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The Direct Response Specialist

Galen Stilson
Direct Response Copywriter/Consultant


Does Your Direct Mail Pass
The “Millie” Test?

I enjoy observing people in everyday situations. And one of my favorite observation posts is the post office. In the P.O. you get to see people react specifically to your baby ... direct mail.

You get to see them smile warmly when there’s a personal letter from their romantic interest ... frown when there’s correspondence from the IRS ... get angry when there’s a 30-minute wait-in-line to see a postal clerk ... and go through a myriad of expressions as they go through their stack of mail.

Some people whistle while opening every single envelope ... while others grunt and groan while tossing out seemingly everything except the letter from Mom.

It’s an experience.

One of my favorite “observations” took place recently. I was on my way out of the lobby when I passed this elderly couple. The woman was holding a big stack of mail and I could hear that they were in a semi-heated “debate.” Assuming it had to do with their mail, I decided to get snoopy (not the dog ... “nosy”).

Here’s what I heard the older lady say to her husband: Charles, didn’t I tell you to tell Millie only to forward the important mail to us ... not this junk.

I smiled and walked away. The reason I walked away was because it sounded like Charles was about to discover his elderly derriere in some darn deep doo-doo, and I didn’t want to stay around to watch the CHASTISEMENT OF CHARLES.

As I was driving home, I started thinking (I do that occasionally): “This could be a real test of direct mail excellence.”

If someone leaves for a vacation and instructs a friend to forward only the important mail ... will that friend forward your direct mail? Does your envelope look or sound important enough to cause “Millie” to forward it?

If it looked like a personal letter and was mailed first class, Millie would almost have to forward it. If you used a teaser that sounded like Charles and his warm wife would find it extremely valuable ... and there was an obvious time limit on the offer ... I think Millie would probably forward it — just to be safe.

My point is simple: Every time you create a new direct mail package, you should ask yourself ...

Will “Millie" forward this?

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Copyright 2001 by Galen Stilson. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.