Hey, you remember last month how I revealed to
you how I was offering five free reports as a
"bribe" to get people to subscribe to this
Well anyway, the reason I'm reminding you of
all this is because so many of my current
subscribers have been phoning the office here and wondering
what they would have to do
to get those five free reports.
It's very simple. All you have to do is ask. Just send me a letter telling me you want the reports and I'll
send them out to you immediately
at my expense. And, although it's not
necessary, if you happen to have anything nice to say in your
letter that I could use as a testimonial, it would be greatly
Why am I doing this? Actually, there are two
reasons. The first reason is (as I've been telling you over
and over), because I am truly a...
And the second reason is that I'm
"hoping" to get a testimonial from you because
repeated testing over many years has proven that good
testimonials almost always improve results.
Now, don't you think about all the foregoing
was a pleasant (but rather adroit) set-up for the subject of
this month's letter which is...
"To be the best
you've got to test.
It ends all debates
and gives your mind a rest."
Let's say you've got what you think is a great
new idea that might make you lots of money. Let's say you've
invented a new kind of "unlosable" golf ball that
has a built-in electronic beeper that you can activate with a
tiny transmitter you wear around your wrist like a Dick Tracy
Sounds neat, doesn't it? You slice your ball
off into the woods and then, instead of poking around blindly
trying to find it, you simply activate the beeper and the
little cricket-like signal leads you to the ball.
Your ad agency howls with enthusiasm. You're
gonna make millions. But first, they say, you've got to do
some market testing. You've got to test media, markets, price,
and package design; whether to offer the balls in packages of
three or packages of eight; a two-page letter, a 4-page
letter, or a 6-page letter; you've got to test whether the
balls should be conventional white in color or perhaps orange
or yellow or some other color.
And so on.
Let me tell you something. All this advice
Firstly, all this testing will cost a fortune
and secondly, at this
stage, you only need to test to find the answer to one
single question which is...
You'd be surprised how many "great"
ideas have no market viability whatsoever. Recently, for
example, I mailed a "can't fail" direct mail
promotion to 2,600 California used car dealers. Here is the
first page of the letter I used.
* Tells It
Like It Is!
To The Core!
* Makes It
And guess what happened? Yep. They stayed away in droves!
In fact, so far, just one used car dealer
has been smart enough and had enough "hustle" to respond to my
pitch. Now, that particular car dealer is one smart cookie and he's probably
going to make a lot of money because of reading my material but, the point is
What I Thought Was A Sure thing
Was, In Fact, A Total Bust!
But I found out cheaply.
It ran about $1,300.00 to mail those 2,600 letters to those used car dealers
and now I can go on to something else.
Hear this: Most new marketing ideas fail. That's OK. You just keep swinging the bat till you hit a home
run and then, once you've got your winner, you simply milk it for all it's
worth. But, what's important, really
important, is to find out if your idea has any merit as fast as possible! And, the way to do that is by...
Giving It Your Best Shot
On Your Very First Test!
Let's go back to our "homing pigeon" golf balls.
Here's how we'll give our first test our best shot. The first thing we've got
to think about is what mailing lists we are going to test. There are many
options. You could test the 434,000 names of prospective members of country
clubs available from American Golf Lists. You could try a test to the
subscription lists of the various golf magazines. Maybe there's a warranty
card list of people who've just purchased golf equipment. There's also a list
available from the Austad Company totaling several hundred thousand that has
several interesting "selects." The description of the list in the
SRDS Book says:
buyers of golf clubs
and golf accessories, tennis, handball and racquetball
other recreational items. 83% men."
Well, I'd call my list broker and see if he could get me the
very best parts of that list. I'd tell him I want only the recent, direct-mail generated names of multi-buyers of golf
equipment. And, if there are "hotline" names available (like people
who bought golf equipment in the last 30-days),
I'd tell him those are the names I want.
And, after all this, I'd tell my broker that these are the
names I want unless he happens to know of
an even hotter list of names who've bought
golf equipment by mail.
The point is this: I'd do everything
possible to get the very best, very hottest names available for my first
Onward. O.K., now that we've identified our very hottest
prospects, the next step is to determine the elements of our offer. I'm
talking about price, terms and so forth.
Let's begin with price. For your first test, you should offer
the lowest price possible with which you
could conceivably make a profit. I don't know much about the wholesale price
of golf balls, but let's say our cost of
our new "radio" balls is $3.00 apiece and we're going to sell them
in packages of six. That means our product cost is going to be about $18.00
and that we're probably going to have to pay another $3.00 or so for
packaging, postage and handling.
The net result, of course, is that we've got to shell out
$21.00 for every order we fulfill.
Now look, whenever I'm thinking about direct mail, I always
mentally budget $.50 apiece for each letter I send out. Some of my mailings
cost much more, some of them (created for
my clients) are considerably cheaper but, just as a "ballpark"
number to give us an idea of our total mailout cost, $500.00 per thousand
letters mailed is not usually too out of line.
So, let's see what happens if we charge $69.95 plus $3.00
shipping and handling (total $72.95) for a six-pack of our golf balls. Since
it costs us $21.00 to fill an order, that means on every sale we are
generating a $51.95
Now, let's divide this $51.95 "CTO" into $500.00
which as you remember, is our cost of mailing 1,000 letters. Hmn? According to
my calculator, that means we've got to get 9.6 orders (let's round it off to
10) to break even on mailing 1,000 letters.
Well, that sounds "maybe doable" but, since we want
to charge the lowest price possible, let's
see how it works out when we charge only $39.95 plus $3.00 (total $42.95).
O.K., subtracting our fulfillment cost of $21.00, that price leaves a $21.95
CTO on every order. And, by dividing $21.95 into $500.00 (our cost of mailing
1,000 letters) we find we've got to get 23 orders for every thousand letters
we mail to make our nut.
Doable? Yeah, maybe. But I sure wouldn't be comfortable
charging any less so, at this point, I think we've discovered the lowest price
that even gives us a chance of making a profit.
Now, what about terms? We can insist on cash-with-order, we
can offer terms (half now and later), we can ship COD, we can let them charge
it to their credit cards or, we can do what we ought to do for this first test and tell them to...
Send No Money
We'll Bill You Later!
What else? Well, for one thing, send the strongest piece of
copy you can create, attach some kind of "grabber" (reread the issue
January 6, 1988 of this letter) and always,
always, test your letters...
By First Class Mail!
Back to our golf balls. What's likely to happen here? Gosh,
we're mailing to...
The Lowest Price Possible
and allowing them
To Send No Money
Very Strong Copy With A Grabber
Again, what's likely to happen? It's this: We'll probably fail.
Yep, even after all of this, most likely we're going to strike out. You see,
probably 9 out of 10 "brand new" marketing ideas don't cut the
mustard and, if your idea is in that
You Want To Know
As Soon As Possible!
In life, time is the irretrievable element. Unfortunately,
most of us live our lives as though it were some sort of dress rehearsal. It's
not. This is it. Therefore, if you are in
a business deal or personal relationship that doesn't seem like it will ever
work, what you want to do in the interest of "salvage" is to get out
as soon as you possibly can. And, until you've given the situation your
"best shot," you'll never know whether you should keep struggling or
As far as direct mail is concerned, it is really frustrating
to have initial results that are "marginal" and then to drive
yourself crazy by testing the "maybes."
"Maybe if we had charged a lower price...?"
"Maybe if we had mailed only the recent hotline,
"Maybe if we had offered credit...?"
"Maybe if we had offered a premium...?"
"Maybe if we had hired Halbert to do the copy...?"
Etc., etc., etc.
And, you know what? Maybe if you had done all that...
Maybe The Damn Deal
Still Won't Fly!!!
Please. Don't let all this discourage you. You should take the
content of this issue as good news! You
see, by using this "best shot" method, you'll be able to test more
ideas, test them faster than ever before and...
Test Them Cheaper!
Which puts the odds on your side. Which means that, after a
period of six months, while your competition is still wondering if "maybe
we should lower the price on our homing pigeon golf balls," you'll have
known half a year ago that the idea sucks, you'll have tested 16 other ideas
and found three that work and you'll be well on your way to a roll-out of
millions of letters on these three "winners" and you'll have the
luxury of testing the fine points...
While You Are
How sweet it is!
"Best Shot" Halbert
I recently had a long lunch with Steve
Brown, the creative genius behind Abernathy &
Closther. Steve is one of the very sharpest guys in
our business and he said something that was almost
eerily appropriate to the subject of this month's
letter. He said that, "When some people are
digging for water, they'll dig a single hole and just
keep digging deeper and deeper till they find
it." On the other hand, as he also explained,
there are other people (like him) (like me) who will
not dig so deep but rather, will dig a
lot of different holes till they find the H2O.
Which works better? Well, unless you've
got really deep pockets or a profound emotional
commitment to a certain project, you should opt for
Actually, what I like to do is
"test dig" a lot of holes till one bears
fruit and then, turn that well over to a guy with a
different personality from
mine who will exploit that well for all it's
Works for me.
If you're interested, don't forget to
write for those free reports!
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights