Understanding What You Just Purchased – Advertising 101! (written April, 1992)

I am going to try and keep it basic. I am going to try and keep it simple. I am going to try and keep it easy to understand.  What is it going to take to get through that advertising promotion is not a science – it is an in-exact science – kind of like the weatherman. It is a profession that requires constant testing?!? What will it take for you to understand? Why do you ask me, “what is the average response rate?” “Why didn’t I get any responses from the ad that was placed?” “What is the secret?” Folks read on and learn Advertising 101!

Please think for a minute – just one minute! If there was an “average” response rate that you should get, wouldn’t this business be a Science? You know 2+2=4 all the time. As such, wouldn’t anybody and everybody be able to mail out anything any time of year and make money with this so called average?  Being scientific means that it is a fact. Mail out this many and get this many back. No matter what, it will occur exactly the same every time. Does that sound like marketing promotion to you? If it does, you need to re-think your ideas.  I thought marketing promotion required creativity, research, etc. If it requires these things, then obviously it is not a Science and therefore your question about the “average” response rate has no validity.  Do you understand yet?

“Why didn’t you get any responses from the ad that was placed?” I don’t know! I don’t know is a legitimate answer. I really don’t. Could it be that your ad was a piece of crap? All kidding aside – honestly would you have answered your ad? Could it be it wasn’t circulated enough? 1,000 circulation is a “drop in the bucket”. It is not a test to have someone mail out 1,000 pieces for you. Think! 1,000 cooperative mailing probably equals about 25 of your own personalized mailings. 25! If you mailed out 25 pieces, what would you get in response?  1 or 2? Maybe? How can that be? Well for starters, and I’ll keep it simple, a cooperative mailing such as a card deck or a newspaper has a few hundred ads that the prospect might answer, as opposed to your solo mailing, whereby you are making 1 offer. Do you think that has something to do with it? You have to get a minimum of 250,000 circulation monthly for your ads. Period! You are not testing anything if you are not getting the required circulation necessary to “sample test” things.  You can have one guy mail out a minimum of 5,000, but you must get 250,000 circulation if you are going to test and be successful!  250,000 circulation would be like mailing 6,000 personalized, highly qualified letters. Now you are talking serious promotions! Do you want to continue wasting your time thinking you are “testing”, go ahead! You will never succeed and one day you will re-read this article and say to yourself,  “Hey, this guy may be an S.O.B., but he’s right and I should have listened to him”. Start getting circulation!  Be consistent every month and you will see your business grow!  If you are “testing” something with 1,000 piece orders, you are wasting your time and you should quit this business or you should start getting the circulation you need to succeed!

About this so-called “secret” to be successful. There is none! There is no secret to advertising. You must constantly test your offers by giving them the greatest circulation possible and by constantly refining what you have done by keeping accurate track of your advertising results. It is simple! There you have it. “The Secret”. I let it out! Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. You want to succeed, learn to advertise. Learn to promote. Advertising 101 has concluded.  Now go out and get your doctorate degree by learning what advertising and promotion are all about. I’ll see you on campus!

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