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Shoulder Length Hair: 20 Amazing Hairstyles

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Something Fun to Start Your Weekend

What is Triclosan? It’s in Deodorants, toothpastes, shaving creams, mouth washes and cleaning supplies,

Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent. It is a polychloro phenoxy phenol. Despite being used in many consumer products, beyond its use in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis, there’s no evidence by the FDA that triclosan provides an extra benefit to health in other consumer products.[1] Triclosan safety is currently under review by the FDA.[1]


Triclosan has been used since 1972, and it is present in soaps (0.10-1.00%), deodorants, toothpastes, shaving creams, mouth washes, and cleaning supplies, and is infused in an increasing number of consumer products, such as kitchen utensils, toys, bedding, socks, and trash bags. Triclosan has been shown to be effective in reducing and controlling bacterial contamination on the hands and on treated products. More recently, showering or bathing with 2% triclosan has become a recommended regimen for the decolonization of patients whose skin is carrying methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)[2] following the successful control of MRSA outbreaks in several clinical settings.[3][4]

Triclosan is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the European Union. During wastewater treatment, a portion of triclosan is degraded, while the remaining adsorbs to sewage sludge or exits the plant in wastewater effluent.[5][6] In the environment, triclosan may be degraded by microorganisms or react with sunlight, forming other compounds, which may include chlorophenols and dioxin, or it may adsorb to particles that settle out of the water column and form sediment.[5][7] Triclosan was found in Greifensee sediment that was over 30 years old, suggesting that triclosan is degraded or removed slowly in sediment.[5]

Mechanism of action

At in-use concentrations, triclosan acts as a biocide, with multiple cytoplasmic and membrane targets.[8] At lower concentrations, however, triclosan appears bacteriostatic and is seen to target bacteria mainly by inhibiting fatty acid synthesis. Triclosan binds to bacterial enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase enzyme (ENR), which is encoded by the gene FabI. This binding increases the enzyme’s affinity for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). This results in the formation of a stable ternary complex of ENR-NAD+-triclosan, which is unable to participate in fatty acid synthesis. Fatty acid is necessary for reproducing and building cell membranes. Humans do not have an ENR enzyme, and thus are not affected. Some bacterial species can develop low-level resistance to triclosan at its lower bacteriostatic concentrations due to FabI mutations, which results in a decrease of triclosan’s effect on ENR-NAD+ binding, as shown in Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.[9][10] Another way for these bacteria to gain low-level resistance to triclosan is to overexpress FabI.[11] Some bacteria have innate resistance to triclosan at low, bacteriostatic levels, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which possesses multi-drug efflux pumps that ‘pump’ triclosan out of the cell.[12] Other bacteria, such as some of the Bacillus genus, have alternative FabI genes (FabK) to which triclosan does not bind and hence are less susceptible.

Formation of dioxin in surface water

The use of triclosan in household anti-bacterial products introduces the chemical to surface waters where it can form dioxins. The dioxin compound that formed when triclosan degraded in sunlight was shown in a study by University of Minnesota researchers not to be of public health concern. Dioxin is not one compound, but a family of compounds of widely ranging toxicity. Of the 210 dioxin and furan family compounds, only 17 are considered to be of public health concern.[13]

Resistance concerns

An article coauthored by Dr. Stuart Levy in the August 6, 1998 issue of Nature[14] warned that triclosan’s overuse could cause resistant strains of bacteria to develop, in much the same way that antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains are emerging, based on speculation that triclosan behaved like an antibiotic. Based on this speculation, in 2003, the Sunday Herald newspaper reported that some UK supermarkets and other retailers were considering phasing out products containing triclosan.[15]

It has since been shown that the laboratory method used by Dr. Levy was not effective in predicting bacterial resistance for biocides like triclosan,[16] At least seven peer-reviewed and published studies have been conducted demonstrating that triclosan is not significantly associated with bacterial resistance over the short term, including one study coauthored by Dr. Levy.[17]

Some level of triclosan resistance can occur in some microorganisms, but the larger concern is with the potential for cross-resistance or co-resistance to other antimicrobials. StudiesHealth concerns

In August 2009 the Canadian Medical Association asked the Canadian government to ban triclosan use in household products under concerns of creating bacterial resistance and producing dangerous side products (chloroform).[19]

Reports have suggested that triclosan can combine with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform gas,[20] which the United States Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a probable human carcinogen. As a result, triclosan was the target of a UK cancer alert, even though the study showed that the amount of chloroform generated was less than amounts often present in chlorinated drinking waters.

Triclosan also reacts with the free chlorine in tap water to produce lesser amounts of other compounds, like 2,4-dichlorophenol.[20] Most of these intermediates convert into dioxins upon exposure to UV radiation (from the sun or other sources). Although small amounts of dioxins are produced, there is a great deal of concern over this effect, because some dioxins are extremely toxic and are very potent endocrine disruptors. They are also chemically very stable, so that they are eliminated from the body very slowly (they can bioaccumulate to dangerous levels), and they persist in the environment for a very long time.

Triclosan is chemically somewhat similar to the dioxin class of compounds. Its production leads to small amounts of residual polychlorinated dioxins, and polychlorinated furans, which are contained in small amounts, in the products that are using it.

A 2006 study concluded that low doses of triclosan act as an endocrine disruptor in the North American bullfrog.[21] The hypothesis proposed is that triclosan blocks the metabolism of thyroid hormone, because it chemically mimics thyroid hormone, and binds to the hormone receptor sites, blocking them, so that normal hormones cannot be utilized. Triclosan has also been found in both the bile of fish living downstream from waste water processing plants and in human milk.[22] The negative effects of triclosan on the environment and its questionable benefits in toothpastes[23] has led to the Swedish Naturskyddsföreningen to recommend not using triclosan in toothpaste.[24] Another 2009 study demonstrated that triclosan exposure significantly impacts thyroid hormone concentrations in the male juvenile rats.[25]

Triclosan is used in many common household products, including Clearasil Daily Face Wash, Dentyl mouthwash, Dawn, the Colgate Total range, Crest Cavity Protection, Softsoap, Dial, Right Guard deodorant, Sensodyne Total Care, Old Spice, Mentadent, and Bath and Body works hand sanitizers.

In the United States, manufacturers of products containing triclosan must now say so somewhere on the label.

Trusting What You Can Not See

Trusting What You Can Not See, by Sheri McConnell
(Excerpted from Smart Women Know Their Why-Pub. Date June 2010)

Faith is a big part of living a successful life and being a successful entrepreneur.  My secret is deciding to have faith in myself more than any type of external force.  Notice I said the word “decision” because that is where it starts. My journey has taught me that I always intuitively know which direction to head next and when I look to find answers outside of myself, I always end up off the path a bit. It took me until I was well into my thirties to be able to trust others because of not having established trust in any form whatsoever during my childhood.  For me, I had to have my own family and connect with the love I had for them to be able to trust myself and others.

The deeper reason it is important to be able to trust is because your heart must be full and complete in order to bring out the passion and joy for yourself and others in your life.  The feeling of trust will penetrate the walls surrounding a broken heart, the pain from being alone or feeling alone.  Just like you, others have been in the dark and are searching for what you now know to be true. They are searching to believe in themselves in the darkest moments of their being.  This is trust at its core.

So let’s talk about a few ways to learn to trust yourself so you can be empowered to live the life of your dreams which could mean grow a very profitable business, or have a huge family, author a series of books, or travel the world and meet exciting people—shoot your dream life could include all of these—mine does!

Trust in Balance

If you are moving in “auto-pilot” the heart will not shine and the days will cast heaviness in the center of your body.  Balance will provide the base of being grounded to the truth. Believe in the love you have for yourself and you will come from the deepest parts of your soul.

The fastest way to develop a trusting relationship with balance is connect with nature.  This will bring the balance between work, family, love, and life.  In this connection you will build the foundation that will hold you up in any storm.  So each day work on getting out and just seeing the beauty of nature around you.  This will help make the connection stronger and remind you of just how small we are in the universe.  The more you bring in nature and hold the thought of each molecule and atom circling in your path, the more balanced you will become.

Now, I am aware that I live in San Antonio, Texas and we are blessed with nine months of beautiful weather each year, so I know I am able to connect more often than some—if you live in an area that isn’t as mild as where I live, do whatever you can to create the sounds and smells of nature in your home during the cold months.

Trust in Power

True power will emerge when you are in service. All you have to do is trust that the power is given to you to serve and that if you serve, the world is abundant.  This doesn’t mean when running a business, you don’t charge for products and services.  You can’t produce quality products and services and really help your customers if there isn’t an exchange of money.  Trusting in your own power to lead others through your products and services is the inner structure that allows the new ideas and the new beginnings to come forth.

Trust in Energy

The innocence of childhood energy is what we tap into when we are at our center.  Remember the feeling of being with one self and no cares or a negative thought to speak of. Trust that this energy still exists within you and allow yourself to bring this calmness into your thinking when you are taking on the biggest obstacles and the biggest conflicts. Tapping into this energy will help you to reduce stress and become heart centered. This is the constant energy that is felt by others so they can rejoice in their knowing of this power within them.  And knowing about this energy will help you break the barriers of negative energy in any room.

I have found that our truest sense of self comes from just trusting in our energy and the energy signals we get from others. Your goal is to have no barriers or boundaries where energy is concerned and just be with the energy of each moment. In the present moment, there is no fear, no doubt, just you in your power and experiencing all of life’s joys that are presented to you each day.

Trust in the Journey

A lot of people get stuck in their own journey. They relive the worst parts of it over and over again in a very unloving way.  It becomes a vicious circle of inner self disappointment that circles them right back around to the same place again.  I’ve been there and I get it.

Instead of getting stuck on your journey, take the mistakes you made and will make and love yourself as if you were a child who is learning. Even as adults, in some areas of growth we are only children and we must be gentle with ourselves to truly grow through the journey. What I know to be true is that people are searching for a place of belonging and validation. You can create this for them by being a leader who spreads passion and love.

Remember that your journey is a gift because it provides the wisdom you will need to go out and create positive change in the world. So your goal is to learn from your past and do better as soon as you know better. Be strong and have courage to change. Trust me, I know how hard it is to move past a dysfunctional patterns that have become comfortable.  But the rewards of doing so allow you to stand outside of yourself and get a good look at whom you have been and where you are now.  What surfaces is love. And now you can shine this love for others…. You see, without the journey, you would not have this gift.

Because of my journey (see chapter one), I was able to survive the darkness and now shine a light for others who are now in the shadows of darkness themselves.  They need help from someone who has been there and conquered the fear of internal and external chaos.  I do this by casting light on dark situations and allowing my words to fill the gap between doubt and love.   I invite you to find your passions (your gifts) and cast light for others too.

Sheri McConnell is the CEO of Sheri McConnell Companies, Inc. and the president and founder of two global organizations, the Smart Women’s Institute of Entrepreneurial Learning (formerly the National Assn of Women Writers-2001) and the Global Institute of Associations-GIA. You can visit Sheri, access her free article archive, and grab lots of free stuff at or Sheri lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, their four children, a weenie dog, and three hermit crabs.

Quick five minute exercises to help avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


These exercises have been developed and tested by Dr. Housang Seradge at the University of Oklahoma Orthopaedic & Reconstructive Research Foundation (

Studies indicate that two out of three patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel symptoms were able to avoid surgery by using these exercises – twice the success rate of other nonsurgical treatments. These exercises are more successful in patients with mild symptoms, and are not recommended for patients with severe symptoms. Patients who have persistent symptoms despite these exercises should discuss surgical treatment with their physician. The latest version of these exercises can be found at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons web site: Here are some exercises intended to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Remember doing a quick five minute exercise warm-up before starting work, just as runners stretch before a run, can help prevent work-related injuries.

  • Extend and stretch both wrists and fingers acutely as if they are in a hand-stand position. Hold for a count of 5.
  • Straighten both wrists and relax fingers.
  • Make a tight fist with both hands.
  • Then bend both wrists down while keeping the fist. Hold for a count of 5.
  • Straighten both wrists and relax fingers, for a count of 5.

The exercise should be repeated 10 times.

Then let your arms hang loosely at the side and shake them for a few seconds.

For more information on “Prevent Injuries America!,” call the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ public service telephone number 1-800-824-BONES (2663).


The Truth about Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

Do you enjoy a shampoo with a rich lather? A shaving cream that really foams? How about relaxing in a tub full of bubbles? These may seem like some of life’s simple, innocent pleasures…until you look at WHAT is causing all that foam and lather. Once you find out, you may decide it’s not so simple or pleasurable after all.

Check the labels of your shampoo, soap, facial cleanser, shaving cream, body wash, or shower gel: Do you see either Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) listed? Or one of their cousins: Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate, Sodium Myreth Sulphate, etc.? Most manufacturers use these anionic detergents because they produce a lot of foam very inexpensively. But SLS is so strong that it’s also used to scrub garage floors. Worse, it has been proven to cause cancer in the long run. And the American College of Toxicology says SLS stays in the body up to five days. Other studies show it easily penetrates the skin and enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, liver, the lungs, and the brain. Yet SLS is found in most cleansing, foaming products—even in some toothpastes! (Note: SLS may be disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the parenthetical explanation “comes from coconut.” Let’s save the coconut from defamation of character!)

One woman who examined labels found that all the shampoos she checked had SLS—even health food store brands. Many listed Sodium Laureth Sulphate as the first ingredient on the label, meaning it’s the single most prevalent ingredient. So this lady called one company to complain that their product contains a substance that will cause people to have cancer. Their response was, “Yeah, we knew about it, but there’s nothing we can do about it because we need that substance to produce foam.”

Try contacting some manufacturers yourself: The typical responses might be:

(1) Denial: “It’s completely safe.”

(2) Avoidance: “You’ll have to talk to someone else” or “We can’t talk
about that.”

(3) Ignorance: “I’ve never heard about that.”

Most people selling products with this and other harmful ingredients really just don’t know. The FDA has a GRAS list (Generally Regarded As Safe), and almost everything is on there, so most people selling these products just focus on the marketing hype and what the product is supposed to do for skin (clean it, make it feel soft, etc.). Sadly, of the 7000 ingredients used on the skin, only 5-6 have been tested for LONG-TERM safety, and none have been tested TOGETHER. Currently, 125 are strongly suspected carcinogens, 20 cause adverse nervous system reactions, and 25 are connected to birth defects.

So why exactly is SLS so bad?

Here are what tests show about Sodium Lauryl Sulphate:

(1) SLS PENETRATES EYES AND TISSUES. Tests show that SLS can penetrate into the eyes as well as systemic tissues (brain, heart, liver, etc.) and shows long-term retention in those tissues. Especially when used in soaps and shampoos, there is an immediate concern relating to the penetration of SLS into the eyes and other tissues. This is especially important in infants, where considerable growth is occurring, because a much greater uptake occurs by tissues of younger eyes, and SLS changes the amounts of some proteins in cells from eye tissues. Tissues of young eyes may be more susceptible to alteration by SLS[1]

(2) SLS FORMS NITRATES: When SLS is used in shampoos and cleansers containing nitrogen-based ingredients, it can form carcinogenic nitrates that can enter the blood stream in large numbers. They can cause eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions.[2]

(3) SLS PRODUCES NITROSAMINES (potent carcinogens that cause the body to absorb nitrates at higher levels than eating nitrate-contaminated food like hot dogs or lunch meat): Dr. David H. Fine, the chemist who uncovered NDELA contamination in cosmetics, estimates that a person would be applying 50 to 100 micrograms of nitrosamine to the skin each time he or she used a nitrosamine-contaminated cosmetic. By comparison, a person consuming sodium nitrate-preserved bacon is exposed to less than one microgram of nitrosamine. [3]

(4) SLS STRIPS MOISTURE AND OIL FROM THE SKIN. According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, SLS produced skin and hair damage, including cracking and severe inflammation of the derma-epidermal tissue. Skin layers may separate and inflame due to its protein-denaturing properties.[4]


(6) SLS CAN DAMAGE DNA IN CELLS—according to Japanese studies.[6]


SLS and all its cousins are very harsh detergents that strip the skin’s moisture barrier (which is linked to immunity and skin health) and causes serious health problems during testing on animals. It is linked to harming children’s eyes, denaturing protein (thereby possibly contributing to hair loss or thinning), and combines with DEA, MEA and TEA (often found in the same shampoo) to form nitrosamines, a potent carcinogen. Since it is only included in products because of its potent foaming action, the question you must consider is:

What’s more important: the foam or your health?

You CAN choose healthful alternatives: Toxic Chemical Overload. FREE E-Book

What Does Your Business Card Say About You?

Hopefully you already have a business card, but if you don’t you should definitely create one. Business cards are something that we take for granted when we shouldn’t. The look, feel, and message on a card help people determine how they view you and more importantly, if they will even remember you.businesscard

When you leave a conversation and the other party has your business card, your identity is that piece of paper. Because of this representation, your business card should not only state who you work for, your contact information, and what you do, but it should also state something about you. Not in a written sense, but more so on the overall image it creates about you.

For example if I were to hand you my business card you would probably get the feeling that I am a warm and friendly person due to the following reasons:

  • The card is thick, yet feels soft.
  • Corners of the card are rounded
  • The card color is green
  • The typography is a bit rounded

The main reason I had the card created with these qualities is because when I hand it to people, I wanted it to communicate a warm and caring feeling. This is important to me because I actually do care about others and I want to make sure people remember this and stay in touch.

If you don’t have a business card and are looking to create one, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Color – we usually take colors for granted, but there are meanings behind them.
  • Paper – the quality of your card says something about you. The last thing you want to use is cheap paper or a material like metal which doesn’t allow others to write on your card.
  • Uniqueness – if your business card doesn’t stand out in a pile filled with other cards then the chances are people won’t remember you by looking at your business card. You need to make your card unique somehow.
  • Typography – fonts have a voice, so choose one that best represents who you are and make sure to choose one that is easy to read.
  • Feel – touch is an important sense that we all have and your business card should appeal to that sense. If you want to represent that you are a soft and gentle person, make sure your card is soft and has rounded corners. If you want to represent that you are a corporate person who is very structured and ridged, you probably should have a hard business card with sharp corners.

Before you hand your business card to someone else, you need to make sure your card has the information it should but also truly says something about you. This will help them remember you and at the very least stay in touch once in awhile.

This information was contributed by Quick Sprout

For all your postcard and business card creative and business needs, please visit Salon Pro Marketing

99 Quick Tips for Upgrading Your Direct Mail Package

by Dean Rieck body_06

Whether you’re creating a new direct mail campaign or updating an old one, you have an infinite variety of choices for improving response. Based on decades of testing, here are 99 of the easiest and most effective. Consider this a smorgasbord of savvy possibilities and inspirations:

  1. Make an irresistible offer.
  2. Give away something free to boost response.
  3. Prefer a free gift over a discount.
  4. Increase the perceived value of your offer.
  5. Reduce the perceived risk in accepting your offer.
  6. Offer attractive payment options.
  7. Use a time limit to increase urgency.
  8. Test a two-step offer for high-priced goods.
  9. Test a yes/no offer to clarify the buying decision.
  10. Test a yes/maybe offer to lower perceived commitment.
  11. Dramatize your offer with stamps or stickers.
  12. Make your offer tangible with a check or coupon.
  13. Create your envelope to get noticed and get opened.
  14. Use teaser copy to tease, not tell.
  15. Consider using a plain envelope.
  16. Try an official-looking envelope.
  17. Use a low-key envelope for business prospects.
  18. Use your sales letter to sell and your brochure to tell.
  19. Make your letter look like a letter.
  20. Grab attention in your letter with a short first sentence.
  21. Express one central idea in your letter.
  22. Write your letter in a friendly, personal tone.
  23. Call for action early and often in your letter text.
  24. Have a high-authority person sign your letter.
  25. Personalize your letter if possible.
  26. Use a P.S. to cite a benefit, deadline, or extra detail.
  27. Use your brochure to add credibility.
  28. Use brochure tables, charts, diagrams, and visuals to support your claims.
  29. Design your brochure for easy reading.
  30. Use clear benefit heads and subheads in your brochure.
  31. Include all features and specifics in your brochure text.
  32. Include complete ordering information in your brochure.
  33. Test your package with no brochure.
  34. Use a stand-alone order form.
  35. Restate your offer on the order form.
  36. Include an acceptance statement.
  37. Make your order form easy to fill out and return.
  38. Highlight the deadline.
  39. Make your order form look valuable.
  40. Refer to the order form as something more valuable.
  41. Consider extra order forms for passalongs.
  42. Order something from yourself to discover how to make ordering easier.
  43. Offer a fax response option for businesses.
  44. Use your order form to highlight last-minute specials.
  45. Preprint your customer’s name and address to simplify ordering.
  46. Restate your guarantee on the order form.
  47. Offer a toll-free number for faster orders.
  48. Avoid a two-sided order form.
  49. Use the back of your order form for support information only.
  50. Give clear, simple ordering directions.
  51. Include a BRE if you ask for confidential information.
  52. Pay the postage on reply cards.
  53. Feature compelling testimonials.
  54. Edit testimonials carefully and honestly.
  55. Prefer many short quotes over a few long quotes.
  56. Group testimonials to increase impact.
  57. Use names, titles, and locations to increase testimonial credibility.
  58. Turn a good testimonial into a lift letter.
  59. Use a testimonial as a headline or benefit statement.
  60. Show people using your product or service.
  61. Give case histories of your best customers.
  62. Display a seal of approval or rating.
  63. Cite favorable reviews.
  64. Cite media coverage.
  65. Back up your offer with a strong guarantee.
  66. State your guarantee in the strongest possible terms.
  67. Keep your guarantee conditions to a minimum.
  68. Make your guarantee a prominent package element.
  69. Replace your conditional guarantee with an unconditional guarantee.
  70. Strengthen your guarantee with a signature.
  71. Extend your guarantee for as long as possible.
  72. Make your guarantee look official.
  73. Avoid asterisks and legal-looking tiny type.
  74. Reinforce your guarantee with a merchandise return label.
  75. Encourage involvement with a quiz or checklist.
  76. Emphasize exclusivity with a membership card.
  77. Add fun with a rub-off or hidden message.
  78. Answer objections or highlight a benefit with a lift letter.
  79. Increase credibility with a testimonial insert.
  80. Answer questions or objections with a Q&A insert.
  81. Prove your product superiority with a sample.
  82. Share supporting information with an article reprint.
  83. Deliver a quick pitch with an ad reprint.
  84. Announce last-minute news with a buckslip.
  85. Offer a premium on a buckslip.
  86. Draw attention with a yellow sticky note.
  87. Include company name, address, and phone number on every piece.
  88. Establish a solid control before testing elements.
  89. Test one element at a time.
  90. Run statistically valid tests.
  91. Retest anything that shows a significant change.
  92. Track results meticulously.
  93. Train your people on the importance of tracking.
  94. Analyze your results in writing.
  95. Use your test results to determine creative strategy.
  96. Keep using your control until you beat it.
  97. Test.
  98. Test.
  99. Test some more.

Copyright © 2003 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.


Dean Rieck is a top-ranked freelance direct mail and direct marketing copywriter. He has been called “the best direct response strategist and copywriter” in America. Dean offers complete copywriting and design services for direct mail, B2B, print, sales lead generation, sales letters, e-mail and online marketing, and radio advertising. For more tips on improving your direct response advertising results, subscribe to Dean’s free direct marketing newsletter at

For your postcard design and printing needs, please visit Salon Pro Marketing

A Short Menu of Profitable Direct Mail Formats

By Dean Rieck

One of the beauties of direct mail is that it allows you to send people just about anything you can print. Your creative options are virtually endless. And while the standard envelope package is usually considered the most effective, there are plenty of other formats you can test.

Often an alternate format will increase response. But even if your response ends up being lower, many formats let you deliver your message at a reduced cost while maintaining enough response to offset the difference and give you more net profit. Here are a few format ideas:

* Reduce costs with a self-mailer. It offers low cost and a quick read, good for quickly recognized content. It also helps speed response because it’s not as in-depth as a full package and looks more urgent and newsy. To make a self-mailer work at peak efficiency, combine elements of a standard direct mail package and a print ad. Include a strong headline in bold type, copy in easy-to-read sections, strong visuals, clear offer, reply card, toll-free number, message or mini-letter printed near the recipient’s address, feature list, testimonials, guarantee, and other elements as needed.

* Signal exclusivity with an invitation. To make an offer special, you can issue an invitation in the appropriate format, usually a smaller envelope and letter on high-quality paper. This works best for offers targeted to high-income prospects, professionals, and executive level positions; for events such as conferences, meetings, and presentations; or for offers that need a quality feel.

* Add urgency with a telegram. This is a good idea that is, unfortunately, wildly overused. It can be little more than an envelope design, such as “Urgent Gram,” “Speed Gram,” or some variation. Or it might be an envelope and letter combo resembling an actual telegram printed on yellow paper with tractor-feed holes down the sides of the letter. One way to make this format work is to create your own urgent-looking envelope for fulfillment materials. This allows the envelope to get noticed and assures that the contents will be relevant and interesting instead of boilerplate.

* Create an official look with a snap-pack. This format is often used for official notices or statements, so it gives your ad message the same feel. And because the recipient has to rip open the edge of the envelope and pull out the contents, it creates involvement. It’s good for generating inquiries or for organizations with recognizable and trusted names. It has been used with particular success in the nonprofit sector to deliver what appears to be an urgent, cheap appeal for funds.

* Generate quick leads with a postcard. Direct sales are possible with postcards but only for simple offers, such as magazine subscriptions. They are much better for building traffic for local retail or for generating inquiries for familiar services, such as real estate or carpet cleaning. However, because response is so easy, lead quality is often low. But it’s worth testing. Just remember to telegraph your message with a clear benefit headline, strong and tangible offer, a picture of what you’re offering, lean copy, and a bold call to action.

* Use dimensional mailings cautiously. Boxes, bags, tubes, folders, and other unusual formats are great for getting attention. But while there are plenty of examples of successful campaigns, these formats are usually misused, wasting money on a novel format when a standard format could deliver a more powerful message and net a greater response or profit. Most of the dimensional mailings I have seen are simply a way for ad agencies to jack up their fee and cover up the fact that they don’t have anything to say about a product or service.

* When in doubt, use an envelope package. The classic direct mail package consists of an outer envelope (usually #10, 6″x9″, or 9″x12″), a letter, brochure, reply card or order form, maybe one or more inserts, and a reply envelope. The reason this format is a standard is that it has been developed, tested, and perfected over many years. And it works. Test other formats but don’t be different just to be different.

* Test formats head-to-head. The important point in format testing is to keep the offer, copy, graphics, and all creative elements as similar as possible so that you are testing the format itself and not a new creative treatment. And always test a new format in a head-to-head mailing with the old format. Never make a change until you have proven results.

Copyright © 2003 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.

Dean Rieck is a top-ranked freelance direct mail and direct marketing copywriter. He has been called “the best direct response strategist and copywriter” in America. Dean offers complete copywriting and design services for direct mail, B2B, print, sales lead generation, sales letters, e-mail and online marketing, and radio advertising. For more tips on improving your direct response advertising results, subscribe to Dean’s free direct marketing newsletter.

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Funny or Die’s Presidential Reunion