Over the years we've found the best way to learn about direct mail and what's working well, is to watch our own mailbox and to collect and study samples of interesting pieces of direct mail advertising. One sure way of knowing that something is working is to see if you receive the same piece of mail more than once over a period of time. If, for example you receive a subscription offer this year that's much the same as one you received last year you can be pretty sure that the advertiser is achieving good results from the mailing. If he wasn't, chances are he wouldn't do it again.
Another way you can judge the effectiveness of a particular offer or approach is to see if many other advertisers are doing something similar. In other words, if many advertisers seem to be offering sweepstakes or free trials in conjunction with a similar type of merchandise or service offering, that can also tell you that you've likely found a winner.
Don't follow someone else's practices blindly, however. They may have different profit objectives than you do. They might be successful on their own terms while you may not. Always test before rolling out. That way you'll have evidence based upon what's happening in your business.
Written by: Jerold L. Heisler
The Heisler Group, Inc.
243 Desert Holly Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92211