No.3 / May 19, 2005

The Corporate Muse


Hello.  Welcome to the The Corporate Muse!  We're happy you've come on board for issue #3.  As always, we welcome suggestions and/or questions. 




Direct Mail—The Science of Response


"Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while"


In my days as a bar owner, I would sometimes throw a round or two of darts with my patrons. One year I even joined a dart league. At first I was just a chucker. I threw a lot of “scuds” and considered myself successful if I didn’t act surprised when the dart happened to hit the space I was aiming for.


But by the end of the season I had improved dramatically. My team even placed fourth in a twenty-team tournament. How did I manage to do this?


By using the Scientific Method. That is:


·         I observed where my darts landed.

·         I hypothesized about why the darts landed where they did.

·         I isolated a single aspect of my delivery, asked more experienced players for advice and predicted how small changes would affect my results.

·         Finally I repeated the new throwing motion dozens of times and began the process again.


One of the things that used to make me crazy as a small business owner was the endless swarm of radio, newspaper, and phone directory salespeople who appeared at my door every week. Armed with Arbitron ratings, circulation figures, and usage statistics, each of these helpful consultants was eager to plug their services.


I often felt about these forms of advertising like I did when I began playing darts. Like I was just closing my eyes and firing in the general direction of the target. I never was sure if a particular ad was bringing in new business.


For all the numbers the media folks threw at me, I might as well have paid a witch doctor to do a dance in front of my business. I’m not saying these tactics weren’t effective, just that I had no way to quantify the returns on my investment. This was the “blind squirrel” method. And Fortune 500 companies are no better off than I was. For all their sampling, surveys and statistics, they never really know if a television or magazine ad is helping or hurting sales.            


Connect Direct


Contrast Direct Mail with those mass media techniques. More than any other type of marketing, Direct Mail campaigns can be targeted, quantified, and fine-tuned for maximum ROI. This is true because each mailing, properly executed, yields valuable information that can be analyzed and improved upon. This “Scientific Advertising”, as Claude Hopkins called it, has been used for decades by businesses to generate sales leads; book orders; drive traffic to retail establishments (or websites); and for fundraising.


With the advent of the Internet--and the explosion of sophisticated, inexpensive methods for collecting mailing lists--Direct Mail (and its cousin, Direct Email) now provides an effective means for any business to increase sales.


If you seek to expand your customer base, introduce a new product, or generate awareness of your product or service, consider Direct Mail. In fact Direct Mail is the single most successful medium for driving traffic to retailers. (Source: Direct Marketing Association’s 2004 Response Rate Report)


Getting Started


Are you new to Direct Mail? There are a number of great resources just a click away. Start at the US Postal Service website: The site provides information and tips for getting started with planning, creating and executing your Direct Mail campaign. You can download free templates, sign up for a seminar on Direct Mail design and preparation, and learn how to save on Postal Rates.


More information can be found at Clear Channel’s site


If you are considering a direct mail campaign, give us a call or send us an email. We’d be happy to discuss how creating a compelling sales message can increase your conversion rates, and drive business to your store or website.                                  




© QuickSilver Copywriters 2005 – Andy & Shawn Catsimanes;; mailto:; Sign up for The Corporate Muse:




Made in Taiwan or Imported—which sounds better?  Silly question, but it offers a simple illustration of how important word choice can be.  “Made in Taiwan” conjures some grimy basement room where workers, breathing sticky air, mass-produce cheap trinkets for even cheaper pay.  In contrast, “Imported” emits an air of class and sophistication.  The imported Lycra/spandex (or whatever) may indeed be made in Taiwan, but describing it in the former will more likely generate the desired response.   


Choosing the right word for the right publication seems as if it would be, as they used to say a few years ago, "a no-brainer."  But surprisingly poor use or misuse of words happens all the time.  A particularly gross error can not only change the context of your piece, but also lose you business.


Say you write in the first paragraph, “Our product is the principle component of the latest technology,” when you meant principal – a common mistake.  Perhaps only one out of every fifteen readers notices the incorrect usage of the word.  We’ll put your sales ratio at two out of every ten.  It’s possible that one out of every thirty worries about your professionalism and clicks to your nearest competitor.  And if you’re a writer … well, you get the picture. 


The best defense is to keep a bevy of resources at hand.  In addition to a good dictionary and Thesaurus, there are numerous sites on the Web designed to keep you in check.  Here are a few:;;;; and  






Today the sixth and final episode of Star Wars comes to theaters.  So much a part of our lives, this cult phenomenon almost never existed.  The revolutionary film had many obstacles to overcome.  No one had ever seen a Wookie before.  What did he look like or sound like for that matter?  How did one create such a sound?  Same for R2-D2.  And we all remember the innovative fight scenes.  The movie went well over budget and long past the time allotted for its completion.  Ask George Lucas if it was worth it.  Without question, he would say his persistence paid off.  Star Wars changed the course of movies forever and single handedly established the special effects industry.  Computer digitization comprises over half of the final installment. There’s even talk that “Revenge of the Sith” may be eligible for an Oscar nomination as an Animated Feature Length Film. 


Whether you’re a fan or not, you have to respect Lucas’s determination.  If you have a dream that seems an endless pursuit – don’t give up.  You may never have the kind of success generated by Star Wars, but your dream is no less important.  The finale of another series aired on Monday night.  The week before Everybody Loves Raymond came to a close, the actors, producers and writers endured endless interviews.  Patty Heaton’s story was particularly touching.  One commentator remarked that like so many who gain overnight success, she had twenty unaccounted years of hard work behind it.  Practically every triumphant writer, artist, athlete or business owner will tell you the same thing.  Don’t let rejection get you down.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.  And someday, you too, can boast of the sweat and tears that made you a winner.  


If that doesn't do it for you, try:; ; and




Thanks for reading. See you next month!


Andy & Shawn Catsimanes

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