135 Ways to be Successful in Mail Order
This mini course outlines the essential elements for establishing and operating a successful mail order business. Here is a practical guide for beginners and check list for those already in mail order.
The Company Name
- Select a short, friendly, informal, easy-to-remember company name.
- Your personal name is acceptable, but add Co., Gifts, etc.
- Home address or post-office box makes no appreciable difference.
- Neatly printed letterheads and envelopes.
- A typewriter-0or the availability of one is a must.
- Parcel post shipping labels.
- Avoid purchasing expensive office equipment or supplies until absolutely.
Starting Capital Required
- To purchase above starting supplies.
- To pay for two or three publication ads to test your offer.
- Or, to pay rental for a minimum of 1,000 names for a direct mail program, plus postage costs .
- To pay for preparation and layout of a display ad.
- To pay for art work and type-setting of circular.
- To pay for additional or continuing pro-motions if initial results are encouraging.
- Costs to cover promotion expenses if further testing is required.
- Extra capital to allow for unforeseen and unexpected expenses.
- Is new, unusual and, if possible, exclusively yours .
- Is of good quality and fairly priced.
- Fills a definite need for a wide and ready market.
- Offers strong appeal to the prospect.
- Is not commonly sold in retail stores.
- Cannot be bought elsewhere or only from limited sources.
- You can control its production or distribution.
- Is not expensive to make or produce; can be sold year round.
- Interests a large percentage of the market
- Is not seasonable (except Xmas); can be sold year round
- Lightweight; not fragile; safe and inexpensive to ship
- Will be used up or consumed and must be reordered periodically
Locating a Suitable Mail Order Item
- Look through mail order sections of magazines to check what types of products successful mail order dealers offer.
- Inquire of local manufacturers and Chamber of Commerce.
- Attend trade shows with gift, jewelry, household themes, etc.
- Contact appropriate manufacturers listed in Thomas Register, available at Public Libraries.
- Watch for new product listings in trade journals and magazines.
- Check out close-outs, surplus and overstock offers.
- Contact mail order supply sources.
- Design, develop, manufacture or publish your own product.
- Develop or acquire other items to tie in with your main product.
- Present follow-up offers to customers and prospects.
- Promote succession or products appealing to the same trade.
- Sell such services as personalization, consultation, etc., if such services are adaptable to your line.
The Advertising Copy
- Use attention-getting, bold headline copy in ads.
- Illustrate the product if space permits; explain how it is used.
- Write copy in brief, bouncy, down-to-earth style
- Avoid any overly-clever,tricky phrases or expressions .
- Be sincere; don't exaggerate.
- Describe the product clearly and fully.
- Stress the YOU approach; tell how the offer will benefit him.
- Avoid over talking about yourself or your company .
- Strive for conviction and sincerity--be believable
- Instill confidence; make the prospect feel you are honest .
- Stir him into action to order your product .
- Give specific directions for ordering.
- Provide a guarantee of satisfaction or money back.
- Tailor the ad/literature to fit the prospect you want to reach.
Testing Your Offer
- If capital permits, test more than one magazine.
- Test more than one ad, each in a different publication.
- Try split runs if the magazine offers regional or sectional issues.
- Continue a successful ad without change until its pull drops to break-even point.
- Don't rush to change at a time: size of ad--copy--different appeal--new headline--another illustration--new price.
- Use short testimonials if space permits.
- Offer a bonus--something free or at reduced price.
- Key each ad or mailing to determine where results were derived.
- Keep accurate records of returns from each promotion.
- Usually consists of sales letter, descriptive circular or folder, order form, return envelope (Some offers may be effectively sold by only a sales letter)
- Effective sales letter must create ATTENTION, INTEREST, DESIRE, ACTION
- The circular should fully illustrate or describe the product. It must provide more detailed information about the product--its uses, benefits, advantages and other special appeals.
- Return envelope is an essential part of sales literature to make it convenient for the customer to mail the order.
- Mailing sales offers by first-class mail vs third-class mail usually shows no appreciable difference in results.
- Mailing envelope can feature an attractive design or teaser message to induce the recipient to open and read the offer.
The Product Supplier
- Develop or produce your own mail order item, if possible.
- Try to arrange exclusive mail-order rights with the supplier.
- Establish supply sources close to home to save delivery time and shipping cost.
- Seek lowest price if item is offered by two or more suppliers.
- Order larger quantities, if you can afford such purchases, to get lower or greater discounts.
- Assure that supplier is reliable and will provide the merchandise you plan to promote; that he will ship orders promptly.
- Consider only products which allow an adequate profit margin (at least a 3 to 1 profit mark-up on lower-priced items).
- Consider a supplier who is willing to drop-ship your orders directly to your customers--seek at least a 50% discount.
The Selling Price
- Price merchandise fairly; give customers their money's worth.
- Include postage or shipping costs in selling price.
- Use round number ($3.00, $5.00, etc) for lower-priced items to make it convenient for customers to remit payment.
- Allow for all costs in marking up prices--postage, overhead, packing, allowances for non-deliveries, refunds, bad checks.
- Be certain to allow yourself an adequate mark-up to assure profit.
- Test different prices to determine which selling price brings in the greatest amount of profit.
- Don't attempt to start unless you can afford at least two or three ads; or pay for a direct mailing to at least 1,000 names.
- Plan to advertise consistently
- Use ad space relative to sale price, i.e., use small-size ads for low priced items and larger ads for more expensive items
- Items priced over $3.00 usually do not sell as profitable through classified ads
- In space ads, offer products in the $3.00 to $10.00 price range.
- It is usually better to advertise for inquiries if an item sells for $10.00 or more.
- Two small ads will generally produce more business than one ad twice as large.
- Keep repeating ads as long as they continue profitable.
- Don't waste unnecessary space; advertising is expensive.
- Don't expect to make a killing from one ad or mailing. Consistent advertising is the key to mail order success.
- Newspapers with mail-order sections bring quick returns and are acceptable for initial tests. Results are not usually as good as from magazine ads for long range pull.
- Use only publications with the type of readership who will react favorably to your type of product or offer.
- Unsold inquirers should be followed up with special inducements or with new offers.
- Rent names only from reliable brokers or mail order sources.
- Use only lists of people who are logical prospects for your offer.
- Compile mailing list from your own inquirers and customers.
- Offer your names to list brokers; this is a good source for extra income.
- Advertise in publications which feature large mail order sections; place ads in the same issues or sections that your competitors advertise.
The Advertising Agency
- Select an advertising agency experienced in mail order.
- Check their credentials; current account; successful promotions.
- Don't use agencies which represent direct competitors.
- Expect to pay in advance for ad placements and other services until credit terms are established.
- Advertising agencies are not infallible. Forgive an honest mistake. Give the agency at least a second chance.
- Expect to pay for preparation of display ads, copy layout, and other services authorize. Classified ad copy will be prepared without any cost to you.
- Extend full cooperation; go along with their recommendations.
- If your advertising budget is substantial, consider setting up your own advertising agency--thereby saving 15% commission, plus a 2% discount in many instances.
- Fill and ship orders promptly. Mail order buyers get edgy with delays.
- Use plain but sturdy packing to ship orders.
- Ship via parcel post or U.P. S., whichever is cheaper.
- Use neatly printed shipping labels.
- Address labels with typewriter; not by hand unless indelible ink is used and address is printed.
- Specify Return Guaranteed on labels or package.
Terms of Payment
- Accept personal checks; very few bounce.
- Avoid C.O.D.s unless you receive sufficient down package to assure you have collected enough to cover the costs of the return, plus costs of handling and repackaging the merchandise.
- Don't offer to sell on credit or time payments unless item is high-priced and you can afford to carry credit accounts.
- Consider the customer your greatest asset. Acknowledge that he is always right; even when he isn't.
- Handle complaints promptly; write courteous explanation.
- Offer replacement if product is broken or damaged.
- Issue immediate refunds; adjust overpayments promptly.
- Promote new or other products to your customer list. No other class of prospect will be as responsive.
- Work your customer list until it no longer proves profitable.
- You, mainly, control the destiny of your mail order business.
- Be energetic; devote as much time as you can spare to advance.
- Be determined to make your mail order business a huge success.
- Learn as much as you can about mail order techniques.
- Be original; exclusive.
- Don't copy anyone; copy only successful methods and techniques; always strive to improve on them.
- Keep searching diligently for new, exclusive products.
- Don't become disappointed by a slow start, or discouraged by a failure or two along the the way.
- Always perform professionally; an amateur does not get paid for his services .
- Build your own financial pyramid; reinvest profits into productive programs that may mushroom your profits steadily.
- Avoid being an easy mark for get-rich-quick schemes; start and operate your business on sound principles.
- Refer to this handy check list periodically--remind yourself to follow only accepted guide-lines that control the safe operation of a mail order business.
Best of success!
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Dictionary of Mail Order Terms
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: A short note acknowledging receipt of an order. Used especially when a check is sent as payment, and shipment will be delayed until the check clears.
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