direct mail, Marketing

Turning Someday Into Now

What would be your reaction to mailing a hundred or so wedding invitations, and only 2 or 3 people show up?   After celebrating with champagne, a direct mailer would happily plot through the night about doing it again tomorrow.   And maybe bumping up the appetizers a bit.


Every good offer adds an incentive.

The challenge of direct marketing is to create the irresistible offer.    On a Don Corleone level if possible, but within the USPS regs.   The closest I can think of is the IRS: “Tell us how much money you have left and we will take it.”   Their mailbox overfloweth.

The thing is, all the targeting, the overlays, clustering, time-stamping and regression analysis can get you to the right person at the peak of their tumescent desires, yet, they don’t commit.  Why?

MW 2.30

Long after the grapefruit is gone, you can still treasure the free spoon.

It’s the offer, or course.  More to the point, it’s the added incentive offer that pushes the buyer over.

For instance: you may like the idea of four monthly $25 shipments of 15 ruby grapefruit, but you don’t budge.

Then, they throw in a set of 4 serrated, stainless steel grapefruit spoons and you can’t dial fast enough.    Or the showercap company that bowls you over with a “Fast Fifty” deal promising a Mystery Gift to the speediest responders.

That’s how to convert “someday” into “now”.   By the way, serrated spoons are impossible to use on a grapefruit, but once an idea has taken hold…

And give the IRS credit too.   They have learned how to move you from:  “I dream about some day when I will file my return” to  “Jiminy, I gotta do that right now!”

Their incentive offer–jail time!

I recently received a direct mail offer from a funeral service company.   Sorry, “Memorialization Service” company.   A discreet letter promoting the many benefits of cremation.

It is a ticklish subject only made comfortable to discuss, thanks to poet Robert Service.    He penned ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’ so Johnny Cash could recite it to us.

Anyway, the company offers me a free booklet to help me make up my mind.   Am I reaching for my pen?     I don’t think so.


“I took the bill-me-later option!”

But then, they throw in the dealmaker: “WIN a pre-paid cremation.  Return this card etc…   Last month’s winner is…”,  and they go on to identify by name, one lucky fellow who can now pack his bags with confidence.

I won’t call it a barn burner, but it certainly ups the offer.

Still I was a little curious over the difference between winning a free cremation, versus a pre-paid cremation.  Does that mean I forfeit the bill-me-later option?

And then I wondered too, is this transferrable?    Say I was hit by lightning.   Will they do me like a twice-baked potato?

And then, if I did win, how do they break the news?   Did the lucky mope who won last month get told immediately, or is he waking each morning  wondering if today’s the day?     Will it be a knock on the door from the prize committee chairman himself?

“I have good news and bad news, Mr. Brown.”


So I have not quite tipped into the “now” column yet for the cremation offer.

But wait, there IS more!    Way down in the fine print on the reply form–tiny mouse type– is the statement: “Vermont residents may omit return postage.”

There it is!      The final component of the irresistible offer.

Vermont is beautiful in the fall.  I am packing now.


18 thoughts on “Turning Someday Into Now

  1. Dave Bordewick says:


    This campaign might become more complete and effective with some testimonials.

    ” I cremated my husband and couldn’t be happier”
    “Wow, the cremation cost was very low, l was happy not to see my money go up in smoke”



  2. Anita Pursley says:

    Thanks for including me Phil. It’s always good to hear from you and I share your love of direct mail! Btw…you look very relaxed and rested. Jealous!


  3. John Egert says:

    This has been the highlight of my week. You make me laugh and appreciate your passion and humor. I hope to see more surprises like this in my email in box!


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