Episode #41

The one about sequenced mailing strategies

Episode 041:

  • Joe shares a great letter sequence for collecting money
  • The story and strategy behind a $3,000,000 letter sequence 
  • The most profitable thing to do when you find an ad that works
  • PLUS: When to stop mailing a profitable letter or postcard 
Dean: Hey, everybody! It’s Dean Jackson.

Joe: And Joe Polish.

Dean: And Joe Polish. So, Joe, I just arrived back at my house in Florida, straight from the airport.

Joe: Well, that was my day earlier today. I came back from Chicago, I had dinner with my good friend Dan Sullivan, and Babs, and took Eunice, my assistant of 16 years with me, and Dr. Joe Mercola came over for dinner at Dan’s house last night. That was kind of a big nutritional doctor online.

Dean: I like him.

Joe: Yeah, yeah.

Dean: He’s a cool guy. That’s funny; you had Dan Sullivan. Air travel’s amazing, isn’t it? I had lunch with Dan on Saturday, and here you had dinner with him on Monday, in Chicago. And now, I’m in Florida, and you’re in Phoenix.

Joe: And here we are, recording an I Love Marketing podcast in the middle of…

Dean: Yeah, the world’s getting smaller.

Joe: It appears that way. It appears that way.

Dean: I have to give a little shout-out to our friend, Ed Dale, because these last couple of episodes of I Love Marketing are exponentially better audio quality. We’re getting all of the comments, that people are really noticing that, too. And I’ve noticed it. It’s just night and day. It sounds like we’re in a studio now.

Joe: Well, we kind of are.

Dean: Yeah, we kind of are. I was with Ed in Austin a few weeks ago, Austin, Texas, and he was recommending this particular Samsung Go Mic that he uses for podcasts. So, Joe and I ordered them up. It’s great. It’s a whole new world.

Joe: So, that’s our deal. We were talking, the last couple of episodes, about using free recorded messages, secondary reasons for response, sifting, sorting, screening, different stick strategies, ways you can use free recorded messages to hire employees, you can get a free recorded message.

Dean: And then, you left us with a cliffhanger.

Joe: Right. I said I would talk about an actual method of collecting money, for those people out there that actually provide products or services. And then, people need to pay them, and they have trouble collecting the money from these individuals. So, I kind of want to go back and tell a story of how all this originated, these particular letters, and also the whole strategy, which I first heard about from Dan Kennedy, when I first started doing work with Dan Kennedy, which was back in 1992, 1993. It was the first time I started reading and I attended a Dan Kennedy event, struck up a conversation with him, handed him a business card. He liked my business card so much, that he actually wrote about it in his newsletter, the No BS Marketing letter, because I had a free recorded message on my business card, on how to choose a carpet cleaner. I had an expanded, unique selling proposition. It was a double-sided business card that was real education-based marketing, unlike any business cards that most people had ever seen at the time, or like we even see today. Because although the world has advanced technologically, psychologically, marketing-wise, most people have it, except those that listen to every single episode of I Love Marketing.

So, basically, it was sequencing. There was a great book written in the 50’s, called The Robert Collier Letter Book, and it was this great book about writing copy. One of the lines that we’ve talked about several times in that book is, as a copywriter, you want to enter a conversation that’s already existing in your prospect’s mind. Robert Collier would have all kinds of clever letters and such. So, in a nutshell, it’s a way to use direct mail, which you can, of course, use with emails, even the launch model that our friend Jeff Walker created. We’ve both interviewed Jeff. Jeff’s in my $25K group. And even product launches are a form of sequencing, continual, dripping and follow-up of sales messages, in order to get people to buy. So, how do you actually use that same sort of formula in a situation where you’re wanting to collect money? What I’ll do, what I think would be the best thing for me to do, is just kind of paint a picture. Imagine you have somebody, put yourself in the place of a service provider, and he’s provided services to somebody. And they’re supposed to pay you, and they are behind. You are in the situation where you either need to call them or send them to collections, or that sort of stuff.

Dean: A lot of people don’t know what to do. They’re not really set up for that. They don’t have a collections department, and it’s awkward, and they’re uncomfortable, maybe confronting people about it. Or they think it might be a confrontation. There’s a lot of fear and negativity around that.

Joe: Right. Right. So, basically, how do you approach people in a way to where they may be having money problems, but you also need to get paid because you are out of product, you’re out of labor that you provided, and you need to get paid? So, how do you approach this from the standpoint of giving yourself the highest likelihood of collecting money and, at the same time, needing to be firm enough, so they don’t blow you off? So, the method came from actually selling stuff, and I learned it from Dan Kennedy. He talks about this set of letters that he had written for a restaurant. It was Giorgio’s Italian Grotto.

Dean: Yeah, from the romance director. Yeah.

Joe: Yeah, the romance director of Giorgio’s Italian Grotto. And it was a 3-step letter sequence, where the first letter would be offering to have people come into the restaurant, wine-and-dine them, give them free stuff. It tells the whole story of “to improve the romance in your relationship,” and then if people don’t go to the restaurant, they get a second one from Giorgio, the romance director, really telling you, “You need to show up, because if you don’t, your relationship’s going to be in trouble,” and he puts statistics in the letter about how many marriages end in divorce. The whole thing’s built around why you need to come to this guy’s restaurant.

Dean: Exactly.

Joe: And then, there’s a final sequence that says, “Can this marriage be saved?”

Dean: And that’s the last, final notice. Hey, I know that we’re recording on the mics here, but your phone is really, what I’m hearing on the other end, is very digital.

Joe: It’s funny you say that, because I’m hearing the same thing on your end. So, what going to do right now, Dean, is I’m going to pick up another phone. So, bear with me. Does that sound better?

Dean: Yeah, it does.

Joe: Well, yours is still cutting out like crazy, which is great, because for a minute you were trying to blame me. No, your phone is completely staticy, and we’ll just put up with it, since we’ve got these fancy little mics.

Dean: Perfect. Good.

Joe: In the future, why don’t you start having some concern for me, and get on a decent phone where I can actually hear? Are you with me?

Dean: Yeah, I’m with you.

Joe: Okay. So, basically, Dan actually came up with the strategy for 3-letter sequences, and that letter for Giorgio, from a real-life situation, one having been bankrupt before in the past, and having gone through a divorce in the past, he was very familiar with collection agencies. He was watching Oprah one day, when he decided to write the Giorgio letters. So, the whole premise behind it is in the collection industry, if you are ever behind on bills, they will actually send out a sequence. Now, there’s different things they do with the Internet that they didn’t do before, but for the most part, you’ll get sent a first notice saying, “You owe us money; pay us.” And if you don’t send them money, you’ll get a second notice that will be a little bit stronger, saying, “Pay us, or we’re going to have to report you to a collection service.” And if you don’t pay that one, a third notice is sent. And then hopefully, the people will pay on that one.

Now, the point is this is getting money out of people that typically don’t have any. A large portion, as much as 80% or more of the money, can be collected through a 3- step sequence. And if you take that same sort of logic, if that sort of money can be collected from people that don’t have any money in a situation, how well would that method work if you were actually mailing letters and promotions to people that actually have identified they want something. Meaning like someone that called a 24-hour free recorded message, left their phone number to get sent a free report, and you’re actually sending them information about something they actually requested.

So, in my business, when I first started selling information products for professional carpet and upholstery cleaners, it was very high. I got as much as 16% of my sales would come with a 3-step sequence in direct mail, when I first started. It’s different today than it was back then, but I would get like 7% to 8% off the first letter, I would get anywhere between 3% and 4% off the second letter, and then the third letter would get even more response. So, I would have just great conversions from doing 3-step sequences.

Dean: These were letters for when you were selling your carpet cleaning kit to carpet cleaners?

Joe: Yeah, yeah.

Dean: That’s what I thought you were saying.

Joe: By the way, Dean, just so you’ll know, if we ever have to use a backup for this particular call, you are incapable of being clearly from the recording, just so I’m telling you. On this end, your phone is cutting out so badly. I just want every one of our listeners out there to know that Dean is a bad person.

Dean: I’m hearing it on your end. I wonder if we just have a bad line.

Joe: We should ask our friend, that we have, who is in the background, that says he’s a great guy. If he doesn’t want to identify himself, I would like him to at least speak up. He doesn’t have to say his name. And say, “Can you hear me well?” Or is it like this for both of us? Can you respond? Man: You both sound really awful.

Dean: That’s what I’m thinking. And so do you, actually. Man: I think it’s the phone line itself.

Dean: Thank you.

Joe: Great thing we’ve got these mics, or this podcast could have been doomed. Okay, so let’s just keep going. To our listeners, apologize for the shenanigans back here. Hey, we flew back and forth on airplanes today, but we can’t get a phone line that actually works right.

Dean: We can put a man on the moon!

Joe: Alright. I wanted to just share the actual collection letter, and then I’m going to talk about different ways of selling, including something I did with Bill Phillips, one of the ideas that I gave him using this exact methodology on the first time he ever hired me for consulting, that made him $3-million that he never would have made, had he not used multi-sequence mailings. So, I have a letter here, and this letter incorporates some killer direct response stuff, including a grabber. A grabber is what you attach to the top of a letter, in order to grab someone’s attention. Gary Halbert was a very big proponent and user of lumpy mail, impactful mail. He would talk about the A pile versus the B pile, which we’ve talked about on a previous call. If you want to listen to the past episodes where we talked about Gary Halbert, very worthwhile to either read the transcript or listen to the call.

People of America and for most of the world, for that matter, sort their mail out over a wastebasket, and it will go into 2 piles, either the A pile, which is everything that is personal or appears person, or the B pile, which is everything that is junk or appears like junk. So, Gary would always want letters to look very personal, handwritten, real stamp, an indicia on the upper left-hand corner, that doesn’t have a logo or look like a company is sending it to you, and preferably just the person’s name or just the address. When they open up the envelope, either you have a headline, or you have a dollar bill attached to it, or some sort of grabber. In this particular case, this is just a plain envelope, #10 envelope, a single sheet of paper, with a piece of string attached to the top of it, and a blue signature.

So, I’m going to read this letter. And the way this works is anyone that owes you money; you send a letter like this to them. This letter has successfully brought in in the millions of dollars of people in the professional cleaning and restoration industry, and other service businesses that have done corporate jobs, anything from restaurants, apartment complexes, insurance work. People that have owed them money and they were not getting paid on-time, so they needed a way to get people to pay them, but not come across as so rude. It says, “Dear name.” You personalize it. “As you probably noticed, I’ve attached a piece of string to this letter. Why have I done this, you ask? For 2 reasons, actually: 1) to get your attention, and 2) so you could tie this special piece of string around your finger so you wouldn’t forget to pay the bill below. This is just my friendly little way of reminding you that your account is past-due. I know you’re busy, so if you just tie the string around your finger, you won’t forget to pay me. Please take a few minutes and write a check, so I won’t have to interrupt your busy schedule with a piece of string again. I appreciate your prompt attention. Signed, Joe Polish.

“PS: Please hurry and return this special piece of string with your check. I need this string for other accounts.” Now, if you break down this letter, you’re asking them for money. You’re using a clever way to do it, an engagement device, the string. It’s a nice letter, it’s a friendly letter, and also the PS is huge. The reason you want to use PS’s is a PS reiterates the offer or the request. In this particular case, you’re not trying to sell anything; you’re actually trying to get people to pay you for what you’ve already given them. However, it is still a sales letter, because everything is a sales letter. Even when you’re trying to collect money from people that owe it to you, you’re making a request, and you want them to take an action. You want them to respond. Hence, why we call it direct response. So, this is direct response in the form of trying to collect money. So, “PS, please hurry and return this special piece of string with your check. I need this string for other accounts.”

What it does, is it makes the point that other people may be in your shoes. It’s a subtle little thing, but that helps people maybe that are embarrassed or cannot pay their bills feel like, “Oh, there’s other people in this situation.” It’s just a friendly way. It even says this. “This is my friendly little way of reminding you that your account is past-due. So, that’s letter #1. Now, what happens is about 50% of the money – and, again, this will probably be different for different industries, different types of economic times, different clientele that you’re servicing, that sort of stuff. But this letter works for about getting half the people to actually submit a check. So, if someone does not send a check – and when I say that, I’m talking about the professional cleaning and restoration industry – I’m just reading these letters out here. Basically, I have these copyrighted, too, so I’m really giving away something here.

If I was to sell these letters, this letter sequence I’m reading here – which, by the way, you can go read the transcript and have the exact word-for-word copy here – if I sold these for $1,000, it would be a bargain for many people. Because I’ve had people that this has solved, literally solved, as much as they can, their collection problems, void of using a collection agency. And, in some cases, I’ve had clients tell me that these letter sequences they ended up sending out themselves worked better than collect agencies that they had hired, that were taking a piece of everything they collected – a pretty big percentage of everything they collected.

Dean: That’s great.

Joe: Yeah. So, the second notice, you can send out a week to 2 weeks later, and it says, headline: “Second notice: here’s that piece of string again.” And then there’s another piece of string. And I like using colored string, like a green piece of string or a red piece of string, so it kind of stands out. So, “Dear name. I was hoping this wouldn’t happen, but I haven’t heard from you. So, I’m forced to send you another piece of string. This string works. If you tie it around your finger right now, you will not forget to pay your outstanding bill.

Dean: This one works.

Joe: Yes. And then in parentheses, “I told you this was a special piece of string. Sometimes these things happen. I understand that once in a while, a bill may slip by and you don’t even realize it. Please take care of your obligation now. If you’re unable to pay the overdue bill in full at this time, please call my office to arrange a payment plan. I understand that occasionally life throws us a curveball. But before it counts as a strike against us, we can correct it. Sincerely,” and then name, and the company accounts receivable is then signed under the name, because that sounds a little stronger. And then, a phone number at the bottom. “PS: I need that special string back. I’m running out.”

Dean: That subtly tells them they’re not the only ones getting it, again.

Joe: Yeah. Exactly. So, basically, if I go back into some of the copy, it says, “This string works. If you tie it around your finger right now, you will not – and “will not” is in uppercase – forget to pay your outstanding bill.” What I say in here is, “Sometimes, these things happen. I understand that once in a while a bill may slip by and you don’t even realize it.” This is making the assumption that they’re not doing this on purpose, they’ve forgotten, you’re reminding them. Bu then, the last paragraph says, “If you’re unable to pay this overdue bill in full at this time, please call my office to arrange a payment plan.” It’s giving them the option to say you may not have the money. And the follow-up line is, “I understand that occasionally life throws us a curveball. But before it counts as a strike against us, we can correct it.”

Now, you can have this particular letter come from you, or you can use another person in your company that’s in the accounts receivable department, depending on how you want to word it. But that’s basically how it’s worded. And, of course, there’s always a date on the upper right-hand part of the letter. By the way, these letters were written years ago. And to this day, they still work very, very well. So, if they have not then responded to either letter #1 or letter #2, or called you, then there’s letter #3. And this one says, “Third notice. I’m running out of special string.” “Dear name, this is your third piece of special string. I’m running out of special string. Please pay your overdue bill right now, or tie this special piece of string around your finger, so you don’t forget. I’ve got a problem. You see, I really am running out of special string. This is the very last piece I can afford to give you. If I don’t receive your payment or a call from you explaining your situation, I’m going to be force to turn this over to so-and-so collection agency,” whoever you would use. I don’t want to do that. You see, once so-and-so collection agency has your name, your credit rating will reflect your nonpayment. This could possibly affect you the next time you get a loan, or from anyone that you would like credit from. I don’t want to do it, but my hands are tied. I’ve done my part. I’ve sent you 2 other notices, and I haven’t heard from you. It’s our strict company policy that states all overdue accounts must be turned over to the collection agency after 3 attempts have been made to collect.”

“You still have a way out. If you send your payment in the next 5 days, this will all be avoided. You must act quickly. Sincerely,” and then the name and “accounts receivable.” “PS: hoping my special string will work its magic.” That’s the third notice. That is about as nice as you can be, while simultaneously being firm. Then, of course, you’re introducing the fact that you’re going to turn this over to a collection agency, which then become s very bad thing. And I would always make a joke with people and say, “Yeah, and if they don’t pay you off the third notice, you can send them a fourth notice that has a noose on it that says, “Here, attached is a noose to this letter.” Anyway, I won’t go any further with that.

The point is this type of multi-step sequence works for getting money out of people that obviously just flat out don’t want to pay you, but most of it is financial problems. They’re juggling. When you start thinking about if this is happening to you, they’re probably getting letters and collections and phone calls from other people. And human beings will tend to pay the people that are giving them the least amount of stress. But also, you can’t just leave it up to crossing your fingers and hoping they pay you. And this is just a very effective direct response way to use it. And I know, for a fact, this works. Any comments you have on that? And then, I can talk about how to use multistep sequences to actually make money.

Dean: I think part of what you just described there – the benefit for people is that they’re already done for them now – is a collections system. When you write those letters and, like you said, you could sell those letters because it solves a big problem for a lot of people, when you’ve got those letters written, that’s an asset in your business. You set that up as a systematic way that this is how we address collections. When somebody owes us money, this is what we do. And that’s just one of those things that you can and clone, and have somebody run that whole little system for you. And there you go. I think that’s a fantastic solution for people. And it’s already done. Just go right to the transcript there, and start using those letters.

Joe: When someone buys my marketing kits, mine and yours, we don’t just give them ideas and strategies, we give them specific tools and templates. Like at the I Love Marketing conference, we recorded the whole training, and we have that big million-dollar manual. And in that manual, there’s actual examples of word-for-word promotions and campaigns, and exact strategies. It’s one thing to give someone an idea, it’s another thing to give them a template, to give them the exact recipe. And if people follow the recipe and follow the formula, it will work for them. My Nightingale-Conant program, it’s been the #1-selling marketing program at Nightingale-Conant since 2004, and the reason is because it’s just not marketing ideas. There’s actual tools; there’s actual strategies.

At the last Meetup group that I attended at my office, I took the people in attendance through a consumer guide generator, which is a tool that allows them to collect information. They come up with it themselves. It’s stuff that every person does when they start listing what are the misconceptions, the fears that exist in their industry. And if people document it and think it through, it helps them put together a script for a consumer awareness message, a consumer awareness guide, a free report, a sales letter. I have a thing called a Teleseminar Script Developer, and I’ve had people that have never done a teleseminar in their life, and they want to do a teleseminar to their list, to either sell them information or just as an added service, to help people that have bought something from them and how to work through it. If you have just a process to follow, it just makes the job of implementing an idea that much easier.

So, one of the things that we do our best is to not only share really great marketing ideas for before, during and after the sale on I Love Marketing, but also give you the process and the path and occasionally the copy. One of the things I want to be careful of is reading a series of letters like this and people saying, “Oh yeah, that’s kind of a clever letter,” and not having anyone use it. Because, truly, if you were to go out and hire a copywriter to write a sequence like this, it would not be rare to spend $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, if you were to go and hire a world-class copywriter to write something like this, that works. I know, for a fact, this works, because we’ve been using it for years. So anyway, having said that, the way to use this to actually sell something is the same way. If you ever have someone that raises their hands, like in your particular case, Dean, you created the first squeeze page on the internet, and someone gives you their name, and they give you their email. So, what you start doing is a series of sequences of communication.

So, when you start getting frequent communications from people, they’re sequencing. The key is knowing, in the sales letters that are actually making an offer, where you have a call to action, what sort of response do you get from letter #1 or email #1? Or, in some particular cases, like NordicTrack, that ran infomercials for many, many years very successfully. Tempur-Pedic mattresses, one of their methods, Tempur-Pedic is phenomenal at doing direct mail sequencing. I’ve bought 2 Tempur-Pedic mattresses in the last decade, and part of it is because they’re just relentless with their marketing. They literally will mail over and over and over again, and they’re not doing that because they like throwing away DVD’s. They’ll do everything from open brochures; they’ll have magalogs that are catalogs that look like magazines.

They’ll have all kinds of different shapes, sizes and forms of direct mail, but they know that if they get a lead, and they invest, in some cases, probably several hundred dollars, depending where that lead first came from. Where people will call a number and request to be sent a DVD or to be sent a report on their mattresses, they know for a fact that they’re going to convert X number after a certain amount of sequences. So, they do it. And that’s why they built just a multi-multimillion-dollar business, because they understand marketing.

Dean: Part of the thinking behind that, too, is realizing that that’s a major purchase, and not everybody is going to make that purchase right away. We talked, at the I Love Marketing conference, we mentioned that of all of the people who inquire about things, about half of them are actually going to buy what they’ve inquired about within the next 18 months. But only 15% of them are going to actually buy in the first 90 days. So, having sequenced messaging, having a way to continue that dialogue with people beyond that 90 days, is really a profit activator. It’s a way of having something that is going to pay off, just knowing that 85% of the value is in what you do 90 days beyond when somebody inquires. Most people are not set up for a 6-month or 12-month follow-up. They’re set up for a 6-day follow-up sequence. If they don’t buy right away, then they kind of fall down.

Joe: What I found when I first started selling stuff to professional cleaners is that they’ve never even heard of it. I’ve had people who literally would argue about, “Well, I don’t want to bug people and send them a little 2 or 3 times.” So I’m like, “Oh, so what you’re saying is you don’t want to make any money, basically.” And they would spend all of this time to try to get a sale, and they wouldn’t think about some people will buy, but life is a moving parade. That’s something that Jay Abraham would always talk about. When you’re in your own life, you aren’t thinking about a washing machine until your washing machine breaks, and you need one. All of a sudden, you start noticing ads for washing machines.

Dean: “Oh, hey, Sears is having a sale on appliances this weekend.”

Joe: Yeah. Yeah.

Dean: Meanwhile, they have a sale on appliances every weekend, but you didn’t notice it until you need one.

Joe: Exactly. Bill Phillips ended up hiring me for consulting at the end of 1996, beginning of 1997, and at the time I was charging a whopping $3,850 a day for consulting. So, he flies me out there to do a day of consulting with him on his company, EAS. He had a magazine called Muscle Media, and he had purchased a company called Experimental, and Applied Sciences, (EAS) is what it stood for, and he had just come out with a supplement called Myoplex and different sort of supplements, Betagen and different related, Phosphogen and stuff that had Creatine. It was a pretty big company, doing about $60-million a year in sales, at the time.

I sat down with Bill, and within the first 10 minutes, he shows me this promotion. He said, “Joe, I am the marketing department in this company.” I think he has like 150 people working for him. He’s like, “I’m the only one that can write copy, and I need more copy like this.” And he showed me his letter that had brought in $2-million in sales that he had sent to his list. His list was pretty big; it was several hundred thousand people that were mostly bodybuilders. He was targeting mainstream America, which he eventually did with his book, Body For Life, which became one of the biggest-selling fitness books of all time. So, he shows me this letter, and the letter basically told the story of how he had showed 3 semi-trucks, that were EAS-logoed semi-trucks. He had a really nice facility in Golden, Colorado. The story in the letter was he had ordered placement from his manufacturer for a shipment of Myoplex. And, unbeknownst to him, his general manager had also placed an order, and they had doubled the amount of Myoplex sent to them, that they had space to actually contain in the warehouse. So, they had 3 semi-trucks filled with Myoplex, so they’re having a 40%-off sale. They needed to unload these trucks with the Myoplex, so 40% off.

It was like one of the rare times that he actually did price discounting on his supplements. He had sent that letter out to a bunch of people and brought in $2-million in sales. He’s like, “I need more letters like this.” I said, “Well, do you mind if I write on this letter?” And he’s like, “No.” I go, “Have you ever heard of 3-step mailing?” He’s like, “Yeah, sequence mailings? Yeah, I’ve heard of it.” “Have you ever done it?” He’s like, “No, not really.” I’m like, “Okay, so what you do, is you take this letter and you write ‘second notice,’” and I literally hand-wrote on the letter. This was stuff that I had been doing with Dan Kennedy, and that I was teaching my professional cleaners. This was not something that I had not done before. I was using it in my own business, and it just worked. I would use this to sell marketing kits; I used it to sell carpet cleaning services. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. If someone is interested in what you’re selling, sequential marketing works. In this day and age, it’s like sequential emails. Electronically, snail mail, it still works.

I said, “What you do is you write, with a marker, in handwriting, so it looks like you literally took a letter, and you personally wrote on it, and you print it that way, so it’s all mucked up. It’s this nice letter, but it’s got handwriting in the margin. So, it’s the second notice, “Dear friends, sent this letter to you a couple of weeks ago; have not heard from you.” I think the expiration date was something like a month from the time that letter had gone out, and I said, “You can extend it, if you want.” So I said, “I want you to mail this letter twice. If it keeps working, mail it even more.” This is an important line to remember. Although I said 3-step letter, in this particular campaign and including the string letter I read, was 3 sequences, one of my cleaners actually mailed a letter, the Carpet Audit, in a free room of cleaning letter, different versions of it, 21 times to a particular neighborhood, until it was no longer profitable. Until he literally went negative; meaning mailing the same offer to the same people every 2 weeks, 21 times, before it actually was costing more money to mail the letter than the amount of business it was bringing in.

So, the time to quit going back to the well is when you stick the bucket in the well and pull up the bucket, and there’s no water in it. But as long as you’re getting water out of the well, keep dipping in the bucket. It doesn’t have to stop at 3. Having said that, I put an X through one of the semi-trucks that says, “We still have more supplements that we need to unload, so respond while this offer still exists.” He’s like, “That’s it?” I go, “Yeah, same letter. You don’t have to pay a copywriter to write a single stitch of copy. All you need to do is handwrite this and mail the same letter. Then I go, “Then, after you mail this letter,” and then I wrote ‘Third and final notice’ and I put up another X through another, because there was a picture of 3 semi-trucks backed up against the warehouse, I X’d out one of the semi-trucks. It said, “Third and final notice. I’ve sent you this letter twice; this is your last opportunity to get 40% off Myoplex. Place your order now.”

So, he mailed that letter 2 more times with a variation of that handwriting margins, because I was just showing him an example of how you would do it. You would circle things, you would underline the offer and expiration date. I was just showing him how to ugly-up the letter. That’s really what you’re doing. You’re making the letter look like you pulled it out, you handwrote all over in blue marker, and you put it in an envelope and mailed it. So, he mailed that letter 2 more times, and it brought in an additional $3-million in sales. Here’s the point: had he stopped at letter number one, he would have had a successful campaign and brought in $2-million in sales, and it was one of his very successful letters. The first thing out of Bill’s mouth when he first met me for consulting was, “I need more copy. I’m writing all of the copy myself.” I gave him a technique that allowed him to leverage his existing copy by sending it out a second and a third time.

So, all of a sudden, Bill started doing multi-step mailing, and he started squeezing more juice out of his existing campaigns. Had he stopped at letter #1, he would have literally not brought in an additional $3-million in revenue. From that point forward, Bill started paying me $10,000 a day, whenever I would do a day of consulting with him. He eventually ended up buying me a convertible Jaguar and various other stuff, and we became friends, and he sold his company. Then we did the Make-A-Wish campaign, where he used a documentary he had made called “Body of Work” for his physique transformation contest, and he raised just a ton of money, and still does, for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Then, he sold his company. A couple years later, he built up the revenues to $200-million-plus-a-year in sales. Very fast growth from $60-million to over $200- million, and he ended up selling the company for $300-million. Millions of people, all over the world, transformed their bodies and their physiques using his exercise methodologies.

However, it was marketing; the difference between Bill getting his message out and other people who were very smart, exercise and nutrition and supplement people, was his ability to get his message out and to get people to respond. A big part of that was all of the direct response stuff that he was doing. I showed him everything that I could, but just that one method alone, within an hour, the first hour of him hiring me for consulting, I gave him an idea that made him $3-million within a month, and that is the power of a single idea when it is implemented. Bill was an implementer. There you go.

Dean: That’s great, because how many people are sitting on things that are just like that, that they could do again? But, it’s kind of like Jay Abraham says, that we get tired of our marketing long before our market gets tired of it. You might say, “Well, I already sent out that letter, now I need a new letter.” That’s not the case. When you look at it in our Getting Listings program for realtors, for getting listings in a neighborhood, we essentially mail 12 sequential postcards, one a month, that the only thing that changes is the date on the postcard. We send out, and we offer the free October 2011 report on River Oaks house prices. The next month, we offer them exact same postcard and offer the free November 2011 report on River Oaks house prices.

Joe: The deal is an ad is brand new, or a sales letter is brand new, or a website is brand new, or an email is brand new, or a free recorded message is brand new, or a video is brand new for someone who is seeing it for the first time, even if you see it every single day.

Dean: That’s what Jay is kind of saying. Of course, we get tired of it, because we see it all the time.

Joe: The point is, don’t think that because you live, eat, breathe your story and your message, that that somehow means you need to constantly change it. As a business owner, we’re always wanting to do something new. And if you sit and think about, “What is the bait that I’ve fished with in the past, that got the most bites, that got the most response?” What I’ve had many of my clients do is they’ll have the newspaper, will run an article about them, and they’ll get business from the article. I’ll say, “Why don’t you take the same article and then pay the newspaper or the magazine – if they will, and sometimes they do – to run it as an ad?” If you got response from it before, say, “You know, we’re running this article for a second time, because so many people liked it,” and you pay them money to run it again. It’s the credentialization of the magazine that it’s run in.

Gary Halbert would always say, “If you really need some great PR, literally pay a reporter to come out and write the most glowing story about you, and use that as the basis for your ad, if you want PR.” It’s just reminding people to think about what have you already done in the past that is working, or what are you currently doing now that you could leverage and exploit at much deeper levels? Because there’s usually something, and it’s usually right in front of your nose, and you don’t think about it. Sometimes, you go numb to it because you’re using it all the time or you’re seeing it all the time, and there’s such a tendency to want to try a new technology or a new marketing method or whatever. A lot of times, it’s just right under your nose. The whole point behind talking about sequencing is anything that is producing some sort of result that you can get in the mail more frequently, so that you a repurpose existing copy, do it.

I had a carpet cleaner hire me for consulting early on. It was one of the very first times that a carpet cleaner hired me. Most of them, my daily fee is so darn high compared to buying one of my kits, that I do that purposely. I’m like, “Just buy one of my courses, don’t hire me for the consulting,” when people try to hire me for consulting. Right now, I’m $25,000 for half a day of consulting, and I do my best, if it’s a right-fit person, to say, “Just join my $25K group. I just really think you’re going to get more out of your $25,000 than hiring me. Part of it is because I don’t really want to do a lot of full-day consulting, so I price it so high that it is that way. One of the first people that ever hired me in consulting in the cleaning industry, they wanted to change a phone book ad that was getting a 5:1 return. They were using my stuff. That’s why they were hiring me, because they were making money. They had bought my kit, and they were using my one of my Yellow Page ad templates. It was bringing in 5:1, and they thought they could improve it with a different headline, a free recorded message within the ad, and a bigger list of benefits.

They were like, “What do you think of this new ad?” It was good, but the ad that they already had was bringing in 5:1. You’ve got to be careful, when you’re tinkering with a working wheel. Once you run an ad in the Yellow Pages, it’s going to be there for a year. What if they ran a new ad, but it only brought in 3:1? You can’t change it every month. So, I said, “Look, since you’re dealing with a medium that’s going to be there for a long time, until the next phone book comes out, why don’t you test this in a postcard? Take this ad that you’re already running, and send it out as a postcard in your new ad, and send it to the same neighborhood, but do a split-test. Half get this ad, the other half get this one on a postcard.” They’re like, “That’s a good idea.” So they did it.

The existing ad that they were already getting 5:1 actually doubled the response as a postcard, so they didn’t change their ad, because they found that less people were responding to this one – the new one that they thought would be better than the old one. Sometimes, you can always just test what you’re going to run as an ad, or run as a promotion. Of course, on the Internet, you can do that literally by the second, by revolving banner ads and various other things.

Dean: That’s fantastic. When you really start thinking about it, you realize how many things that we have that could be kind of re-purposed.

Joe: I really think one of the services that we provide people, sometimes people get really mad because they’ll hear the same sort of technique said in 100 different ways or whatever. I love the Emerson quote, which I’ll probably quote this every 5 episodes of I Love Marketing, “You ask for a new idea when you haven’t used the last one that I gave you.” It’s so true. And I think, in a lot of ways, one of the best services that we provide to our clients is we’re just a reminder service. When we do coaching for people that are part of our coaching or mastermind groups, a lot of the times, they’ll come in there looking for methods to build their business. And we get them thinking about, “Well, what have you done in the past that worked, that you’ve abandoned? What are you doing right now that’s working, but you’re not exploiting it? What are the things that you’re doing now with just yourself, that you could go get a joint venture partner to do for you?” That sort of stuff.

Dean: Sometimes, just sending the same thing again is even better than trying to improve what you’re already sending or trying to come up with something new to send. I think I shared with you one of the things we do with our Getting Listing Sold program is whenever somebody gets a new listing, we get the data overnight. So it automatically knows who they are, and the next day, they get an email that goes out, that has the address of the property in the subject line. We send that message and get 30% of the people who go on that, who get the email, to click through. We’re wondering how can we improve that. What can we do? And I said, “Let’s send it again to the people who didn’t click on it today.”

That’s one of the things you can do with email, and the same thing with direct mail, is send something again to the people who didn’t respond. If they already responded, you don’t need to send it again. We do that, and we get over 20% of people who let the second message click, so it’s pretty close to 50% of the people who just got a new listing end up come into the site, because they send sequential messages. Now, we’ve started sending sequence message that is based on whether they clicked or they didn’t click to the next one. That’s kind of the really cool thing about using email. You can dynamically change what happens; you can segment your groups based on their behavior. Did they click, or did they not click? And you can send a message based on what they actually did.

Joe: Right. Exactly. There’s so much that technology allows us to know about the person, their behaviors, and to set it up so it’s completely robotic. That’s why I like calling it ELF marketing; because when you’re doing this, there’s a setup stage. The setup stage of developing an ELF business isn’t always easy. A lot of times, it’s just flat-out hard. And sometimes, the hardest part is just understanding the psychology. Everything that we’re explaining, from the mechanic’s standpoint, is not difficult. Send the letter, send out an email. We’re not talking about sophisticated things where we’re telling people to do Steven Spielberg production TV commercials here. We’re giving people very simple methods of communicating with people. It’s just learning the psychology behind it and setting up a system, in the beginning, so you’re going to have these contacts. But once the system is set up, you can use it over and over and over again, and that is the advantage today. It is so much easier to do any of this stuff than it ever has been. Dean.

Dean: Joe.

Joe: Now, what I’d like you to do is to come up with something better than everything I just said, in the time we have remaining on this. I want you to take everything I just talked about and make it seem like child’s play.

Dean: That’s was nothing. If you liked that, wait until you hear this. That’s what you’re looking for?

Joe: No, I don’t care. I think we should just end the call, right now. When I say call, this is because we’re talking on the phone. But I think we should have everyone sit down and knock out a 3-step letter sequence, look at if anyone owes them money, and do a follow-up. But we’re going to keep going. What I want to propose to everyone listening is to list the top 5 things, or think about them, if you’re listening to this podcast or running at a very breakneck speed on a treadmill while exercising at the gym, or driving your car, wherever the heck it is you’re listening to this episode, think of – or write down, if you can – the top 5 most successful promotions, be it an ad, an email, a sales letter, a video, a webinar, a teleseminar.

Out of any of the delivery systems that you’ve used, any of the messages that you’ve put out there, what are the top 5 things that generated the most business? Once you list those 5 things, was there sequencing involved in them? In order to get someone to respond, did you do a singular sort of promotion, or were there steps involved? What is the sales cycle? How did it work? Have a list of that. Once you’ve identified that, can you repeat them again? Are you still doing things? A lot of people have really, really successful promotions and campaigns, and then in the busyness of modern life, they abandon it and they go and try something new. Can you dust it off? Can you bring it back out, if it’s something you used to use I the past, or did it quit working? In most cases, you will find, if you really think this through, that, “Wow, there’s stuff that I did before that, if I did it again right now, it would probably work well.”

The second thing to look at is how can you further exploit it or expand it or repurpose it? Meaning, if you tried a certain email or you tried a certain offer to one list, how many other lists can you go after and they either will be lists that you generate on our own, your existing client base, or they can be other people that you can do joint ventures with. So, look at all of the different ways that you can re-purpose or exploit something. A lot of marketers have great marketing, but they don’t exploit it. And as I say this, I could do the same sort of audit – and I do on a semi-regular basis in my own business, because there’s always things that I could do more of this, or I could sequence that. And whenever I’m in a situation where I really want to just make more money, part of the making more money is not coming up with some creative brand new marketing campaign. Part of it is just saying, “What have I done in the past that worked? What are my clients buying from me?”

Dean: How can I do more of that?

Joe: Yeah, yeah. Honestly, most of the money making in my business is like, “Okay, what’s the shit that I’ve done in the past? Let me go do more of that shit,” and just put it out there. So, I’m asking all of our listeners to do the same sort of thinking in their business. This is not rocket science. It’s just taking recipes that have a proven track record, putting on the oven, just doing it again.

Dean: Baking up those cookies that were great.

Joe: For all of the raw food people that listen, because I’ve had a lot of people that are in the raw food business, like my buddy David Wolfe and Kelly over at the Chocolate Tree in Sedona, they sell these L.O.V.E. Cups in Whole Foods, these raw chocolate, which are awesome. A lot of raw food people actually listen to the I Love Marketing podcasts, so they will just take the same spinach and lettuce and goji berries and stuff that you put in your Vitamix, and just do it again and you’ll have another green smoothie. I don’t know what that was even worth saying, but we’re going to keep it on the podcast anyway. We don’t edit this stuff. Why would we need to? This is sheer brilliance mixed in, even if every single thing is not exactly what you want to hear.

Dean: Can you believe we’ve done 41 episodes, and we haven’t edited yet?

Joe: I know. What does that say about us?

Dean: That’s the thing. I think part of what I get out of these is that we never know. Just having the conversation really reminds me of things.

Joe: Oh, totally. That’s another lesson here, and we talked about this at the I Love Marketing conferences. There’s 3 ways you learn something: 1) you can either learn through the school of hard knocks, where you just go out and try things; 2) you can learn through the experiences of others, you can read their books, go to their seminars and hear what they say. Or 3) the fastest way to learn is to teach things to other people, get involved in discussions about it, which is why we are recommending that you start a Meetup group, or at least attend them. There’s I Love Marketing Meetup groups, which I have to say I’m become completely stoked about all of the people out there that have started Meetup groups, that are running Meetup groups. You guys are awesome, you guys and gals. They’re all over the world now. There’s new ones popping up every week.

Go to Meetup.com and type in “I Love Marketing,” or go to ILoveMarketing.com and look at the tab. We have a “How To Start A Meetup Group Guide.” We’re not charging any money for any of this stuff. Meetup.com has a very nominal fee in order to start Meetup groups, but the reward will come back to you. The discussions are lively; people are learning things. When you go out and start facilitating groups like that, and just having these discussions with other people, there’s the power of the mastermind. We’re bringing that encouragement and this curriculum and these conversations to everybody, so we can just have all of the marketers that are out there just killing it with their businesses, because you’re using really effective marketing. And the people that are showing up at the Meetup groups here in Tempe, it’s unbelievable.

Dean: It’s exciting. I can’t wait to get to the group in Orlando, and maybe start one here in Winter Haven, too.

Joe: Exactly. But the fastest way to learn is to just talking about it. When me and Dean get on the phone, and we actually record these episodes, it’s causing us to have to think back out of all of the seminars we’ve attended, all of the marketing we’ve implemented, all of the things that we’ve helped clients with, to remind us. As soon as I finish an episode, I’m in a state of more capability to go back to my own company, Piranha Marketing, and implement stuff that I myself have forgotten to do. That’s it.

Anything else? I think we’re almost at the time, right, Dean? You know what’s funny? We’re recording on Garage Band, and I am yet a novice on Garage Band. Actually, what’s really funny is Dean actually has to walk me through, every time, what I need to click on and all of that, in order to record this. This is only like the third episode we’ve recorded with this new way. There’s these measures down at the bottom, but it doesn’t give you an actual time, and I always forget to look at the time, because I’m dumb-ass.

Dean: How many measurements are you at?

Joe: It says like 1,821.

Dean: Yeah, me too.

Joe: What does that mean? I don’t know what that means. Of course, there’s a recording guy out there that says, “Oh, that’s real easy. This is what it means.” But I don’t understand what it means. I don’t really care. All I need to know is marketing, and you telling me what time we’re done, and then we’re done.

Dean: We’re done.

Joe: Okay, good. That’s it. In the next episode, we’re going to continue to talk about some killer direct response stuff. We’d love to hear your comments on this. Try the multisequence mailings. And if you make a ton of money with this, then donate to a cause that really needs it. Yeah, that is it. As usual, thank you for listening, everyone. We wish you a very wonderful week, and we will talk to you on the next episode of I Love Marketing.

Dean: Thanks, Joe.

Hidden content