By Bob Hebeisen
In honor of “Green Monday” (the highest volume shipping day of the year fueled by direct response Christmas purchases), I thought I would post this direct mail campaign accolade from the old days.
This letter really got the warehouse cranking, shipping copies of Alpha Four database application all across the globe!
Some notes about this campaign:
- Karl Freitag was the head writer on this project, he was very generous to give me a co-author credit. I gave him the basic concept (I need your help/David vs. Goliath theme) and then he worked his magic. I also did the technical editing to make sure he was describing technical aspects of the product accurately. Karl was a fantastic direct response writer who cut his teeth on the seminal DAK consumer electronics catalogs of the ’80s and ’90s.
- Some people think direct mail is dead. I don’t think it is dead, but I agree that other methods of marketing have gained higher priority in the B2B marketing arsenal. But I am thankful every day for my direct mail roots because it really galvanized my discipline for setting up testing, tracking costs, analyzing results, and making sure your marketing plan is optimized for driving ROI.
- Lewis and Nelson comment that the headline (“My Name is Richard Rabins and I Need Your Help”) “at once enlists the reader in the writer’s psychological army… what an impressive rapport-builder.” This was a pretty innovative concept, and really differentiates the effort from the standard software sales letter which talks about speeds and feeds. It also gives a plausible explanation for the low price of the software.
- It is a long letter — 4 pages. We tested it against a 2 page letter and the longer letter won.
- Years later I walked into a job interview with a guy named Danny Kastner, who was running a cool little Flash/email marketing boutique agency called POPstick. When Kastner asked me about my professional background, I started explaining that my first job out of college was doing direct mail marketing for a small company called Alpha Software Corporation. He got a far-away look in his eyes and said “I remember those guys… ‘my name is… blah blah blah… and I need your help…’” I couldn’t believe it, but he was reciting back to me the headline of this letter! He actually remembered reading it, even though it was probably 7 or 8 years later. I pulled a copy of the letter out of my briefcase and presented it to him, I had planned to use it as the writing sample they asked for. I was pretty much hired on the spot.
- This book, World’s Greatest Direct Mail Sales Letters (© NTC Business Books, 1996), is still available for purchase and it has tons of great copywriting that is inspirational even to this day.