A Good Letter Can Make You a Fortune in Direct Mail

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Now we go back to Maxwell Sackheim. Sackheim is also well known for originating the “Book-of-the Month” club. So what can you learn from Sackheim’s Book-of-the-Month club? More than you think. People are lazy. Getting people to take any sort of action is not easy. That’s why much of advertising uses deadlines and limited time offers. Sackheim used this human characteristic to his own advantage. Every month, members of his book club would be notified of that month’s book selection and unless they replied that they didn’t want the book – it was assumed that they did and it would be subsequently mailed out to them. Clever!

Sackheim originated the idea and now every “of-the-month” club operates like this. Have you experienced this?

Perhaps you’re thinking: “this wouldn’t work for me” or “my business really is different” then you’re missing the point and just not being creative enough.

You can use Sackheim’s “Negative Option Plan” to your business. If, for example, you have a web based business, you can have a member or subscription site which brings in regular, monthly income.

Your customers’ credit cards can be charged each month for their renewal of membership. People being lazy will rarely cancel their subscriptions bringing you a nice recurring revenue stream.

Sackheim’s Negative Option Plan forces people to take action to cancel their renewals. Many just can’t be bothered. you can take advantage of this little bit of human psychology. Of course, you will have to provide a good product or service that gives value for money.

In 1917, Sackheim met a young man called Victor Schwab who he hired as his private secretary. Schwab, working alongside Sackheim soon developed himself into a good copywriter.

Maxwell Sackheim also wrote a great book on marketing called: “My First 60 Years in Advertising”. This book is now out of print (as are most of these classics) but if you’re interested in the works of Maxwell Sackheim there is a book available by Jerry Buchanan called: “Billion Dollar Marketing.” You should be able to get this from your high street bookstore or on Amazon.

On similar lines to the “character” formula is what is called the “open letter” technique.

In 1921 Publisher A.W.Shaw collected 5,063 letters that had made big sales for their originators. The publishers whittled this list down and published 72 of these letters. These 72 were analysed and dissected. The result was their publication: “72 Letters and What Made them Pay.”

This book contains sections on letters that open doors; letters that increase sales; letters that turn prospects into your friends; in fact, letters for many occasions. 72 of them.

There are examples of letters that pulled 18% to 20% returns. Letters that gave 61% returns. What would you give for returns like that?

Take for example this opening sentence: “There is a man in Boston who has a unique way of making a living.”

Now who wouldn’t be interested in that? Most people, and that’s why they keep on reading the rest of the letter.

Even if you have to give something away to entice your prospect to reply, the letter still has to be effective.

Within the above opening sentence was a sufficiently good “hook” to get the prospect to read further. But the letter sooner or later had to reveal the “Big Idea”. Suffice it to say that this particular letter did get the results (a 61% return) and the pulling power of such a letter makes it well worthy of study.

“72 Letters and What Made Them Pay” will help you put together a persuasive letter for any situation, no matter what line of business you are in.

In 1923 John Orr Young and Raymond Rubicam form Young and Rubicam in Phildelphia.

In 1928 BDO merge with Garry Batten Co. to form BBDO with billings of $32m.

By 1928 Victor Schwab and his partner took over Sackheim’s agency after Sackheim decided to ‘call it a day’. He was responsible for creating ads for Dale Carnegie; Charles Atlas; and Sherwin Cody’s courses (as was Sackheim).

His famous works included the best selling 1930s classic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.

He wrote a series of articles called: “How to Write a Good Advertisement” and introduced a 5 step formula.

His series of articles were later turned into a book, also called: “How to Write a Good Advertisement.”

In 1930 James Webb Young worked as a professor and used his lecture notes to publish his first book: “How to Become an Advertising Man.”

In 1930 Advertising Age is launched in Chicago

In 1934 Another master writer was Robert Collier. He went to work in New York for his uncle s publishing company. His first successes were that he sold many thousands of the Harvard Classics. These were books put together by Dr.Eliot of Harvard and sold by Collier as what became known as the “Famous Five-Foot Shelf of Books.”

Collier had an idea of writing a set of books on psychology. He worked day and night to get them finished. The books were titled: “The Secrets of The Ages.” He sold over 300,000 sets of that title and went on to write more self-help titles and books.

He was a prolific writer but his best abilities were in writing killer sales letters.

In 1934 he wrote, the now famous: “The Robert Collier Letter Book.”

Here are just a few of his secrets to writing sales letters.

Collier became famous for one letter in particular. His: “Will you do me a favor?” letter. He conceived this idea when he read about a manager who asked one of his competitors for a favor – he wanted to know how to handle customers that took advantage of their terms. And this technique helped to bring the two companies together.

Collier thought that this technique may well work in print. He wasn’t wrong!

One of his letters was responsible for selling 20,000 raincoats and over a dozen other products.

The letter contains some strong psychological principles.

Also, people like to help. Just as Collier knew all those years ago, people like to give opinions.

If you operate your business off-line, ask in your direct mail or your letters for people’s opinions.

If you operate on-line, a good technique to use is polls. If people aren’t yet ready to buy, they do love to give their opinions.

It becomes even stronger if you give them something for free in return. Something of value, like a report with some useful information. But what ever you give them, it has to be useful.

Now you may be thinking, OK, his letter were written over 70 years ago. surely, this technique is out-dated. Think so?

Just before his death in 1950, Robert Collier was asked to pick his 15 most powerful and hypnotic letters. These were compiled and sold as: “Robert Collier’s Million Dollar Sales Letters.”

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