Direct Response Advertising Executive Maxwell Sackheim was a creative thinker that challenged every ad to ensure he would get the best results possible.
His success is a significant example of what can be generated when you build on your successes and strive to make your ads the best they can be.
Max was a founder of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the nation’s first direct-mail book club.
Book-of-the-Month Club, which offered a new book to members each month, originated from a product Max and his partner Harry Scherman developed called the Little Leather Library. The first prototype was originally bound in real leather and included with Whitman’s Chocolates, then later sold for a dime a volume at Woolworth’s Department Store.
Advertised in national magazines and available through mail order, the Little Leather Library offered a set of 30 imitation leather-bound books at a price of $2.98.
Woolworth’s sold a million books per year. Using the words, “SEND NO MONEY!” in the headline, between 35 and 40 million volumes were sold by mail.
Max also wrote the famous headline “Do you make these mistakes in English?” for Sherman Cody’s mail order English course. The ad ran for 40 years.
Yes, getting your copy right can produce results like that. So it’s worth your time to work at it. Testing, word choice, and challenging yourself to come up with better or different offers can make HUGE differences.
For example, when Max and his partners first formed the Book-of-the-Month Club the business wasn’t doing very well. There were lots of returns and cancellations.
So they created a new plan called the “negative option plan.” At the time this had never been done. Subscribers were automatically billed for the next book unless they affirmatively declined the book by sending a reply to the company by the deadline.
Many companies since have built multi-million dollar fortunes on this idea alone.
What impact would this have had if Max and his partners had not taken the time to think this through?
When creating an ad, Max used the following four tough, good questions…ask these every time you prepare an ad, letter, brochure, etc.:
“#1- Why should anyone read or listen to it?
#2 – Why should anyone believe it?
#3—Why should anyone do anything about it?
#4—Why should it be acted upon immediately?”
Imagine how many times cub copywriters must have left Max’s office, tail between their legs, draft crumpled in hand, after being dared to justify their work with answers to these four questions. And imagine how much advertising fails simply because it is never challenged with these four questions.
Hopefully the first one is partly answered by the fact that you are target marketing and have crafted a message of strong and specific interest to the prospects you have carefully selected to receive it.
But even beyond this message-to-market-match, you must still earn the recipient’s attention by being able to clearly and quickly enunciate an exciting promise or a provocative challenge or by arousing intense curiosity—or some combination thereof. You dare not assume that because you are sending a letter about golf to known golfers that it will be read. You must provide a reason over and above the affinity to compel readership.
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