From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Understanding Data Cards

For the last six weeks, I have been getting questions about data cards that are similar to the first one I’m answering in today’s Mailbag. I have a feeling that there are other people out there (maybe you?) who don’t know the answer either … but they just haven’t gotten around to asking.

Another member sent me an interesting question that may be on your mind too – this one about what to bring when attending the ’05 Bootcamp.

But before we get to those answers, I have some GREAT news…

You’ve heard us saying – for a while now – that being an AWAI-trained copywriter carries some real weight in the industry. The longer we’re around, the more this happens…

Mr. or Ms. X from some direct-mail company will call us up looking for a freelance copywriter. Usually because someone they trust has referred them following a very successful experience with one of our members.

A few months ago, the volume of requests like these got so high that we were able to launch Which was no small achievement.

But today, I’m beaming with AWAI pride! Somebody from "The Motley Fool" called today looking for a copywriter – and having a nationally known client like this on your resume is one of the best references you can have. Needless to say, the position will be posted on

This truly is a reflection of the high quality of our members. So if you’re having trouble "getting it," give me a call. In the 8 years we’ve been around, we’ve encountered so many member concerns that we almost certainly have a solution for yours.

Now, here’s that question about data cards…

"Scott, I need help understanding the data cards. On page 63, part 2, there is a data card example for Megaman Buyers. The first entry shows 20,400 Buyers. Then you have next to that ‘@US$50/M.’

"I don’t know what that means and can find no explanation. On page 68, part 2, showing the data card for Newsweek, the number of subscribers is followed in each case by ‘$85.00/M,’ ‘$90.00/M,’ etc. I do not know what these dollar amounts are for. On the peach-colored AWAI LIVE ASSIGNMENT DATA CARD, you list 50,325 Buyers, followed by ‘@89M.’ ??

"Can you explain these things please?

– Lindsay W.

Well, Lindsay, a data card represents information about the list of people you’re mailing a given promotion to. You use it to find out the average age, income, buying habits, education – you get the picture – of your prospect. A good, AWAI-trained, copywriter will use this information to produce a detailed "model" of who they are writing to. Part II, Section 10 of the program goes over the steps in detail.

The piece of information you are asking about, though, has little to do with you as a copywriter. The term "@US $89M" is the price of the list. Specifically, that this list costs $89 (U.S. dollars) per 1,000 names to rent, each time you mail it. This is information the marketing manager would be much more interested in than would you.

And here’s Rebecca E.’s question about the upcoming Bootcamp…

"Scott, in one of the recent ‘Golden Thread’ publications, we were given advice on what to expect at the next Copywriter’s Bootcamp. This was a great article. Now I know more about how to prepare myself for this event.

"However, it was suggested that we bring business cards. What should we include on these business cards, since most of us cannot say that we are ‘copywriters’ with a background focused on a specific area. Please give a suggestion, as obviously I cannot use my current business card.

"Looking forward to BOOTCAMP!"

– Rebecca E.

Yes, Rebecca, you certainly should bring a bunch of business cards to Bootcamp. Not only for handing out at the Job Fair but also for networking with the graphic designers and fellow copywriters that you’re going to meet there.

See today’s Quick Tip for ideas.

Thanks to one and all. Keep those emails coming!


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: May 9, 2005

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