Are your direct marketing offers unfair? They should be.

unfair direct marketing offersBy all appearances, Charley Hill was an average, ordinary guy.

He lived in a mid-sized town with his wife, two children, and a dog. He went to church on Sunday, coached Little League, and drove a pickup truck. He was friendly but quiet, the sort of guy you could walk by on the street without noticing.

But appearances can be deceiving. Because Charley Hill was one of the most successful salesmen in the Midwest. What did Charley have that other salesmen didn’t? Not a thing.

He sold the same products. Carried the same parts. Provided the same service. Yet his sales were typically two or three times that of competitors. The reason?

Charley Hill didn’t believe in “fair” offers. In fact, he went out of his way to treat his customers unfairly.

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3 lessons from the world’s most successful website

world's most successful websiteIt’s been called the ugliest website ever created. And it’s changed little since the mid 90′s when it was created.

Yet, it is arguably the most successful website on the planet.

Can you guess what site I’m talking about? If you said, “Drudge Report,” pat yourself on the back.

I’ve mentioned this throwback site before when talking about ugly design. But a recent report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism prompts me to mention it again.

According to the report, Drudge is not only a highly visited site with millions of unique visitors a month, it drives twice as much traffic to top news sites as Facebook and seven times as much as Twitter. Not bad for basically a one-man operation.

Though best known as a direct mail guy, I’ve recently been doing quite a bit of website work for my clients. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes websites work.

Given the astonishing success of Drudge, I think it’s smart to consider why this website is such as standout. Yes, it’s a news site, not a business site, however the lessons we can learn are universal.

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2 immutable rules for finding a professional copywriter

how to find a copywriterIt’s not easy to find a good copywriter, especially someone who has real expertise and experience with direct mail or direct marketing.

I can’t even begin to count the number of calls and emails I’ve received from people who have said they’ve been looking for a while and can’t find many people who seem professional and credible.

That may seem surprising. A decade or two ago, there were few copywriters out there. Today there are thousands. You’d think you could throw a rock out your window and hit 5 pro copywriters without aiming.

But the truth is, the number of truly good copywriters hasn’t increased significantly.

Why? Because it’s like any other field. It’s just not as easy as it looks. Finding a reliable copywriter is like finding a great brain surgeon.

So at the risk of appearing self-serving, I’d like to share a short guide to finding and working with a professional direct marketing copywriter. I wrote this years ago, but it’s just as relevant today. I’m told by many people that it’s been quite helpful.

And for the record, I’m not always the best copywriter for everyone. In fact, I turn down far more clients than I take on. I may not have the right expertise. I may be too expensive. And these days, I am often too busy.

But if you’re looking, follow these two rules to find the writer who’s right for you.

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The mathematical formula for crazy direct mail ideas

If you’re like a lot of people I’ve talked to recently, your marketing is in a slump. And you’re fresh out of ideas.

This is especially true for direct mail. The down economy has frightened people out of testing anything new over the last couple of years.

In fact, some of the people calling me have said they all but stopped mailing. Now that things appear to be getting better, they’re scrambling for testing ideas.

I’ll give you the same advice I’ve been giving them:

1. Resurrect your control. Take your best mail piece and get it back in the mail. See if it still works. As I’ve argued in my Getting Response in a Down Economy white paper, none of the fundamentals have changed. So there’s at least a 50/50 chance that what worked before will work again.

2. Look at your results. If your control does well, test it once more just to make sure. Then ramp up your quantity. If your control dies, perform a direct mail autopsy.

These are your first logical steps. And you should do them before you do anything else.

Okay, but what if you’ve already done this and you’re looking for a way to break the mold and get a little crazy? What if you’re ready to start thinking outside the box?

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