How To Make Use Of Publications And Print And Mail Advertising For Maximum Profits (written April, 1996)

Are you trying to “build” a business that you can derive an income from? Or do you just “dream” about it?  Do you take “action” and “make things happen”? Or do you think that by mailing out some flyers, one of them has got to “hit”? Well I hope that you want to take action and build a business. Just hoping and wishing isn’t going to make it happen. You got to do it! Which leads me to this month’s discussion: how to make use of a publication and print and mail advertising services.

Let’s first start with the basics. When you place an ad in a publication or have someone print and mail your ads for you – no matter what the size or content of the ad – we do not have some “magic” formula or ingredient that makes your offer sell. That is up to your advertising. If you aren’t utilizing basic advertising principles, you will not succeed and inevitably you will blame the publisher. A publisher or a mailer cannot generate responses to your offer. You have to do that through your offer! You won’t generate any responses unless you get down to basics. Let’s take a look at a few basic elements many of you seem to be forgetting.

First of all, why are you trying to “sell” your service or program right from your ad? This in and of itself is the most basic “cardinal rule” of advertising you are breaking. You aren’t even giving the publisher or the mailer a chance to help you help yourself by breaking this simple key basic rule of advertising. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to be the first one to say, “go ahead and sell straight from your ad”, but it doesn’t, never has, and never will work like that. Go through any publication right now. Count all the ads and see for yourself how many people are breaking this simple “cardinal rule” of advertising. Every one of these ads will fail! Not one will succeed! So once you determine how many ads there are that are breaking this basic rule, then you know how many will fail.

Do yourself a favor right now. Look in any major league publication – any one for any industry. You will notice that the ads you see month after month after month after month are all requesting you to send to them for more information. They are not asking you to buy their products or services “up front”. They are not asking for a few dollars. They are only asking you to send your name, address, and maybe your phone number for more information. Why? Because they know how to advertise and how to use the basic principles of promotion. They are generating a qualified lead and then following it up. Your problem isn’t that you do not understand “basic advertising” promotion. It is that you probably are lazy. You probably think you can skip the generation of the lead step first and of course, inevitably you fail. And yes! Unfortunately it does take work and extra effort to generate a lead and then follow it up. Obviously though it is well worth it!! Just ask any of those companies you see promoting!

When you look in these “major league publications”, answer some of the free information ads. You’ll notice that you will get at least four follow up mailings from each ad you inquired to. In addition after 3 months or so you’ll notice that a lot more mail has been coming to you. Why? Well in addition to sending you follow up mailings, the company you inquired to has just sold your name six dozen times! So even though you may not have purchased something from them, you still are going to make these companies money. What is the point here? Understand what you are doing. Run an inquiry generating ad in all publications and as the leads come in, send out at least four follow ups over a three to six month period. Additionally get use to adding these inquiry names to your own database and then selling them as a mailing list. However this does require your time and effort, so if time and effort isn’t for you, keep running your non-inquiry generating ads and keep blaming us publishers for your failures.

There is another basic element many advertisers “mess up” and put the blame on us publishers for. I see it all the time. I see a finely crafted inquiry generating ad that I happen to like very much. It is well typeset and well worded. Then it happens! Even though this person who has a fine ad knows how to properly write ads, they “guess” at what they think they should be getting as a response or worse yet, they compare 5 different advertising mediums and think that they correctly analyzing the results. Wrong! You will always get a better response to your own mailings! The reasons are too numerous, but let us use just a little common sense.  Shall we? When you place an inquiry generating ad in a publication, it is going to cost you $2 to $3 per thousand. When you do a mailing on your own, it is costing you $300 to $400 per thousand! If you wish to make a fair comparison, don’t use circulation as the barometer! Use amount of money spent! To correctly test different advertising mediums, spend the same amount of money for each one. For example, if you spend $400 on your own first class mailing, then spend $400 to place ads in a publication. After a few months, you can analyze the results. Which advertising medium developed more leads? Then you have a true test.  Too many people think a 1000 circulation is 1000 circulation. Well if you have 100 ads in a mailing, is this 1000 circulation as effective as having one offer in 1,000 different direct mailings? Obviously circulation can’t be the barometer you utilize as an advertiser. Use money spent and be fair with us publishers! We are here to help you succeed because we want you to come back time after time after time. We know if you do well, you’ll be back!! So please don’t take this advice to heart. It is not meant to insult or offend you. It is meant to help you!!

When you understand how to promote and are fair with us publishers and yourself, your advertising profits will soar! Talk to you soon. Peace.

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.