My name is Louis Allport and I recently spent 80 minutes grilling expert marketer Alex Mandossian. I had one simple goal in mind as I put this together ... to help you have even more success in your online information business.
Let me tell you why I chose to interview Alex Mandossian. There's three reasons...
Reason one - I already knew him, so he was a natural choice.
Reason two - He *really* knows his stuff - I can vouch for that personally since I've consulted with him. And his roster of big name clients speaks for itself.
And reason three - he
has a fantastically effective direct-sales web site ... which he discusses
in detail in the interview. You'll immediately get many tips and tactics that
you can model for your own sites and products to quickly and easily make many
Copyright © 2004 Allport Publishing. All rights reserved.
This publication is distributed with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.
About Alex Mandossian
During the past 12 years, Alex Mandossian has helped his clients generate over $183 million in sales from TV spots, infomercials, QVC and Home Shopping Network, national retail catalogs, space ads in Parade Magazine and USA Weekend, direct mail, Web marketing, and postcards.
Alex's specialty is turning simple mailed postcards into web site traffic, and converting even more web site traffic into a flood of sales.
Visit his web sites at:
Hi Alex ... postcard marketing is your favorite method of promoting an online info-business isn't it?
Well, because most people who do business online, they look for traffic online, but when all their online sources have dried up or when all their competitors are stealing their traffic away, there's only one place to go which is where everybody really lives -- in the real world.
And a postcard is a very simple, fast, economic way to cut though all the noise and clutter of the internet world and really seduce someone from their mailbox to start communicating through their email box.
It is true actually ... with all the options of internet promotion, people forget that it's good to get to people straight through mail ... they forget about promoting in the real world.
Well, I call it clicks and mortar marketing and that's a term that Charles Schwab the investment brokerage firm coined back in the mid-90's, and mortar is the real world term and clicks is the virtual-world term so when you marry both you have clicks and mortar marketing.
So I find that to be one of the fastest and easiest ways to generate more website traffic, and better sources of prospects, and higher paying clients, than just to the internet marketing community, because most of the people online do research and they're used to getting things for free whereas in the real world we normally pay for things.
Okay. I've got a lot of questions about that, but do you mind if I go back a bit, a bit of background for you ... could you tell me about your background please?
Sure. I am in my late 30's and in my early 20's I started in the infomercial business. An infomercial is a 28 minute and 30 second commercial that looks like an editorial magazine on television, and back in the early 90's there were certain FTC, Federal Trade Commission I think it's called, there were certain regulations that were removed that allowed advertisers to fill in these half hour slots.
And so I was involved in campaigns like the Ronco Food Dehydrator, there was all the short-form spots like the Thighmaster and the Topsy-Tail, the Doctors Book Of Home Remedies from Rodell Press and Time Life Wild Animals series on video.
Short form and long form television, that's where I started, and then I eventually moved into direct-mail because in direct-mail you need to learn how to write copy and to build the lifetime value of customers whereas on television you're only interested in stopping the clicker and grabbing some money out of their wallet, right?
So I learned how to do the front-end which was capturing attention, that was in television, and I learned how to do the backend which was writing copy which I still do, and that was in direct mail.
And once the internet came about I thought the best way I could marry both worlds is to capture attention with 200 words or less, with a picture, which is kind of putting a website or a television ad, in still-form, on a postcard - which I call billboards by mail. And on the back a very brief message for them to come to a website and read more or for them to call into a telephone with a recorded message, or for them to call you directly.
Plus of course a postcard - it's very easy to act on. Rather than a letter which can be a bit messy, especially if it's several pages, they can just pop the postcard on their computer keyboard and just see the link in front of them, and easily type it in.
You know Louis, I believe that the postcard is the fastest, easiest, most economical way to dramatically increase any information entrepreneurs sales or profits, without spending any more money on marketing, promotion, or advertising. Because it costs less to send, it can be in full color, and the message is very brief and it arrives naked without an envelope - there's no envelope to open.
I've had people purchase my Market With Postcards course who were mail carriers, you know mail men? It's the most amazing story. He read a solicitation - there was no envelope covering the message, and he called from his cell phone...
He says "I'm on my carrier route, I'm about to deliver this postcard and I'm interested in starting a home business. I'm interested in your course, can you tell me more about it?"
And I said "Before I do I want a testimonial from you because this is amazing that this is happening right now."
So if that's not testimony to a postcard and the power of it, I don't know what is.
Yes, that's a very quick response.
And it's not even to the intended responder. It's to the carrier.
Out of interest ... let's take an example, your website Marketing With Postcards -- how did you choose an audience to send postcards to, to promote that, and what was your message?
That's a good question. I think the question before that is why did I choose to be a postcard marketing expert?
And the story is ... it's a true story but it's not that interesting. What happened was in looking at all the marketing gurus or experts in the marketplace for information publishing, I found that there was a space advertisement guru - okay that's Ted Nicholas and many, many others.
I saw that there was a direct marketing guru - that's like Jay Abraham and Dan Kennedy. I saw that there was an internet marketing guru - there's many of them: Declan Dunn, Mark Joyner, Jonathan Mizel, Ken McCarthy, they're all out there.
And so I couldn't compete because these people had already burned in their brand into the minds of all the small home-based businesses and information publishers and all the small business people that buy information from them. I couldn't compete...
"Who's Alex Mandossian and why should I listen to him?"
But there was one area that I think had been overlooked and only a few people had even attempted to become a guru in that area and that was in postcard marketing. It was just an area that was overlooked and so this was an area I knew a lot about, this was an area I'd made a lot of money from over the years working on Madison Avenue in New York as Chief Marketing Officer of a company there and I figured why don't I just write a book? I'm so busy doing, why don't I teach?
Because I enjoy teaching, I come from a family of teachers. The only reason I didn't do it before Louis is because it didn't pay a lot of money right? So I figured why don't I write a book and I can make money while I sleep and still teach for people who want ongoing education, from the people who purchase the book, so I write Market With Postcards and I teamed up with a digital printer in Virginia called Printworld and in this joint venture I teach people how to create a postcard marketing plan, how to find the right prospects, all the postal regulations, what the postcard looks like, a bonus CD-ROM that shows you how to write postcards personalized from your own computer rather than having to buy them from a printer, and I had to put it all together.
You know it's about 204 pages and the purpose of the book was getting my mind into someone's library where they can take that book out and flip through it every single day on postcard marketing ...
So when I walk into a room now in a conference setting, some publications have considered me one of the top ten freelance direct marketers in America - you know as a freelancer. I love to be known as that because that's a big ego boost but that's not what people say ... because there's too many freelance direct marketers right?
They say "Hey look, that's Alex - he's the postcard guru". Which I don't always like to be, because it seems almost childlike. What's a postcard, it's like Disneyland right?
But I found that if we don't pigeon-hole ourselves then other people are going to pigeon-hole us by themselves so I got into postcard marketing because that niche was open as a level of expertise. There's about 4 or 5 of us I think in the country that have written books and teach this and I happen to think my information is pretty good and I even give away 3 free chapters on the website so people can test it before they decide to go for it.
I've downloaded those myself. So when did you start specializing in postcards?
About seven years ago.
Oh, so long ago?
Yes, seven years ago I wrote a headline on the face of a postcard that made a whitening toothpaste in America, the number one whitening toothpaste sold in day spas and salons. And most people have never heard of it because unless you go to a day spa or salon you probably haven't seen it.
Some dentists sell it and there's a website for it as well, but the name of the product is Supersmile, it's still out there. I don't work with the company any more but they're on Madison Avenue and I worked with them for 8 years and one postcard that I wrote that was a 6 inch by 9 inch postcard sent to day spas in the US created a runaway hit success for this product. Should I share the headline with you?
Okay. This headline came about when I was taking a shower and it just hit me like all great headlines come, right? If you're walking your dog, you're playing with your kids, a headline will hit you from your subconscious and you have to write it down.
Well the problem in day spas is that they have products for skin, for the eyes, for the hair, for the toes, for the fingernails, everything, body wraps ... but what good is perfect skin and perfect hair if you don't have a perfect smile?
That's the headline. And it was embraced because it filled a hole that had been overlooked by every other marketer and oral care manufacturer, worldwide.
So we tackled the niche just the way I tackled the postcard niche, as a marketing area, and we went after the day spas which Crest and Colgate don't care about those people, there's only like 2,500 of them in the country. I'm talking US alone right now.
And so we found that these people pay by credit card, so we don't have to keep terms with them, you know 30 day or 60 day billing - we don't have to do that. And they had the power of touch because they do massages and they have aestheticians who actually help sell the product and they recommend it, so with the worlds most expensive whitening toothpaste, which it was - it's about $16 - what's an extra sixteen bucks to put into the bag for a women who's spending about $200 in a visit?
So we found the target market, we found the medium -- a postcard. Because it's a postcard we could have full color before and after pictures - we had a beautiful product shot and on the flip side all it was, in bold face print was the headline:
"What good is perfect skin and perfect hair, if you don't have a perfect smile?"
And that's how it all started.
And what response option was there?
The response was to call in and get a free sample of the product. That was the call to action.
Now since then I've helped an e-business triple it's click-through rates -- there was a software company that was specializing in search engine optimization, and they dedicated all of their marketing dollars towards banner advertising and affiliate programs and ezines etc, etc, and after about 16 months of doing this they found that their click-through rate fell about 48% and it really was disturbing because their opt-in database, you know the opt-in people? ... they were defecting by about 10% per month.
So the action we took to boost traffic was we mailed out a couple thousand full color personalized postcards and we lured prospects into a password protected web page to download a 168 page PDF special report, much like my website.
The total campaign cost them less than $1,000 -- it went to their own opt-in database so they weren't strangers, they were existing customers and the click-through rates of that campaign helped increase the click-through rates for all the other campaigns that followed by 328% within 9 days of the mailing.
Now the CEO was skeptical because he never did snail mail but he found that postcards made him look real instead of just virtual to his customers. And that's how we tripled click-through rates just using ordinary postcards, with a search engine optimizer.
So, you sent 2,000 postcards out - is that right?
2,000. I think it was 2,100 total. That was the beta test and that cost less than $925 I believe.
Right. And that went to existing customers?
That is correct.
For a special report about search engine optimization?
That is correct. It was actually an ebook.
So the report had a lot of good information to gain more trust with the customer, to build the relationship?
For life. To build the relationship for life.
And as you say it had a very good result.
Well absolutely, because the postcard is physical and they weren't used to getting physical mail from this particular company.
See, I tell this story when I lecture ... there's probably no one busier than Bill gates of Microsoft. Is that fair to assume? I mean he's the richest man in the world and there's probably no one who wants more attention from him than all the other CEO's and people around the world, than Bill Gates -- everyone wants Bill Gates' attention, right?
Okay, so let's play a little game in our minds. What if your life depended on Bill Gates coming to your website and clicking a button that was just there?
Okay - could be any button, but your life depended on it. In fact, someone was holding a gun to your head and said "You have only one chance to get Bill Gates or someone from his office to click this link on your website -- you only get one chance. It's up to you on how to do it but how are you going to do it?".
So let's say you have your hands tied, let's say your mouth is covered and someone is holding a gun to your head and you only have one sobering chance to get Bill Gates' attention. And you know he's the busiest man in the world - what are you going to do?
Do you send him an email? Do you run the risk of being one of 3,300 that he gets every single day and all of them are deleted with the single push of a delete key and it ends up in cyberspace to disappear forever?
Would you send him an email and run the risk of losing your life because he didn't understand your subject line or you were just part of the whole clutter that he gets? You know his assistant reads all his emails. Probably has 5, 6 assistants right?
So you wouldn't send him an email if your life depended on it, so that option's out.
How about snail mail? Would you send him a piece of mail in an envelope during the days of anthrax and run the risk of that envelope never getting opened? It would go through the mail room and probably end up in the junk pile and there would be nothing that could get them to open the mail and save your life to come to your website.
How about a phone call? Would you run the risk of trying to get through to Bill Gates - probably you have to figure out what phone number to call 'cos they have thousands and then imagine the person on the other end and their reaction when you say "Hi, may I speak to Bill Gates please?". I don't think you'd have a shot at getting through with the phone.
I don't think so, no.
Okay, if email doesn't work, if a phone call doesn't work, if snail mail doesn't work, how about a postcard?
What if you sent a postcard that said "Help - my life is depending on you visiting this website and clicking this submit button. I don't care if you don't believe me, you risk nothing by doing this. Even Mr. Gates, if your eyes aren't seeing this then any of the assistants, the mail man, the person in the mail room, please come to this website and press this button so I can save my life and I can go back to my children and wife." Okay?
Now if you put that on a postcard, who's going to see that message? The post office is, so maybe the post office attendant will go online and save your life. The mail man who delivers it is. Maybe the mail man will go and save your life. His assistants - the people in the mail room at Microsoft are going to see it.
Maybe it'll be held so important because it's naked and it's not clothed in an envelope and it's in full color -- maybe it's a picture of you held hostage on the postcard and it really is causing alarm and Mr. gates actually gets online to press the submit key on the website.
Whatever the case may be ... you may have a mail man, the person in the mail room, Bill Gates' assistant and Bill Gates himself, maybe 4, 5 or 6 different people to go online and actually take advantage of the power of that postcard that email couldn't do, that mail couldn't do - snail mail with envelopes, and that a phone call couldn't do. Do you see the sheer power of what a postcard has?
I do, yes. And I think - as you say, one of the most powerful things about it is the pass-along effect and how it does get seen by everyone it does get passed on to.
Well it's like a magazine in a doctors office, it's passed on and on and on, and if there's any advertisement in that magazine more than one person will buy.
I've noticed especially, you may agree with me on this ... it seems just from spending time on the internet, that marketing with postcards is actually becoming a hotter and hotter subject at the minute. More and more people seem to be asking about it -- I've noticed that in forums. I think perhaps that's to differentiate themselves from the mass of emails people are getting.
Well, you know, how many postcards do you get a day? I mean you're in England ... I get in America, I get about one or two postcards a day. I get about 25 letters a day. And I get about 250 emails a day. So what marketing medium has less competition? So if you get to cut through the noise and the clutter then you're going to get your message across.
I might remind you that 25 years back there were only 4 running shoe styles. Today there's over 290. There were only 17 over the counter pain relievers, today there's over 140. There were only 20 major soft drink brands. These days there's over 100. There were only 4 types of milk and today there's over 30. There were only 14 choices in McDonalds menu, today there's over 63. And dental floss, there were only 12 major brands of dental floss 25 years ago, and today there's over 70.
The key to remember is ... of the 40,000 different types of products in a supermarket, 85% of your needs are going to be fulfilled by only 150 types of products in that supermarket. That means you're ignoring 39,850 marketing messages every time you make a trip to the supermarket right?
So if you're one of those products, you want to sell a shoe, well if you want to sell it online, if you just send email people may just delete it haphazardly. But if you send a picture of that shoe to the person's house and you say:
"Look, you may not want this shoe but if you go online we'll send you half a dozen pairs of shoelaces just for going online and registering."
Well, if they decide to do that then you've got their email address and their name and you no longer have to send them a postcard, all you do is keep communicating with them with email and show them the latest shoe styles on your website.
So any commodity product from shoes to poodle-grooming to information publishing to real estate to life insurance - anything ... can be sold with a postcard.
I have one gentleman who sold a newsletter with a postcard. He's a veteran marketer and he had a targeted list -- he sent out 5,000 pieces and he did it for $1,000; not $4,000 which is the typical standard packaging with the direct mail piece, and his offer was 3 free newsletter issues and there were several valuable bonuses.
Now the postcard was just mailed to people and it was a two-step mailing. Okay, they would respond and they'd say "Yeah I want the 3 free issues". The 3 free issues would come in with a sales letter and he had a fantastic conversion for the newsletter which was $299.
Now here's what happened - after monetizing the postcards that he sent out he figured that for every 21c postcard that was mailed he got $4 back. Now that's a heck of a return on investment right?
Very much so.
Now if he sent a letter instead of a postcard, that envelope may have never gotten opened. So we don't compete with people's curiosity we just compete with their decision making: "Do I want it, or don't I want it?"
The only way that they can make that decision is if they read the message and they can't read the message if it's hidden inside an envelope. They can if it's right there on a postcard and they decide within 7 seconds or less that "Yes I want this".
Okay. One question that comes to mind is since Dan Kennedy is a big advocate of direct mail, as you mentioned earlier -- he likes the plain letter, stamped, hand-written address, just so you don't tip anyone off that it's promotional...
Do you think there's a danger with postcards - because obviously it is open so people see the message immediately and it's also immediate to see that it's not personal, it is advertising. Do you think that causes any problems?
Well, it's an interesting point, and the reason that Dan Kennedy and I think Gary Halbert has talked about this for years - they want to make that envelope not look like an advertisement so that you open it. When you open it, you know it's an advertisement right?
Okay, what if the letter came in without an envelope, then it's just an advertisement right?
So that's what a postcard is. A postcard is a naked letter and a lot of people advocate doing black and white postcards and doing it very inexpensively. I don't. I find that color really intrigues people and I don't like to put anything on the billboard side which is the picture side of the postcard. I don't like to put anything that is related to the topic.
For example if you're into financial planning and you're an information publisher for financial planning - I don't like to put a picture on the other side that has dollar bills on it. Here's what I do:
I'll put a picture of a penguin and behind the penguin there are maybe 25 pink flamingos. Okay, now when you get a postcard like this and you see this picture it interrupts your pattern - you go "Huh?" And that stops you. That's the job of the picture. That's the job of the billboard - is to stop you.
And then I have a headline that reads "Ever Want A Financial Planner That Stands Out Of The Crowd?" or "Looking For A Financial Planner That Stands Out Of The Crowd?". Here's a penguin, in a completely different climate in front of all these flamingos.
Well if you got that Louis and you were looking for a financial planner and you're in that mode of thinking you would look at that, and it would interrupt you and you'd say "Huh, that's strange" and you would read that and you'd shrug your shoulders and you'd wonder "I wonder what this is all about?" and then you would do the magic of what that billboard was trying to get you to do, is turn the postcard over.
You can put a headline on the front or you don't have to have one as long as the picture completely interrupts and confuses the person in stopping them and not throwing that piece away. Turning it over, that's it's only job - is to turn that billboard over.
For example if you're selling information products to other entrepreneurs - I use this a lot - I have a stealth bomber, you know the stealth bomber? And it says "Want To Beat Your Competitors While Going Undetected?".
Okay. So if the answer is yes and you have a stealth bomber which has a mental image attached to it, right? Battle - which marketing is, it's a battle, then you turn that over and then your first 50 words are the most important.
If you get them with the first 50 then they're going to continue to read, and you never try to get someone to buy your product from a postcard, you just try to get them to the next step in the buying process like visiting a website or calling a recorded message or perhaps calling you to set up a free consultation.
So you use it always as part of a two-step system?
It could be 2, 3, 4, 5 step. It depends. Would you like an example of a two-step?
I have a client in Los Angeles, California. He's a coach and what he does is he coaches industrial or commercial real estate brokers how to build their businesses. He's very expensive. He charges $3,000 a month. So he wanted to do a postcard campaign so what we did is we developed a four step campaign - one postcard every week, with a different message.
Now this is an important point as an aside - your best friend right now, was once a stranger and the only thing that makes your best friend a best friend is frequency, frequency of meeting that person, frequency of loving that person, frequency of talking to that person. Of all the people that you know about 20% of them you talk to more often. Of all the relatives you have you probably talk to just a few of them and that frequency gets you closer to them, correct?
Postcards allow for frequency so a one time message isn't always the way to go, because that doesn't model life, that doesn't mirror the way human beings are used to trusting each other. So by having four messages, one per week, my client started to engender trust.
So here's what's very interesting - instead of figuring out how to sell them, what we did is we figured out how they buy. So instead of focusing on our sales process we focused on their buying process and I tell people: "You need to be a prospect pleaser. Always be a prospect pleaser." You know how people are people pleasers? I tell people you'll never have to go into a psychotherapy session if you're a prospect pleaser.
What do you mean by that exactly?
What I mean by that is please your prospects at all cost. Whatever it takes please them. And it's not what and how you have to sell something that's important, it's what and how your prospects wish to buy that's important.
So this is what we did: together I analyzed his buying process and many times we can't analyze our own prospects buying processes because we're too close to it, you see? So I asked him a few questions...
I said "Bill, do you have any clients right now?"
He says "Of course I do Alex."
I said "Great, how would you like to get them to talk to you?"
He says "I want them to go to my website."
I said "Do any of them go to your website now?"
He said "No."
I said "Well, if you have no clients that have gone to your website and if you've acquired no clients through your website why do you want them to go to your website?"
"Because I want to create that system."
"But that has never worked before has it?"
"No, well I want to do it."
I said "Let's go with what works, maybe they're not comfortable in commercial real-estate coaching to go to a website to buy from you. Maybe it just doesn't work in this particular niche."
So do you see what I did? I didn't want to create a new wheel, I wanted to work with the existing wheel that they had. So what we did is we asked the question again:
"Jim, how do people come to you if they're a customer or a client?"
He says "They always call me."
I said "Fantastic - now we've found out the call to action - Please Call." Okay? So we set up the office hours and we put: "Please call between 9am and 5pm PST" and these were all people that were going to be in Los Angeles since it's commercial real estate in the LA area so they're all in the same time zone and it was a local call of course because they're all in LA, and that was the call to action.
So that part was done. Now we have the problem of what are we going to say? How do we entice them?
So I asked Jim, "Jim, after they call you what happens with all your existing clients for them to become a client?"
He says "I sell them on the phone."
I said "You sell them $3,000 worth of coaching a month on the phone, on the first phone call?"
He said "Yes, after we have lunch together."
I said "Wait a minute - you don't sell them on the phone, you have lunch with them don't you?"
He says "That's correct."
I said "Have you had lunch with every client before they've signed?"
He says "Absolutely, I even buy lunch."
So guess what? We figure out the headline. The headline was "Call And Find Out If You're Eligible To Get Me To Buy You Lunch". That was it. I'm paraphrasing, but do you see the methodology?
Very, very simple, no tricks, it's not in our heads, it's actually coming from the prospects and the way they're used to behaving and the postcard had nothing more than some full color pictures of things that didn't make sense like penguins and peacocks and stealth bombers and a chalk board that had something written on it like "Everything You Know About Marketing Is Wrong" and they turn those billboard sides over and they read the message of "Call Me And I May Buy You lunch If You Qualify To Be Part Of My Coaching Team".
That was it. No fancy, manipulative sales tactics, and guess what? He mailed to 1,300 people, 4 postcards, one per week, and he picked up a dozen $3,000 clients. I don't need to tell you, the return on investment. It's over $30,000 for less than $3,000 invested.
That's quite amazing.
It is amazing. But does it always happen? No. But when does it happen? When we find out the prospects buying process.
Okay. So an important question about that is how do you choose who to send the postcards to?
Well, the first thing you do is you ask yourself "Who is the least likely to resist my message?". In this case there's a trade organization in Los Angeles of commercial real estate brokers of which Jim, my client, was the president a few years back.
So he went to that publisher and he said "I'd like to mail to your list because I know everyone's a commercial broker and everyone probably has heard of, or needs coaching."
So Jim Galespy had a color picture of him, and he said "Past President" and he named the trade organization. So we picked that target market because they had an affinity for commercial real estate coaching and they were all within his vicinity. So that's how we chose them.
So you say there were four postcards, did they relate to one another, or did they each have a completely separate message?
Remember, each message a week before is forgotten a few minutes after they're thrown away. So to have a message every week on a continuity basis absolutely makes no sense.
The only thing that changed Louis is he said that there were only 15 slots available for the next 90 days, and every postcard the slots diminished in numbers so the first postcard said 15 slots available, the next one said nine slots, the third one said 6 slots, and the final one said 3 slots, so that was the only thing that changed.
So there was no breaking up the sales message -- it was the same benefits each time with pretty much the same headline - it was just a more urgent call to action?
I look at it this way. The answer is yes. I look at it: If you tell your future wife or husband "I love you" in the same way many times they'll begin to believe it after the 100th time. So in this case they believed "I love you" after the 4th time. It's the same thing.
Why did you choose 4 times. I guess of course it was due to the value of what's being sold?
That's a good question. The reason I chose 4 is because the way printing is set up 4 was cheaper than doing 3 or 2 and he didn't want to pay for 8 or 6. So we chose 4 because we thought that after 4 weeks if they didn't go for the offer then we wouldn't go for it.
Louis, I've done 16 times. One per day. 16. Now I've done this, I don't know anyone else that does it, but I try to get some of the advertising firms like Foote, Cone & Belding and the major firms like J. Walter Thompson in the San Francisco bay area to hire me as a postcard marketing expert as an outside source for any of their clients who want to do postcards.
So what I did, and there's really no group of marketing organizations that are more arrogant than advertising organizations, I'm sure you know that. And so there were about 25 major ones in San Francisco. I sent the CEO, the CFO, and the CMO which is the Chief Marketing Officer one postcard per day, and it was a countdown...
On the first day it's the 16th reason why they should do business with Heritage House Publishing. The next day it was reason number 15. After that reason number 14. 13. 12. 10-9-8-7-6 ... it was a countdown and each postcard had a reason, and a postcard marketing tip so even if they didn't want to do business with me I was giving them a tip that they could take to the bank with their own in-house services.
Let me tell you something ... some people called me up and said "Stop sending me postcards, we're not interested" and I thanked my personal God for that phone call because in nine days I figured out they're not a customer rather than protracting it out over 9 months of perspiration and headache and frustration. Right?
I failed as fast as I could and I did it in 9 days instead of 9 months. That was wonderful.
Now I got another species of call and that was from someone who said "Okay, you got us, you're persistent, if you work this way with our own clients, we're interested in talking to you, let's talk business".
And then I got a third type of call that said "Hey, we accidentally threw away reason number 4, can you send us another one just like that?"
So I thought that it was a very, very effective method. Now I don't recommend this to business to consumer because you'll probably scare them, they'll think you're a terrorist or something you know, but business to business, if you want to really get their attention, they're going to throw away half the mail anyway whether it's a postcard or an envelope, might as well send it to them every day.
And you can create a message ... for example, if you're in the business of doing printing, and you have a new type of German digital printer in your facility that allows people to do very small runs at a very cheap price, what I would do is I would send to all your customers that you have, a puzzle, and it would be a 8 postcard puzzle which would be maybe 2 by 4 or something like that and it would be a picture of the printing machine, the digital printer right?
And each day you would send a piece of that and it would be putting together the piece of the puzzle so "This is piece one to the puzzle that's going to reduce your printing costs by over 50%" . After the 8th day they'll have a picture of what that solution is and it's a very creative way to get new business. Does that make sense?
It does, yes.
If you're a printer you can do some very, very creative things with postcards that you can't do with direct mail.
So sending out postcards, you say on one side there's a picture and maybe or maybe not the headline there, otherwise it's on the other side. How many words can you get on the other side?
That's a good question. You can get probably 750 words if you can put it in 8 point type.
Do you recommend the more the better?
No. See, some people talk about "The more you tell the more you sell". That's a lie. I've never found that to be true. I've found that it's "The more they read, the more they'll need". Or on a website "The longer they stay, the more they'll pay".
But it's not "the more you tell the more you sell" because if you're giving them information that they don't find worthwhile they'll stop reading after the first 50 words. But if you find that you're giving them worthwhile information they'll read the first 50, and the first 1,000, and the first 2,000.
The point of a postcard is to capture attention instantly and not give the complete message. It's to give them a hint or curiosity piece to go to the next step along their buying process. Well, my postcards usually never have more than 250 words, the majority have less than 100 words. My most successful postcard ever, only had 35 words.
So that would be a headline, and not much else really?
That would be that "Alex Mandossian is trying to get a hold of you, please call within 8am to 5pm PST ... here's the phone number". That was it. So they read that and they called up and they said "What is this all about?"
So it's the curiosity approach.
You mentioned briefly earlier that approximately, for color postcards, they're about 21 cents each.
In the US, the postage for up to 4 1/4 by 6 inch postcard, first class mail, is 21 cents right now, and we're in January of the year 2002.
Do you get an outside person to do the design - how does it work for the actual picture?
Well, in my course, there are over 500 designs that are a template and they can choose from that. I have my printer print designs and they do it very quickly with their digital printer.
I don't really think that design is as important as the copy. There are plenty of pictures that will elicit curiosity and get them to turn that card over so that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg with design. If you're focusing on design you're focusing on the wrong thing.
Focus on the prospect and what message is going to get them to call you, to go to your website, or to listen to a recorded message and you'll find that design has a lot less to do with that response.
Really, there are several elements that are important in a postcard...
The first element is - "How much white space am I going to have?" And that's where leaving out is more important than putting in. So white space is extremely important.
The second thing is "What's your headline going to be?". Is it going to be a question headline, is it going to be an offer headline, an invitation headline - to come into a retail store ... you know "Bring this in and you'll save 20% on everything in the store for 2 hours on Tuesday"? That's called a special invitation postcard. We do that a lot.
Is it going to be a play on words? The best play on words I did was with a frozen yogurt shop, which was "Have An Ice Day" I-C-E day, right? Instead of "Have A Nice Day". Those are cute, but they don't usually get a response.
A testimonial headline works great. The headline is very, very important. We know that because if they don't read the headline of course they're not going to keep reading it so you've got to know what the headline's going to be.
So the white space, the headline, believe it or not the return address, is one of the first places people look ... they want to see if they recognize you. If you put your phone number on your return address area we found that just putting the phone number in makes a big difference in people responding.
Yes. Because they know that you're not trying to hide. So if you have a phone number for them to call to buy the product, and then a home number for your home office, we found that in the return address area if you put the phone number, it's a big, big plus.
It's also a big plus these days in a post office that's quarantined because of an Anthrax scare because they can call you and they can say "Sorry, your postcard's in quarantine" and at least you know what's going on. It has happened before.
Two questions, but they're really very related ... almost the same question. First one: Is if you don't mind sharing this information ...
How did you promote your Marketing With Postcards site?
And basically the same question, but from a different angle: Somebody with an info-product and that wanted to sell it on the Net, how would you recommend they use postcards to sell more of it?
Okay, both are good questions. The way I sold my book initially was to contact the people I know within the information publishing community, some of the big names, and just inform them that this book is available.
Well guess what? No one bought it. "Oh that's nice Alex but I'm not really sure I want to spend $247". And I don't blame them. You know, most of them are millionaires but why do they want to read a 204 page book? So my contacts in the business did not help the sales.
I put up a site that had a very good name: MarketingWithPostcards.com and every client, every solicitation, every article, every speech, every direct mail letter or postcard, every ad I've ever written ever since that time has had www.MarketingWithPostcards.com - my signature, you know ... going out with email, has the address.
Now, I don't sell the course when I'm sending something. This is a very important point. What I do is I sell the download for 3 free chapters. That's it. So if you were to get an email from me at the very bottom it would say:
Want to repeatedly win the hearts of MORE cash-paying customers even if you're on a shoestring budget? To find out how, please download 3 FREE chapters of Alex Mandossian's new crash-course at http://www.marketingwithpostcards.com
And so my offer is 3 free chapters, and I get about ... this is embarrassing to admit ... but I get less than 100 unique visitors a day. Alright?
I sell about 3 courses a day. Now that's close to $1,000 a day. After 90 days when they go through my sales process and my consulting - I'm not an expensive consultant as far as the guru's go but I'm not cheap - I charge $250 an hour American, okay. I mean, you know because you've hired me before.
And after they purchase my book, after they've gotten all the free bonuses: I do give them some consulting time; I find that they start referring my book to other people by saying "Get 3 free chapters of Alex Mandossian's book - it's a great book".
And so it's like a germ, it's like a virus, and it just keeps germinating and after 90 days each book ... I've monetized ... as over $1,000. Because that person has spent at least 4, 5 hours of consulting time with me, or perhaps they've used me for one of their campaigns. Some people don't even buy the book they just hire me outright to coach them.
For every book I sell, at this moment, in January of 2002, after 90 days it's worth $1,020. Just do the math. I sell 3 books a day, so it's a very profitable business, if not the only business I do and from the seed of putting this thing online in April it has been a five-figure cash profit website getting less than 100 visitors a day.
I think I'm going to do a course, a 2-day teleclass on how to make a five-figure cash profit income every month for the rest of your life with a website that only gets 100 unique visitors a day.
I think a lot of people would be interested in that because everyone's always talking about traffic - I like to focus on qualified traffic and 3 out of 10 people who land on my site get the 3 chapters. I've about a 30% opt-in rate because people are looking for postcard marketing.
For example if you went to Yahoo.com and you wrote 'postcard marketing' my site would pop-up first. If you went to Yahoo and you did 'direct mail' I'm one of the sponsored sites and you'll see that you could click to me.
There are very few people searching for postcard marketing. Very few. But those who are, want it, and they want it now. So if I give them 3 chapters and they're so intoxicating and they're so good, which they are, you know I give plenty of examples, just those 3 chapters can put you on the road to profits using postcard marketing without the book, which ultimately I want.
But if you feel you're missing out and want the whole course, you want to have my mentoring in the process, you know a free hour of mentoring and a $150 free gift certificate with a printing company I work with, all the bonuses and the spread-sheets and templates ... well it will take you back close to $250 that is guaranteed for life.
When you receive it, if you don't like the color of it you can return it and I'll write you a check.
Now this is a very important point and it has less to do with postcard marketing as it does with just plain old marketing: People often ask me Louis "What is the guarantee that I should offer ... how long should it be?"
And I tell them ... well you answer the question ... let me ask you this question:
If you just acquired a customer and you were almost like God and you knew in the recesses of their mind they were going to return the product no matter what. Right? No matter what, no matter how good your course was they're going to return it.
If you have this type of customer and you have a 30 day guarantee, versus a 90 day unconditional money back guarantee, which guarantee puts more pressure on that customer to return that product sooner? The 30 day, or the 90 day?
The shorter one.
The 30 day, correct? Okay so if you knew you have the same customer and they're going to return the product anyway, what puts more pressure on them to return it and for you to refund them if you had a 90 day guarantee or a 1 year guarantee?
It'll be the 90 day.
Okay, and what would put more pressure between a 1 year and a lifetime?
It'll be the year.
So is there any question whatsoever in your mind that the only guarantee worth a damn, is the lifetime guarantee, even if you knew beforehand that the customer was going to return it. There's no reason not to have a lifetime guarantee.
And if you want another reason - here it is ... if you want a customer for 30 days, then offer them a 30 day guarantee. Because you're only guaranteeing your work for 30 days. If you want a customer for 90 days, then guarantee it for 90 days. If you want to have a customer trust you for life, then why not guarantee that product for life?
Because if they return the product they're no longer a customer so they're telling you: don't send me mail and don't waste your time on me any more. And you didn't lose any money in the process. You just had to return money back. And they're probably saving you hundreds of dollars in the future because they're never going to respond to you.
So when it comes to guarantees, a lifetime guarantee is the only guarantee worthwhile.
So that's what you have with your course?
If they don't like the cover. I'll return it. Any reason. I don't care.
So that's part of the offer of course ... out of interest how did you test the offer, or put the offer together? Was it quite a slow methodical testing process?
I do what all great marketers do, and I don't think I'm a great marketer but I think I'm a pretty good marketer ... I asked.
I asked people "If there were a course on postcard marketing - if it was a definitive course with full color pictures and if it had templates on a CD-ROM that you can use from your own home so you can send postcards from your own computer, would that be of interest to you?"
A lot of people said yes. And then I asked them the magic question: "Why would that be important to you?"
And guess what? I got hundreds of benefits - I got a hundred reasons why.
From your customers?
Yes. And if you go to my web page MarketingWithPostcards.com you will see every one of those benefits in bullets down the page.
I asked another question ... "Why wouldn't you buy it?" They gave me a list of reasons. Those reasons are also on my web page...
If you never intend on using postcards, do not buy this course. If you never intend on building website traffic through direct mail, do not buy this course. If you never intend to send a color postcard by mail, this course is not for you...
But if you want the fastest, easiest, most economical to dramatically increase your sales and profits without spending an extra dime on advertising, then Market With Postcards belongs in your library. And if you don't think it does, 5 years from now, you call me back, and I'll write you a check. Is that fair?
That's a good deal by anyone's standards.
I think the burden of risk is on my shoulders where it should be, not on yours.
And I think it's good actually ... whereas a lot of sites offer maybe one chapter - the fact you offer 3 chapters and it is in fact a lot of information, not just introduction - it actually starts getting into the meat of the subject, I think that people start trusting you there.
I don't hold back. I mean I invite anyone listening to this, or reading this to go to MarketingWithPostcards.com and just download the 3 free chapters.
Okay ... actually, I have to ask about that ... let me look at your website ... on your site you ask for the name, email and zip code ...
Yes I ask for the zip code because in America I can know how much disposable income someone has by giving me their zip code.
So obviously you send them the information, do you then put them into an autoresponder sequence?
I most certainly do. My assistant Sabrina Price has written a nice little autoresponder sequence ... and a lot of people say "You can't send autoresponders every single day".
That's absolutely false. I send one every single day, 26 days in a row, and a lot of people continue ... I mean if they don't opt out by the 5th day, 80% of the people stay on that sequence, and all I'm trying to do with that sequence is get them to read the chapters.
There are tips in there and I say ... and I give them a little 30 word spiel - you know on the autoresponder sequence. I'm going to go on my autoresponder sequence now and I'm going to read to you some of the things I have so I can bring value to your listeners and readers. So for example the first message is all the information, if they downloaded the information correctly, right?
Then postcard tip number 21, here it is ...
Want to discover the fastest, easiest, and most economical way postcards help you grab the undivided attention of your shyest prospects and customers?
Take 50 seconds and read the first four paragraphs on PAGE 8 from your MARKET WITH POSTCARDS(tm) 3 free chapter download.
Okay, that's it. Next tip:
Want to discover how to survive -- and even thrive -- during ANY economic slump, downswing, or recession? It's easier than you think ...
Take 40 seconds and read the first three paragraphs on PAGE 9 from your MARKET WITH POSTCARDS(tm) 3 free chapter download.
See, so often we download information and we don't read it. I try to get people to consume the chapters.
So as well as giving tips in the emails, you're also offering a quick reminder?
That's the only reason why people opt out - I don't give any tips in the emails, I give a headline. The tip is actually buried inside the 3 free chapters.
If I gave the tip in the email then I'm not giving any value to my course but if they go and re-read the tip in the course then they see that the course has value.
And it's much like, if anyone is religious when they read the bible at age 10, it has different meaning to them when they read it at age 30. Let's say if they're a Christian. So if you were going to a bible course and you were given new insight you can read the same words, let's say like The Sermon On The Mount, you can read the same words, and they have different meaning to you.
So all I'm trying to do is give different meaning to what I consider to be the postcard marketing bible.
Interesting. A point I'd like to ask you about ... I'm on the mailing list of is it T.W.I. Press, or TWI-Press?
T.W.I. Press, yes.
And in his newsletter he mentioned your course a couple of times and a very interesting point he mentioned is the conversion rate, but especially the conversion rate of your order form and how that's specially been designed to maximize the orders.
I thought that was a very interesting point and perhaps a lot of people don't pay enough attention to the order form.
Louis, they don't pay attention to the order form. I will tell you, I've been writing order forms in direct mail for about 13 years. The one person, and he's now a close friend of mine, who changed the way I look at order forms, is a gentleman by the name of Mark Joyner.
And Mark Joyner of course is CEO of Aesop.com which is a famous search engine and of course he also has ROIbot.com. I've worked on joint promotions with him - he is a marketing genius and what he taught me was that there's no reason that we can't do an order form online like we can do an order form in direct mail.
And so I already know how to do that, there are formulas I've used for years and he has formulas as well - when you go to my order form you'll see a very simple restatement of the headline, a restatement of the discount they're getting for doing business online, all the free bonuses, a statement about the security under which this thing is being enacted - you know "We have the highest encryption security", the 100% money-back guarantee and interestingly enough Mark Joyner has a testimonial at the very end stating that I helped him make money fast and I put several thousand dollars into his bank account just a few days after meeting him for the first time.
So that is my order form, and all they have to do is click Order Now if they go to my web page and they can see that order form.
And order forms really are the last impression you make on somebody. And if the first impression was good, why waste it with the last impression by just having billing information - right?
So I have the restatement of benefits right before the billing information and entice them and confirm in their minds that this is a good investment - and it's called the recency effect...
The primacy effect is the first impression, the recency effect is the last impression and they say "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression" ... I don't think you get a second chance ... I don't think you even get a chance to make a good last impression, you've either made it or you didn't.
So order forms are extremely important and overlooked by many internet marketing gurus, and Mark does an exceptionally good job. I think I do a pretty good job and then there's several other people on the net who do good jobs with their order forms.
Okay. So you mentioned earlier that for every sale, even though the product is about ... let me just check on your web site ...
$247 ... over the 90 days following that you get $1,000 of value from that, in income. So would you consider this a front end product?
The Marketing With Postcards product is a front end product. My backend is my consulting services, my design services and my postcard printing services and my copywriting services.
So what happens is after you purchase my book you get 5 postcards, one per week and they're all designed to get you to consume my book, they all lead back to the book.
And on the billboard side where the picture is there's a case study, on the back-side there is a tip on how to use the book and people embrace this and they call me back and they hire me and they know that I'm the guy, at least in their minds, to help them with postcards.
Not everyone does it - some people are only going to be a $247 customer, but other people end up becoming $5,000 customers...
I had a gentleman in Florida call me up and ask me what do I charge if he fly's me over and hires me for a day? Well I'll be honest with you - no one's ever done that before. I mean no one's ever flown me before - I've been hired for a day but they've never flown me from one part of the country to another - so I'm trying not to let it get to my head and I gave him a quote and he thought it was fair and he's going to do that now.
So it's amazing how an innocent marketing area like postcard marketing can really carve out a huge niche in people's minds when you show them that you know what you're talking about.
That's interesting. Something else I've just thought about, this is very important to a lot of people promoting because they want to know they're spending their money wisely: what would you recommend, how would you do it ... let's say you promote your course with postcards, how do you track clicks, how do you track the response?
Well, I have a shopping cart system, an Application Service Provider that I use, and they're also a client of mine, but I use them because I feel they've been the best and they've been the most consistent and they're called 1ShoppingCart.com.
And a gentleman by the name of George Tran is the programmer and he had one of the first free shopping carts on the Net and he has developed this system so that it has affiliate programs, it has electronic coupons, it has autoresponders ... actually when I was reading my autoresponder headlines I actually went into my account management system of this 1ShoppingCart and I was looking through all the autoresponders that were listed there ... it has broadcast email, it has ad-trackers, it has popup wizards, it has everything that you need and it's very affordable, I think it's less than $600 a year American to go through it.
So that's what I use. Actually the formal name of it is WebContactPro.com
Now every system will go down, it's a lesser of evils business so I warn anyone reading or listening to this that you are going to go down, but we're up 99% of the time, so yes, some people have had problems, they've been glitches, but every system has a glitch or a problem so I've just found this to be the least of all evils and I use it consistently.
I do remember when I spoke to you in the past you mentioned Web Contact Pro and he was one of your clients - is that right?
That's correct. It just helps that he's a client because I can get money back that I'm paying him.
So often ... I'm sure you agree with this ... these tracking links are often quite long which I wouldn't imagine is very practical to put on a postcard - how do you get round that problem?
It's very simple. Let's say you're doing a conference, a teleconference right? And let's say you're the CEO of Mutuals.com ... I know the CEO of Mutuals.com, his name is Rick Sapio, he's a client of mine, and so what we do is we would send out a postcard and we would say "Look, Rick Sapio is having a teleconference at such and such a date. To sign up go to the website and you'll find it at Mutuals.com/teleconference". That's it.
And that's all it takes.
That's all it takes.
Very simple. So that's pretty much your complete web tool kit is it?
Yes, that's it. It's all web based ... I can get and import or export any database from anywhere in the world at anytime, so if I go to Budapest and I have a laptop I can see who's purchased from me today. One email goes to me and there's a secondary email that goes to my fulfillment house so it's completely seamless, they get the email, they ship it out and I'm smiling all the way to the bank.
That's handy. It's all done for you. Okay ...
Anyone who's either starting information publishing on the net or who wants to sell more of what they're currently selling, what would you recommend? What could you say to them?
The first thing is you need to talk about something that you're passionate about and that you know something about. It has to be something that you know. I know Louis that you and I talked about the transcription business for some time ...
...the translation business, okay. And the translation business is also related to the transcription business too.
Okay, and so if you find out that you're just passionate about translation but none of the translation prospects that you're talking to are interested then I think you could do just as good a job for the transcription business too, in one language right?
So you could go to information publishers and say: "Look, I'll be your transcriber" and everyone wants transcriptions because taking a transcription from this call right now is going to give a lot of meaty, content-rich information to anyone reading it on the transcription.
So if you're passionate about the translation business and find out that your lead sources are dry, then how does that relate to something else? Maybe transcription is something else that you're passionate about and there's a market for that.
So the first thing I would focus on is something that you know about, and something that you're passionate about, because that is going to light the fire when you don't want to wake up in the morning.
The second thing is to find experts in the field so you can do research, and when I say expert I mean experts, because if you copy from one person it's plagiarism of course, if you copy from many it's called research.
And you find a few experts and just hire them for an hour. Pay them. Say "I want to pay you $250 an hour and I want to pick your brain. Is that okay?" They will say Yes.
This is how I've met many powerful men and women all around the world at $250 to $500 an hour. I've called them up and I've had my questions ... they've answered them for me, and guess what? Many of them are JV partners because I paid them, and they knew I was serious, versus calling them up and saying "Can I pick your brain for free?" Put yourself in their position - they'd rather get paid.
So find a mentor and pay that mentor for an hour of his or her time and continue to do so. That's step number two.
Step number three is: really get to know your target market. After you're passionate about something and after you find a mentor, chances are you're going to find a target market that's right for you.
Start asking them questions. Remember the question I asked? "If there were a definitive book on postcard marketing, would you get it?" A lot of people said Yes.
Then I asked "Why?"
And after they gave me all their answers I wrote those down as benefits. So ask your target market ... they could be family, friends, or strangers ... ask them why they think it's important to do business with you, if they're interested. And then that is your benefits list.
Then ask them another important question: why wouldn't they do business with you? And that is your list of barriers.
You need to know your barriers to move away from and your benefits to move towards to get them to buy. And so if you take those steps ... and then the final step is just write and communicate with one person at a time in your mind the message that you want to communicate, and just write it down without even thinking about it.
Before you create the product, create the ad. And if that ad is compelling and you show it to enough people who are honest with you and say "ugh, that's not going to work" or "It's gonna work". If you get enough "Yes it's going to work" then you have enough evidence to put perspiration and capital into a product and generate that information product.
Now many people do it exactly the opposite way, they create the information product and they're so proud of it, then they think they know what the benefits are and the barriers are ... they write it, they show it to people, it doesn't work, they're off the mark, they find their mentors after they've lost thousands of dollars instead of first, so they can't afford the $300 fee, and they're not even passionate about the subject, they did it because they wanted to make money.
Those are exactly the wrong reasons that will make you money. So I've found that whatever you think to do with an information product, if you flip it and start with the subject matter, and then go to the mentor, then go to the prospect, and the target market, and then start writing the ad before you even create the product. If you do it in that order, than and only then can you create the information product because it may take on a whole new form than you had in your mind originally. Does that make sense?
It does, yes. Okay, that's great. And the very final question - do you have any final words, anything to conclude this interview?
The final thing I'd like to say is instead of focusing on your selling process and developing the selling process, turn it around and focus on your customers buying process.
Freeman Gosden, who's the father of the frequent flyer programs ... he said something at a lecture in 1989 that I will never forget as long as I live and it's stuck with me all along.
He was the president of the direct marketing division of Foote, Cone & Belding which is one of the largest advertising firms in the world which Albert Lasker, the great advertising guru of the early 1900's started. And what this gentleman said, Freeman Gosden, he said:
"Listen people, if I can tell you one thing - remember that it's not what and how you sell something that's important, it's what and how your customer wishes to buy that's important."
Just like the case-study we covered with Jim my client who's a real estate coach for commercial real estate agents - he focused, after I assisted him on the buying process. So if you focus on the buying process instead of just sales process, which is a bunch of guesswork, it will be difficult for you to fail.
If you go to my site, the reason I give 3 free chapters is because I observed when you go into a bookstore, if people want to buy a book they take out the book, they see on the spine of the book it enticed them - whatever it said ... let's say "How To Win Friends And Influence People" - that's an enticing headline right?
they take that book off the shelf, they read the table of contents, they read
a few sentences from certain chapters and then they decide at that moment "Am
I going to buy the book or am I going to put it back on the shelf?" That's
the buying process.
Well Louis, that's exactly why I have 3 free chapters available on my website, because I know before someone is going to hand me $250, they have to first take a test drive, and their buying process for a book is to read a few chapters. Well I give them way more than they need and that espouses sales. That gets me business because I know the buying process.
I could have said "Buy this book or go jump in a lake". That would be my sales process. That would make it difficult for me to eat and feed my family if I were to go with that sales process so instead I observed the way people bought books and I implanted that buying process into my website.
That's my last bit of marketing advice to anyone listening or reading this - is focus on your customers buying process, don't focus on your sales process.