136 Basic Steps to Mail Order Success
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 - or the availability of one is a must
Parcel post shipping labels
Avoid purchasing expensive office equipment or supplies until absolutely needed for more efficient operation - and capital permits
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 typesetting of circular
To play for additional or continuing promotions if initial results are encouraging.
Costs to cover promotion expenses if further testing is required
Extra capital to allow for unforeseen and unexpected expenses
Select a product that, preferably:
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 bought at low price
Interests a large percentage of the market
Is not seasonable (except Christmas); can be sold the year around
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 Pubic 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 of 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 overtalking 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 an ad that is pulling well; experiment slowly
Test only one 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 AIDA - 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 costs
Seek lowest price if item is offered by two or more suppliers
Order larger quantities, if you can afford such purchases, to get lower prices or greater discounts
Ensure the 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 numbers ($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 profitably 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 to be 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 test. 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 a 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 accounts; 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 you 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 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 repacking 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 long proves profitable
You, mainly, control the destiny of your mail order business
Be energetic; devote as much time as you can spare to advance your enterprise to a more profitable future
Be determined to make you 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 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 checklist periodically - remind yourself to follow only accepted guidelines that control the safe operation of a mail order business.
BEST OF SUCCESS!
Everyone that starts out learning the mail order business is normally introduced to Commission Circulars very early in the game. You have probably seen ads claiming "how you can make money - sometimes as much as $5,000 - for every page you copy".
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.
When you have developed, or found, mail-order products over which you have exclusive ownership or control, you may want to consider selling through agents, wholesalers or dealers.
Almost anything that people want or need is today being successfully sold by mail. In fact, some propositions could not be handled in any other way. The problem is to figure out the product or service and then find and develop a market.
Everyday more and more people are jumping on the "mail order" bandwagon - starting their own, or getting involved in some kind of mail order selling endeavor - and hoping to get rich.
The purpose of this report is to outline a simple, step-by-step program that will enable you to start making "sales by mail" immediately!
You can make a million dollars or more in mail order, but it's going to require a complete understanding of the business as well as a little bit of know-how on your part.
How much money do you want to make? Do you need a steady second income? Do you want to have your own business, be your own boss, and make your own decisions?
Don't just glance at your junk mail and throw it away! Save it - it can put extra money in your pockets! As a matter of fact, you can make some "easy" extra money with all your incoming mail...
If you are an old hand at mail order, or a newcomer to the business, sooner or later you are going to want to try your lick at having your own publication.