The Case for Space Cheap to Test, Quick to Turn Around (1,285
By Denny Hatch
Whenever someone calls me looking for advice on how to sell a product by mail, I invariably suggest a wee test in space to see if it fogs the mirror. The reasons:
• A great many businesses started with small space ads. Among them: Lillian Vernon, J. Peterman, Banana Republic. At right is the ubiquitous "Indispensable Black Travel Dress" ad that TravelSmith runs everywhere. The purpose is to make a little money and get a customer who will buy additional merchandise from the catalog.
• Use a space ad, and your offer can be in your prospect's hands quickly.
• Your offer is in everyone's hands at the same time. This may also be a disadvantage, unless you're set up to handle a rush of orders.
• With space, you can reach the same audiences for less money than mail. For example, if spending $500/M to reach subscribers of a certain magazine by renting its list does not pay in terms of the allowable cost per order, you can reach those same folks via a space ad in that magazine for $20/M to $30/M—or less if you negotiate. Since they all read the magazine, this may be worth a test.
• With space, you can reach wider audiences. For example, if you have a general interest business or consumer product or service, you can reach likely prospects in out-of-the-way places, such as in-flight magazines.
• Print ads are far easier to create than full-dress direct mail packages.
• Unlike mail, you can negotiate for even lower CPMs. In the immortal words of freelance media consultant Iris Shokoff, "I've never bought an ad at full rate in my life."
• If you have credit, you can run the ad and be billed later, paying for the ad out of revenues. Remember, the U.S. Postal Service demands full postage in advance or you don't mail.