Problems…….Problems……..Problems! (written June, 1998)

“Print & Mail” over the years has developed a rather dubious reputation – maybe rightfully so.  Unfortunately there have been a few “rip off” artists out there that unscrupulously stole your money and gave you nothing in return. Through the efforts of guys like myself, Chris Williams, Carl O’Shea, and others, most of the “rip off” artists are gone, but every year, there seems to be an emerging “new crop” that tries to reap its harvest by stealing your money!! Here are some ways to protect yourself and to make sure you get what you pay for.

First – understand that advertising is a risk. Most advertising fails! It’s not uncommon to have 1,000 cooperative pieces mailed and getting a zero response. When you pack many offers together, 1,000 sheets is not that many. If you want to guarantee yourself some response, never mail out less than 5,000 of anything! 5,000 isn’t that much either, but 99.44% of the time, it’s impossible not to get some response if that many are mailed. This is something you must understand! If you don’t understand this fact, then the rest of what I say will be worthless to you.

Second – advertising is not a science. Just mailing out your flyer, even to 5,000, doesn’t mean you “hit the jackpot”. With your advertising, you must make a fresh, creative, innovative, enticing, attention getting offer! If you want to maximize your response, you must do this. If you plan on just mailing out flyers because the guy who sold you his program says it’s good, then you are wasting your time. Get a piece of paper, sit down, have a cup of coffee, and start trying to be creative. Be different. You can do it if you want to. Don’t rely on others. Create your own unique advertising, test it, retest it again and you will see your advertising response soar!!

Third – now when you create this fresh, unique flyer, make sure that you are asking for “inquiries”. Do not try to sell your product or service straight from the flyer. You want to develop “inquiries” for your service.  Then you will follow up the lead “like the dickens”. Good promotional copy should get people to send their name, address and their phone number when you ask for it for your free information. You may ask for a stamp, but this will cut down response. Remember that! If you want to make absolute sure you get what you pay for, it’s important to give away completely free information! If you can, an 800 number will work very well for attracting responses. Just make sure your copy is different and the information is free!

Fourth – once you think you have a good ad, run your flyer or ad in a fine publication or mailing. Try a minimum of 5,000 circulation and give yourself three months for the majority of response to get in. Three months? Seems like a long time – doesn’t it? It isn’t! 99% of the mailings made in this industry, as well as other industries, is done by third class low prioritized bulk mail. What does this mean? Since this type of mail is so much cheaper than regular conventional first class mail, it takes a few weeks to be delivered by the post office. We have to give up something for the money we pay. Right? What we are sacrificing is the time of delivery. Instead of being delivered in two to three days, it will take 2-3 weeks to be delivered. That is what we are paying for and why it is so cheap. So expect not to get your complete results for up to two months!

Fifth – when you send in your ad or flyer, make sure you ask to receive a sample of the issue or mailing your advertisement will be in. Ask to have it sent to you with the regular bulk mailings. This way you are guaranteed to receive an exact sample of a mailing sent to one of your potential customers. Plus about the time you get your sample mailing will probably be about the time when you should start getting some response from the advertising.

Sixth – be willing to pay a few extra dollars to have the PS3602 forms sent to you. This proves that your advertising was indeed mailed. If these forms cannot be provided, then for certain, your order has not been filled. Since these forms do require some effort of copying and sending to you, it is not unreasonable for a publisher to ask for a nominal charge to cover his cost for these forms. Do not deal with any publisher or mailer who does not want to or can provide you with these important forms!

Seventh – just be realistic. As I mentioned above, advertising is not a science. Expect low percentages!  That way when you do better you’ll be happy. Work with a bunch of publishers who offer a minimum of 5,000 monthly circulation. Call up some of these publishers and talk to them. They will treat you with respect when you treat them with respect. Common sense works well in this industry. Use it and you will succeed with your advertising!

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