The Boron Letters - Chapter 7
Monday, 10:30 a.m.
June 18, 1984
Let's get right back into the subject of becoming a student
of markets, especially mailing lists.
My last letter gave you a beginning insight into what makes
a list more responsive. Let's review a few conclusions we
came to based on the data in yesterday's letter. You will
remember, of course, that I said that, as a general rule,
any list of proven mail order buyers will out perform any
list of non-buyers.
Now, as another general rule, there are three main
guidelines you can rely on when you are picking lists to
These three guidelines are recency, frequency and unit of
sale. A brief explanation follows:
Recency - The more recently a person has purchased
(by mail) something similar to what you are selling, the
more receptive he will be to your offer. Get 'em while
they're hot! In fact, always check to see if the list you
are interested in has "hotline buyers" and see if you can
rent them before anybody else. Hotline buyers are the most
recent buyers of all. Sometimes they will be 90-day hotline
buyers or even 30-day hotline buyers. These names are
extremely good prospects!
Frequency - The more often a person buys a particular
item, the higher his desire for that type of production
service. It just makes sense. If you are selling a book on
skin diving and you can find a list of people who have
purchased several other books on skin diving, then you know
he is interested in the subject and will be a likely
prospect to buy your book.
Unit of sale - Once again, we have a guideline that
just plain makes sense. After all, a person who recently
paid $100.00 for a bottle of diet pills is probably a hotter
prospect for diet type products than a person who has only
paid $10.00 for a bottle of diet pills.
You know, Bondo-Dog, people don't always put their money
where their mouths are; but they do nearly always put out
their money where their true desires are.
Recency, frequency and unit of sale: All good guidelines for
evaluation of a mail order list. And, in my opinion, of the
three guidelines, RECENCY is, by far, the most
important of all.
Now, let's discuss some other ways of finding out what
people like to purchase by mail. In addition to mailing
lists, there are a number of so called "hot" mail order
publications. These are the newspapers and magazines that
mail order companies advertise in over and over. You should
make it a point to discover what these publications are and
get copies of them and become very familiar with them. You
should pay attention to their editorial content and pay
special attention to the mail order ads they carry.
There is a newsletter out of New York City called the
"Gallagher Report". This newsletter covers the world of
advertising and once each year they publish a special
edition that lists all of the major magazines and it ranks
them by circulation.
You should get a copy of this special issue (ask Eric) and
then get copies of the top 100 magazines and go through them
and find out which ones carry a lot of mail order ads.
I have just come in after visiting with you, Kevin, Blade and
Z and a digression at this point might be productive. Z, as
I am sure you will agree, probably feels a certain sense of
relief that, because of the circumstances, she has more or
less gotten her own way in regards to her ad. It's really
too bad. Too bad for her! You have just seen an
excellent example of why I generally treat clients with an
iron fist. Z pulled this same stunt when she had her other
ads written (by other people) and the ads were miserable
If I were on the street I would have handled this situation
in a totally different way. In fact, after about 5-minutes I
would have told her to get lost and that she either gets out
of my face or else she can write her own ad.
The lesson here concerns control. Can you imagine how
disastrous it would be if a patient could tell his surgeon
how to do the operation? Or, if an athlete could tell his
coach how to do his job?
I could go on and on. But isn't it ridiculous! A client pays
me big money to write an ad and then they want to tell me
how to do it!
It happens all the time. But not with me. At least not when
I am on the outside. You see, part of the reason I am in so
much demand is that I am so hard headed. Clients, although
they would never admit it, most often feel relieved with
someone who takes a "don't you dare mess with my copy"
As you know, I couldn't make a scene in the visiting room
but you can be sure that the next time I talk with Z that I
am going to quietly but firmly put a lot of pain in her
Here's another illustration of the importance of control.
When Blade took me aside, one of the things he explained to
me was that (name deleted) in Vegas wants to put the
commissions into another project and delay paying me.
Now, here's the thing. (Name deleted) is one of the
good guys. And, sadly, even the good guys have
trouble living up to their agreements when it comes to
money. That's one of the reasons I try to structure my deeds
so that I get paid often. You see, when there is big
money involved it is very hard for the clients to write
And, what really makes it hard for the client is that he
usually believes that he doesn't need you anymore since he
already has the ad.
Ah, there's a lesson here but, also, I'm blowing off steam.
Let's get back to becoming aware of markets. Right here,
what I want to do is encapsulate one of Halbert's Rules of
Marketing Success. It is:
Sell People What They
Want To Buy!
So obvious, so overlooked and so important.
Now one thing I haven't mentioned so far is that you want to
be on the lookout for ads and direct mail pieces that you
see over and over. What this means is that whomever is
running the ad has hit a nerve.
And, a good way for you to make money is for you to hit that
same nerve only do it better.
But, and I know I'm being redundant, the most important
thing to do first is to locate those hot buttons. You
don't have to guess. You don't have to wonder. You don't
have to ask people or take surveys.
All You Have To Do Is Observe!
Observe the ads that keep repeating. Observe the size of the
mailing lists available for rental on different product
areas. Observe the direct mail pieces that keep getting
mailed out month after month and sometimes year after year.
I Love You and Good Luck!
Copyright © 2005 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights