Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing June 2006 Newsletter:

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Mistakes Direct Marketers Make.
by Galen Stilson -- Direct Response Copywriter/Consultant, Phone: 727-786-1411

Use the following as a checklist for your dm packages. Here are a few of the mistakes direct marketers make:

* Direct mail packages without a sales letter ... or a typeset (not typewritten) letter. I'm always surprised how many times I find a dm package without a sales letter. And how many times I find sales letters that are typeset so that they look more like an impersonal brochure. Unless you've tested and found that no letter (or typeset letter) is more profitable, opt for a sales letter ... and make it look professional (courier type).

* Weak first sentences. I'd say that about 60%-70% of the time, the first sentence of the sales letter is not nearly as strong (interest-building) as it could be. Remember my rule of thumb: The first sentence should make you read the second sentence. The second sentence should virtually force the reader into the third sentence. Once you get the reader hooked into reading the first few sentences/paragraphs, there's a good chance s/he'll read most of the letter. Also, within virtually every letter I've critiqued, there's a better first sentence tucked away somewhere else in the letter. Usually on the first page. Read your letters carefully and see if there's not a more powerful first sentence languishing somewhere else in your copy.

* Postscripts that seem to be written as an afterthought. Once the prospect picks up your sales letter, the postscript is one of the very first parts of the letter s/he'll look at. Thus, it is extremely important. The postscript should be given the same HIGH PRIORITY given to headlines. Write ten or 20 of them ... then select your best one. Follow pretty much the same guidelines as you would for writing a headline. Remember ... it is actually read before the main body of the sales letter.

* Response Devices Problems. Here are a few of the flaws I see in many response devices ...

--Far too much copy squeezed into too little space. There is nothing carved in stone that says a response device must be 3 1/2 by 8 1/2. If you have to go to 8-point type to fit everything in on your card, opt for a bigger response device.

--Not enough information. Your order card should be a stand-alone selling device. In other words, it should contain all of the "key" information needed for the prospect to make an ordering decision.

--Unappealing. Too often, dmers seem to spend a great deal of time on the letter and brochure ... and treat the order card as an afterthought. The result is that it looks like an afterthought. Make your response device look at least as good and professional as the rest of the package. And if you're charging $100, $200, $300 for your product or service, make the order card reflect that.

* Fear of soft offers. This applies primarily to newsletter publishers. Although, they are not alone. Numerous tests have proven over time that soft offers usually result in bigger profits. Therefore, it pays to test soft -- and supersoft -- offers. Test a "standard three-issue trial offer," a "no-pay-until-you're-sure trial," even a forced free trial. And if you're not allowing "bill-me's," you're shooting your own foot (unless you're marketing to a target audience like opportunity seekers.)

* Letters that aren't easy to read. Although the appearance of quick-n-easy reading is important to any audience, it is particularly so when you're mailing to professionals, executives, and other busy people. You want the prospect to pick up the letter and think to himself, "This won't take long to read."

You do that through appropriate use of white space (margins, space between paragraphs), sentence and paragraph length (vary lengths but lean towards short), and attention-getting devices like bolding, underlining and so forth.

* Conflicting copy. During the past year, I've found different phone numbers on different inserts in the same package, different guarantee statements, references to copy and inserts that didn't exist ...and yes ... even different prices for the same product.

How could this be? Usually because components (inserts) within the package are changed ... without making sure everything else matches up.

* Non-use of subheads in the sales letter. Why use subheads in sales letters? Because they make it easy for skimmers to skim. These people are looking for key benefits. Good subheads help them find those benefits quickly. That means you benefit with better response and profit.

Although it doesn't represent an all-inclusive critique checklist, it will help you catch some of the more common and costly mistakes. 

Post Office To Expand Personalized Postage for Businesses.

Businesses now have one more way to market a message about their company and products thanks to the expansion of the U.S. Postal Service’s popular customized postage program.

Customized postage allows a customer to personalize postage with pictures or images using Customized PC Postage® technology. The Postal Service is signing contracts with three vendors able to produce customized postage to be used on First-Class Mail, Priority Mail and Express Mail for personal and commercial use.

The three vendors, Endicia, Zazzle and Stamps.com will add the commercial application to their existing agreements for the production of postage for personal use, said Nick Barranca, Vice President, Product Development.

"Expanding the way customized postage can be used is a bonus for businesses who want to create awareness for their products or services, build their brand and develop strong customer relationships" Barranca said.

This is the third phase of the market test for customized postage. It will run through May 16, 2007 with an option for the Postal Service to extend the test for a second year. The third test removes the restrictions around commercial images that were in place for the second market test.

The first two phases of the test, which began in 2004, allowed the Postal Service and qualified vendors to determine the viability of the product and to gauge the interest of consumers in creating their own personalized postage.

"We are very pleased with the way customers have responded to this option. We have seen an increase in personal correspondence" Barranca said.

Customized postage has two parts: a customer-supplied image and a state-of-the-art secure bar code. All customized postage is compatible with the Postal Service's automated mail processing systems.

Like postage meters, PC Postage® facilitates customer access to postage payment and use of the mail. PC Postage® is not a stamp and the use of customized postage will not affect the Postal Service's production or commitment to postage stamps, Barranca said.

"We want to make sure that anyone we authorize has the ability to produce postage in an efficient way," he said. "While we continue to strive to meet the needs of our customers, we want to make sure that any product also meets our standards for quality and security."

The Postal Service will require vendors to produce a product that meets current postal regulations and conclusively prove that all images produced and services provided abide by all federal laws, including copyright laws.

Authorized vendors will determine pricing and are expected to price their products based on the value provided to the consumer. The Postal Service's role is to authorize and monitor qualified providers.

Win Yankee and Mets Tickets!

We are giving away two tickets to see the New York Yankees and Mets!  To win, be the first telephone caller (please don’t hit reply or email).  Call Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 x 303.  One set per winner.  All games will have fantastic seat locations. 

  • Saturday June 10th, 2006  Yankees vs. The Oakland A's   1:05 PM
  • Friday June 2, 2006 Mets vs. Barry Bonds and The San Francisco Giants, 7:10 PM

Do you know of anyone else who would be interested in receiving our newsletter?  Please let us know by email:  mb@talon-mailing.com

To learn more about our company, please visit our web site: www.talon.com or contact Michael Borkan at (631) 667-5500 x 303.

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In this Issue:

Mistakes Direct Marketers Make.

Post Office Expands Personalized Postage for Businesses.

Yankee & Mets Ticket Giveaways!

Free Golf!

New Clients

Mike Borkan's Links - Websites you probably haven't seen

View Samples of our work

Newsletter Archives

New Clients:


Talon welcomes the following new clients this month to our growing roster of customers:

Mailing Clients

New Mailing Lists (we house over 600 mailing lists)

Let's Golf:

8th Hole at The Woodcrest Club

The first three golfers to call Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 x 303 will be my guests for golf and lunch on Friday June 30th at the Woodcrest Club.  Located in Syosset New York, this is a great golf course and a wonderful opportunity to meet the other marketing professionals in our four-some.

Mike's Favorite Links:

Some interesting links...

straightdope.com - Cecil Adams' weekly question & answer column.

cruisecritic.com - Learn which cruises are the best and which you should avoid.

newsblaze.com - Covers the events of the day throughout the world.

recycleforbreastcancer.org - Help protect the environment & support a worthy cause.

Google Calendar - Great new free product from google.

Zillow.com - Type in an address, view the property & learn what amount the house sold for. 

crankycustomer.com - True tales of Customer Service Incompetence.  

Work Samples:

Did you know Talon offers the following services? 

Click on the links below to see samples.

Newsletters Archives:

Click here if you wish to see old newsletters. 

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