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Business Manuals

The Do's and Dont's of Profitable
Mail Order Ads

The most important aspect of any successful mail order business is advertising. In fact, mail order success is wholly dependent upon good advertising. Without sufficient, well-planned advertising to alert possible customers to the availability of your product or service, it logically follows that you cannot make the necessary number of sales to remain in business.

You must have a dynamic, eye-catching ad that grabs the interest of the prospective customer. Unless your ad really stands out among all of the others, your sales won't live up to your expectations and your advertising dollars will have been wasted. The eye-catching appeal of your ad must start with the headline. Use the headline to quickly create a picture in the mind of the reader. Conjure up a vision of all his problems being solved and attainment of the happiness he seeks. If your headline fails to catch the attention of your prospect, you cannot hope to capture him with the remainder of the ad because it will go unread!

In writing your advertisement, place yourself in the shoes of your reader. You have his attention for just a short while. You must quickly interest him in your offer, show him how he can get what he wants, and then compel him to immediately send for your product. Your copy must exude enthusiasm, excitement, and a positive attitude. Don't be afraid to use a hard-sell approach! Say what you feel and believe about your offer. Use common, everyday language, but make sure your grammar is correct. Even so, you must remember to be honest. Don't exaggerate or make claims you can't back up. Never make promises you cannot or don't expect to keep. To do so could get you in trouble with the local, state, or federal authorities.

Stress the benefits of your product or service. Explain to your reader how owning a copy of your book or receiving your services will make his life richer, happier, and more abundant. Don't get involved in detailing all the money you've spent developing the product or your credentials for offering it. No one really cares about what you think is important. Rather, the reader is asking himself, "How will this product help me?" Stress the "sizzle" and value of the readers' personal ownership of your product.

It is important to involve the reader as often as possible through the use of the word "you." Write your ad copy just as if you were speaking with and attempting to sell to just one person. Don't let your ad sound like a speaker at a podium addressing a huge stadium filled with people. Rather speak as if there were just one individual listening.

Do not try to be overly clever, brilliant, or humorous in your advertising. Keep your copy simple, to the point, and focused on selling your prospect the product or service based on its benefits. In other words, keep it simple and clear. At all costs, you don't want to confuse the reader. Just tell him exactly what he'll get for his money and the benefits he will receive. Tell him how to go about ordering. You don't have to get too friendly. In fact, avoid becoming "folksy," and don't use slang expressions in the text of the ad.

While writing an ad, think of yourself as a door-to-door salesperson. You have to get the attention of the prospect quickly, interest him in the product you're selling, create a desire to enjoy its benefits, and then close the sale. Copywriting, whether for a display ad, a classified ad, a sales letter, or a brochure is a learned skill. It is one that anyone can master with a bit of study, practice, and perhaps some professional guidance.

To begin honing your copywriting skills, first study your competition and recognize how they are selling their wares. Practice rewriting their ads from a different point of view or from a different sales angle. Keep a file of ads you've clipped from different publications in a folder of ad writing ideas. However, don't copy anyone else's work. Simply use their ad material to stimulate your own creativeness.

Here are some basic facts about advertising, and ad writing in particular. In general, do not ask for more than $3 in a short classified type ad. Items costing more than $3 should be featured in at least a one-inch display ad. If you're trying to sell a $20 item, you'll need at least a quarter page, perhaps even a half page of copy, to adequately move your reader to make a purchase. Anything more expensive than $50 will require a full page ad. For direct mail, f you are selling a big ticket item costing $50 or more, you'll want to send a one to four page sales letter or a brochure describing the item and its value, along with a separate order coupon and a reply envelope.

When selling via direct mail you will generally achieve best results if the letter is mailed on a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. This will usually prevent the letter from arriving on a Monday, the first and busiest day of the week. Unless you're promoting a big ticket item, the quality or color of your paper won't have any great effect on the response you'll receive, but the quality of your printing definitely will. Always make sure your advertising pieces are typeset in a professional manner. The widespread availability of laser computer printers makes the development of high quality mailing pieces all the easier and less expensive these days. If you do not have access to a computer and laser printer, contact a local quick print shop and find out if they offer inexpensive typesetting services or if they lease time on their own computer so that you can set your own type.

One final point to remember: The summer months when people are most apt to be away on vacation are usually not the best months for direct mail. However, they are good for opportunity advertisements in publications often found in time-shares, motels, and resorts. Again, it cannot be over stressed: Successful mail order selling depends upon well-directed, thoughtful, eye-pleasing advertising. As with anything else, quality pays off in the long run. Read this report again. Study it carefully. Apply the principles outlined above. You will find that the same principles of success that have worked for others can, and will, work for you.

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