One of the Most ‘Outrageous’ Pieces of Direct Mail, Ever Sent [Breakdown]

By Oli Luke

One of my favourite marketing books; in fact, it was the first one that I read, is called Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful’ and it was written by the incredible Gill Glazer (The ‘G’ in GKIC for any Dan Kennedy followers).

The core message of the book is simple, being outrageous in your marketing gets you lots of attention that results in lots of sales (and it’s great fun).

Now, the key focus of the book is on direct mail (which I’m going to talk about) – but this approach is as relevant online in your crowded marketplace as it is offline – I’d even argue it’s more important to stand out and be different online.

In this article, I want to walk you through a particular letter that Bill featured in his book that’s well and truly part of the ‘Direct Response Marketing Hall of Fame’.

This famous letter was sent to customers of Bill’s retail store, Gage Menswear.

I want to walk you through this letter page-by page (there are five pages) so you can read it and we can break down why it was so successful.

Page One.

On this first page, Bill gives the impression that he had a great idea and just had to write this down for the reader.

He introduces the sale, explains why he’s writing the letter and also hints at the importance of the recipient by labelling them as a “preferred customer” .

But what Bill does that’s smart (and that most people seem to forget) is he explains the reason for the offer in the form of a story.

I see so many direct mail pieces and online offers that discount and give a huge offer but don’t justify why, which just devalues their entire business.

But Bill mentions that he needs to sell stock quickly with new stock arriving and he even uses a different pen to create a note saying that ‘coupons’ are on page five.

Page Two.

The second page goes into detail about the offer and explains absolutely everything that the reader needs to know (he doesn’t scrimp on the details).

He doesn’t leave the specifics of the offer unknown, which will only drop an objection in the readers mind that “he must be selling the old crap stock” – he lists what’s for offer, creating desire and making it clear what the reader will get when they accept the offer.

Once again, I see so much marketing that create an unspecific offer, especially in retail. How many times have you walked past a high street shop, been tempted in by the big “70% off” banners to learn that it’s only a small rail either XXL or XS sizes.

Page Three.

We’re midway through the letter; and up to now, the offer has been introduced, it’s explained exactly what’s on offer and its been incredibly personal.

The reader of this letter doesn’t feel like a number or “another prospect” – this letter has been written to feel incredibly personal, like a one-to-one conversation.

But on this page, Bill ramps up the ante.

He introduces yet another element to this offer, leading with the line “But these prices aren’t good enough for you” (once again, making it incredibly personal)

He then starts to introduce additional “Shameless Bribes” to incentive them to come into the store.

One copywriting tip for you; if you can create a great offer that gets a reader highly interested, who’s sat on the fence or strongly considering buying, then justify it and build up the appetite … the moment you then introduce an additional incentive or a bonus, it then drives them over the line so effectively.

Page Four.

This letter is all about justifying the additional offer (hopefully you can see the importance of justifying reasons for offers/discounts) and he also reassures the reader that this letter is personal and not a mass-mailing.

He speaks to the reader as a friend, with lines like “I think you deserve it” and re-affirming that they’re “preferred customers”

Once again, what objections do readers have? That this has gone to everybody, it’s not personal and that the offer seems too good to be true. He overcomes every single one of these in a friendly honest approach.

Page Five. 

Here we have the final page, which is incredibly eye-catching.

But there are some key elements to this that shouldn’t be missed.

He confirms the deadline of the discount offer (July 15th, 2001) and then has additional deadlines for each of the “Shameless Bribes” …

This doesn’t just create demand, this creates a RUSH. The quicker you respond, the better offer you get – which means that it instantly becomes a priority to respond.

With your offers, you could offer specific bonuses if they’re the first 10 people to respond, or special perks if they take action before a specific date.

There you have it. 

This has gone down into folk-law, and it was weirdly a big inspiration behind me starting a handwritten direct mail business in 2013.

The question is, how could you use outrageous advertising in your business? I’m not suggesting it’s as whacky as this – but could you take inspiration from the above to create a piece of marketing that never gets forgotten and is impossible to ignore?

700k campaign


The “Take-Away” Direct Mail Campaign That Generated $700,000 of Sales from a Small Burnt-Out Email List (Without Having Any of the Subscribers Postal Details).

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700k campaign

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The “Take-Away” Direct Mail Campaign That Generated $700,000 of Sales from a Small Burnt-Out Email List (Without Having Any of the Subscribers Postal Details).

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