The secret to selling more hamburgers

Gary Halbert, a renowned copywriter, once shared vital insights that could save your direct-marketing efforts from financial ruin.

From time to time, Gary taught classes on copywriting and selling by mail.

One question he often posed to his students was: "If we both owned hamburger stands and competed to sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you want on your side?"

The answers range from superior ingredients to the best location or lowest prices.

But when Gary's students finished listing their desired advantages, he told them he only needed one advantage to outsell them all:

"A Starving Crowd!"

Gary urged us to consider this: in direct marketing, your most profitable habit is constantly seeking out groups of people (markets) hungry for a specific product or service.

How do we gauge this hunger?

Gary explained that for direct marketers, mailing lists make it easy.

Suppose we're new to direct marketing and want to sell a book titled "How to Invest Money in the Stock Market" via direct mail.

Who should receive our promotion? Gary explored several possibilities:

  1. Mailing to names and addresses from a telephone book - A terrible idea with too much waste circulation.
  2. Mailing to people in high-income areas only - Better, but still insufficiently targeted.
  3. Mailing to professionals with above-average incomes - A fair option, but we can do better.
  4. Mailing to wealthy mail-order buyers - Now we're onto something.
  5. Mailing to wealthy mail-order buyers of similar investment products - Bingo! We're getting warmer.
  6. Mailing to wealthy, repeat mail-order buyers of similar investment products - These people are ideal prospects.
  7. Mailing to wealthy, repeat mail-order buyers of similar investment products who've paid top dollar - We're very close to the best possible audience.
  8. Mailing to wealthy, repeat mail-order buyers of similar investment products who've paid top dollar and made recent purchases - Almost perfect.
  9. Mailing to the previous group, but only those whose list broker reports high responsiveness to similar offers - This is the best list to rent.
  10. Your own satisfied customer list - The ultimate audience for your promotion.

Gary emphasized the three main guidelines for selecting mailing lists: recency, frequency, and unit-of-sale. The more recently someone has purchased a similar product, the more often they buy that type of item, and the more they're willing to spend on it, the better prospects they are for your offer. Among these factors, Gary believed recency was paramount.

All of this applies to promoting your SaaS product too. Are they already trying similar solutions? Was it recent? Have they spent a considerable amount of money on it?

If you can find factors that identify your hungry crowd, your outreach results will show for it.


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