Simple direct mail offers can work like crazy

Spring Hill envelope sampleWhat do you do when you have a good product and a loyal audience? You give them a simple, straightforward offer. That’s what Spring Hill Nurseries did with this big 6” x 11.5” envelope package.

Ferns are popular because they grow in moist or shady areas of the garden where few other plants will grow. They blend with any kind of plant and provide beautiful color and texture where it’s needed most.

I’m a customer of Spring Hill, and I’ve purchased ferns from them before, so I’m on their list and they know I like ferns. Do they need to clobber me over the head with fern details. No. They just need to catch me at the right time with the right offer.

They start on the outer envelope with a big photo of their ferns. The teaser copy is dead simple: “Ferns. Over 50% OFF!” Not clever, but it doesn’t need to be. The back of the envelope shows the six types of ferns offered with the headline “Beautify any shady spot instantly and save over 50%!”

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Why “selective attention” can kill your ads

Last week, I asked you to take a test to see if you’re a word nerd. This week, I have another test for you. And it’s a doozy.

The concept is “selective attention.” I don’t want to spoil it, so watch the video below. Don’t cheat. You’ll miss the point entirely if you don’t follow directions and see the results for yourself.


If you followed the directions and tried to count the number of times the people in white shirts passed the basketball, there’s a 50/50 chance you’re amazed right now.

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Are you a word nerd? Take the test.

word nerdWhile skimming a recent issue of Advertising Age, I ran across an article called If you’re creating ads, odds are you’re talking to yourself.

And it presents yet more evidence that ad writers and other advertising professionals are disconnected from the people they’re creating ads for.

I’ve been discussing this since 1997 when I wrote about how ad writers don’t relate to ads in the same way as ordinary people.

The Ad Age article talks about research on behavior-based segmentation performed by Xyte Technologies. They tested people in marketing and advertising (including people in creative, media, and research) and found that they’re “word nerds.” They like playing with words and rely on intuition (rather than data) to craft message.

Trouble is, only 18.5% of the general population fall into that category. Ads that appeal to word nerds don’t do so well with the other 81.5% of the population, most of whom are highly practical people and respond to tangible benefits.

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Customer retention: plugging the leaky pool

customer retentionIn my last post, I talked about the nightmare of customer defections and showed you a dramatic calculation that demonstrated the profit you sacrifice when they leave you.

If you lose one customer every day who spends just $5 a week, you’re out $94,900 a year ($5 x 52 weeks x 365 days = $94,900)! If you’re a service business, you’re losing 15-20 percent of your customers every year. So the actual loss is huge and growing persistently over time.

At the heart of customer defection is lack of satisfaction. This isn’t the same as dissatisfaction, which means an active dislike for something. Lack of satisfaction is simply the absence of any good reason for a customer to stick around.

Do you remember that U.S. News and World Report statistic I gave you? A whopping 91 percent of customers who leave do so simply because they are not satisfied.

How do you satisfy customers and retain their business? Any number of ways.

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Customer defection: the leaky pool nightmare

customer defectionMany years ago, I lived next door to a guy named Wayne. Wayne had a pool. It was his pride and joy.

Trouble was, Wayne’s pool leaked. Slowly and persistently. We knew where the water was going, because the area under my deck was muddy all the time. But we didn’t know where the leak was.

All Wayne could do was run a hose to the pool to constantly replenish the water that disappeared. His water bills were outrageous.

It’s almost funny, until you realize that if you run a business, you’re in the same situation as poor Wayne. Your customers are leaking away. Slowly and persistently.

You probably don’t know where the leak is. And the cost of replenishing your pool of customers is almost certainly more than you want to spend.

We’re talking about “customer defection.”

If you’re a typical service business, you’re losing 15 to 20 percent of your customers every year. And according to a study in Harvard Business Review, ” … customer defections have a surprisingly powerful impact on the bottom line. They can have more to do with a service company’s profits than scale, market share, unit costs, and many other factors usually associated with competitive advantage.”

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