Originally published by The Newsletter Association�

A Direct Mail Technique
That Beats Them All

By Fred Goss, Publisher

"If I could convince you to do just one thing to improve your efforts to get new subscribers," publishing and marketing consultant Rene Gnam told our audience in Washington, "I would tell you about THE ONE PROMOTION TECHNIQUE THAT NEARLY ALWAYS OUTPULLS ALL OTHERS, BUT IS NEGLECTED BY MOST MARKETERS.

"This technique works for almost every product or service marketed to almost every target audience. If you are not using this technique right now, simply switching your mailing to include it should automatically improve your response.

"And the reason that most copywriters won't tell you about this one powerful technique is simply that once you know it, you can use it yourself, and you may not have to hire them as frequently as they�d like. The technique is the very simple act of changing your order form into a CERTIFICATE."


  1. Convey a sense of value to your entire mailing or offer, inviting a decision and calling for action!

  2. Produce instant reading of the mailing...Now!

  3. Spur additional sales from the same mailing.

  4. Dramatize the offer or the premium.

  5. Overcome secretarial or mail room resistance to direct mail.

  6. Stimulate re-order sales from same mailing or future mail.

  7. Upgrade dollar volume from same mailing.

  8. Show your solidity and the desirability of dealing with you!

Using certificates dramatically increases sales because most of the direct mail field forgets to use them, Gnam says.

He cited these key design elements in using certificates:

  1. Use stock appropriate to the mailing offer -- inexpensive stock if used for a discount promotion, quality stock if used to enhance high-ticket sales or to promote high quality products or services.

  2. Your certificate must have a border -- large and almost garish for discount offers, conservative and official for high-ticket sales or high quality products or services.

  3. The background must be instantly recognizable -- safety paper which has a design in it already, or by using tints or screens or with a paper color that's distinctive.

  4. Identify it as a certificate, graphically and by naming it!

  5. Use short copy to stress value and importance, spell out the certificate's deal, ask for action, cite a cutoff or deadline date, identify target audience where possible, and tell how to use the certificate.

Gnam points out these certificate formats that work:

  1. As the tear-off top of a letter, never at the bottom, to say: read the letter, this is valuable, be immediate because we have a fast cutoff date on this certificate. Using it at the top also captures instant attention to your deal.

  2. As an order form with the addressing right on it to spur easy response and to save costs of printing a separate piece on tight budgets.

  3. But it's most effective when used as a separate insert because it creates a hot potato feeling: "What do I do with this valuable thing?" As a separate insert, it makes the recipient refer back to the letter and brochure for details, and it lets you change deadlines without changing other components.

Here are some Gnam copy themes for using certificates:

  1. Dramatize premium offer: "This certificate entitles you to..."

  2. Bandwagon grabber: "Complete this certificate and join our..."

  3. Product hype: "Enclose this certificate with your order and we'll give you an extra 500 paragraphs of Washington news."

  4. Consultation: "This certificate entitles you to call..."

  5. Sample Distribution: "This certificate brings your hospital a valuable free issue of..."

  6. Re-order sales: "Save this certificate for your next order..."

  7. Exclusivity: "This certificate qualifies you for..."

Gnam recommended this so strongly that I started using it for our Newsletter Association and, yes, it works.


Rene Gnam is an independent response marketing consultant

specializing in creative advertising techniques.

He can be reached at 813-407-8400

 or info@ReneGnam.com

Photo of Marketing Consultant Rene Gnam

Rene Gnam is a Marketing Consultant and Advertising Copywriter

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I'm usually in Florida, and here are the numbers:

FAX 813-475-4354      CELL 813-407-8400

You can reach me right now by e-mail:



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