Ivan Levison —
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting

How to make big profits from small mailings.

Direct response copywriting is a numbers game. We send out hundreds of thousands of letters, but only expect a tiny percentage of prospects to buy.

One of the consequences of dealing with large lists (if we're lucky enough to find them) is that we're constantly trying to cut costs. Obviously, if you can get into the mail for a nickel or dime less per package, you can save a lot of money.

This cost-cutting mind-set makes excellent sense when you're doing mass mailings, but it can kill you if you're mailing to a tiny list of important people. You see, a small mailing means you can afford to spend a lot more per piece and really make a tremendous impression.

With a budget of $3 to $10 per package you can quickly cut through the clutter and stop prospects right in their tracks. Instead of being handcuffed by standard envelope formats, a direct response copywriter can send creative 3D packages that always get opened.

Let me give you three specific examples of how spending a bit of money on low-volume direct mail campaigns can generate fabulous results.

1. A Sybase invitation to a private breakfast briefing. When Sybase wanted to tell important prospects about the financial implications of client/server computing, they decided to hold a series of small breakfast sessions. At these by-invitation-only meetings, knowledgeable speakers would make brief presentations in an informal, relaxed setting.

There were too many prospects to call on the phone, and a standard invitation letter seemed hopelessly flat. Instead, we sent key clients a small box with a specially designed label that said:

"INSIDE: A special gift and invitation from SYBASE
The Enterprise Client/Server Company"

Inside was a handsome coffee mug bearing the Sybase logo. Sitting on top of the cup was a multi-fold invitation. On the cover of the invitation, art-directed by Cris Parsons, was the engaging headline:

"Sybase would like you to have this cup.
On October 4th we'll pour the coffee."

The direct response mailing was a tremendous hit and quickly filled up all available seats.


2. An Intel invitation to a press reception. When Intel launched its powerful i860 64-bit microprocessor, you can be sure they did more than simply mail out press releases. In fact, they invited the entire technical press corps to a lavish reception at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

Intel called on me to write the invitation that had to draw reporters to the big event. They enthusiastically told me that this chip "would knock people's socks off." That explains why I sent every reporter on the contact list a little box containing a pair of black wool socks. The wrapper around the socks simply said:

"On February 27, Intel will knock yours off!"

The package also contained an invitation complete with driving instructions.

I might add that this mailer was so successful, it was picked up on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's Business Section. The blurb read " . . . Intel said the chip will 'knock your socks off' — and included extra socks with the invitation to the unveiling, to be held at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco." This is the kind of success that makes me proud to be a direct response copywriter.

3 An American President Lines mailing to hot prospects. Some years ago, American President Lines came to me with an interesting problem. They wanted to set up sales presentations with a small number of companies that shipped perishable cargoes all over the world. APL wanted to prove that they were expert at transporting cargoes like fruits, produce, seafood, poultry, flowers, etc.

How do you get your foot in the door at a company that is fanatical about product freshness? My answer, as a direct response copywriter, was to send each executive a beautiful, fresh, exotic orchid in a lovely glass vase bearing the APL logo. The cover of the accompanying note said:

"When it has to arrive
in perfect condition . . ."

Inside was the pitch for a personal meeting. The logistics of getting fresh orchids to everyone were daunting, but the results were fabulous!

© 2013, Ivan Levison & Associates. All rights reserved.