Maximizing profits involves cost-cutting methods of selling
your products. We are assuming for this article that you, like
most marketers are specializing in information and publications
The best way to increase sales cheaply and effectively is to
offer more items at any given time, and here's how to do it. By
all means examine every commission circular you see for
possibilities. It might be worth carrying. Camera-ready
circulars are available for most of the publications you see in
your mailbox, and all you need are a group of them on file that
can be reprinted as needed.
In all cases, we repeat, DO NOT rubber-stamp your commission
circulars. Insert your name and address with dry type such as
Pres-Type, Geotype or Letraset. A professional appearance is a
If you've been in business for a while, you already know what
your bestsellers are and how to test new items. If you have
reports collections and other good items that are not such hot
sellers, keep your leftover circulars and include them WITH
PRODUCT when you fill an order from your home. Include as many
as you can up to the postal limit that applies to the product,
and you're basically sending it free of charge.
As you have probably seen by now, we advise all our customers to
shop wisely but to continue learning about the business, and if
you have a slow-moving product which is nevertheless is an
excellent item for a small order dealer to own, this is an ideal
way to move it.
It's an excellent idea to include a freebie when doing a direct
mail. This works especially well if you're handling a lot of
popular items. Chances are a good many of your packets will go
to people who try to get on a number of lists to keep abreast of
the latest offers, and since so many of them are so vague,
they'll be much more responsive to someone who can give them an
idea of what they'll be receiving.
If you currently handle chain letters and report collections of
dubious value, it might be cheaper to drop them altogether than
to continue to include them, even if they do make you a small
profit. First time buyers are truly shocked when they see some
of the terrible scams going around in mail order, and you'll
lose them forever if you turn them off, which is never your
You can make this absolutely painless. You might like to try
putting your best reports on the backs of your best circulars,
maximizing the value of each sheet of paper. If you're not
doing it now, you had better try doubling up your circulars at
the very least.
One of the best follow-up offers you can give your non-dealer
customers, and you can tell which if your customers is a dealer
and which is not by the kinds of items they order, is a quality
book catalog. Melvin Powers, DAX and others offer excellent
dealerships in unusual books, and they pull extremely well on
The catalogs themselves are usually fairly heavy and not
cost-effective without a quality mailing list (a rare bird
indeed) or unless you can get cash up-front for printing and
mailing. You'll probably wind up buying some of these books
yourself! If you're marketing fairly common items. you've got
to have an advantage, something that makes your offer look
better than comparable offers for the same items.
Unquestionably, the best advantage is a lower price. Free
bonuses and rebates won't cut quite as well. The reason is
simple enough. The customer might be sold on an item to begin
with, but he may be waiting for a better deal to come along. If
you're the lowest bidder, you'll get that sale. These sales
will not come right away in most cases. They will be trickle-in
orders, made by the customer after filing your circular and
waiting to see who can match the price.
We feel much of the information offered by mail is ridiculously
overpriced when introduced, and we have on file dozens of
examples of some people offering item X at five, then, even
nineteen times the best price offered by others with the same
If you've been enclosing your own envelopes with return
addresses when you send out advertising, you might try a
half-and-half mailing to see if they're really pulling more
Traditional schools of thought say the return envelopes,
especially the business-reply type which allows you to pay the
postage for the customer, do pull orders.
However, most people use plain printed #8 envelopes without
business-reply marking, and especially for the small operator
specializing in a few selected items, it may be a poor
investment. If so, it's cutting into your profits and taking up
valuable weight in the envelopes better served by a circular.
Adsheets can be good investments, but in most cases you'll only
really profit from them if you're offering something you've
developed yourself which can be sold through other dealers.
Adsheets are generally advertising's version of the pyramid
plan. They circulate only among small time dealers, each trying
to get the other to sell what he's selling. Still, if you can
put a new twist in the advertising, and run a short ad in
selected adsheets (most dealers receive a large number, and
subscribing to several dozen is wasteful) asking for full
purchase price when they order, and NOT requesting information,
you could still do a profitable business, although the cost
involved adds up to much more than the usual $1 for a one-column
ad. You have to figure your costs in preparing the ad and
getting it to each publisher.
If you have an article you've developed yourself and you want to
put a big push on, a great number of dealers will print and mail
your circulars with theirs. The cheapest deal is to have their
ad printed on the back. Many of these firms will take your
money and run, however, so it would be smart to call and write
first, get references from happy customers, and talk to them.
If he won't reveal his customer list and still claims to do a
good job, well, need we say more?
Don't be afraid to compete with other dealers in a print and
mail deal if you've got a good product, but you do your
homework. It is probably the most cost-effective way to reach a
large number o dealers, but take care that you choose a
Multilevel enthusiasts know that many of the better multilevel
programs requires substantial amounts of literature to fully
explain. If you're not prepared or equipped to expend the time
and money required to let every mail prospect know about the
programs you're using, why not make up a small half page
circular which briefly outlines each program, and offer to
refund postage for anyone interested in learning more? That
cuts your expenses, gives you inquiries of real value and should
take no considerable dent in your eventual downline.
This takes five minutes, costs pennies, and give your commission
circulars a personal touch that also looks professional.
Please stop writing hand-written notes and changes of copy on
your commission circulars! Save those hand-written notes for
leaders. A close matching letraset message will print
beautifully and get the message across much more effectively
than a freehand note. When using letraset, take care to make
the heading on a separate set of paper, clip the heading and
tape it with Scotch brand magic tape (we recommend Scotch
because it has a lower peel strength than competitive
translucent tapes and is easier removed).
Don't do your first heads directly onto the circular or you'll
end up with minor mistakes that detract from the impact. Notice
how sloppy the "K" looks, and how small a mistake it took to
make it that way? (Believe us, your clients will notice
mistakes like that!).
One cost-cutting method we do not advise is folding your
circulars so an outside surface is empty, taping it and mailing
it like a newsletter, without an envelope. It looks just plain
shoddy. One thing that does look good, however, is the white
9x6 envelope instead of the usual wheat-yellow manila envelope.
Anything different makes an impact.
Speaking of different, try a few of your circulars in two
colors, perhaps red and black, especially those which many other
dealers are using. It does pull more orders on a competitive
item. And don't forget about using colored stock for a few
sheets (NEVER for your personal notes), but not too many.
If you want to keep your customers for repeat business, don't
become a commission agent for mailing list firms unless you have
thoroughly researched and used their lists yourself. We
personally know of one firm which advertises premium lists, and
offers a very attractive dealership, but they have no trouble at
all selling our name to no fewer than 25 people in a four-month
span who all offer the same product! Those poor people wasted
not only the cost of the list, but the cost of the mailing as
well, and that is an absolute travesty.
By all means, use your personal letters to inform the paying
customer of services you've had success with. This tells the
customer you're serious about his satisfaction and if he
experiences the same success, he'll trust you enough to order
from you again.
And if you know of any popular plans that are no good, and you
have seen that the customer might be considering such a plan
from a letter or group of purchases which indicate he's
heading in that direction, tell him to steer clear.
Finally, and this is absolutely vital to getting reorders, know
exactly what you are offering. If you're selling books, own a
few of them and read them. If you're selling plans and reports,
check them out to make sure they really do what they claim. You
are doing your customers a horrible disservice by advertising
Plan A as one of your biggest sellers (which may be true) when
it's an outdated piece of junk and maybe something you have
never even seen.
If you're selling gifts from catalogs or other related
merchandise, there are really only two things we can advise that
will cheaply help sales.
First, if you're selling catalogs and having your orders
dropshipped from the supplier, write the home office and tell
them you'd like to establish contact with other distributors to
help each other increase efficiency.
It is highly unlikely this request will be turned down. The
supplier is every bit as interested in increasing sales as you
are, and will probably be happy to send you the names and
addresses of some of the company's top producers.
Establish regular correspondence with these people and exchange
information on what campaigns and techniques are working for you.
If you're selling products for which you are the prime source,
don't hesitate to send advertising for your other products when
you fill orders from newspaper or magazine advertising. If you
don't have other products, work an exchange program with other
sources and sell their products on commission, and drop-ship the
orders from the source of supply.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Maximizing profits involves cost-cutting methods of selling
Posted by Victor Quinonez at 10:36 PM
One of the main problems within the "inner circle" of the mail order business
is that everyone is selling everyone else's products. Pages crammed full with
commission dealerships is turning a good thing out of hand.
It's been said over and over again, but newcomers to the industry should
realize that they need to develop their own products and services. Commission
dealerships are fine to compliment your business if the product is relative
to your main product, but everyone should strive for developing their OWN
product too. No one will ever get rich dealing in just commission dealer-
ships. And people who think this way will give up over a period of time
because they go broke. Let's stop this madness and spread the word about
becoming a Prime Source.
How do you develop your own specialized product or service? It may take a
few months to get your "feet wet" in mail order to determine your particular
"niche." However, you should already know the talents you possess inside
yourself and what your own capabilities are. There has to be more to your
business than making money!
What are your hobbies and interests? What would you like to do more than
anything else and would you do it if you were not getting paid?
Perhaps you would rather write, edit, paste-up or seal envelopes.
Dorothy Christian (Shells 345) once explained the "high" she used to get when doing a
mass mailing. She loved peeling off labels, sticking them on envelopes and
folding the materials to insert. She said that every envelope she stuffed,
she felt it would generate a big customer order. This is enthusiasm!
Therefore, Dorothy could have developed a specialized or confidential
mailing service. Unlike a big mail where she would be mailing circulars in
envelopes, but a targeted-mailing for different programs and products.
(Example: A circular selling books and reports would be marketed only to
book buyers from lists Dorothy would purchase and use for these types of
mailings. She also would be careful not to put any conflicting information
in this special mailing she was preparing for specific customers.)
You can take anything you sell and creatively turn it into your own prime
source product. A good friend of mine, Helen VanAllen loved to prepare big
mails so she created the "Design-Your-Own-Big-Mail-Package." Customers were
presented with a list of the circulars Helen had on hand and they checked off
the ones that interested them. This is one example of how an old concept can
be turned into something new with a twist that makes it YOUR OWN product.
There are several ideas that other mail order folks used to create their own
product. You can use the same concept locally also. If you sell vitamins, for
instance, you could sell them in individual packets and label them for each
day of the week. Use the vitamins from the company you are working with but
the individual packets and labels would be your own product. You can also
charge more for this personal touch.
You are unique! You are an individual who has special talents and interests.
Your business should be a reflection of YOU and your own contribution to mail
order. Mail order is a wonderful business, filled with some of the best
people in the world. But it's up to every one of us to keep it that way.
Posted by Victor Quinonez at 9:06 PM
Friday, June 12, 2009
Promotion and advertising can be a heavy expense, especially for
a new business that wants to make itself known in a community. A
home-based business, however, more often than not, has a very
limited budget when it comes to advertising. The home business
owner needs to make the public aware of his or her product or
service at the lowest possible cost.
There are many ways. A pet breeder in a large city was struggling
for several years-until he came up with a novel idea. He started
giving away customized "birth certificates" for the pets he sold.
Almost immediately, his sales rose more than 10 percent.
The owner of a new home cleaning service was trying to attract
clients. She couldn't afford much advertising, so she began
offering "home cleaning seminars" to civic groups. After two
months of seminars, she was swamped with inquiries and clients.
Promotion often makes the crucial difference between business
success and failure. Customers or clients must know about a
business or product line before they'll buy and they must have a
reason to buy.
If you are trying to promote your business now, you can move in
one of two directions: 1) You can take the conventional route to
promotion and mount an elaborate media campaign, spending a
considerable amount of money or 2) You can let your creative juices
flow and mount a low-cost promotion effort, using a potpourri of
attention-getting gimmicks to bring your message to the buying
Now, to be sure, conventional advertising is valuable. If your
enterprise is large enough or if you're selling numerous product
lines, you may find that a full-fledged media campaign is the
most efficient and cost effective way to promote your business.
If money is tight, however, or you're not sure you can amortize
the heavy cost of a media campaign over a period of time, the
following is a assortment of low-cost techniques you can try. Not
all may be appropriate for your particular business, and
certainly it would be costly to try them all. But you're sure to
find some ideas that will work for you.
GIVEAWAYS. People love to receive "free" items, especially items
they can use to gain knowledge or improve their lives. You can
base an entire promotional campaign on this desire. If you're
running a furniture repair business, for instance, you could give
away a furniture repair brochure, free furniture planning guides,
or color swatches. Once you begin giving away authoritative
information customers will begin to perceive you as an expert in
NEWS CREATION. Want to get names and news from your business in
the local newspaper? It may be easier that you think. If you
don't have any news to report to the local media, create some.
Maybe you've taken on a new associate. Or maybe you're selling an
unusual product line. Or maybe you've opened a free advice center
for the community. Or maybe you've received an award from a civic
or professional group. Local Pennysavers and weekly are often
quite interested in business news of this sort and can help you
attract the attention of thousands of people.
EVENTS. You may be able to attract the attention of the media or
a crowd by staging a special promotional event. If you run a
fitness classes, for instance, you could stage a celebrity
instructor day. If you're promoting a new real estate business,
you can offer tours of a model home in the area. If you're
selling children's products and it's springtime, you can offer
lunch with the Easter bunny. Get the idea?
CHARITY TIE-INS. Are you launching a new product? Trying to
increase visibility among a particular segment of your community?
Offer your product to one or more local charities as a raffle
prize or for use at a fund raising event. You'll receive lots of
exposure among people who buy tickets or attend the event.
CONTESTS. Offer a desirable or unique item-or even several
items-as contest prizes. First, find a contest theme that tiers
into your business. A caterer might offer a quiche-eating
contest. A photographer might offer a young model contest. A mail
order craft firm might offer an "Early American" handicrafts
contest. Invite contest submissions and offer prizes to the
winners. Do contests attract attention? You bet. All it takes is
a few signs, a small press announcement or two, and the word will
spread throughout the community grapevine.
COMMUNITY SERVICE. Nothing brings you to the attention of the
people faster-or more favorably-than community service. Ask
yourself how your enterprise can be a "good neighbor" to your
community. If you're running a lawn care and gardening service,
perhaps you can offer one season's services at no charge to a
needy charitable organization or nursing home in your area.
Hundreds of people will hear about your work in the process.
Volunteer for various community causes. If appropriate, you can
step in during community emergency, offering products and
services to help an organization or individuals in need.
COUPONING. Americans are very coupon-conscious. Test the market:
at what level will coupons increase the volume of various product
or service lines? When you get some tentative answers, start
distributing coupons that offer a discount on your services.
Distribute them to area newspapers, on store counters, in
door-to-door- mail packets (which can often be quite
inexpensive), at the public library, at laundromats, at any
location where people congregate.
BADGES AND NOVELTIES. You can easily and inexpensively produce
badges, bumper stickers, book covers, and other novelty items
for distribution in your area. You can imprint your business name
and the first names of the customers on many of these products at
little cost and distribute them for free. Or you can tie your
novelty program into a contest: once a month, you can offer a
prize to any individual whose car happens to carry one of your
bumper stickers or badges with peel-off coupons, redeemable at
your place of business.
CELEBRITY VISITS. With a bit of persistence, you may be able to
arrange to have a local media celebrity, public official, or
entertainment personally-even a fictitious cartoon character or
clown-visit your service. The celebrity can sign autographs, read
stories to children, perform cooking demonstrations, or perform
any one of a hundred other traffic-building activities.
CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS. You'll probably want to celebrate major
public holidays with special sales. But celebrate some of the
offbeat holidays as well. Almost every business has a few
little-known holidays. Ever hear of National Pickle Day, for
instance? Or Cat Lovers Month? Once you find the "right" holiday,
you can sponsor a special sale or special product arrange special
media coverage of a holiday event.
GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE. Can you open sales information booths at
community fairs and festivals? This promotional technique can
work for gift retailers, craftspeople, and personal service
firms. If you have the people and the time, can you handle
regional fairs or even trade shows?
MAILING LISTS. Once you begin establishing a committed clientele,
gather their names on a mailing list. Save the names from your
mail orders and telephone inquiries. Eventually, you'll be able
to send product circulars or even catalogs to the folks on your
list and you'll be able to promise your products by mail.
SCAVENGER HUNTS. If you want people to buy NOW, offer them an
unbeatable deal. If they bring an old product-a small appliance,
a book, whatever-to you, you'll give them a worthwhile discount
on a comparable new item. Or stage a general purpose scavenger
hunt. Customers who bring in three canned goods for your
community's food bank will receive a discount on products
purchased that day.
PARTIES. Everyone loves a party. Why not celebrate the
anniversary of your business or some special holiday by offering
baked goods and beverages? If you're running a service business,
perhaps you can offer an open house or obtain a small banquet
room in your community. Besides refreshments, be sure the place
is brightly decorated.
GREETING CARDS. Do you send out greeting cards to major customers
or clients? Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries make nice
greeting card occasions. Greeting cards create enormous goodwill
and keep your name in front of people.
SEMINARS. In this information hungry age, people love to receive
advice, especially about their personal needs and hobbies. If you
sell health foods or run fitness classes, perhaps you can offer
"wellness" seminars during lunchtime to your area's business
community. If you're an interior decorator, perhaps you can offer
one-hour decorating workshops to any group of ten people who will
gather in someone's home. If you're running a printing business,
perhaps you can offer tours and layout seminars at your plant.
If you're not pleased with your promotional efforts today or if
you simply must increase your exposure among customers and
prospects-it's probably time to increase your publicity efforts.
By all means, advertise in the media if you can or must. But
don't neglect your greatest promotional asset-your mind. Ponder
the products, services, and events you can offer the community
and devise a creative promotional strategy around them. You'll
have to invest a bit of time and energy in the project, but the
payoff will be worth it. You'll save hundreds-or even
thousands-of advertising dollars and, better yet, you'll travel a
well-worn shortcut to profit.