Making Your Own Mail-Order Products: A Step-by-Step Guide

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If you pick up any book or report on Mailorder Selling, you will inevitably find the same recommendation. Choose a product for mail order that has:

– is liked by a sizable percentage of the general public
is difficult to find in retailers
– may be mailed with little hassle
is valuable
… and a consumable that encourages repurchases

As most mail-order authors recommend, it would be best if you endeavored to secure sole distribution rights for your product. Most authors agree that if a dealer creates his product, he will likely prosper in the mail-order market.

This is, without a doubt, excellent guidance. The problem is that it stops short of being adequate. It doesn’t advise HOW to develop something wholly original to you. What follows is detailed HOW TO guide for making your own mail-order product.

To start, I’d want to make a somewhat novel claim. NOT CHOOSING A PRODUCT IS NOT THE FIRST STEP TO MAIL-ORDER SUCCESS! Even before deciding on a product to offer via direct mail, there are three things you must do (if you want to be successful).

One of the first things you need to do is conduct an honest self-analysis and determine whether or not you would be interested in purchasing the product(s) you plan on selling via mail order.

AFTER YOU HAVE EVALUATED YOURSELF, YOU MUST SELECT YOUR MARKET. You will want to market to people who share your interests. Only then can you relax and enjoy running your mail-order company.

Third, you need to conduct an in-depth market analysis; before settling on a product, you need to grasp what your target audience is now purchasing, what they would buy if given a chance, and what they will purchase from you shortly.

You will have no issue choosing or making a product to sell by mail once you have first studied yourself, then chosen your market, and finally correctly analyzed your market. It’s practically guaranteed to pick you up. Let’s retrace our steps and examine them one by one.

DO A SELF-EVALUATION

Sit down and answer these questions about yourself as honestly as you can. They will help you get to know yourself better.

1. What magazines should I pick up at the newsstand if I know nothing about them?

2. Exactly what do I look for in a good book?

3. What do I fantasize about when my mind wanders?

4. How do I best spend my leisure hours? (What should I do after work and on the weekends?)

5. How do I use my time off?

6. Which single topic fascinates me more than any other?

7. How would I spend my time if I didn’t have to work?

8. What courses would you recommend I pursue if I could go back to school?

9. What kinds of things do I enjoy buying from online retailers?

If you answer these questions honestly, a fascinating pattern will emerge. After you’re done, head over to the library. Request the most recent copy of WRITER’S MARKET from the Reference Desk, then peruse the magazine’s Table of Contents, which organizes periodicals into the most popular categories. Choose the CATEGORY that most intrigue you. That mail-order sector is where you might feel the most at ease. ..because that’s where your best chances for success lie.

You should return to the Information Desk and request two more books. You can get all the details you need from anyone. To name a few:

– THE PERIODICAL DIRECTORY STANDARD and
ULTICH’S GLOBAL PUBLICATIONS GUIDE

Of course, I don’t know what you’re actually into, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend you have an intense fascination with Astrology. There are several specialized Astrology periodicals; you may locate their names and addresses in the Standard Periodical Directory with some digging. Ulrich’s has even more options because it includes foreign magazine listings.

Write down the titles and addresses of all the periodicals you can think of. Send a note to each of them, preferably on company letterhead. Most of them will contact you even if you don’t have paper. Ask for a free sample issue and advertising rates by letting them know you plan to launch a mail-order business selling astrological goods.

Be sure to keep any sample copies you get. ..keep the advertising rate cards for further use. They’ll serve you well in the long run.

While waiting for things to come, head to a used bookstore where you may pick up a stack of dated astrology periodicals. Obtain as many issues of magazines as you can afford (each one will only set you back a penny), prioritizing those that feature MAIL ORDER ADs. It would be best to get your hands on some back issues (especially those from the last decade or so) and some recent ones. You’re all set to get going now. ..Performing a Market Analysis.

Create a journal. Take out one of the magazines you bought at the used magazine store and read it. See the first commercial. .. every word. Take your time reading it over. After finishing it, summarize the product or service offered in five terms. If you still can’t understand it, try rereading it. Choose one of these three categories to file your description under:

Items for Sale
– Detailed Data
Serving Others

Everything you can buy via mail-order falls into one of those three categories. The Aquarian Necklace commercial would go under the category of Merchandise. A Flying Saucer book should be filed under the “Information” heading. The provision of a horoscope reading would fall under the title of “Service.”

Examine the subsequent advertisement once you have finished with the first. Carry on until you have carefully examined every ad, including the classifieds, in the magazine. You should end up with three lists afterward:

A Catalogue of Astrological Goods for Sale
For Sale: Astrological Information Manuals
For your perusal: a catalog of astrological offerings.

Read with these in mind:

Good ideas that were never pursued, for whatever reason, are a common occurrence, especially in back issues. Perhaps the creator lost interest or couldn’t afford to see his vision through. It’s possible he passed away, or he ran off with a Las Vegas chorus girl and forgot about the mail-order firm. If you can develop the idea, you have the makings of a mail-order product.

Look for “Dealers Wanted” advertisements from wholesalers (in more recent issues). You might find what you need here if you’re looking for mail-order goods.

STUDY THE ARTICLES — They will reveal the readers’ interests and provide hints about the products they hope to purchase. Remember that the articles serve a dual purpose by publishing information in which the readers are already interested. However, they also give readers something to think about that they didn’t before. Is it possible for you to design a product that people will want after reading those articles?

Reading periodicals from the perspective of a mail-order salesman will open your eyes to a whole new world.

As part of my study for this manuscript, I took on the role of a mail-order salesman and evaluated three different periodicals. Please allow me to present you with some of my results. Don’t stress if the fields aren’t what you’re interested in studying. EVERY MARKET FOLLOWS THE SAME MAIL-ORDER PRINCIPLES!

The December 1975 issue of ASTROLOGY – YOUR DAILY HOROSCOPE was the first publication I analyzed. Let me start with the Products Available for Purchase.

MERCHANDISE ASTROLOGY

The first advertisement features custom stationery. Mail-order entrepreneurs realize that customized stationery is a surefire moneymaker in any demographic. A common item was modified by this vendor for the Astrological sector. He prints the astrological sun sign beside the recipient’s name and address, dubbing the paper ZODIAC stationery.

The following commercial is for another everyday item: soap. Soap is readily available in any supermarket. And this soap is unlike any other. The soap will bear the impression of YOUR ZODIAC SIGN as long as the soap does. This is another excellent illustration of how to tailor a standard offering to the specific needs of your target market.

If you are selling a product via mail and would like to enhance sales, a good strategy is creating a profile of the ideal customer. Think about the people interested in your product (doctors, waiters, farmers, gun enthusiasts, etc.), and then consider how you might modify it to suit their needs better. When you put yourself in the customer’s shoes for a while, you’ll be shocked at how easily ordinary products may become popular mail-order sellers.

“SEASHELLS FOR VIRGOS AND SCORPIOS” is the following product being sold. Wow, bro, that’s a brilliant plan. This advertiser’s inbox would have been empty if he had sold seashells in an astrology magazine. Some orders could have been made for “Seashells for Astrologers” if he had promoted them. But his seashells are just for Virgos and Scorpios, therefore, they are rare, unique, and highly sought after. One reader out of every six is paying attention to him; that ad must have done well in the mail. This is a thought that you should keep in mind. Make an effort to use it with YOUR offering.

A “Hand Bio-Rhythm Computer” was also part of the selection of goods. Over the past few years, the Bio-Rhythm Theory (the idea that every human goes through predictable emotional, intellectual, and physical cycles) has been extensively covered in astrology periodicals. The Astrology periodicals have been instrumental in developing a mail-order market for this innovative product. This dealer is astute enough to capitalize on this emerging market since, as the advertisement boasts, “it reveals your emotional, intellectual, and physical state… EVEN BEFORE THE DAY BEGINS!” He wouldn’t have known a demand for a Bio-Rhythm computer if he hadn’t done his research.

(INFORMATIONAL) ASTROLOGY

Love, money, success, power, miracles, prayer, etc., are topics that consistently attract readers to Astrology periodicals. One ambitious merchant has published six “personal guidance” books and advertises them extensively in Astrology periodicals, charging between $2 and $11 for a copy. His commercials have been airing to great popularity for a long time. In 1960, when I first got interested in mail-order sales, I stumbled upon this dealer’s little ads in mail dealer journals.

Other dealer-written and -sold instruction manuals include the following:

The Maya Predictions of the Future: A $15.00 Book

Money Worries No More! $4.00 for Life-Changing Words You Can Say Every Day

The Spiritual Healing of Pets: A Five Dollar Ebook

An “especially for the Neophyte” guide to astral projection into the astral plane costs only three dollars.

Is it possible for you to write a VALUABLE guide for this industry? If you need inspiration for manual topics, look at what’s being advertised in astrology publications; I guarantee the first retailer to publish an excellent guide to Bio-Rhythm will make a killing. Keep in mind that those are the topics that will pique the readers’ interest. The following articles appeared in the issue of ASTROLOGY – YOUR HOROSCOPE that I read. (Obviously, this isn’t the whole list.)

“Sybil Leek Analyzes YOUR Dreams,” “How to Make Your Dreams Pay Off,” and “How Mercury Inspires Your Creativity” are all titles from the “Yearly Forecast for Sagittarians” series.

You can find a wealth of material for your New Mailorder Manuals (or folios) by reading back issues of OLD astrology periodicals.

SERVICE ASTROLOGY

Astrology magazine readers, if there is one thing they adore, it is this. ..People enjoy having their horoscopes analyzed and counseled by experts exceptionally; have you received any formal education in this field? Then offering your services by postal mail is an option. Some examples of advertisements’ catchphrases that promote such offerings:

Soliciting “Let an Expert Discuss YOUR Life!”

It’s YOUR horoscope, so pay attention!

Saying something like, “Now… a serious study of YOU!”

“Finally, a Horoscope that’s personalized for BOTH of you.
Two of these might mean the world to you and the one you love.
The distinction between a blissful union and a heartbreaking split!”

– “1976, 1977, 1978! Is one of these years YOUR Year of Destiny?”
(This appeared in astrology publications at least ten years ago.
The advertiser switches the dates around every year.

In addition to the services already mentioned, this publication also provides:

Psychics and Mystics Respond to Your Queries
– Religious Books
Tarot Card Predictions
Tarot Card Readings
Analysis of Handwriting
Astro-ESP: The Answer to All Your Questions

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you might be interested in learning how to provide such services over the mail. You can find many opportunities to do so in the magazine FATE, which can be found on newsstands. ..Start your mail-order career at this company.

Since FIELD AND STREAM cater to two mailorder audiences, hunters and fishermen, I focused my analysis on the advertisements in that issue of the magazine that pertained to hunters.

PRODUCTS FOR HUNTERS

Wild game hunting is an expensive hobby for men. They invest in high-end gear for hunting. They spend a lot of money on weapons, hunting knives, and high-quality binoculars (since no one wants to go hunting in cheap jungle boots). Numerous reputable mail-order businesses cater specifically to hunters by supplying various gear. You should avoid competing with these firms if you’re considering starting a one-man mail-order business. Instead, start your mail-order company by looking for something genuinely unusual that a hunter can put to good use.

Here are a few examples of what innovative vendors are selling:

“Deer Hunter’s soap” (Bathe in soap perfumed with the aroma of a female deer, and you will attract a Buck. Only $1.50 per bay!) exemplifies how a savvy merchant adopted a standard product for a niche market. Also, take note that he catered specifically to deer hunters and not bear hunters, coon-hunters, quail hunters, or game hunters in general. You wouldn’t have missed that commercial if you’re a deer hunter.”

Another excellent example of taking an everyday item and tailoring it to a niche market to create a new mail-order product: “Curtain rods for HUNTING Vans – $3.95 a pair.” (Sure, you can purchase curtain rods in any dime store, but not curtain rods for HUNTING VANS!

And there’s more!

Cloths for cleaning firearms, 10 for $1.

Nameplates made of brass, but only for hunting dogs.

Hunting Dog Identification Tags

– Body and hand warmers (You’ll appreciate these if you ever get lost in the snow).

In a small classified ad, a vendor offered “Fish and Game Rubber Stamps.” I hope he did well with sales, but if he didn’t, it’s probably because his offer was too broad. For one thing, an illustrated display ad would have significantly helped. But secondly, to return to the Virgo and Scorpio analogy, what about rubber stamps for Coon Hunters? Or for Pheasant Hunters? Or rubber stamps for Taxi

INFORMATION SEARCHING

The sheer volume of Information Folios being sold to Hunters is astounding.

“The Do-It-Yourself Gun Safe”

If you’d rather talk than write, you might want to investigate the growing trend of selling informational cassette tapes via mail, such as “Duck Calling Instructions” (30 minutes on video!).

Not everything can be found in books; many people choose to purchase visual aids such as “Chart showing Life-size Tracks of 38 Animals in the Adirondack Mountains” (Incidentally, not all information is written; many people buy blueprints, schematics, etc.

“$1.00 for Instructions on Making Box Traps”

After 50 years, I’m finally ready to share my secret for successfully trapping coons. Sure thing, a buck.”

“How to Mount Fish for Pleasure and Profit” ($1.00 for Simple Directions).

Complete, easy-to-follow directions and Formulas for $1.00 “Tan Your Hides – Hair on or off.”

“Construct a smoker for (beef, fish, and sausage! Affordable and portable… A simple idea for only a dollar.

Deer, bear, rabbit, trout, salmon, and dozens more wild game and fish recipes for only $1.00!

You should create an excellent handbook (or put it on tape!) and sell it by mail if you know how to tell a hunter how to shoot ducks, hunt buffalo, treat snake bites, or sign up for a Big Game Safari in the wilds of Africa.

VOLUNTEER HUNTING

Game Hunters aren’t interested in being analyzed or counseled like those who buy astrology magazines, but if you can teach his hunting dog to chase a bear up a tree, he’ll pay you for your services. If you can also repair his gun or stuff and mount his catches, you can start a mail-order business catering to this niche.

The November 1975 issue of WRITER’S DIGEST was the last magazine examined.

MERCHANDISE WRITING

If you have a passion for writing or have excelled in creative writing classes, you may want to consider starting a mail-order business to serve the needs of the hundreds of thousands of people who aspire to be published authors.

Article Title: – “Copyright and Related Laws for Writers”

(What author isn’t on the lookout for financial support?) “Grants and Aids to Individuals in the Arts – 1500 Sources.”

Checks for articles, filler, and news come to me every week. Free information.”

“Gagwriter’s Handbook”

“Secret Way to Make Money Writing – $2.00″

Get Paid to Write Filler! Current Resource Compendium for Blanks”

Reference: “International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses.”

Please create a new mail-order product by writing and selling a guide that teaches writers how to improve their writing or market their manuscripts. (To get ideas for subjects of interest to writers, read the articles in publications like Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Saturday Review, etc.)

AUTHORS — (TO THE COMMUNITY)

There are dozens of large printing companies (known as “Vanity Publishers” in the industry) whose sole business is printing books for authors whose works have been rejected by traditional publishing houses, and some of the largest mail-order businesses in the world sell correspondence courses teaching people how to write for a living.

According to the November 1975 issue of Writer’s Digest, some of the services available to writers are listed below if you are a severe literary person with a knack for writing and are interested in starting your own business.

Advice for Writers
Criticism in Literature
Editing Prose and Poetry
Analysis of a Short Story
Textual Evaluation
Article Critique (Fiction Free Zone)
Writing in Ghost
Authors frequently require a service like Newspaper and Magazine Reference Services.
– Keyboarding Manuscripts

If you have the skills necessary to provide any of these services by mail, congratulations; you’ve found a product or service you can market and sell online.

IN SUMMARY

While I’ve only scratched the surface of three distinct mail-order markets here, I assure you that hundreds more are waiting for you to discover them.

Most successful mail-order people read dozens of publications every month; they KNOW what their customers are thinking, what they need, and what they will buy. So, before you start selling anything, you need to know precisely what your customers are thinking, what they need, and what they will buy.

Those who are successful in mail-order sales put their customers’ wants and needs ahead of their own because they know that by focusing on their consumers, success will follow.

At the outset of this guide, I suggested you write to every magazine in your chosen field and subscribe to as many as possible. Once you’ve developed your first product, you can begin advertising in those magazines (which is why I recommended keeping their rate cards). Never run an ad unless you can run it in three consecutive issues and then CONTINUE running it for as long as it continues to produce new customers for you.

Keep in mind the following basic rules:

You are not like anyone else; therefore, don’t try to make your mail-order company look like anyone else’s.

Develop an original and engaging idea!

Make something practical and valuable!

Make something that YOU would want to buy if you were the customer.

All rights reserved 2004 by DeAnna Spencer.

Including the resource box, this item may be freely reposted online.

In addition to publishing a blog for business owners, virtual assistant DeAnna Spencer encourages entrepreneurs to take advantage of her services by offering them low-cost administrative support.

Read also: How To Choose Among All The SEO Companies Available.