Secrets and Top-Tips of Mail-Order Advertising

The Advertising Handbook for the Mail-order Industry

Good Advertising creates more production, thus greater consumption, faster turnover and lower sales price per unit. To a great extent it determines the success or failure of the mail order operator.

When working up an advertising program remember that what is genuinely desirable to you may or may not appeal to the majority of your prospects!

Different types of merchandise or services demand completely different advertising media. Your ad must be built around the ADVANTAGES of the product and designed to APPEAL to the specific customers who will BENEFIT from your offer!

Since you MUST spend advertising dollars in order to make money in the mail-order business be sure you spend WISELY and with CONFIDENCE.

RETAIN all advertising information, brochures, sales letters, catalogs, etc., you receive. USE THE IDEAS from this information as a guide in formulating your various advertising programs!

There are thousands of top mail order products to choose from, more than you can ever use, so choose the right ones for you programs!

If the product or service can't stand the Truth do not advertise it... Don't handle it! TRUTH IN ADVERTISING IS A MUST!


When you find the item that is a mail order "HIT", repeat your ads on the product in a number of magazines and other productive advertising media in order to PYRAMID YOUR PROFITS TO THE MAXIMUM!

Advertising costs divided by inquiries = Ad cost per inquiry!

Advertising cost divided by orders = Ad cost per order!

Orders received divided by readership = Percent of Response!

Number of pieces mailed divided by orders received = Percent of Return!

Continuously use these simple formulas so you will know how your advertising dollars are paying off!

Ad to Find New Products

"Calling all manufacturers, importers and suppliers... We will feature and sell your new products in our catalog... Send your information, sample products and programs to....!

Test the position of your ads in the various media!

Test one ad against another on the same offer!

Make your sales letters friendly, clear, simple and to the point.

Your potential customers are more interested in themselves than in your product, consequently your ads and sales letters must be directed toward their point of view and their self-interests! Make them want your product because it will benefit them or will do the job better for them!

Powerful, attention getting words include: FREE, AMAZING, WEIRD, ODD, STRONG, RARE, SECRET, LATEST, EASY, FORTUNE, NOW, NEW, HOW-TO!

You must put yourself in the place of your prospects and know how they feel, think and react to your ads!

If "you" were the customer would your ads persuade "you" to buy?

Your ad must have a STRONG HEADLINE! It must tell the prospect WHAT TO DO, such as: ORDER NOW! RUSH $5.00! USE ORDER FORM AND REPLY ENVELOPE! ACT NOW! Action words that urge the prospects to order. Explain with simple words JUST WHAT THEY WILL RECEIVE FOR THEIR MONEY! What the product will do for them. Use believable testimonials. Appeal to their reason and get their confidence, then use a powerful close. You can get the order!

Repetition is one of the secrets of making a lasting impression on the memory.

Use coupons in some of your ads!

Since SUSPENSE is a strong force in advertising consider entering the name of your product toward the end of your ad.


Quality, usefulness, reasonable price, up-to-date, and appealing to the sight are points to stress!

Make no misleading claims about your products!

Review the many ads presented in leading mail order sales magazines and advertisers. Make note of the many attention getting words and phrases that catch your eye and cause you to read the rest of the ad! Use these same words in your own headlines!

With certain type products, consider turning the picture in your display ad upside down in order to attract attention from the ordinary... if handled properly, curiosity will sell!

Study the operation of other firms to get New Ideas for sales letters, methods of handling promotions, nature of offers and any other details which may be helpful!

Some programs require a good deal of literature in order to present all the facts necessary to sell a product. With this type of product you should first advertise for inquiries then send the full ammunition by direct mail!

Write up a list of important reasons why a person should inquire about your offer. Use the strongest of these reasons in your ad!

If you usually pay cash for your ads, why not set up your own advertising agency as a secondary part of your business? Your registered business name as an advertising agency may qualify your business for the 15% discount when advertising in many publications.

Direct mail, mailing lists, not ads, are used to obtain business. You determine what type of person would best buy your product; then compile, rent or buy name lists and proceed from there.

Lists compiled from business listings in the Yellow pages are good for many kinds of mail order products; however the names and addresses contained in the white pages seldom get any reasonable response. Ads in the daily paper are also generally poor for mail order products. Stay with the successful operators and advertise in the various media they use... stick with quality name lists in the right category for your products.

Unless your ad is read you will come out in the red! Make it clean, clear, concise, simple, professional and focused to the "right market" for the type of product being offered!

Always test! test! test! before spending large sums to promote or advertise your product... Be sure it is a hit then go all out!

Your ad must name the product, describe it, tell what it will do for the reader, how he can obtain it, and where to get it!

The best part of your advertisement is the words that can be read "between the lines"!

The direct mail packet consists of the sales letter, catalog or brochure, order blank and the business reply envelope!

The ad must attract attention and create interest and desire before the customer will act!

Know your product well so that you can be specific, sincere and positive in writing your ads!

Enthusiastic ads properly laid out will generally get enthusiastic results!

It is simple to record test results for your ads and programs in the various media. DO IT!

If your product has distinctive features or trademarks, use them over and over again in all your ads... Take the advantage of the repeat psychology of keeping the name of your product constantly out in front of the Public Eye! If your product is familiar to the user, prove that it has better quality or price over competing items. Educate the consumer when presenting brand new items.

Prospects are usually more impressed by what others have to say about the product than by what the dealer tells them. Write to your customers, asking for their opinion on what your program or product has done for them and request permission to use their endorsement in some of your ads. Retain their letters as your authority for using their testimony!

Classified ads must have a great deal of thought and preparation. Use as few words as you can, but don't leave out image building words that tell stories, paint pictures and compel action.

One way to increase readership of your ad is by inviting persons to send in money saving ideas. Print the best idea each week, or month, and award the winner with $$$...they will read the ad in each issue in order to find out if they won and if not to see if the winner's ideas are better than the ones they submitted! Many products can be readily adapted to radio and TV selling. This can be arranged whereby you pay the station a percentage of only what is sold. There are publications available which explain how to present such offers to the stations and lists of stations that supposedly operate on this basis. You can locate such firms by a search at your local library or through salesmen and opportunity magazines... However, this method for selling mail order products is not readily available on a flexible basis, unless you have something really special.

You must be in a position to change your advertising approach with changing times and conditions.

The First Paragraph of a sales letter must create attention and interest or the entire message will go to file 13!

The Second part, or body, of the letter must arouse desire by pointing out the advantages and describing the product, preferably in use, or in action and should state the price... or the entire message will wind up in file 13!

The Final Portion of your letter should strongly urge the prospect to act and tell him how to order or the entire message will go to file 13!

You don't have near the space for your message with classified and small display ads, as you do with the sales letter so unless they are well presented they may make a faster trip down the tube to file 13!

Always use TOP QUALITY letterheads, mailing materials and supplies. This is your BUSINESS IMAGE in mail order!

It could be good policy to place your ads through a legitimate advertising agency... it costs no more than if you place your own. Before doing business, get full information about the agency, its services and rates.

Since you must get your message across in top form, in order to pull inquiries and get orders, the ideal ad made just for the particular item being for sale is another great secret for mail order profits... Many times just one little word will change a dead ad to one that pulls thousands of orders! Since you do not have a "window display" to use for mail order advertising you must either draw pictures or use picture words to describe your product. Prepare advertising copy so that your prospects can "visualize the product" in their mind and "see" themselves using it to good advantage.

The headlines of your ad must be powerful enough to catch immediate attention!

Use words that emphasize your product or service at the beginning or end of sentences!

Another gimmick for obtaining name lists for nothing... An ad such as... "?Big Mail? Send 200 of your address labels and 50 cents. We will send to mail-order dealers, wholesalers, distributors, etc.!"

"Before and After" type ads get great response on certain products!

Test and compare with different worded ads on the same type merchandise in the same media!

When advertising, make your most important points first!

When you find a new product that has possibilities for mail order, test it! Prepare an ad for a quick test in a magazine or in a paper with a fast closing date (time from date ad is received to date it is published). As your tests prove out "HIT" that particular item hard and heavy in other publications!

Test various price levels for the same product!

Qualify your prospects with proper classified ads!

Get the prospect's confidence by offering free samples, by allowing a full money back guarantee, by building your business image without exaggeration, and by showing proof of satisfied users.

Use the P.S. in sales letters to gain added attention!

When using an illustration or picture of your product in an ad, have one that shows the product in use! Picture the merchandise in use giving the owner profit or pleasure thus generating a positive, confident "YES" attitude. Remember that a picture will often sell better than 10,000 words!

Command attention to your ads or mailing pieces by marginal sketches, cartoons, different size and type styles of various words and/or paragraphs... Take monotony out of the ad!

Consider the greater pulling power of colored ads on many kinds of products. Test for added response and sales, as balanced against the much higher printing costs for color!

The use of borders, lines, etc., can enhance your ads but be certain they are not placed in such a way they detract from your message!

Type is expressed by "points". For example one point equals 1/72 of an inch. A pica is 1/6th of an inch. Learn the various type styles and sizes. Use the right print in your ads to emphasize the best features of your product.

Don't bore the reader; Keep the sales letter to one page whenever possible.

Offer something extra or something free in order to get immediate action!

1Test only one factor at a time in order to determine which "change" made the difference in the number of responses received from your ad!

By the end of the first month after receipt of the first response from your ad you should receive 60% of the return you are going to get from monthly magazines, 75% from weekly newspapers, 75% from direct mail, 80% from Sunday newspapers, 90% from daily papers and 100% from Radio or TV! Within 2 weeks... From magazines 20%; weekly magazines 40%; direct mail and Sunday papers 60%; Daily papers 75%, and Radio and TV 90%. DON'T DEPEND ON SUCH STATISTICS!!!! Response can vary drastically depending on many factors, including products offered, media used, season, price, economy, etc.!!! Your ad should be repeated again and again, as long as it is bringing back a profit... After the saturation point is reached, pull the ad. TEST it again in a few months. The classified ad is the best to use for testing. For fast results, newspapers can be tested periodically. Magazines with the greatest number of responses for the least cost per inquiry should have priority for your ads. Only tests can prove which are the best ads and media for your various offers!

Have a "Built-in" follow-up program when preparing your initial advertising and promotion materials!

Your ad must end with words that compel action... Ask for the order! Now! Don't let the prospect put the offer aside or it will usually end up in file 13! Notice the many ads in the mail-order publications that close with action getting words and sentences. Use such ads to develop ideas for your own ads!

Use the personal touch in your sales letters! You must have a good mailing list for direct mail advertising. Your sales letter should be written as though you were talking in person direct to the reader. Read it out loud... Does it sound like talk or is it canned?

Offer mailing labels with personalized pictures, photos or cartoon caricatures, at cost, in order to build name lists of mail-order buyers!

Choose the publications with the greatest pull for your particular ad... Determine the greatest circulation for every dollar spent... Is it better to advertise in a magazine with 10,000 readers at 20 cents per word, or pay $2.50 per word for one with 3,000,000 circulation? Even this must be tested. Perhaps the 10,000 readers are buyers of the type of offer you are promoting and will order more than the 3 million.

Determine the kind of person who reads the various publications and buy your space accordingly... Advertise ladies apparel in a media read by women, not in a science publication!

Publications which carry a large classified section generally produce good results. Be sure to advertise under the right classification for your offer!

Don't be afraid to ask for the order!

Take advantage of free advertising and publicity whenever & wherever available!

If practical for a given program, include a picture of yourself, your business building, or a photo of your product... This, of course, pertains to direct mail programs or for display ads.

Your Ad Will Fail If...

The program you choose has already been worked to death: A number of dealers had an ad approximately the same as yours in a publication; You are advertising an out of season product; Your price is not competitive; the offer was not attractive; your copy was poorly written; or if you advertised in the wrong classification for the item being offered!

You generally get nothing but curiosity seekers with ill placed display ads.

"KEY" your ads in order to know what is the best way to spend your advertising dollars. Final sales volume is the measurement of success or failure of your advertising programs!

Combine the best features of your product in preparing your ad. Not so much as to the physical characteristics but by the feeling and interest it generates in others.

Generally, you should $ASK$ for the money in classified ads only when a small amount is required for the product! Do not expect to get good response from a high cost item asking for money with a small classified ad. Offer free details to get the inquiry first, then send your direct mail packet... Sell your low priced items direct from the classified or display ad!

Build and maintain your Goldmine... (Name List)!!!

Remember... For us in the mail order industry, advertising is a must! We cannot reach success without it! We can't operate successfully with it, unless we do it right! Advertising is second in importance only to a high demand product at a reasonable price, but neither can win without the other... The day we stop advertising is the day we give up the mail-order business and go back to punching the old worn out time clock!!!!

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