Thursday, 3 October 2013


Coding advertising is not the big secret or the involved

process many would have you believe.

A great many firms sell reports on how to code your advertising

for $3 or more, when it's nothing you can't learn with a little

study of a few mail order publications.

Coding advertisements is simply a means of determining where

your orders come from, and in cases where you don't use coupons

or separate order forms for several different products, a method

of double checking on what the customer actually requested.

For the purpose of demonstration, let's assume you have a

company called JONDO COMPANY, your name is JOHN DOE, and you

market publications by PRINTCO and PUB-GUYS. You decide to run

ads for different products in three publications and teaser ads

for your catalogs in two others, one for each publisher's

catalog. Coding the latter two is easy.

For simplicity, where you put the name and address of the

company when offering Printco's catalog, mark the name as PC

JONDO, ADDRESS, ZIP CODE. When the envelope arrives and no

indication is given of what was requested, you can tell at a

glance what was requested.

Now Printco and Pub-Guys sound and look alike, so for the second

ad, mark it JONDO-PG. If you're advertising the same catalog in

three different magazines, use different codes for each to see

which one gives you the best response, for example JONDO-PG,

JOHN DOE PG AND P.G. JOHN. You can easily separate them as you

receive them.

The permutations are endless: P.G. DOE, P. DOE, G. DOE, DPG,

JPG, JDPG, and if that's not enough, code the address, perhaps

BOX 99, DEPT. PG, BOX 99-PG, BOX 99 DESK PG, BOX PG-99, and so


The person ordering wants to be sure you get his request and

almost always faithfully reproduces whatever is listed as the

correct address right down to the last comma. You can never run

out of ways to code. PG is the obvious code for PUB-GUYS, but

you could use an arbitrary number code chosen by you and in

fact, number codes are invaluable codes for making dates on the

ads, to see how many trickle-in orders you get long after the ad

stops running, and what months and season are most productive

for selling your products.

Date coding involves using numbers in sequence to indicate

magazine issue number, sequence number, or date published.

This coding is virtually essential in later campaigns. Once

you've got a fair-sized mailing list, it will be far easier to

use advertising codes to indicate their interests than to keep a

complete ledger of every person and what they purchased. It

also makes computer entry a snap, especially with a good filing


One thing that scares people about coding is receiving checks or

money orders coded like the ads. People become somewhat afraid

that they won't be able to deposit them because their account is

registered to JONDO, not JDPG or whatever. Have no fear. Your

company will be registered to your mailing address. By showing

the clerk a copy of the advertisement with the address, there

will be little doubt as to who should rightfully receive the

money, and your checks or money orders will clear like

clockwork. If by chance you do encounter a bank that won't

accommodate this requirement, bank somewhere else where they

understand the workings of mail marketers.

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