59 Ways to Increase Mail Order Profits

Mail Order is one of the fastest growing and most exciting areas of selling in use today. It's inexpensive, it's readily measurable, and, best of all, it's relatively easy to do--if you do it right!

The following tips are guaranteed to get you off on the right track (or back on the right track) as a mail order seller. Whether you're a novice or an old pro, you're bound to find some points here that will make a difference to your bottom line!

  1. Always remember that the market comes first. In mail order, the is identifying a market segment with a specific need and then filling that need with your product or service. The mistake many mail order sellers make is first developing a product and then trying to find a group of people who might be interested in that product.

  2. In mail order, the KISS principle applies--Keep-It-short-and-Simple. That refers to you offer and copy. While a long does work, you only want to get long-winded when your product and offer require it. Simplicity applies to the words you choose as well. Don't use a $50 word when you can use a $1 word instead.

  3. Don't be a slave to grammar and punctuation rules. The goal in mail order selling is conveying a message. Communication is the key!

  4. Make sure you copy and graphics work together. The graphics should set the tone and mood for your mail piece and the copy should support that mood.

  5. Graphics are meant to do more than just look nice. In fact, it's commonly known that the award winning brochures aren't necessarily the ones that pull the highest response. Graphics are meant to pull the reader through your mailing piece and to highlight and emphasize the major points.

  6. If you're using photos in your brochure, try to make them as active as possible. When you're picturing your products, show someone using it.

  7. Never, never print over the top of a photograph. But always caption your photos--it increases readership.

  8. Don't forget to measure back-end as well as front-end when you're determining how well a promotion did. Your mail in may have pulled a 3% front-end response, but if returns are heavy you could lose your profits in a hurry!

  9. Don't forget about the FTC 30-day Rule. This rule states that: you must deliver a product to the buyer when you say you will, if you don't promise a delivery date, you must ship the product no latter than 30 days after you receive the order. The buyer has the right to cancel the order, receiving a full refund, if the product is not shipped within the 30 days!

  10. The 4 most important elements in mail order marketing are the List, the Offer, the Format and the Copy.

  11. Try involvement devices to increase response. What are they? Some simple ones that you might use include check boxes, tear off stubs, questions, etc.

  12. Don't neglect you outer envelope--it's the first thing your customer sees and deserves your attention. Include teaser copy on you outer envelopes to entice the customer to look inside.

  13. When using a sales letter, don't forget about the P.S. It's the second most read part of a letter and should be used to reemphasize your offer.

  14. If you Ad works, keep using it, even if you've grown bored of it.

  15. Never mention a product feature without turning that feature into a benefit for the customer. Your product has bee around for 100 years? So what! That means nothing to the customer. Always answer the customers' inherent question of---what's in it for me?

  16. Always design your order form first. It's the most important element of your package and one of the most overlooked by many direct marketers.

  17. Ask your customer for names and addresses of friends/colleagues who might be interested in your product or service. It's a good way to build your mailing list.

  18. Try the use of a premium to increase response---but make sure the premium is somehow related to your product.

  19. Always, always always use a guarantee in your mail marketing--and make sure that your guarantee is generous and prominently displayed.

  20. When testing price, always test price points both above and below the price you think is the right one.

  21. Key code everything you mail so you can keep track where the responses came from--you'll want to know which list, publication pulled which response as well as which format/what copy worked best.

  22. Be specific when you write a copy. "You'll improve your bottom line" isn't as effective in attracting reader attention and increasing response as "Improve your bottom line by 12%!" Whenever possible, use tangible figures in your copy claims.

  23. Use testimonials! And remember that testimonials that are attributed to real people are more effective than blind testimonials.

  24. Don't be afraid to repeat yourself. You never know what part of a promotion your prospect will read so you want to make sure you repeat your offer and benefits throughout your brochure or letter!

  25. When measuring percent return, measure dollars not pieces. Always look at money spent in comparison to money generated--this is the only way to gather valid information about the cost effectiveness of the mailing.

  26. Give customers more than one response option. A Yes/No/Maybe response option has proven to generate more responses than a simple Yes option.

  27. Your best customers are your best customers. Those people who purchased from you most recently will be most likely to purchase from you again.

  28. When you increase the price of your product, you can expect response to decrease by a percentage equal to the amount of the increase.

  29. When listing more than one item on your order form, always lead with your highest priced item.

  30. When prospecting for new customers, test the list of companies who frequently rent your list. Similarly, when deciding which lists to mail, always select those which are most closely alligned to your own list.

  31. Black on yellow is the most dramatic color combination you can use.

  32. Always restate your offer on the order form.

  33. Always test some meaningful element of every mailing you do. What's meaningful? Anything related to list, offer, format or copy.

  34. Long copy can outpull short copy--it all depends on what you have to say. When writing copy use as much space as you need to clearly and completely convey your offer and product benefits.

  35. Make effective use of white space in letters and brochures. Always, always make readability a key aspect of your mailings. Let your copy breathe.

  36. Display your toll-free number prominently in your mailings. If you don't have a toll-free number, get one!

  37. Make generous use of the following words that sell: proven, easy, free, guarantee, save results, profit, value.

  38. Use deadlines and limited time offer to boost response. Providing a cut-off date for your orders creates a sense of urgency. Added Benefit: you can direct when the bulk of your orders come in for quicker response analysis.

  39. You can gather information and qualify prospects by asking a few well-worded questions on any lead generation mailing you do. You'll learn more about who your prospects are and weed out unqualified respondents at the same time.

  40. Use department store pricing rather than flat pricing. For instance, $19.95 is better, in most cases, than $20.00.

  41. When offering a discount consider the use of a certificate or simulated check. They attract attention and increase involvement--two very good ways of increasing response.

  42. Create a feeling of exclusivity with your offer by including language to the effect of, "This offer is nontransferable," or "Sorry, this special price is available to past customers only."

  43. Avoid reverse type (white lettering on a solid colored background)-- it's extremely difficult to read. If you must use it, do so only for very short sentences or phrases.

  44. Always use serif type--the type with little feet. Studies have shown over and over again that serif type is easier to read.

  45. To encourage pass-along readership, print route to: instructions on your promotion.

  46. Even two-color promotions can look extra special. Consider the use of duotones, tint combinations and colored stock to give the feel of a multi-color promotion.

  47. Always be prepared to bounced back another offer with every order you receive. Have flyers, BRCs etc, available to insert orders are shipped out--key your inserts to your customers' areas of interest.

  48. Request a daytime as well as an evening phone number when doing computer mailing(vice versa for business to business mailings). The purpose for this? In case you have a question about the order, you'll be able to get in touch with the respondent. To make it less risky for customers to provide these numbers, consider the use of a statement to the effect of, no telemarketers will call or numbers requested for verification only.

  49. When using a two-step marketing strategy where you'll first generate leads with a hard offer, make sure that you follow up quickly. Old leads are cold leads.

  50. Offer to send prospects something free, even if they don't order. It's a good way of building your prospect list and collecting names you wouldn't otherwise have received. But remember to keep these names separate from your customer list and watch it carefully for conversion to sales.

  51. Keep your customer and prospect files clean by verifying addresses through the postal service, asking customers to let you know when they change address. A Clean list is a responsive list.

  52. Put your name, address and phone number on every element of your mailing piece as well as your order form.

  53. When testing, split lists on a 2-digit zip rather than an nth select basis. Why? The last two digits of the zip code is more commonly used for testing, it allows you to easily tell if the list you requested is actually the one you requested and it allows you to easily identify those people who haven't received your test mailing when conducting rollouts.

  54. Test subtle variations of your offer for its effect on response. For instance, while "Buy One/Get One Free" really means the same thing as "50% Off When You Buy 2" the effect on your audience can be dramatically different.

  55. In a sale, never end a sentence or a paragraph at the bottom of the page. Always leave a window to encourage your reader to turn the page. Make your sentence break so compelling that the reader can't possibly resist going on.

  56. When using itemized lists or bulleted points, use an odd number of points--9 and 7 are good choices.

  57. Offer incentives for cash payment. A 10% for cash offer, can increase your cash flow and decrease your accounts payable.

  58. Make sure your order form is prominently displayed, and that it looks like an order form.

  59. If you mail frequently to the same list, periodically change your format and look of mailing piece.

The Best Of Luck To You, and Keep On Mailing!

Related Articles

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.

How to Set Up Your Own Mail Order Distributorship for General Merchandise and Books

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.

How to Select Mail Order Products that Sell

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.

Commission Circulars: How to Make $5,000 for Every Page You Copy

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".

The Secret Mail Order Product that Can Make You Rich

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 Mail-Five-Letters-a-Day Plan

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!

What It Takes to Make Your Fortune in Mail Order

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 to Capitalize on the Hidden Profits in Junk Mail

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...

How to Start Your Own Mail Order Publication

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.

How to Start and Operate Your Own Profitable Mail Order Business at Home

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?