Stealth Fitness Marketing with Tear Sheets

Have you ever wondered how to make direct mail realy work for your fitness business? How to stand out from all the other mail and get yours read?

mikeandromany.jpgMy buddy Big Mike has the answer. He is one of the top direct response marketing experts around, runs a $21 million a year business and is a Dan Kennedy VIP Inner Circle Member.

There’s a reason why I’m not using Big Mikes last name in this article. You see, Mike’s is in a HIGHLY controversial and competitive industry. And not only does his competition watch him like a friggin” hawk, but Mike just got back millions of dollars in assets the government seized from him… let’s just say there was a small misunderstanding …and while he did get all of his assets back… he likes to lay low and dive in under the radar, which is exactly how tear sheet marketing works. ( Big Mike’s the big white guy in the photo )

If you’d prefer, you can listen to this article in an audio recording of Big Mike, just  click here.

Big Mike is going to explain how to use tear sheets for stealth personal trainer marketing and fitness marketing campaigns

I’ll let Big Mike take it from here:

I’ll tell you, Chris, I really love tear sheets. And one of the reasons why I like tear sheets so well is because they fly under the prospect’s radar. They’re like a cruise missile if they’re done correctly.

And one of the reasons they fly underneath the radar is the way that they’re presented to people. They’re presented to people like they’re news. And when people see news they have a blind faith in the media and people believe what they read; and it looks like it’s news and it’s written like it’s news, so people get into it.

And also, the way that that news is delivered — it uses the power of referral because we use a little yellow post-it sticky note on there that’s handwritten, and I’ll get into the details of that later. But it seems like it comes from a friend of yours or a family member sent it to you. A lot of it also has to do with the way the envelope is sent as well, which I will get into.

And also, because it looks like news it has what’s called the halo effect. It looks like an article written about you by somebody else and it gives you a lot of credibility when someone’s reading that. I mean, you’re coming off as an expert who’s there to help them solve the problems that they have in their life and you’ve got the solutions.

Now, the way we deliver our tear sheets, I like to use sneak-up mail. And I like sneak-up mail because of several reasons. When people sort their mail they sort it over a garbage can. I used to live in an apartment complex and I would see people do this all the time. They’d open up the mail box and they’d take their mail out and they were just throwing away all the stuff that looks like junk mail. And so the way it’s delivered in the envelope looks like A-pile mail.

I like to use invitation envelopes or a number 10 envelope or a 6″x9″ envelope. They’re all hand-addressed. There’s no return address on there. I always use a very good quality envelope. I find by using a better quality envelope I get a better response rate from it. And we make it look like it came from Grandma. We use first-class mail. I’ll use multiple stamps and I like to use a commemorative stamp or cartoon stamps.

So if you look at it — think about it. You receive this envelope. It looks like an invitation. It’s hand-addressed. It has two or three stamps on it and they’re commemorative stamps or cartoon stamps. I mean, you’re compelled to open it. It looks like a friend is sending you a wedding invitation or some kind of important news, right? Or a letter. I don’t use stamps that have the flag — I don’t like to use flag stamps. Bulk rate mail there’s a flag stamp so I stay away from that. I also don’t like to use presidential stamps only because — if it’s George Washington or Lincoln, you can do that. But people’s political affiliation — they may be Republican, they may be Democrat and I don’t want to influence them in any kind of way. And I never use a bulk stamp and never, ever metered postage at all.

Now, the tear sheets — so now I’ve talked about the envelope and then obviously the tear sheet goes in there. There’s two types of ways you can deliver tear sheets. There’s a newspaper tear sheet and there’s a magazine style tear sheet. And just so you know, it actually looks like someone has torn it out of a magazine. These tear sheets have a ragged, jagged edge on them that actually looks like someone tore them out a magazine and sent them to you.

Now, the newspaper tear sheets come in two different sizes. There’s a standard big, broad sheet that’s 13″x23″, and then there’s a smaller size, more tabloid size looking that’s 10″x14″. And you can do them in color or black and white, whatever way you want to send it. Typically the one that’s a broad sheet depth is 13″x23″. One side will just have the sales message and then when you flip it around on the other side you’ll see stock quotes. And the reason we use stock quotes, because you look at it — it just hurts your head to look at it and obviously that’s not what the person sent you. So you flip it over to the other side and you start reading. Plus, it’s also the side that has the post-it note.

Now, if I use a 10″x14″ you can do single side or you can do both sides. Typically on a 10″x14″ I will use both sides because a lot of times my tear sheet will be 1500 to 2300 words. I have a lot to say. And not just a lot to say, but you want to build your message — your sales presentation — in a certain way and it takes time to develop that. Also, the magazine style is a standard magazine, open it up 8.5″x11″, and you can do the same thing — color or black and white. I tend to go to color when I do a magazine tear sheet. And the same thing, you can do either a single side or a double side. I like to do both sides of that.

And so now you’ve got your tear sheet and the next thing you have to do is of course you have to fold it up — tri-fold — and stick it in the envelope. But you want to use a post-it note on there. And so when the little post-it note — you want to use the person’s first name. And you want to make it about five words in length. And some examples of it would be, “Mike, try this. It’s really good,” signed “J.” “Mike, I hope this helps.” “Mike, check this out. It worked for me.” “Mike, I know this will help you.” Or, “Mike, great info.” And it’s always signed “J.” Now, the reason why we sign it “J” is because it’s the most common letter for someone’s name, male or female; and also, since these are hand-written by people, the pen never has to leave the paper when they stroke the “J.”

Also, you always want to load your mail piece with the headline facing the back of the envelope, as well as the post-it note. If you think about it, when someone gets a letter they open it up and it’s always on the back side when you go to open it up. And then you pull it out, so you want to make sure that that message is there for them right away.

Now I’d like to get into how to write the tear sheet copy. We talked about getting it past the person’s radar, getting into their hands, getting it opened, what to say on the message to intrigue them to read the tear sheet. So now how do you write a tear sheet? So the way I like to do it is I always research my topic very, very thoroughly. The longest hours it takes me to do a tear sheet is the research; I very expensively will research. Typically for me to write a tear sheet it will take anywhere from 20 to 60 hours, depending on what it is that I’m writing about, and the majority of that time is research.

I always think about who my target is after I’ve done the research and I always make sure I have some kind of an offer in the tear sheet. When I write it I use what’s called emotional direct response advertising. People buy always on emotion. I mean, some people have a little challenge on that, but it is always on emotion and then they justify with logic. I like to use the AIDA formula, which stands for — it’s an acronym for attention — you get their attention with a brave headline — interest, desire, and then action.

I also like to then use another formula. It’s called problem-agitate-solution. So I get their attention with a problem, and then I kind of agitate it. It’s almost like taking a band-aid off of someone’s wound and putting a little salt on it and putting the band-aid back on. And you want them to feel it because you want to stir their emotion. Once you start stirring their emotion, that’s when they’re going to start making their buying decision. And then, of course, you have to justify it with logic. And so it’s problem-agitate-solution.

And then I also use — when I’m writing I always keep this in mind. What’s in it for me? It’s a prospect’s favorite radio station — WIIFM, “what’s in it for me?” There always has to be something in it for them. So since it’s an advertorial piece you want to make sure that you actually give them some good information for free. Now, you don’t want to give away the farm, but you want to show them that you’re knowledgeable and you know what you’re talking about.

And also, when you’re doing that, you always want to tell them — no matter what the problem is — it’s not their fault. No matter what it is, no one really wants to take responsibility for their actions and so you let them off the hook. You tell them, “Hey, I’m on your side. I know this isn’t your fault. You’ve been lied to and you’ve been hoodwinked by the establishment,” or whatever you’re writing about, whatever your industry is. There’s always something that people believe someone is trying to hold back information from them or hasn’t necessarily told them the whole truth.

And actually that leads into something. I want everyone to write this down and I’ll repeat it a couple times. This is a very, very nice little paragraph that you should think about. In fact, it’s probably one of the most powerful paragraphs that I’ve ever read when it comes to writing any kind of a direct mail piece.

“People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicious, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.”

So I’ll say that again, “People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicious, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.”

This is more or less a politician’s creed. But anyways, you should keep that in mind when you’re writing.

And I would also like to say that everyone should buy the National Enquirer. I know it sounds crazy. You might even be embarrassed pulling it off the rack and buying it. But I’ll tell you, I buy it every week and I buy it with pride. The reason why I buy it and I read it is, for one, they have really great headlines. And you can learn a lot by the headlines that those writers write. By the way, the National Enquirer writers are the highest paid writers that work for an organization in America, probably the world; and the reason why is they have to come up with these great headlines.

And also why I like the National Enquirer is when you read a story there is never any doubt in your mind what that story is about. It is very clear and precise when you read that. And that’s really important because a lot of times when people write, it isn’t clear; the message is muddled. Never, ever is any of the story that’s written in the National Enquirer muddled. It’s a great learning tool on learning how to write better; not just for the headlines, but for the way that they write the story.

Also, when you write you want to write at the fifth or sixth grade level. Now, it’s not that you’re talking down to a person when you’re writing at that level, but you don’t want to use big words. You don’t want people to get stuck and have to think. When they’re reading your message you want that just to flow very, very easily and you don’t want them to get hung up on a word. You just want to keep moving through the copy. I mean, you want to get them to that call to action as easily as you possibly can. So don’t use big words, don’t use jargon, just keep the conversation nice and simple and on topic and at the fifth or sixth grade reading level because it just makes it easier for people. You don’t want them to have to think while they’re reading; it just kind of flows.

And also, when you are writing you want to use a conversational tone. You want to use a tone as if you and your friends were sitting across the table from each other and just having a conversation. And so one of the things that probably — one of the most important things you can learn, other than writing great headlines, is to use a conversational tone in writing. It takes a little bit of practice, but it’s something that comes very quickly once you work at it.

And then once you write the piece, you want to read the copy out loud. And the reason you want to read the copy out loud is you want to see where you get hung up. If there’s some place that you hesitate for a second while you’re reading it out loud, or you stumble across, you want to fix it. And so you want to read it and you just want the whole thing to flow like a greased shoot, and so I always read it out loud.

Now, I like to talk about the different elements of — well, let’s talk about the headline of the piece. Headlines are the ad for the ad. It is extremely important. So someone has pulled this out. You’ve got their attention because it looks like a friend sent them a personal note on the yellow thing. Now they open it up and it has to be relevant to the problem that they have in their life. So the headline is the ad for the ad and I would say that it carries at least 75 to 80 percent of the weight of the piece that you’re writing. And when I do headlines I’ll write between 20 to 100 headlines, and I write them out on 4″x6″ index cards.

And I actually buy the index cards that have the little spiral thing wound around them so there’s — I think there’s 50 to a pack of them. And I just keep it on my desk all day long and I come up with an idea and I just kind of write it down. And it’s amazing how quick you can come up with a really good headline once your mind is engaged on that. A lot of guys will say write 100 different headlines. And I’ve gotten winners within 20, sometimes 30, 40 different headlines I have to write. So I say between 20 and 100 headlines is where you want to be.

Also, a great headline will call out your prospect; but more importantly, it will disqualify the people who are not your target. You don’t want people reading the headline and reading your article that isn’t really your target market. If you generalize your headline you’re going to be nothing to nobody. But if you speak specifically to your prospect and call him out and talk about a benefit or a solution to the problem that he has, he’s going to jump on that. He’s really going to want to read that headline and read what you have there.

Also, there are some things that you can use. You can use what’s called an eyebrow, and that goes above the headline. And actually, people will read that pre-head first. And it’s maybe eight, nine, ten words. It could be one word, two words, four words; but it has to have relevancy to the headline. And then after the headline, below the headline — if you want — people will use what’s called deck copy, or some people will call it a sub-head under it, but it’s practically deck copy and it expands the headline even more. So you’re starting to take people down this slippery slope. So now you’ve got their attention with the eyebrow, they read the big headline, and then it continues and goes even further into what their problem is and offering them their solution.

And now you’re getting into what’s called the lead. And in the lead you want to make sure — and this is really critical — that the headline and the lead are tied together; there’s not a disconnect at all between the two. You want to use– I like to use what’s called a drop cap, and that’s that big letter you see in the first word. And the reason I like to use a drop cap is it gets people’s attention. And they’ve done a lot of testing with this and it will increase your response by up to 13 percent by using a drop cap.

And then what you want to do is you’ll want to use what’s called sub-heads. And there’s something called a dual readership pass when people are reading. There’s two kinds of people, one that will read every single word and another that will just — they’re skimmers. They’ll skim over the headlines, they’ll look at the picture, they’ll read the sub-heads. And the sub-heads are usually bigger, bolder type and they — if someone’s skimming, they get the gist of the story and what’s going on. In fact, a good sub-head will draw people into the story. They’ll go, “Wow, that’s kind of interesting,” and they’ll start reading. And that’s what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to get them — to draw them into the body copy.

Also when I’m writing I like to at some point — probably two-thirds of the way through — I like to give them a before and after snapshot. I like to show them if they don’t act upon what I’m talking about they can keep going down the path and feeling the same pain; or they can choose a better way, which is the solution that I’m offering, and their life is going to be better. So I always like to do that. I like to show them a before and after picture.

Then I like to give them an offer, which is to be — it could be a free gift. And let me talk about giving away gifts. We’ve found that gifts don’t have to be related to what you’re doing; people just like things. And so if you can give them a choice of gifts, that usually will increase response. Don’t give them more than three, though, choices; but two choices of gifts or three choices of gifts are good. Or a lot of times I’ll offer information that gives further solutions to the problem that they’re having. A free report or a guide of some sort or a white paper, those are things that you can give out.

And then also you must have a strong close. A lot of people go weak on the close. They’re afraid to ask for the sale. But never be afraid to ask for the sale. Tell them exactly what you want them to do. “Call now.” “Dial this number.” “Go to this website.” Whatever it is that you want them to do, be direct about it and ask them for it. Do not be shy about the close. Tell them what you want to do and ask them for the sale. And always give a reason why you’re giving away your offer or what you’re doing; it’s always really important to always have a reason why. Even if it’s a weak reason, you’ve got to have a reason why.

And then you should do a takeaway. And by takeaway I mean it should be offered only for a limited amount of time. If you don’t do that, the death of your sales promotion is the person putting it down and going, “I’ll get to it later.” You want to get this person so they’re on fire; that they want to act upon it right now and fear that they’re going to lose it.

Also, when you’re writing your body copy you want to use testimonials. I’ll usually put two or three testimonials into the copy. And it’s really important that you put testimonials in because it will lift response by 50 percent. So without them, you’re going to get half as many responses; it’s very important.

And also, where you put the testimonial can also be important. When a person is reading the copy and they’re going, “Yeah, sure,” that is kind of where you want to put the testimonial to give the reader confidence that, yeah, this really is true and here’s the testimonial from this person that answers the question in their mind, “Is this really true?” or they may have a question about it. So that’s when I like to slip in the testimonials.

And then I also like to give a guarantee. A guarantee is extremely important. If you’re in a service business you can always give a guarantee that you’ll show up on time, you’ll close the gate, you’ll do this, you’ll do that; or if you actually have a guarantee where you guarantee the product, that’s very important. A lot of people are afraid that they’ll get taken advantage of if they offer a guarantee and it’s quite the opposite. Yeah, you’ll get a few people that will occasionally take advantage of you, but the majority of the people will not. And so you want to offer a very strong guarantee that will really increase your response. In fact, I will not do a piece unless there is a guarantee on there.

And I also like to use something that’s called a bucket brigade. And I use those to hook together the different paragraphs that I’ve written. And a bucket brigade engages the reader to make it easy to go from one paragraph to the next paragraph to the next paragraph. And I’ll just give you some examples of bucket brigades; you’ve probably seen them or read them yourself. They start at the beginning of the paragraph and little phrases like “even better,” “that’s not all,” “and get this,” “moreover,” “even worse,” “here’s why,” “let me explain,” “quite simply,” “what’s more” — I mean, these are just a few. There are hundreds of these things that you can use. But it keeps the reader engaged and gets them excited about the copy.

Also, if they read a good bucket brigade it can draw them into that paragraph. So you’re using sub-heads and bucket brigades to draw them in. You want to draw them in anywhere that you can and draw them into the copy, because you get people who are skimmers and what you’re trying to do is stop the skimming and get them engaged in the copy.

Also, when you do your headlines — if you’re going to do a tear sheet and you’re going to write on both sides of it, make sure the headline is on both sides or part of the headline is on the back side as well, because someone might give it to a friend or they might open it the wrong way or the person who did your mailings for you stuffed it in the wrong way. So no matter which way they open it up, there’s going to be a headline.

And also, you want to keep your paragraphs three to five sentences long. You don’t want big blocks of text because big blocks of text just seems like a lot of work to read that copy. And you don’t want to make it look like a lot of work for them; you want to make it look like it’s just easy reading. And when they get engaged, they’ll just keep reading. And so what I like to do between my paragraphs, I like to keep a little bit of space for breathing. And I also will indent the first three spaces, the five spaces of every paragraph because it just gives a nice eye relief when you’re looking at the tear sheet.

And also, orphans and widows I would like to talk about. Now, widows are just — at the end of the paragraph there might just be one word or two words. Those are good. Leave them in there. You want to leave them in there because it gives good eye relief, a little bit of space between the paragraphs. Also, the right side of the paragraph I leave ragged. I’ll justify left, I’ll indent, and then I will let the right side be ragged. Again, it’s just easier on the eyes to do.

Now, orphans aren’t a good thing. Orphans — also when you’re doing your tear sheets, look at the paper it’s going in and see how — you want your tear sheet to look like the magazine or newspaper that it’s going in. so if you’re looking at a newspaper and it’s three columns or four columns or five columns or six columns, that’s the way you want to write it. But anyways, at the bottom of a column is where a lot of people will make the mistake, they’ll put just one line there or they’ll put a sub-head they will leave there. You don’t want to have just one line laying on the bottom. What you want to do is to be able to have two or three sentences there.

Also, cliff hangers — I like to use cliff hangers. At the end of the column I like to break off the paragraph in such a way that it teases the person. And for them to complete the thought or to get the answer what you’re talking about, it forces them up to the top of the next column to read. So I always will use cliff hangers at the bottom of each column to do that.

And also, if I’m using two pages I will always at the bottom have an arrow and it says “continue on to the next page,” or “turn page.” I actually put an arrow. And usually what I’ll do in the arrow, I’ll reverse out the word “over” in the arrow so people know you turn the page to get to the other side. You want to instruct them what to do every step of the way.

Now, the overall look of the tear sheet is very important because the layout can be responsible between a 40 and 70 percent increase in the response, so you want to make sure that you do it right. You want to make sure the headlines and the sub-heads are in red, black or blue. And I also like to use yellow to highlight certain key words or ideas in there. Now, use that sparingly. Don’t use a lot of it. You can overdo it and you don’t want to do that.

And also I’ll use pictures in there. And pictures are very important, but they have a caption underneath them. The caption underneath the picture is the second most read thing. They’ll read the headline and then they go right to the picture and they’ll read the caption. And so you always want to make sure you have a great caption and put a benefit in the caption, almost offering the solution. In fact, sometimes they do talk about the solution to the problem that they’re having underneath the pictures because you want to start to draw them into the copy to read. Now, you don’t want to overdo it with pictures too much because too many pictures takes away from space that I can use for writing and my words to make my sales letter.

Also, when you do a testimonial you want to make sure that the testimonial has a headline — very important. It’s like of like the ad for the testimonial and that draws people into the testimonial. And also I like to put in the testimonials — I like to put a picture of the person who gave the testimonial. Now, if you don’t have a picture of the person, it is legal to go out and use a stock photo. Now, the testimonial has to be true and from a customer, but you can go to iStockphoto or one of these places and you can get a photo of a person that matches kind of like the person that gave the testimonial. And you can use that because a lot of times people don’t want their picture in there. I usually don’t run into that, but sometimes the person might not be all that attractive either, which isn’t really a bad thing, but certain things you may not want to use so I’ll use a stock photo.

Also, sometimes when I write a tear sheet I will have side stories on the tear sheet so it looks like part of a side story that was part of the paper when it was tore out. And in there I’ll use a picture of a pretty girl. Now, what they found out is that women like looking at women and men like looking at women. A man’s picture will decrease response where a woman’s picture will increase response with both men and women, so I always use a picture of a pretty girl. And whenever you’re using photos, always remember this – you want the person to be looking into the copy. That’s really important that the person is looking into the copy because if they’re looking out, you look at the picture and it nearly draws you right off the page. And I’ll do things like in my testimonials we’ll do things kind of like they’re tacked up with thumb tacks and stuff, these little things that you put on the corkboard. But I point them in such a way that they point people’s eyes into the copy or to the headlines, or something like that. So there are little tricks that you can do to get people to direct their eyes where you want them to go. It’s more kind of an advanced thing, but layout is very important.

I’d also like to move on to talking about the different response paths that you can have. And I like to use 800 numbers in my tear sheets. And I won’t use an 866 number or an 877; I will spend the extra money for an 800 number. And the reason why, even though people see an 877 or a 866, a lot of people will dial 800 anyways; and also, 800 number has the appearance of you being an older company than using an 866 or 877 or 888 number. It just seems like you’re an older, established company. Plus, most people in their minds — 800 is what they think about.

Also, I like to give them a website address. Sometimes you may or may not want to do that; it depends. I always like to put in a website address. If they want more information, they can go there and the website is set up in such a way that it does move them along to the sale.

I will also use a lot of times a 24 hour recorded message. And when I make these 24 hour recorded messages I’ll make them between 3 and 10 minutes long. And what I like about them is — and I’ll use an 800 number for those as well. I will not get an 877 or an 866 number. But I like them because they have what’s called ANI, automatic number identification, and it will capture the prospect’s phone number. And once it captures the phone number I can do a lot of different things. It can e-mail me with the prospect’s phone number, it can text message me, it can go to a pager and show the phone number. So I like 24 hour recorded message. One, it gives people more information for something that they’re interested in, and also it captures their phone number so I can call them back.

Now, with 24 hour recorded messages they find that it increases the people’s response. Some people, they don’t want to call an 800 number; they don’t want to talk to people, but they will listen to a 24 hour recorded message. So the Direct Marketing Association did a survey on pre-recorded messages and this is what they found out. Eighty-three percent of the population would rather dial a phone number and hear a pre-recorded message than speak to a live sales person. And the reasons they gave for that was because, well, they had 24 hour access and there was no salesman there, so they didn’t have to talk to a salesman; and also, the perception by the prospect was that the information being delivered by recorded message was more accurate, trustworthy, and believable than that delivered by a live salesperson because they figure a live person could change their message at any time. Well, I’ll tell you a good salesperson should change their message depending on what the person’s objections are. But anyways, they don’t want to be bothered with that.

Also, one thing that I like about recorded messages, it allows the prospect to get to know you. They can hear your voice, the tonality and the sincerity in your voice. I mean, the human voice is a much more powerful persuader than the written word, so having a 24 hour recorded message on your tear sheet is really good.

And there’s several ways you can use that, other than getting the number sent to you. You can also use what’s called an auto voice responder. And there’s two ways to do it. Just so you know, when you call into a 24 hour recording you have options. You can press “0” and go to an operator or you can leave all your information about yourself. The good thing is, since it knows what number you dialed in on, it can then dial back to your prospect and you can leave them the message. I mean, one of the things that you can do is call back your prospects. It can call back your prospects in, say, 15-20 seconds and basically it can have a message — one of the things is people say they never get called back. They leave a message and no one calls them back. Well, you can have your auto responder call them back, and this is important.

You can leave a message like, “Hi. It’s Big Mike. I wanted to thank you for calling me and leaving a message about my –” whatever your thing is. “Currently I’m with another client, helping them –” solve whatever problem it is. “As soon as I’m done, I’ll call you back. Thank you.”

Or what you can do is sometimes the person will hang up; they won’t listen to the whole message. You can leave a message saying, “Hi. This is Big Mike. I want to thank you for calling and getting more information about our program or product. And I see you didn’t have the opportunity to leave a message. Perhaps this particular product or program was not exactly the right fit, but as a courtesy I wanted to let you know that I have five other options or programs that might make more sense to you. So if you’d like more information on those, you can push “0” and get hold of me, or wait for the beep and leave a message.” So you get a second shot at the prospect. So I really like recorded messages because of that, and then using an auto voice responder.

The next thing I would like to talk to — this is an advanced technique. It’s not for everybody but I do want to mention I use. It’s called bi-cycling, and it’s not riding a bike. What you do is with your tear sheet — because the hardest part is writing the copy and the message and then putting your offer together and what you’re going to give them, whether it’s a free report or whatever. So you want to make that piece last as long as possible, so here’s something really neat you can do. You can just change the headline and the layout of your piece. So I’ll create three different tear sheets. The message is exactly the same but it’ll have a different look or a different headline. And what it does is usually a tear sheet — if you’re doing heavy mailings — it’ll have a life span of three of six months. But bi-cycling, now your tear sheet has 16 to 24 months life span. I mean, sometimes a good tear sheet, depending on if you’re just mailing it all across the country or whatever you’re doing, you can keep using it for years. But this way it extends the life.

And you say to yourself, “Wait a minute. Aren’t the people going to realize that they’re reading the same thing?” No, they won’t. Most people forget 90 percent of what they read. So sending them another tear sheet with the same message with a different headline, they’re going to think it’s a whole new offer to them. Or they’ll go, “Oh, yeah, I remember reading about something like that,” and they’re going to be more apt to call. So it’s always good to have bi-cycling.

And then, picking your mailing list is probably just as important as how you write your tear sheet. So I recommend that you get a good list broker, a reputable one that you can use. I like to use InfoUSA or Data Warehouse; they seem to be very good. I also use Melissa Data. Those three are really, really good and reputable and they’ll work hard for you.

Some of the things that you can do when you’re picking your list — they talk about selects. And so getting into selects really quick — I’m not going to get too depth in it. But some of the things that you can pick with the different selects are the person’s gender, age, their religious affiliation, their political affiliations, their ethnicity, the geographical area where they live. You can do it by zip code, you can do it so many miles radius of where your business is, you can see what their income is, their home value. You can even do a credit score; it’s called an inferred credit score. Let’s say for whatever reason you want to find people in a certain range of being able to buy whatever it is that you are — a credit score can help you. There’s just a lot of different things that you can pull. It’s just amazing how many different selects that they have and so you want to put a lot of thought behind how you’re selecting and what you’re doing.

And so when you’re getting ready to do your mailing and you buy a list, and let’s say they have 20,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 names, don’t go buying all those names. Just tell the guy, “Look, send me 1,000 names and I want to test it.” And so what I’ll do is I will roll out 1,000 names and I will see what my response is. And if the response is good, then I’ll move up to 5,000 names and then move up to 10,000 names and keep going, seeing what the response is. And a lot of times when I do that I’ll keep testing different headlines as well.

I’ll run what’s called an A/B split. So when they send you the list they’ll send them to you in Excel and usually it’s just very easy. In the fields you can split the list and you do every other one, and Group A gets this headline and Group B gets that headline. Or you can change the offer and see how that affects it. Those are probably the two biggest things, offers and the headline. And when you test, you want to test just one variable at a time. Don’t go testing two or three things because you won’t know what it was. So you only test one thing at a time.

And basically that, in a nutshell, is how I do my tear sheets, Chris.

Chris McCombs is Health Club Marketing and Personal Training Marketing Specialist. He helps personal trainer, MMA instructors and health club owners make more money while working less hours. He does this through teaching a unique blend of marketing, sales, mindset and time management strategies.


  1. Robert Bremmer says:

    Great info. on your site. I have been in the tear sheet mailing business for 14 years here in Orange County, CA. I thought I would contact you to see if you would be interested in our prices and services for you or your clients. We provide all direct mailing services and also are members of and work with the Glazer/Kennedy Group.

    Good luck in 2009!


  2. Chris –

    BLOODY HELL!! I’ve been looking into tear sheets because there’s nothing like it (that I’ve seen) in the UK.

    I am gobsmacked.

    I’m having difficulty getting the print job done at a reasonable cost, since I want to test mailings of about 200 (I’m very limited on funds right now).

    Anyway, thanks SO much for this info.



  3. Tony, I am in the UK as well and we could work together. Get in touch.01273 415515

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