Archive for September, 2007

Creative Advertising and Testing Direct Mail Concepts

September 13th, 2007

Phil asked the following question about my “Look Twice Advertising” lecture notes and CD set that he had ordered and reviewed thoroughly:

Q: My question is about testing a creative marketing piece. How would I go about it? If the idea flies but I only sent it to half my list, then it seems like I missed out. Most of the ideas are a one time shot I would think. If you used, for example a message in a bottle every time it fit the theme it would loose its impact. So I don’t get how to test the concept. Would I mail it to half my list and a traditional sales letter to the other half? Or would I mail 2 different creative ideas at the same time?

A: That is why I mentioned that I approve of the IDEA of testing, but don’t always actually test. When I did my message in a bottle mailing it was only 300 or so mailings and just did them. I think a mailing needs to be at least 200 in order to have any real value, so if your mailing list is less than 500 just mail to them all and hope for the best.

If, on the other hand you are mailing to a larger list (my elementary school list is close to 4,000) then I mail a test to my public libarary list (300) and then if it works, I might do a bigger mailing to the schools. But remember that this “test” is actually a REAL mailing that I’m doing in the hopes of making money booking shows. So the test should make money too.

Still, I would probably do a “test” of 500-1,000 just to see what happens. You don’t want to invest a mailing of 4,000 when each piece costs $2 to create and send, only to learn ($8,000 later) that it really only brought in $12,000 worth of work. That’s not good return.

Also, you have to figure out that if you can get a 5% response with a $1 mailing, that’s better than a 10% response with a $2.50 mailing. Sometimes it is better to just mail to a larger list with a lower response campaign.

Granted, there are other advantages that come from doing a creative advertising campaign that I mention and explore in “Look Twice Advertising”, but we have to remember that the MAIN purpose is to MAKE MONEY BOOKING SHOWS!! The rest of the stuff should be gravy on top. Gravy as a meal is a poor substitute for steak!

So, that’s the long answer. The short answer is to mail to at least 200 in order to get a feel for the effectiveness and then evaluate how much you want to invest in a campaign to a larger list. Even then, it is often better to send in waves. I find this “wave” mailing to be effective for several reasons:

1) it keeps us from spending $10,000 on postage in a single month…

2) it keeps the phone calls rolling in steady rather than all during one single week. My wife (who manages the office) would much rather have a steady stream of phone calls throughout the week, all year long, rather than 500 calls in a day and then nothing for weeks on end.

3) different people are open to buying at different times. If you mailed to everyone and it landed on a single day that just happened to be bad for some reason or another your mailing would have been in vain. Think about a mailing that hit mailboxes on Sep. 11, 2001.

But remember that things can be bad for a long list of reasons that you never even thought about: is this a state mandated testing date in schools and you didn’t know? maybe it’s a state wide conference of all your potential clients, or maybe Oprah talked about the importance of spending money frugally the day before and all your clients are big Oprah fans. There are lots of reasons mailing can go bad and they might have nothing to do with anything you did or didn’t do. Mailing in waves helps hedge against this risk.


My 4 Unbreakable Money Rules

September 9th, 2007

I have four Unbreakable Financial Rules. You don’t have to adopt them, but I have seen lots of people lose money and friendships that they never would have lost if they had followed these four rules. I’ve never broken them.

They aren’t my original rules. I’ve gathered them from different books and speakers I’ve heard. Different people offer different rules; these are the four that, in our house, are immutable.

1) Never co-sign for anyone, for any reason at any time, no matter what

2) Never borrow against the equity in your homestead unless it is for enough money to COMPLETELY replace the homestead with a debt-free alternative homestead that you would be content living in full-time

3) Never borrow against or prematurely cash out any retirement or college savings account

4) Always pay yourself first, even if it is only a few hundred dollars a month. That is, no matter how bad things get, make sure that you put at least a little bit into some sort of savings or investment account.