Appeals to a large segment of the population.
Is not readily available in stores.
Is easy to ship by mail.
Is worth the price.
Is a product that lends itself to repeat orders.
Most mail order writers will also suggest that you try to acquire the exclusive selling rights to your product. And, most will also agree that a dealer has a better chance of succeeding in the mail order business if he is the creator of the actual product itself.
All of this is certainly good advice. However, it does not go far enough. It does not tell you how to create a product that is exclusively your own. In the few pages that follow, we would like to show you — step by step — how to create your own mail order product.
Let’s begin by making a very revolutionary statement. The first step on the road to mail order success is not the selection of a product! That may sound like a very strange statement. But, if you want to be successful there are three things you must do before you ever select a product to sell by mail.
Analyze Yourself – You will only succeed in selling an individual product or line of mail order products if you really enjoy selling it. You must be honestly enthusiastic about your offer. It must be a product you yourself would want to purchase.
Select Your Market – You want to sell to people who have interests similar to your own. People who desire the same things you do. People likely to purchase your item. Only then will you be comfortable in your mail order business.
Analyze Your Prospects – Before you ever select a product you should know what the consumers in your market are buying, what they would like to buy, and what they are willing to buy in the very near future.
Once you have analyzed yourself, selected your market, and then thoroughly analyzed your prospects, you will have little trouble selecting or creating a product to sell by mail. It will almost select you! Now, let’s go back and take a closer look at these steps.
To help you understand yourself, sit down and, as honestly as possible, write out your answers to the following questions:
- When I go to a newsstand, what kind of magazines appeal to me?
- What kind of books do I really like to read?
- When I daydream, about what do I daydream?
- What do I do with my free time? How do I spend my evenings? What do I do on weekends?
- What do I do on my vacation?
- Which one subject interests me more than any other in the world?
- If I didn’t have to work for a living, how would I spend my time?
- If I could go back to college, what subjects would I take?
- What kind of products do I like to purchase by mail?
Once you have honestly answered all these questions, you will see an amazing pattern emerging.
SELECT YOUR MARKET
When you have finished, pay a visit to your local library. Go to the reference desk and ask to see the latest edition of the Writer’s Market. Sit down and study the book’s Table of Contents. Here you will find a list of all the main categories of magazines currently available. Decide which category interests you beyond all the others. It is in that mail order market that you will be most at home. And it is there that you will be most successful.
Now, go back to the reference desk and ask to see two other publications. Either one can provide you with the information you need. They are The Standard Periodical Directory and Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory.
Let us, for the sake of illustration, say that you have a compelling interest in astrology. With a little search in the The Standard Periodical Directory you will find the names and addresses of at least a dozen or so astrology magazines. In Ulrich’s you will find even more, since it lists magazines published in foreign countries as well.
Write down the names and addresses of each and every publication in your selected field. Write to each of them, on your business letterhead, if possible. Tell them you are starting a mail order business specializing in astrological products, and ask them for a sample copy of their publication along with their advertising rates package. When you start receiving your sample copies, save them and the advertising rate cards. They will be invaluable to you in the future.
While you are waiting for these to arrive, go to the nearest second-hand magazine store and buy a few dozen old astrology magazines. Get as many different magazine titles as possible. Be sure to get copies that carry mail order ads. Issues that are ten or fifteen years old will be of limited value to you. Instead, try to obtain some of the more current issues. You are now ready to begin in earnest.
Start a notebook. Pick up one of the magazines which you have purchased at the second-hand magazine store. Read the first ad — every line of it. Read it slowly and carefully. When you have finished reading it, see if you can describe what is being sold in five words or less. If you can’t, go back and read it again. If you can, record your description under one of three headings in your notebook:
Merchandise Information Service
All mail order offerings come under one of the three headings listed above. If the ad were for an “Aquarian Necklace”, it should be listed under Merchandise. If it were for a booklet on “Flying Saucers”, it would be listed under Information. If it is an offer to chart your horoscope, it would be listed under Service.
After you have analyzed the first ad, go on and study the next one. Continue this process until you have thoroughly analyzed every single ad in the magazine, including the classifieds. When you are through, you will have three lists:
A list of astrological merchandise for sale.
A list of astrological manuals or other information for sale.
A list of astrological services for sale.
As you read, watch for:
Undeveloped Ideas — You will find, especially in older issues, really good ideas that were for one reason or another never developed. Perhaps the originator lost interest or didn’t have the capital to develop his idea. He may have died or lost interest in mail order or been beset by other problems. If you can develop the idea, you have a new, successful mail order product.
Wholesale Sources — Watch for ads in the more recent issues that say “Dealers Wanted.” You may discover the perfect source of mail order products for you.
Study the Articles — The feature articles will show you in what the readers are interested, and they will give you clues as to what readers want to buy. Remember that the articles do two things. First, they address topics of interests that will entice the reader to keep looking through the magazine. However, they also create new interests in the minds of the readers. Can you create a product that the readers will desire as a result of reading a typical article?
You will be amazed at what you will discover when you read magazines from the viewpoint of a mail order dealer!
While researching this manuscript, we analyzed three totally different magazines from the mail order point of view. We would like to share some of our findings with you. Don’t worry if the fields are different from those which interest you. The basic mail order principles will be the same no matter what your area of interest.
The first magazine we analyzed was Astrology – Your Daily Horoscope. We looked first at the Merchandise offers.
The first ad was for personalized stationery. Any mail order seller knows you can sell personalized stationery to any market. But, this dealer took a commonplace product and adapted it to the astrological market. Next to the name and address that he prints on the stationery, he also prints the astrological sun sign. He calls his product “Zodiac Stationery.”
The next ad offered another commonplace product — soap! While you can buy soap in any grocery store, this soap is special. It has the purchaser’s own zodiac sign imprinted in it. The symbol is guaranteed to last as long as the soap lasts. This is another good example of adapting a common product to the special interests and desires of prospective customers.
If you are now selling a product by mail and would like to increase your sales, make a list of all the types of people who make up your potential customer market. For example, you might characterize them by professions, such as doctors, waitresses, farmers, gun collectors, etc. Then, go back and ask yourself what you could do to your product to make it appeal to each individual group. You’ll be amazed at how you can turn everyday items into red hot mail order sellers just by taking the time to put yourself in a potential customer’s shoes.
The next merchandise offer we found was for “Seashells for Virgos and Scorpios”. What a fantastic idea! Had this advertiser offered plain old seashells in an astrology magazine, his mailbox would probably have been empty. Had he advertised “Seashells for Astrologers”, he might have gotten a few orders. But, he made his seashells special, exclusive, and very, very desirable; they are only for Virgos and Scorpios. By doing so, he caught the attention of one reader out of every six. We would bet that this ad was a mail order success! It is an example worth remembering. Try to apply the same principles to your product.
Another merchandise offering was a “Handheld Bio-Rhythm Computer”. For quite some time, astrology magazines ran article after article addressing the Bio-Rhythm Theory. This idea contends that every person has emotional, intellectual, and physical cycles that can be predicated in advance based upon their date of birth. Astrology magazines, in effect, created a mail order market for this kind of new product. The ad promises that the product will reveal “your emotional, intellectual and physical state…EVEN BEFORE THE DAY BEGINS!” This dealer was clever enough to do something in response to the current trends in the field of astrology. If he had not studied his market, he could never have discovered the need for a bio-rhythm computer!
We next took a look at astrological services offered in the magazine. People who read astrology magazines are very interested in Love, Money, Success, Power, Miracles, Prayer, etc. One enterprising dealer wrote six “personal guidance” manuals and ran full page ads selling them from $2.00 to $11.00 each. His ads have run successfully for several years. Several years ago we noticed this same dealer running small ads in mail order magazines selling mail order manuals! Obviously, he has found an idea that works — and works well. He has tapped into each market selling a product that he knows well, but adapting it to the needs and interests of that market’s customers.
Here are some of the other information manuals which dealers have written and are selling by mail:
How the Mayan Indians Foretold the Future – $15.00
Powerful Words to End Your Money Worries -$4.00
How to Spiritually Heal Your Pet – $5.00
A Manual on Etheric Astral Projection, written “especially for the Neophyte” – $3.00
Can you create a worthwhile manual for this market? If you need ideas for manuals, study the subjects being offered in the astrology magazines. Remember, readers are interested in those subjects! A study of older astrology magazines will provide you with a wealth of subjects for new mail order manuals or folios. In the issue that we studied, the following information articles appeared. This is only a partial list, but will give you an idea of the sort of information included.
Yearly Forecast for Sagitarians
Basic Astronomy for the Astrologers
Sybil Leek Analyzes Your Dreams
How to Make Your Dreams Pay Off
How Mercury Inspires Your Creativity
If there is one thing that people who read astrology magazines love, it is that they love to be analyzed and counselled by professionals. Do you have specialized training in the art of horoscope reading? If so, you could sell your services by mail. Here are some of the headlines from ads offering such services:
A Horoscope Written for the TWO OF YOU!…One for You, One for Your Loved One!
Let an Expert Discuss YOUR Life!
This Horoscope is About YOU
Now…A Serious Study of YOU!
Is This YOUR Year of Destiny?
Other services being offered in this magazine include:
Personal Questions Answered By Psychics and Mystics
Questions answered through Astro-Extra Sensory Perception
Are you trained to offer such services through the mail? Or, are you interested in receiving such training? If your answer is “Yes!”, this is where you should begin your mail order career.
The next magazine we analyzed was an issue of Field & Stream. Since this magazine is aimed at two mail order markets — hunters and fishermen — we analyzed only those ads pertaining to hunters.
Men who hunt for wild game spend a lot of money on their hobby. They buy top quality hunting clothes. They spend a lot of money on their guns, their hunting knives, and on top quality binoculars. There are several dozen well-established mail order companies selling this merchandise to hunters. If you are planning to establish a one-man mail order operation, you would be well advised not to try to compete with these large companies. Instead, look for something unique that a hunter can use and begin your mail order business there.
Here are a few merchandise offerings being made by enterprising dealers:
Deer Hunter’s Soap – Bathe in soap scented with the aroma of a female deer
and you will attract a Buck. Only $3 per bar!
Notice how a smart dealer adapted a commonplace item to a specialized market. Notice, too, that he adapted it to only one kind of hunter. He didn’t offer it to bear hunters, coon hunters, quail hunters, or to hunters in general. He offered it to only deer hunters! If you were a deer hunter, you would notice that ad!
Curtain Rods for Hunting Vans – $5 a pair!
Sure, you can buy curtain rods in almost any store, but not curtain rods for Hunting Vans! Another excellent example of taking a commonplace item, adapting it to a specialized market, and creating a new mail order product.
o Gun cleaning cloths (10 for $1).
o Brass nameplates for hunting dogs (not for just any old dog!).
o ID Tags for Your Hunting Dogs.
o Hand-warmers and Body-warmers (Boy, could you use these when you get lost in the snow!).
There was a small classified ad offering “Fish and Game Rubber Stamps”. We suspect this dealer got a lot of orders. If he didn’t, it likely was because his offer was too general. First of all, it could have sold better with an illustrated display ad. But even better, pattern it after the Virgo and Scorpio concept above. How about rubber stamps for raccoon hunters? Or for pheasant hunters? Or rubber stamps for taxidermists? You will always get more orders if you direct your ad to specific buyers.
Frankly, we were amazed at the number of information products being sold to hunters. Here are some examples:
How to Build Your Own Gun Cabinet.
Duck Calling Instructions on Audio Cassette.
Life-Size Tracks Chart Featuring 38 Animals in the Adirondack Mountains.
How to Build Box Traps.
My Secret on Coon Trapping, after 50 years. Guaranteed.
Mount Fish for Fun and Profit – Easy Instructions.
Tan Your Own Hides — Hair on or off. Complete, easy-to-follow instructions and formulas.
Tan Your Own Hides with Household Substances – Formula.
Build Your Own Meat, Fish, and Sausage Smoker! Inexpensive, portable. Easy plans.
Wild Game and Fish Recipes. Deer, Bear, Rabbit, Trout, Salmon, and dozens more.
Can you write an information manual for hunters? Can you tell them how to shoot ducks? How to hunt buffalo? What to do for snake bites? How to sign up for a big game safari in the wilds of Africa? If you can, write a good manual and sell it by mail! As you see above, however, not all information is written. Many people buy plans and diagrams. Also, a lot of information in every field is now being put on audio and video cassette tapes and sold by mail. If you would rather talk than write, this could be an aspect of mail order selling for you to consider.
Unlike the readers of astrology magazines, game hunters don’t care about being analyzed or counselled! But, if you can teach his hunting dog how to chase a raccoon up a tree, then he will probably pay you for your services. Can you teach him how to repair his gun? Or, can you stuff and mount his catches? If so, you can build a mail order business offering such services.
Finally, we studied a copy of the popular magazine for would-be authors, Writer’s Digest.
If you are interested in the craft of writing or if you have done well in creative writing classes, you might decide to build a mail order business catering to the needs of the thousands of persons who dream of becoming professional writers. Here are some of the merchandise offers being made to writers:
Copyright and Related Laws for Writers.
Grants and Aids to Individuals in the Arts – 1500 Sources. (What writer isn’t looking for a grant?)
How To Receive Checks Every Week for Features, Fillers, News.
Secret Way to Make Money Writing.
Make Money Writing Fillers! Up-to-Date Buyers Directory.
International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses.
If you can produce an information manual showing writers how to write better or how to sell their manuscripts, then write it and sell it by mail. You will have created a new mail order product! To get ideas for subjects of interest to writers, study the articles in such publications as the Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and Poets and Writers Magazine.
Some of the largest mail order businesses in the world sell correspondence courses teaching people how to write for a living. There are also a dozen or more large printing companies (called “vanity publishers” in the trade) whose sole business is printing books for authors whose works have been rejected by the regular publishing houses.
If you are a serious literary person with a gift for writing, you could very possibly establish a business offering your services to other writers. Here are some of the services which were being offered in the issue of Writer’s Digest:
Literary Counselling Literary Criticism Literary Editing Short Story Evaluation Manuscript Analysis Article Evaluation (non-fiction) Ghost Writing Newspaper and Magazine Reference Service Manuscript Typing
Are you qualified to offer any of these services by mail? If you are, you may have found a service to sell by mail! If you are not now qualified, why not get training, and then offer your services by mail?
We have just touched the surface of three different mail order markets. There are hundreds of other mail order markets for you to explore! Analyze yourself and then select the market that is best suited for you. Study your market thoroughly — And never stop studying it! Most successful mail order dealers read dozens of magazines every month. They know what their customers are thinking about, what they need, and what they will buy.
Successful mail order people are interested in the needs and wants of their customers first. They understand that if they concentrate on those, profits will flow naturally. Those who think only of profits soon fall by the wayside.
In the beginning of this manual, we asked you to examine every magazine in your chosen field. Subscribe to as many as possible. When you have created your first product, start advertising in those magazines. Never run an ad unless you can run it in three consecutive issues. Then continue running it for as long as it continues to produce new customers for you. Slowly add new but related items to your line. Whenever possible, expand your business by inserting your ads in new publications.
Remember these simple guidelines:
CREATE SOMETHING NEW AND EXCITING!
CREATE SOMETHING USEFUL AND WORTHWHILE!
CREATE SOMETHING YOU YOURSELF WOULD WANT TO BUY!
Best Wishes For Success!