Direct-Mail Marketing Secret: The Postdated Check Offer


“The trouble with us in America isn’t that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.” – Louis Kronenberger

Here’s something that, if you can afford to do it, can triple your sales.

It goes like this …

In your ad or sales letter, instead of asking your prospects to buy your product up front, ask them to send you a check postdated for, say, 30 days. Then tell them that if they aren’t satisfied, they can send the product back (within the trial period) … and you will return their check uncashed. You can also take credit cards. Just tell them you won’t charge their card until the trial period is up.

I suppose you could do this with a service too, by saying something like “Don’t pay anything now. Fill out the enclosed order form with your credit-card information for your first month’s service. I won’t charge your card for 30 days. And if, during that time, you aren’t satisfied with my service for any reason — or no reason at all — call or send me a short note and your card will never be charged. No hard feelings and no further obligation on your part.”

Of course, it almost goes without saying that you can’t use a postdated offer if you don’t have the budget for it. But if you already have an ad or sales letter that’s working … and you have enough cash reserves … this is an excellent sales-boosting offer to test. And I did say “test.” Baby-step your way into this. If it works well, expand. If it doesn’t … or if you find out that the delay in cash flow is too much for your business … drop it. There are also the factors of returns and bad money to consider. These are “X factors” that you can’t anticipate beforehand. And they’ll vary quite a bit from business to business, market to market, product to product, etc.

Here’s a “killer” example of this technique in action.

The example is from one of the best ads of all time — titled “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” and written by the late, great Joe Karbo. Here’s how Joe worded his offer:

“What if I’m so sure that you WILL make money my Lazy Man’s Way that I’ll make you a most unusual guarantee?

“And here it is: I won’t even cash your check or money order for 31 days AFTER I’ve sent you my material.

“That’ll give you plenty of time to get it, look it over, try it out.

“If you don’t agree that it’s worth AT LEAST A HUNDRED TIMES what you invested, send it back. Your UNCASHED check or money order will be put in return mail.”

Then Joe goes on to say this on the order coupon: “Joe, you may be full of beans, but what have I got to lose? Send me the Lazy Man’s Way to Riches. BUT DON’T DEPOSIT MY CHECK OR MONEY ORDER FOR 31 DAYS AFTER IT’S IN THE MAIL.

“If I return your material — for ANY reason — within that time, return my UNCASHED check or money order to me. On that basis, here’s my ten dollars.”

This ad was so successful that it sold 2,786,500 self-published books of the same name before Joe died in 1980. And I’ve been told that it worked so well that Joe could run it something like three times a week in the Los Angeles Times … every week … and still make a healthy profit.

And if you don’t realize how amazing that is, you’ve got some learnin’ to do.

Editorial Note: Scott Haines is editor of ETR’s Monthly Marketing Genius, which gives you access to secrets and techniques responsible for hundreds of millions worth of sales revenue.