Direct Mail “Definitions”

Have fun with John's creative take on these common direct mail terms:

(a) The term for the first-run package "proofs" you get from your printing company, or
(b) the drug they must do in the design department to make them think it's okay to put graphics behind printed text.
(a) The business reply envelope provided to customers to make it easier to mail back the order form, or
(b) a funky French cheese that goes well with baguettes but makes your fridge smell like sneakers.
(a) The level of orders it takes to recover the cost of your advertising, or
(b) … Hey, no joking about break-even here, Buster! This is serious!
Bottom Line:
(a) The money and how much you're making or losing; also,
(b) the second-most-common patient complaint heard by Beverly Hills plastic surgeons.
Customer Retention:
(a) How long you keep a customer after the initial sale; or, loosely defined,
(b) how long your customer will stay in the bathroom to finish reading your latest promo package.
(a) The un-missable, absolute moment when copy must be turned in, or
(b) … I don't know … I've never really seen one.
Full Bleed:
(a) When the colors or pictures on a printed page run to the edge (expensive!), or
(b) what your forehead does when you can't think of a thing to write.
(a) Everything involved in making good on your promises, especially the sending of promised premiums and the product itself, or
(b) the thing you hoped for back when you thought you'd actually grow up to be a poet. And NOW look at you!
(a) Postal information printed on every piece that goes out, or
(b) a small country somewhere in the Pacific where old copywriters go to die.
Johnson Box:
(a) A paragraph or so of copy that appears ABOVE the body of the main promo letter, or
(b) where copywriter Neville Johnson once lived. (He wasn't very good.)
(a) The company that assembles, labels, sorts, and mails your stacks of promo letters, or
(b) the people you blame when your "brilliant" mailing flops miserably.
List Broker:
(a) The specialist service that puts together your mailing lists, from selecting and sorting to deal-making to delivery, or
(b) the people you blame for flopped mailings when the folks at the lettershop stop taking your calls.
(a) The computerized comparison of mailing lists to sift out duplicate names and "dead" addresses, or
(b) what new employees do at your Christmas party – come together, get drunk, knock over the punchbowl, and apologize to the toilet the next morning.
(a) A technique for dropping the customer name into the text or the headline of a package to make the pitch look more personal, or
(b) the process by which copywriters take every critique of their "art."
Response Device:
(a) The card or coupon given to the customer so he can mark down his order, payment, and delivery information; gets mailed back to the seller, or
(b) cattle prods, whips, knitting needles, and other things used to speed up a sale.
(a) A promo package that requires no envelope –
(b) as derived from the phrase, "What? Does he think the d*mn thing is going to mail ITSELF!" (Typically applied to marketing managers.)
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: April 8, 2002

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