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Chapter 3: Selecting Hot Products
To achieve maximum success in direct mail, you need a good customer list, and a good product to offer that list — in that order.

The biggest mistake is to lock yourself into a product, and then ask “Who can I sell this to?” Doing that means you might find the only people interested in your product either can’t afford it, don’t buy mail order, or simply aren’t interested. And that means success is impossible.

If you start by finding a good mailing list containing people who have specific interests and have a history of buying certain types of products, then coming up with a good product for that list is not too difficult. You simply give them what they want.

Here are some techniques for doing just that.


  • The best mail order product is one the customer is hot to buy at the time he receives your sales letter.
  • How to find out what your customers want to buy? Read the Letters To The Editor of magazines that your customers read. Find out what they are talking about and the problems they want solved.
  • Also, go to trade shows and hobby fairs. Find out what products customers want, but aren’t easily available. (We found one of our most profitable products this way.)
  • Another way to find out what your customer wants: buy the last major product they did and try to come up with a ‘coat tail’ product. Something that can help them use the first product. (i.e., a video tape, book, report, or newsletter showing them how to use the first product.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they want to buy. Many companies do this with check boxes on warranty cards and magazine subscriptions.
  • The top mail order products of the coming decade:
    1. Books, newsletters and reports
    2. CD ROMs, computer software
    3. Organization memberships
  • The most profitable mail order products of the coming decade:
    1. Organization Memberships
    2. CD ROMs, Computer Software
    3. Books, Reports, Newsletters
  • Primary sources of mail order products:
    1. Buy from wholesalers
    2. create or produce yourself
    3. Use public domain items
  • Typical cost to price ratios of mail order products:
    Books........................................................ 1:30
    CD ROMs................................................. 1:40
    Computer software.................................... 1:50
    Memberships............................................. 1:100
  • Rule of thumb: as a minimum, to be profitable a mail order product needs to sell for at least 8 times its cost. Many successful products sell for 30 times cost or more.
  • The best mail order products are easy to describe, easy to produce and easy to ship, but not available on the local market. (Don’t try to compete with Wal-Mart.)
  • Avoid products that require a great deal of customer support. Keep it simple and avoid problems and back-end support expense. (Imagine selling a computer software program to 1,000 customers and then having every one of them call you for help in installing or running the program!)
  • Seek out products that are self-explanatory and don’t need operation manuals. A book, report, newsletter, or video tape falls into this category.
  • One great source for mail order products and premiums is the U.S. Government, which has for years produced books, reports, videos, and software that fall into the public domain. These can be reformatted to be more attractive and useful.
  • Another great source for mail order products and premiums is material that entered the public domain when the copyright expired. Some works have never been copyrighted. These include many
  • Consider ‘reprint and duplication’ rights. Some product developers will sell you the unlimited reprint and duplication rights to their products. This allows you to sell the product as if you created it, without any additional royalty payments. This is a great way to come up with hot selling books, CD ROMs, and videos — and keep your margins high.
  • When you aren’t sure whether reprint and duplication rights are available... ask. A product developer may not have considered selling these rights, but many are interested in doing so when asked.
  • Another good place to find products... successful direct mail offers. If someone is having success selling a particular product, it might be a good idea for you to offer something similar, using the successful offer as a template.
  • Video tapes make good products or premiums... but usually need to be part of a larger package.
  • If you are offering information as a product, it should be in a format the customer prefers. If the customer wants print, give them print. If they want video, give them video. If they want CD ROM, give them cd rom.
  • Perceived value is the worth of the product in the mind of the customer. And it dictates the price a customer is willing to pay.
  • For books and printed material, the value of the product is determined by the benefit the product delivers to the customers.

    Benefits can be time saved, money made, problems avoided, etc. Some books are priced in excess of $900, and are bargains!
  • Pricing a product too low will hurt sales. Product price has a lot to do with perceived value. A low priced book or report will have a low perceived value and this will hurt sales.
  • Pricing a product higher can increase sales. A high price commands attention, raises curiosity, and stimulates desire. If the product has a high value, let the price reflect that value.
  • The mail order product is generally composed of several items including:
    1. The main product
    2. premiums
    3. Free bonus items
  • The most often used premium? A book, report or newsletter.
  • When using premiums, be sure to choose one that fits. The quality of the premium should equal the quality of the product. Including a cheap premium hurts the offer.
  • The best premium is something the customer wants as much as the product itself.
  • The worst premium? Something the customer views as worthless. It negatively reflects on the offer.
  • When developing the product, consider the box it will be shipped it. Generally the larger the box and the more items packed into it, the higher the customer satisfaction.
  • Remember the ‘out of box’ experience... When the customer first opens the box, you want the experience to be pleasant. That initial experience has a lot to do with how many people will return the product.
  • To make this experience most pleasant, be sure to include a cover letter thanking the customer for the order, a list of items enclosed in the box, complete instructions, and a free gift.


Source: 301 Direct Mail Tips, Techniques & Secrets
Category: My articles | Added by: Marsipan (04.12.2012) W
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