What’s that you say?
… Your direct mail promos are dragging in the dirt?
… Your Internet promos barely bring in enough new blood to keep body and soul together?
… Is that what’s worrying you, Sparky?
Well, worry no more! This simple innovation can have you attracting thousands of new, paying customers every month from now on – FOR FREE!
OK – so I’m an old bugger.
When I wrote my first direct mail promotion, Nixon was in the White House, “The Godfather” was shattering box-office records and Elvis was alive, kicking and skinny.
In those days, nobody had a clue what a personal computer or FedEx was. Saying “Let me fax you” would have probably gotten your face slapped.
And that lack of technology meant the time, cost and back-breaking effort involved in creating a direct mail promotion were truly brain-boggling.
No computers meant we had to retype each new draft of every job from beginning to end.
No FedEx or fax machines meant we had to allow weeks on each job just for sending drafts back and forth between copywriters, artists and clients.
And no graphics software meant every jot and tittle had to be precariously glued to a layout board by hand – and then re-glued when it inevitably fell off on the trip to the printer.
Altogether, you could figure a typical #10 envelope promotion (envelope teaser copy, 8-page sales letter, lift note, flyer and response device) would take a month to get to final draft … another month to design … and another month or so to print and mail.
I may be old, but I’m crafty …
… And so in 1980 – when I realized computers meant never having to retype an entire letter again, I bought an Apple II.
And I was one of the first people I know to own a LISA in 1983 … a Mac in 1984 … a DOS-based PC in 1985 … a series of 286, 386, 486 and finally Pentium-based Windows machines …
… And in 1991, I launched Health & Healing by a swimming pool in Huntington Beach, California on a Tandy laptop.
Point is, I have eagerly bought every chunk of hardware or software that I so much as suspected might be helpful. If it saves time or lets me focus more intensely on the power of my ad copy, I want it!
Today, in my personal offices here in North Carolina, we have a massive server, a gaggle of powerful work stations and laptops that connect to our network from anywhere on the planet.
Where I once hunched and squinted at a 12" monochrome Lisa screen, I can now spread the work across acres of virtual desktop: A 32" monitor flanked by two 24-inchers!
Plus, we have peripherals out the wazzoo: Five network printers, two scanners, a computer-driven fax machine, three high-rez digital cameras, a complete computerized audio studio, a projector for presentations …
… And all the software needed to write and design direct mail promotions, print ads, Web pages and HTML e-mails for our clients.
Armed with all this great technology, I can have a moneymaking idea in the shower … write a promo in the morning … design it in the afternoon … and upload it to my printer or to the WWW by quitting time …
… And it all cost about HALF of what CompuGraphics charged for a single typesetting system twenty years ago!
Adapt or Die
No doubt about it: Staying on the cutting edge of technology is essential for every business owner, marketing exec, copywriter and designer in the direct marketing industry.
And I'm not just talking about getting all the cool new toys that save you time and money and help us focus more intensely on our work.
Understanding each new marketing channel as it comes along can save your professional life.
I'm living proof it's true.
See, just four years ago, direct mail was still red-hot for my main client and me. We expected each new promotion to pull 300% or 400% of cost on its first outing to rented lists.
As a result, we were mailing up to 18 million pieces per year to promote a single newsletter and adding as many as 15,000 new subscribers per month.
Meanwhile, our competitors were lucky if they could mail one-tenth as many promotions for each newsletter in their stables.
At the time, the fact that our competitors weren't doing nearly as well didn't bother us a bit. But there was a problem …
Since we were the only financial newsletter publishers mailing to the entire investment newsletter universe – and since our competitors were no longer bringing significant numbers of new subscribers into our universe – we eventually saturated our market.
And when we did, our response rates began dropping, too.
Today, I'd throw confetti if I got a 150% to 200% ROI for that client – or for any investment newsletter publisher for that matter.
And just the other day I learned that a promotion mailed by a friend of mine only generated 23% of what it cost him to mail it.
Think that's bad? Get this: In 2003, I could expect each financial newsletter I promoted, to hand me royalties of nearly $1 million a year.
Today, with the very strongest packages out there mailing only a couple million pieces, the best you could hope for is a $100,000 payday.
That's nearly a 90% pay cut!
Fortunately for me (and my creditors), I kept up with technology. When information publishers began making inroads through Internet and Web marketing, I watched them like a hawk.
I went to school on every technique I could find that seemed to be generating new leads and new customers for publishers on the Web.
And every month for the last few years, I’ve been creating fewer and fewer direct mail promotions …
… And more and more promotions for the World Wide Web.
Three Reasons Why You Can't Afford
NOT to Master Internet Marketing Now
Now, I’m not one of those geeks who claim that the Internet is the solution to all of our problems.
But for us marketers, I count three reasons why the monster medium some call the “World Wide Waste of time” truly can be a godsend.
1. It’s as Cheap as All Get-Out: While it costs me up to six cents to put a direct mail promotion into a prospect’s hands, I can reach the same guy on the Web for a penny or two – and in many cases, free.
That simple fact delinks risk and reward in ways we could only have dreamed about in the ‘80s!
While the potential rewards of Internet promotion are every bit as great, the cost – and therefore the inherent risk – is a fraction of what you assume in direct mail.
2. Guaranteed Winners, Anyone? When the dust settles after a direct mail promo, you basically know five facts about your effort:
- How much you spent …
- How many folks received your promotion …
- How many folks responded …
- How much money they spent with you, and …
- How much money you made or lost on the mailing.
But wouldn’t it also be nice to know at what point in your promotion the buyers actually made their purchase decision?
Or even better – to know at precisely what point non-buyers decided to turn your promotion into a birdcage liner?
I would have killed for that kind of info on my direct mail promotions!
In online marketing, you can know all that and more!
This is big stuff: See, if your direct mail package fails to beat the control on its first outing, you’ve just wasted a month of your life – your package will probably never be mailed again.
But if you knew precisely at which point in the copy you lost your prospects, you could simply …
Repair or replace the weak links in your sales copy and offer …
Continue testing until you had a winner …
And then keep on refining your message until you have an out-of-the-park grand slam!
That’s the stuff dreams are made of!
3. Faster Moolah: Unlike the U.S. Postal Service which takes two to three weeks to deliver bulk mail, the Internet lets me deliver my sales message and begin generating sales instantly.
Plus, in direct mail, some 20% to 40% of your orders come back to you by snail-mail – which means it’ll be another long week before you have that money to gleefully toss into the air and rub all over your body.
When you promote on the Web, the celebration can commence instantly!
Where Web Marketers Often Go Wrong
For years, I’ve been told that to build a successful online business, you should spend as little as possible to convince folks to sign up for a free e-zine, and then wait patiently for some of them to buy something from you.
Put simply …
You spray opt-in forms (or links to your opt-in forms) to a free e-zine to the greatest number of people possible at the lowest cost possible …
Sign up as many subscribers as possible for your free e-zine …
Slavishly provide 24-karat content for weeks and months on-end, and …
Pray that some of your free subscribers will eventually buy something from you and become customers.
But does this "Spray-and-Pray" model really work?
Sure does! I have good friends who have used it to build huge databases and to sell tens of millions of dollars-worth of stuff into them.
The way I see it though, this spray-and-pray model has major drawbacks for aggressive, growth-obsessed marketers like me:
1. Spray-and-Pray can't provide detailed results data quickly enough to let you leverage your successes or cut your failures short.
Sure – you know how many leads (opt-ins) each promotion generates immediately … you can know how much each lead cost you … and you can know – generally – how much your average lead will spend with you over time.
But you can not immediately know how many leads from each new source will ultimately make a purchase … how large that purchase will be … or when it will occur.
What’s worse, you won’t know for months – up to a year or even more – after the initial promotion!
And that's not good – because …
Leads from one campaign or one source may become customers only 20% as often as leads from another source …
Or they may make purchases that are, on average, 50% smaller than leads from other sources …
Or they may demand refunds two or three times more often than leads from another source …
Or once they become customers, they may buy only 20% as often.
So – with the cost of driving traffic to your landing pages and websites rising – how do you know which affiliates, e-mail lists, and banner ads will grow your profits the fastest?
How do you know which promotions and sources deserve your greatest efforts and expenditures?
How do you know which leads aren’t worth your time, trouble or investment?
The honest truth is, you don't!
And that means you wind up wasting enormous amounts of time and money targeting inferior prospects …
… While spending far too little on promotions to folks who are ready, willing and eager to spend money with you right now!
2. Spray-and-Pray takes too long to reimburse you for the cost of driving traffic to your site. In direct mail, your objectives are:
- To spend as much money as possible to generate new customers at break-even or better, and …
- To leverage the higher response rates produced in promotions to your customers to generate profits.
Spray-and-Pray takes just the opposite track:
Because it doesn't produce immediate revenue to offset the cost of acquiring e-mail addresses …
… It seeks to spend as little money as possible to generate non-buying leads …
… And that severely limits the number of new names you can add to your database each month.
3. Spray-and-Pray equals delayed gratification and profits. In direct mail, every new name you generate has already made that first purchase with you – and is ready, willing and able to spend ever-higher amounts of money with you.
But because 100% of your Spray-and-Pray leads are non-buyers, it will be weeks before any of them make their first, small purchase with you …
More weeks until they make an intermediate purchase …
And still more months before any of them splurge on your biggest-ticket items.
This has the unfortunate effect of pushing money you could have made this year into next year – and lowering your revenues and profits in the process.
The Key to Explosive Sales
and Profit Growth
A few months ago, a client asked me to create an online campaign to generate maximum numbers of subscribers for his free e-zine every month.
Now at the time, the client was driving prospects to a landing page that simply offered a free subscription to his e-zine.
Once the prospect subscribed, he was directed to a “thank-you” page that contained a welcome letter and a link to the current issue.
No effort was made to sell the prospect a single thing!
Now I don’t mind telling you: As a “go-for-the-jugular” salesman in print, that soft-sell approach left me feeling queasy.
As a practical results-oriented marketing guy, the lack of an immediate and measurable return on investment gave me gas.
And the whole lackadaisical, “strolling down the garden path, sniffing flowers with our prospects” approach made me want to wretch.
Hell. This was worse than bad marketing. It was downright UNAMERICAN!
As I contemplated the state of the client's Web-based customer acquisition efforts, three simple facts struck me …
- To generate huge numbers of new e-zine subscribers, my client would need to drive truly massive numbers of prospects to his opt-in page.
- To create that massive traffic, he’d need to spend huge amounts of money on banner ads, e-mail blasts and even ads in other media.
- And the only way he could possibly justify that kind of investment would be if he knew for a fact that every dollar he spent to create traffic came back to him immediately.
And so I called Daniel Levis – the brilliant copywriter and web marketing genius I’ve chosen to work with on Internet promotions for my health and investment clients – and asked …
“What would happen if we created a multi-step web-based experience that generated both opt-ins and revenues – all in one sitting?”
By the end of the call, we had our plan:
First, we’d create a kick-butt advertorial promotion – a long-copy “online magalog” on a subject that our best prospects care deeply about …
Second, we’d create a series of hard-selling e-mail blasts, banners and e-zine ads trumpeting all the red-hot life-changing info and advice in our magalog – all the reasons why readers would benefit from reading it immediately …
Third, after giving the reader tremendous value in our online magalog – practical, actionable information and advice that brought real value to his life – we would offer him a comprehensive free report on the same subject with even greater value for a nominal price. Say, around $29.95 …
Fourth, we would offer buyers and non-buyers alike a 50%-off subscription to the client’s $99 print newsletter on the subject …
Fifth, we would qualify buyers and non-buyers for telephone sales of his high-priced premium services, and …
Sixth, when all else failed, we would offer non-buyers a free subscription to the client’s daily e-zine on the subject.
Doing it this way, our client would have a shot of recouping every penny he spent generating traffic to our online magalog.
Plus, he’d know instantly – within 48 hours – which traffic-building promos were paying their own way and which weren’t. Heck. He might even make a profit on some of them!
And since anyone who paid $29.95 for his special report … and/or more for his print newsletter would be a far better prospect for his higher-priced back-end products, we’d be bringing that revenue forward.
Finally, the fact that prospects got to read his report … see his track record … and see that others really were paying serious money for the guy’s advice meant that we’d probably generate far more subs for his free e-zine than his old model ever did.
And so we wrote the whole thing up for him – and delivered 85 single-spaced pages of banner and e-zine ads … HTML e-mail blasts … and the 25-page online magalog selling the report …
We crafted the bump pages selling the newsletter subscription and qualifying prospects for his high-priced services and the wait pages to handle attempted escapes …
And we delivered the shopping cart copy … the download center copy … and even a ten-step e-mail campaign designed to re-sell the newsletter to folks who had signed up for the free e-zine but had not made a purchase.
Is It Working? Is It EVER!
Of course, contractual obligations forbid me from telling you who the client is or how well our little brainstorm is working …
… But suffice it to say, the client is generating more opt-ins for his e-zine than ever, AND recouping the money he spends to create traffic within hours of each expenditure.
Plus, he now has us creating a similar campaign on a different subject each and every month!
By summer, the client will have SIX of these things all driving tens of thousands of new report buyers … print newsletter subscribers … and highly qualified e-zine subs his way – all at break-even or better!
Why Not Have It All?
Food for thought: If you’re a business owner or marketing exec looking for ways to build your e-list as cheaply as possible, why not take a think about how you could afford to spend millions to capture huge market share on the Web at break-even or better?
And if you’re a copywriter, why not have a sit-down with your best clients and show them how hiring you to combine the best direct mail and Internet marketing strategies could make them filthy, stinking rich?
Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
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