Are Commission Circulars Right for You?
Everyone that starts out learning the mail order business is normally introduced to Commission Circulars very early in the game. Commission Circulars are ads that are already typeset. You stamp YOUR name and address in the "order from" box, then you print and mail them. It's a very simple process and serves an excellent purpose for many people.
Commission Circulars allow a person to make money without handling the product. Orders normally will come directly from the customer to YOU. You keep 50% or more of the money and send the rest, with the customer's order, to the dealer. The dealer will process the customer's order and ship it directly to them. Your only function is to take your money out of envelopes and re-mail the rest of the order and money to the dealer who is the prime source of the product. Some people base their business on Commission Circulars alone. Some people really love separating copies, stamping their name with a rubber stamp, collating and stuffing envelopes and mailing them at the post office. Some businesses get their families involved because children can help in most phases of this business process. It's really a fun hobby for some people.
However, what happens if you are not right for Commission Circulars? What if you are just getting started in the mail order business and don't mail more than 10 letters per week? What if you don't know anybody to send the circulars to? Some people will tell you to buy a mailing list - but can you really afford to spend $290.00 for first-class postage to mail to 1,000 people at this time? Besides, 1,000 people probably wouldn't bring in more than 2 or 3 orders. If you are only getting $2 or $3 commission from the circular - you'd go broke quick!
You need to ask yourself several questions before ordering Commission Circulars. First and foremost, you need to determine how much you are mailing per month. If your postage costs are less than $200 every 30 days, it probably won't pay you to order Commission Circulars. However, if the Commission Circular can become a part of your mailing without causing you an extra postage expense, you might consider them. Commission circulars bring in good profits only when they are mailed to a lot of people - 1,000 won't cut it. Big mail dealers who process tons of mail per week and mail to thousands every month benefit the most from Commission Circulars. They have the volume it takes to participate in this type of business and will generate enough orders to make them pay for themselves.
Now, a lot of people may disagree with me about Commission Circulars. Some people feel if you only mail 10 per month it will bring in money. I agree - it will, but it will take many months (possibly years) at this pace to make it worth your time. A commission mailer who mails Commission Circulars is normally responsible for his/her own printing (some people provide preprinted circulars at a cost) as well as their own time in mailing and postage. Depending on the amount of money (or stamps) the Commission Circular pays, you may not recoup enough expenses unless you receive several orders. In other words, don't expect to mail 1,000 circulars and get 500 orders REGARDLESS of what anyone tells you. There are so many variances in mailing lists and human beings it is really impossible to determine response rates.
There are a number of ways though for the new beginner to take part in Commission Circular mailings and receive a response that is sufficient. One way is to take part in Co-Op Printing deals. Read and study the mail order publications and you will find several good co-op printing deals. This is where you send a circular to a printer. He or she will print a certain number of copies. Your ad will be printed on 1-side and the printer's ad will be printed on the other. They will send all the copies back to you and you are responsible for mailing them. This immediately cuts your printing costs in half! A lot of people use this method if they do monthly bulk mailings or mail a lot. (Just be sure the ad the printer puts on the back of your ad is something that doesn't conflict with items you are selling also.)
If you don't do a lot of mailings and/or you don't want the hassle of stuffing and mailing a lot of envelopes, you can advertise your circular in a mail order publication. At a standard rate of $25 per 1,000 - you can get your circular printed and mailed without any additional work on your part. This is the least expensive way to take part in Commission Circulars because you save on postage, envelopes, mailing list of names, folding, stapling and the time spent carting everything to the post office. Purchase a few BIG Mails and keep up-to- date on publications and prices.
The third way of getting your Commission Circulars out is by printing them yourself and having someone else mail them for you. Most bulk mailers (people who process large volumes of mail) will normally include your 8 1/2 x 11 circulars in with their own mail for $.02 to $.04 each. You benefit from the mailers own mailing list plus you are saved the time of mailing and processing them. If you have an office copier or other printing equipment that will make copies from a camera-ready master, you're in business. Just print as many copies as you want, box them up and send to the mailer you select.
Commission Circulars are really a great way to help others promote their products and bring in an income also for you. I, myself, participate in 3 different commission programs. However, I co-publish publications. The only difference between them and Commission Circulars is the fact that they are publications. You make money on any advertising ordered through you as well as subscriptions. Advertising, printing and mailing are the 3 MOST sought after products in mail order. So, naturally, I take part in the promotion of advertising.
Before participating in any Commission Circular or Co-Publishing effort, you should always take the time to inspect the product you are promoting. If it's low in cost, order it before promoting it. This way you will be able to answer questions if potential customers call or write you about it. If the product is more than you can afford or you don't want to buy it - ask the dealer to send you a brochure or other information. You need to be aware of any product or service you are promoting because it is a direct reflection on YOUR company. Your company name is on the circular and people will think you are the Prime Source.
Think about it this way. Suppose a shoe salesperson came to the door without any shoes to show you. They had no brochures, no information about their product and no knowledge of what shoes were available. Would you make a purchase simply from a price list? Probably not! And your customer probably won't either. If they do happen to take the time to request more information - get it for them. Don't toss their letter in the trash and not answer it because you don't know the answer. You could be throwing away a $100 order. Wouldn't it be worth the $.32 investment?
Direct Mail Mailing Tips
If you do decide to mail your own circulars yourself because you want to be sure they are mailed - here are some tips to cut costs:
Be sure ALL the circulars are printed on BOTH sides of the paper. This way - you can get 8 circulars (4 sheets of paper printed on both sides) in a standard business-size envelope for $.32.
Never, never, never put only one sheet of paper in an envelope and mail it. The person receiving it will be confused and you will automatically be recognized as a newcomer who loves to waste money!
If you choose to include a cover letter with your direct mail, put a coupon or bonus offer at the bottom of the letter to encourage the customer to look through your offers and consider them.
Fold your circulars in a "Z-fold" when placing them in the envelope itself. This way, as soon as the envelope is opened, the customer does not have to unfold it. Your best offer or "eye-catcher" is looking directly at them.
When printing circulars on the back of other circulars, turn one of them upside down. This way, the order coupon for the flyers are not back-to-back and customers can place two orders from one circular.
Place similar or complementing offers in each envelope. Don't put a hodgepodge of all kinds of different items as this will tend to confuse the customer. A good combination is: (a) Mailing List, (b) Stamp Program, (c) Printing or Typesetting, (d) Money-Making Program.
Continually try different ideas to market your products properly. Work on it. Make a game out of it. Eventually you will hit upon the right combination that will literally stuff your mailbox with orders!
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Order 5,000 3 x 6 commission circulars from your printer selling $1.00 items that you earn 50% commission on every order you receive. Have your name printed on them - it will save you hours of stamping time.