offer on a complete page than you can on a postcard or coupon.

Our full page ads out pull our half page ads by a factor of five! Why? Because we are selling higher end stuff. The more expensive the thing you are selling…the more you have to tell about it to establish the value & create the desire to buy it.

Let’s say you are selling a vacuum cleaner for $500 in your ad. You have to establish the value, create desire, create the desire to buy it from you, and make it sound like the “bargain of the century”. You just can’t do that on a postcard. On a postcard, you can give a free offer for coming into your store…or sell an inexpensive item.

And here is something else we do…

We place two or three ads in the same the same time…for different offers. And they all pull as well as if they were the only ad we placed. We’ve had as many as four full page ads in a 32 page coupon magazine.

We currently are running three ads in the same book. All pulling very well.

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