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Yesterday I gave a talk at the Mass Technology Leadership Council‘s Social Media Cluster — 30 minutes followed by 90 minutes of questions and discussion. Paul Gillin, who’d suggested me to the group (thanks Paul!), and is the author of the just-published The New Influencers, made the point (relevant in context) that traditional direct mail marketers are thrilled to get a 3% return rate. “I don’t know of any other case where a failure rate of 97% is considered a success.”

From the front of the room Dan Bricklin responded instantly. “Sperm,” Dan said. It made me laugh. But, as Dan points out, it’s a common strategy in nature.

BTW, Dan’s posted a podcast of the session. [Tags: ]

3 Responses to “Dan Bricklin’s 97% rule”

  1. on 25 Apr 2007 at 1:40 pmvaspers the grate

    I worked in direct marketing for many years, including a stint at Grey Direct on Madison Avenue.

    Why the response rate is so low is because most ppl don’t buy via mail order. But since mailings were cheap compared to other media, and you could get an actual order and payment, rather that just “buzz”, it had a good ROI. In some cases, very nice ROI.

    Direct mail response rates climb when you test in A/B splits to improve copy, design, offer that is mailed.

    Still, a shotgun approach, depending on demo/psycho/behavioral dynamics of lists mailed to. Sure, low response rate, but in social life, we have low response rates, many sales venues, telemarketing, and recall this:

    only 1% of internet users post user generated content (comments, posts, twitter messages, etc.) if my memory glands server me rightly

  2. on 26 Apr 2007 at 10:52 pmRamsey Fahel

    Do Not Mail Opt-Out Law would be fair to everyone.

    The proposed recent “Do not mail” is an Opt-Out law. Only those not desiring advertising mail need opt-out. Anyone desiring advertising mail can do nothing – and continue to receive it. Why deny those wishing to avoid advertising mail the power to do so?

    I do not consider handling unwanted advertising placed against my will on my personal property to be a civic obligation!

    The US Supreme Court said in the Rowan case in 1970, ““In today’s [1970] complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail. To make the householder the exclusive and final judge of what will cross his threshold undoubtedly has the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally, he should receive and consider. Today’s merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman’s mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive.”

    Furthermore, the Supreme Court said, “the mailer’s right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

    To hold less would tend to license a form of trespass and would make hardly more sense than to say that a radio or television viewer may not twist the dial to cut off an offensive or boring communication and thus bar its entering his home. Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit; we see no basis for according the printed word or pictures a different or more preferred status because they are sent by mail.”

    We need a nationwide “Do Not Mail” law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders the aforementioned affirmative notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.

    Ramsey A Fahel

  3. on 02 May 2007 at 11:10 pmlinks for 2007-05-03 « Talkabout

    […] Everything is Miscellaneous ? Blog Archive ? Dan Bricklin’s 97% rule “made the point (relevant in context) that traditional direct mail marketers are thrilled to get a 3% return rate. “I don’t know of any other case where a failure rate of 97% is considered a success.” […]