Everyday you are bombarded with advertising of all shapes and sizes. Gigantic billboards line the streets along which you drive. But, advertising doesn’t have to be huge to be effective. You can develop a successful mail order business starting out with mini-circulars.

Mini-circulars are quite small in size, generally measuring 3″ x 5″ . Although small, mini-circulars can be a very powerful tool in mail order selling — if they are used correctly. However, mini-circulars can seldom be used to sell expensive merchandise. Nor can they be used to sell novelty merchandise or gift items at retail prices. This is especially true if they are being mailed to “opportunity seekers.”

A mini-circular should be used to:

  •      Recruit dealers to sell your products.
  •      Obtain inquiries about your product or service.
  •      Sell low-cost “leader items” to hobbyists, mail order dealers, and opportunity seekers.

Here is a partial list of some products that are currently being sold successfully with mini-circulars. The list is not exhaustive. However, it should give you a good idea of the myriad of products you could begin to market with mini-circulars.

Catalog Samples


Rubber Stamps

Shipping Labels

Mailing Lists

Magazine Samples

Pen Pal Magazines

Drop-Ship Offers

Mail Order Plans

Typesetting Services

Home Legal Forms

Palm Reading Charts

Lonely Hearts Magazines


Employment Directories

Metal Social Security Cards

Ad Space


Mail Order Manuals

Name Labels

Circular Mailing Service

Big Mails

Trade Directories

Hobby Publications

Wholesale Offers

Clip Art Books

Cook Books

High School Diploma Forms

Handwriting Analysis

Name Listing Service


Stop Smoking Guides



Commission Circulars

Computer Software

CDs and Cassette Tapes

Fishing Lures

Newsletter Subscriptions

Personalized Children’s Books

Foreign Trade Directories

Video Cassettes

Child Identification Kits

Personal Security Devices

Auto Security Steering Locks

Diet Information

Personal Astrological Readings

Personal Motivation Courses

If you are now selling any of the above products or something similar, you can probably sell them with mini-circulars.

Many publishers, wholesalers, and drop-ship firms will supply you with free mini-circulars, already designed and printed. If you order them in lots of 1,000 or more you can usually have them imprinted with your name and address. Otherwise, you will want to rubber stamp your name and address on each one.

Other dealers and distributors will supply you with “camera ready” circular copy. This consists of a master copy of each circular they provide. Any offset printer can reproduce it for you. Or, to save money, simply make copies at a quick print shop. Start by typing your name in the “Order From” space on the coupon. Make several more crisp, clean copies. Cut them apart, and with a little rubber cement, paste five of them onto a full size standard sheet of white bond paper. Then have 1,000 copies produced either by an offset printer or at the quick print shop. From 1,000 average size sheets of paper you will get 5,000 mini-circulars.

If you prefer, you can produce your own circular master on your personal computer. Make sure you use a clear, easy-to-read typestyle and eye-catching graphics (clip art). In this fashion, you will be able to produce a first-rate advertising circular. If you don’t own a computer, there are many print shops that will charge you an hourly fee and allow you to use their computer equipment to make such a circular. Or, if you prefer, many freelance advertising artists would be willing to produce one for you. Compare the prices offered by both local ad designers and those who advertise their services by mail order.

After designing your own circular, you simply reproduce a large amount of mini-circulars in the same fashion as outlined above. But be careful. If your circulars are sloppy or amateurish, they will produce very few orders. You want to present a professional image to encourage potential customers to buy from you.

Another method for having your ad inexpensively designed is to place a quarter-page ad in one of the mail order magazines that offer a  free typesetting service. Your advertisement will be professionally typeset and run in the next issue of the publication. These publications appear every month and have very short closing dates, so there is no long waiting period for your ad to appear. When it does appear, just clip out your ad, make several copies, and paste them up to be copied. You now have a camera-ready mini-circular! (If your ad has been printed on a colored paper, bleach it first by soaking in a weak bleach solution for a few minutes, rinse it in cold water, and dry it on a piece of cardboard.)

If your circular contains few words, you can run a 1″ ad and have it enlarged to the 3″ x 6″ size. This method can also be very effective. Many big mail publishers will print up to 60 words in a one-inch ad space for you. Other publications will print forty words. Just like the large publishers, these ad mailers will professionally typeset your ad for you without extra charge. Remember, however, circulars with fewer words are usually easier read by your prospect.

Almost any print shop can produce your circulars within twenty four hours. Some will even do it while you wait. Shop carefully, comparing prices. Do-it-yourself shops will allow you to do the copying yourself on high-speed, high-quality photocopy machines. Search carefully for a bargain price.

It may be cheaper for you to use one of the mail order offset printers who advertise nationwide. You can further cut prices by allowing the printer to place his non-conflicting ads on the backs of your circulars. There are dozens of small printers who will print your order in quantities of 1,000 or more. The faster, more efficient printers usually have higher minimums. You can shop their prices by examining some of the circulars you receive in your mail or by studying the ads in the various mail order magazines.

Once your circular is printed, you must decide how you are going to distribute it. Naturally, you will enclose circulars in your own mailings. If you have your circulars printed in lots of 6,000 or more, you could use six different circulars. And the greater the variety of items offered in your own mailings, the more orders you will receive.

You can also pay other circular mailers to distribute your circulars. There are hundreds of dealers who will include your circulars in their mailings for a very small fee. For example, if you send out 200 circulars every day to a different mailer, you could have 6,000 circulars in the mail within thirty days! But, go slowly. It is not usually advisable to send more than several hundred circulars to any one mailer until after you have tested his service. Some mailers will  produce many more orders for you than others. Test several before committing too many resources to a single distributor. Once you find fifty or a hundred good mailers, you can have tens of thousands of circulars distributed through the mail every month!

By key coding your circulars, you can determine which mailers are doing the best job with your circulars. Keying simply means identifying your address in some manner so that you will be able to associate the response with a particular mailer. There are numerous ways to key an ad or circular. These could range from a simple “Dept. A” placed within the address, to subtle name or initial changes, to variations of your company name. If you have both a post office box and a home address, you can easily double the number of keying options. Use of the word “drawer” for “box” is only one alternative. Many advertisers use the easiest and sometimes most obvious method of keying, that of using a department number after the post office box number or street address. Sometimes “Suite #” or “Room #” or “2nd Floor” is used in conjunction with a street address to key the ad.

Another method of distribution is exchange mailing. It works like this: You mail 100 circulars for a dealer, and, in exchange, he mails 100 circulars for you. You will find dealers who are willing to make exchange mailings by reading the ads in various mail order magazines. Watch for ads that carry the slogan “X-100-SY”, which means “Exchange 100  —  Send Yours.” When the dealer receives your circulars, he will mail you 100 of his own. He may mark his envelope, “X-100-YR”, which means, “Exchange 100, Yours Received.” If you send your mail offers to other mail dealers, you could also include this slogan on your envelope to prompt a deal: “X-100-SY-MWF”, which means “Exchange 100  —  Send Yours, Mine Will Follow.” Dealers who are interested in exchange mailing will note your slogan immediately! Some exchange mailers work this system regularly with very good results, exchange mailing with many different dealers. If you use this method, it is wise to code your circulars and continue exchanging only with dealers who produce orders for you.

Dealers are constantly discovering new ways to distribute their mini-circulars. Some mailers will print and mail your circulars for an extra few dollars per thousand. They print your ads on the backs of their own circulars or those of their other customers. Or, they print your circulars on the backs of commission circulars which they then sell to commission mailers. Some printers will print your circular on one side and a blank space commission circular on the reverse side. You can then mail these to commission mailers, and they will mail them for you in order to earn the commission on the other ad.

The mail order business is a creative one. Dealers are constantly finding new ways to distribute their circulars. By studying your mail every day, you may be able to take advantage of these very sound, practical ideas. One thing is certain, if you offer low cost items of interest to mail buyers on your mini-circulars, you can make sales with them! All it takes is work and imagination! Good luck!

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