Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

The 13 Prime Direct Marketing Numbers

Direct marketing is a numbers business.

Most often we think of the back-end, the results, when we think DM and numbers. This Baker's Dozen Collection is about the creative process. And how to "think" your writing. So it will be read. So it will be understood. So you will get a higher result - a larger and more profitable back-end.

Every so often we hear "news" that reading is down. Fewer people reading - those reading doing it less. I find this difficult to swallow. The web sites of Barnes & Noble, Amazon and others are doing a booming business in reading material. Ditto "ole fashion" book stores. Many of which have become "places to be", with coffee bars, computer services and more offered to their customers.

High quality newspapers are expanding circulation (of course, those offering lesser value are falling by the wayside). New magazine launches continue at a rapid pace - and have since early in the 1970's. The WWW itself is a read medium. With millions of visitors daily.

Literature, brochures, sales materials have not gone away.

E-marketing is growing, fax-marketing is working and direct mail continues to be a major factor for marketing and sales. All read materials.

And I doubt any of these tools are going away. Changing - yes. Evaporating - absolutely not!

So here is a Baker's Dozen of ideas to get your writing read. The 13 Prime Direct Marketing Numbers.

DM Number 1: 2 = direct is a dialogue discipline

The number 2 is maybe the most important number in this collection. Why? Because direct marketing is all about dialogue. Back and forth with the prospect, the customer.

Direct is not a one way message. It is not a monologue. No, it is communication. Exchange. This morning I placed an order over the telephone ... and was both up-sold and cross-sold. Bought a higher quality than planned - and another product, too. All because of dialogue.

There are many words in addition to dialogue. Such as customer relationship marketing and 1 to 1. They all mean "talk with the customer".

Yes, 2 in direct means dialogue. And that means you AND your customer.

DM Number 2: 40-30-20-10 = what's most important in direct

This group of 4 numbers are clearly what allows direct to work;

40 = Audience, getting your message to the right people - those that can buy what you sell,

30 = Offer, a reason for your prospect to consider doing business with you, over and above features and benefits,

20 = Creative, the copy and art that carry your message to your marketplace,

10 = Media, how your message is carried ... mail, print, broadcast, electronically, or some combination.

Nothing is more important to success in marketing and sales than sending your news to those who can buy. Even when you do it less than wonderfully you have a chance ... as you are talking to your right audience. Thus the 40.

Offer is second in importance - the 30. Making an offer shows your marketplace you care. You offer a bonus, an extra, something above the ordinary.

Creative is 20. Why? Because unless your audience and offer are in line, creative has nothing to do. Literally, nothing to talk about. No benefits. No incentives. No motivation. No excitement. Nothing. A fantastic message to the wrong audience is guaranteed to fall flat. Without an offer creative is stretched.

The 10 is media. Where and how your message is carried. Most often you use multi-media ... newspapers and magazines, direct mail, maybe a trade show, your web site, telecommunication tools of phone and fax, a newsletter or house publication - a mix.

40-30-20-10 ... individually powerful. Collectively they make direct marketing work.

DM Number 3: 65-25-10 = how your direct mail is read

Research tells us 65% of your audience will respond to your direct mail letter, 25% to your flyer, brochure or other insert in your DM package, and 10% to the order form, response device, application, coupon.

What does this really say? It says when you use direct mail you had better include a letter! If nearly 2 of every 3 readers are moved by your letter, a letter is not an option - it is mandatory.

Yes, the numbers are averages. Across all industry and all age groups. If you feel your market is "different" - fine. Place more emphasis on the brochure with pictures and graphics. Yet, include a letter ... or you will be disappointed. No matter your product, your service.

DM Number 4: "Lucky" 13 = the reading skill of your marketplace

This mornings newspaper is written for a 13 year old reading level.

Tonights television news will be presented at a 13 year old reading level. Your day-to-day conversations are at a 13 year old reading level. So, to be understood, write at the "Lucky" 13 level.

Are there exceptions? Sure. The Wall Street Journal, Barons, The Financial Times, Fortune are in the 15-17 range. Advanced text books in the sciences and medicine are written at a higher level.

Yet, for those of us in marketing, even when selling a high-tech or scientific or complex product - the marketing and sales process must be 13. That is how we best communicate.

If the young teens on your block are unable to read your marketing message, you are writing over the head of your buyer.

DM Number 5: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 = 70 ... meaning 70% of your words

must be 5 letter words, or less

This is not difficult in English. With 625,000 words to select from, most are 5 letter words, or less.

Because maximum results come from maximum communication - short words are better. That is what we use in our daily exchanges. At home, at the office, with clients. It is how we talk. And it should be how we write, too.

Some feel they look better or more sophisticated or more knowledgeable when they write at a higher plane. Don't do it! We have enough problems with words and understanding - without going uptown in our word selection.

The 500 most common words in English have over 13,000 meanings! This fact makes it even more important to be clear with our message. Short helps. 1,2,3,4,5 helps.

DM Number 6: 11 & 14 = keep your sentences short

Short words help communication. Short sentences do, too.

The opening paragraph in everything you write should be 11 words, or less. Yes, I said paragraph!

All of your sentences should average 14 words in length. Some will be as short as a single word. Some may run 20 words ... maybe a tad more.

So, why the short directive? Why is a "period", a "dot" a "full stop" important? Because readers need to breath. Short allows for those important S T O P S. And thus understanding. It allows your reader time to absorb your message. To get your meaning. To know what to do next for their benefit. Long makes it much more difficult.

And, by the way; your second paragraph should be no more than 50 words. Why? To keep your reader with you. To pullll them along. To "slip" them in to your entire message.

DM Number 7: 7 = keep your paragraphs short ... and repeatedly

Ask For The Order

The first number 7 is more physiology than marketing. It is how our eyes read.

Your paragraphs must be short. To a max of 7 lines (I did not say sentences ... the word is lines) in length. Why? Because shorter is easier to read. Quicker for our eyes to follow, to grasp, to get the message, to understand.

Who writes loooong paragraphs? The government - attorneys - the medical profession - academia. The first 3 groups definitely do NOT want you to understand ... they do it on purpose.

Write to be read - write short paragraphs.

The second 7 is an average. You, on the average, must Ask For The Order 7 times to get a new piece of business - before you get it. So repeat, repeat, repeat your message. Repetition builds your reputation.

DM Number 8: 9 = keep your type size large

Nearly 75% of the earths population wear glasses or contacts. Why? Because they cannot see!

Thus the number 9. It too is about physiology. It is how we see and read. Anything smaller than 9 point type is too small for our eye to pick up and read comfortably. It's how we're made - to ignore this fact is to reduce your readership, and thus reduce your results.

Personally I like 11 point type best. Can live with 10 - like 12. Bigger is better when it comes to type size ... so the people you wish to reach with your offer can read it.

DM Number 9: 55 = use a serif type face

Serif type, the style with feet, hooks, the serifs as they're called in the industry, is much easier to read than san-serif.

In fact, serif increases readership 55%!

Yet, there are still arty folks who insist on ignoring the facts about people and eyes, and use san-serif ... "because it looks good".

Well, I agree - many san-serif typefaces are pretty to look at. Still, they are hard to read.

For anything you hold in your hand to read - mail and letters, magazines, newspapers, brochures and folders, use a serif typeface. For LARGE headlines, posters, billboards and things you read at a distance, san-serif is just fine. You see, our eyes do adjust. Which is why, when they stop adjusting, you get bifocals!

55 is a big number. I suggest you do not ignore it.

DM Number 10: 481 = be specific

People are drawn to water. And to numbers.

And number specifics outsell generalities every time. The number 481 is much more believable than "almost 500". So, when you can, be specific with your message. In words - in numbers.

A specific is 60 seconds. A generality is 1 minute.

A specific is 24 hours. A generality is 1 day.

A specific is 30 days. A generality is 1 month.

A specific is 365 days. A generality is 1 year.

When you can be exact - be exact! Your audience will love you for it.

DM Number 11: 30 = use a Limited Time or Limited Number Offer

The packaged goods people learned the value of a coupon with a limited time offer. Put a date on something - when it will expire - and it increases response - now.

The fine arts people taught us the value of a limited number offer ... where only a few of a specific piece of sculpture, for instance, will be produced. Sales happen quicker, and the value goes up.

That's what 30 represents ... LTO and LNO.

Here's what else we've learned; a LTO without a date is not a true offer. If you talk limited time - make it so by clearly stating a date.

Ditto LNO. When you say you have created "only 500", make certain that is what you do. When you say "only 2 to a customer", make certain that is what you do.

Offers are mandatory in direct. When you use the idea of 30 your offer becomes more valuable.

DM Number 12: 25 & 33 = a pair of do nots

ALL CAPITAL LETTERS REDUCES READERSHIP 25%. So it's easy - go easy on the caps.

Reverse type is worse. When you reverse out of a dark background your readership is cut 33%! That's easy to fix, too ... go easy on the reverse.

Yes, small amounts of capital letters do draw attention. A word here and there. Really, the best way to get attention is NOT with caps ... it is with a second color. Underline also works well.

Reverse is a nice touch. No doubt about it, it is seen. Works best in small amounts, such as in yellow page ads, where LARGE copy is reasonable to expect. I like reverse for design ... as a border or in a graphic. For type, straight dark type on a light background reads best.

As with most things, a little of something is okay - a whole lot is not okay. Use all caps sparingly. Ditto reverse type.

DM Number 13: 100 = response you can enjoy with direct

There is every reason to expect 100% response with direct!

Why not?

When you follow the 40-30-20-10 principle you are sending a sound message, with a good offer to the right audience, using the right tools. Why should you settle for less.

99.9 is NOT good enough.

You may say, "Hey Ray, 100% is unreasonable". And you are right. Still, why not aim for 100?

When in school the goal was 4.0 / straight A grades. Anything less as an objective automatically said you were not trying to do your very best. Only a few reach the top rung of 100 ... still, why not aim for the best.

Ditto in direct. When your message goes into the marketplace, to a select audience, we should EXPECT everyone to respond. Otherwise, why are you "talking" to your market at that time? You WANT everyone to say "yes" to your offer - that is the good news you seek.

So, set your DM goal at 100. You've got absolutely nothing to loose. And your attitude just might carry you further down the road toward your objectives.

That's it for this Baker's Dozen Collection ... The 13 Prime Direct Marketing Numbers. Use them well.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

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