Masters Checklist:
Elements of a Strong Order Device

You've written another great sales letter. The promise is big and complex, the picture will make the client salivate for the product, and the proof is masterfully presented, compelling, and undeniable. Now you just tack on an order form and sit back and wait to hear how it did, right?


Studies show that many prospects go directly to the order device after opening the letter. This gives them an instant answer to the question, "What is being sold here?" Then they look at the P.S. – and only then, if they haven't lost interest, will they begin to read the letter.

So, far from being an afterthought or "tacked on," a well-written order device also does the important work of leading your prospect into the copy. That's why a good order device should be a concise summation of the promise, the benefits, the offer, and the guarantee found in the sales letter – written in a tone that is consistent with the tone used in the much longer body copy.

Check your order form against this 12-point checklist to be sure it's complete:

  1. Is it easy to read and easy to complete?

    It's a good idea to test the order device by asking your associates to read through and fill out the form. Parts of the form may not be as clear to everyone else as they are to you and this test will bring out any possible problems.

  2. Does it include easy instructions for completing and returning the form with positive language?

    Example: "Please complete this certificate and return it in the postage-paid envelope provided to: ABC Inc., P.O. Box 1234, Some City, Some State, 12345 … Yes, please rush me my … Yes, sign me up … Yes, sounds good to me! … etc."

  3. Does it state a clearly defined benefit in simple, easy-to-understand language?

    Example: "Yes, I want to erase the barriers that stand between me and my goals. Rush me UNLIMITED POWER for my 30-day free preview."

  4. Does it restate any premiums, discounts, or other special deals mentioned in the body copy?

    Example: "I'm responding within 15 days, so don't forget to include my FREE copy of 'An Extra Million' – a $39 value – FREE …"

  5. Does it include your Guarantee and state the company's policy for returns? (See TGTO Issue #9 for the elements of a strong guarantee.)
  6. Is the offer stated clearly and simply with a summary of all charges?

    We like Joe Karbo's order form:

    "Joe, you may be full of beans, but what have I got to lose? Send me the Lazy Man's Way to Riches. But don't deposit my check for 31 days after it's in the mail. If I return your material – for any reason – within that time, return my uncashed check or money order to me. On that basis, here's my ten dollars."

  7. Are the payment options clear?

    For instance, are they subscribing for 1 year or 2? Paying in full or in installments? Do they want to be billed or would they rather have their credit card charged? Etc.

  8. Does the order form collect the necessary buyer's information (name, address, phone number, credit card number, etc.)?

    This is important. If you offer a subscription to a fax or e-mail service, you want to be sure there's space for the customer to write his/her e-mail address or fax number.

  9. Does it collect the buyer's signature for credit card orders or financial applications?
  10. Does it include the business's return address in case the reply envelope gets lost or misplaced?
  11. Are the customer's choices kept to a minimum to avoid confusion?
  12. Is there plenty of space for the prospect to fill in his/her buying information?

If you’re reading and studying a new direct mail package every day, start paying particular attention to the order forms you see. How are they organized? Do they restate the offer? Are the benefits stated clearly and simply? In what ways do they miss the mark? What suggestions would you make to improve them?

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: December 3, 2001

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