Here the item is described via advertising in appropriate publications, or by display advertising or usually less costly lineage advertisements in classified advertising sections. The reader is requested to send the price of the item advertised, following which the dealer will complete the transaction by fulfilling the order to the purchaser.
THE TWO-STAGE ‘ENQUIRY’ METHOD
Selling by this means involves placing an advertisement, briefly outlining the main features of what is on offer, and inviting the reader to write to the advertiser for further details. The dealer then sends out a sales circular for the item or service concerned, and additionally includes circular relating to other items available.
Direct mail incorporates many of the features of the enquiry method, since the prospective customer is usually sent the very same circulars that would be provided if instead selling by the enquiry method.
The mail order operator here, is not involved in promoting his wares by means of advertisements placed in publications; rather he or she sends mailshots (sales circulars) to names hoped to represent fair targets for the items or services being promoted. That mailing list might be the dealers own list; it might instead by hired from a mailing list broker or fellow trader. The importance of a good mailing list can never be over-estimated – it is the life blood of effective and profitable direct mail.
When deciding what to sell, it is ironically better to sell something already available from other dealers. Monopoly of stock on offer is of course an ideal situation for which to aim, if that item is also one actually in demand. An item extremely different to those offered by your counterparts in mail order tough, is unlikely to earn you very much by way of profits, if that item has no read market.
In choosing to offer something in the same mould as that your competitors offer, you are of course offering something that someone, somewhere, will already have tested market demand for. You are on fairly safe ground, even if in choosing something similar, you will inevitably be sharing your potential market with many other dealers.
And because you share that vast market place with other traders, here comes to the fore one of the main means by which the astute trader can ensure that his is the firm with which the order is placed.
The trader must therefore endeavour to make his or her offer different in some respect; perhaps by offering a gift or special discount to purchasers, that item being something not available from any other source.
One’s advertising strategy must be planned carefully rom the very outset, by investigation of all publications in which one’s competitor, if any, advertise. The operator is also advised to study the frequency with which specific firms advertise, by what means, at what product prices, whether by display or classified advertising, and so on.
It is essential that advertising is never skimped on;
NO ADVERTISING = NO ORDERS = NO BUSINESS
It is however, equally essential that you do not simply place advertisements haphazardly, without a full and meticulous investigation of the likely suitability of the medium concerned.
Look to those publications in which competitors advertise, particularly those whose advertisements have been placed for some time. Advertisements that stand the test of time are working; from these very same advertisements you may therefore learn a great deal about choice of words and techniques, as well as the selected method of advertising.
Similarly, items that are promoted almost exclusively by direct mail, speak volumes for the effectiveness of this particular marketing method.
This is often the case for business plans which require a substantial outlay from investors, and which might also require much ‘telling’ before ‘selling’ can take place.
So mail order is a learning process, and a business which must never be taken for granted, even when massive and regular profits start coming your way. Learning and striving for improved standards are essential if the successful businessman expects to continue enjoying the fruits of his labours.
A business allowed to stagnate whilst the proprietor takes inordinate periods of time off, albeit deservedly, to enjoy too much in the way of leisure time, is one which will invariably be overtaken by those whose owners put business first, at least until that happy time when the well-established business can indeed be left to run itself for short periods of time, or else can be left in the capable hands of staff the owner’s new found affluence has provided.