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I get all kinds of questions from students about the best way to handle their mailing lists.

If you’ll remember, I’m a big advocate of an annual art show to sell your original paintings. To accomplish this, it means collecting names and addresses all year long and sending out a few invitational or sales letter prior to the event.

I was recently asked what was most important? Is it the price? Is it the headline? Is the food or wine? Is it and the list goes on and on…

What’s going to win?

Let’s take a look at a very simple example that will make this clear.

Two artists … one writes a so-so letter. The other writes a brilliant letter.

Each has their own separate mailing list… one is made up of proven, hyper-responsive buyers who’ve been ‘primed’ to respond favorably to the offer. The other is an undifferentiated list of people collected.

The reality is that the so-so letter to the hyper-responsive list is going to wipe the floor with the brilliant letter sent to the so-so list.

One of the All Time Great Rules of Marketing is that 40% of your success comes from having the right audience for your message, 40% comes from having the right offer for the audience, and 20% of your success comes from ‘the creative.’

Richard Sears, the Great Grandfather of Direct Marketing and founder of Sears & Roebuck, put it this way:

“I can write the letter on a paper bag in crayon, but if it’s the right offer for the right person at the right time, it will sell.”
So what’s the message here? That the letter doesn’t matter? No, not at all.

But a sales letter or web site – not matter how brilliantly conceived – can’t overcome the wrong offer to the wrong list. As the late great Dick Benson used to say: “No one spends enough time on their lists and offers.”

Hope this helps those of you sending out letters to invite people to your private art showing.