Joe Polish ‘Insane Offer’ IS Crazy [Direct Mail Review]

I’ve been on Joe Polish’s mailing list for a few years now.

Not his email list — rather his physical mailing list.

In case you don’t know who Joe Polish is, he’s a Dan Kennedy student who made a name for himself by helping carpet cleaners grow their businesses. He now hosts meetings and mastermind groups for other seasoned marketers.

Joe distinguishes himself by using direct mail to reach his ideal prospects.

Few online marketers use direct mail, which is why I paid attention when Joe recently sent me a one-page letter in a standard business envelope.

The headline at the top of the letter proclaimed:

“This Is The Most Insane Offer I’ve Ever Made”
I figured I’d read the letter to see just what kind of offer Joe was making.

Here’s the gist of it (click the image for the full letter)

Joe Polish's Insane Free Book Offer

Joe says he has read more than 1,000 books in his life, and that four of these books have been more valuable to him than all the rest.

Joe says he wants to send me these four books.

How do I get them?

All I need to do is pay shipping and handling.

Joe says that he’ll also send me four “killer videos” that are worth thousand of dollars if I accept his offer.

Okay, so far so good.

I don’t know which four books I’ll be getting yet, but I might be willing to take the risk since I’m only paying shipping and handling.

But then I get to the punchline.

Joe says, “The investment for this insane offer? Only $137.00.”


Unless you are uniquely math-challenged, that figure sounds like full price plus a little bit of padding.

Let’s assume each of the four books Joe wants to send me is a hardback.

Even if I paid $25 per book, there is no way it costs $37 to pack and ship four books.

Ultimately, Joe is correct: his offer is insane. But not in the way he intended.

He wanted to convey the idea that he was insane for “giving away” these four books for such a low price.

But I finished the letter thinking I would be insane to pay $137 for four books whose titles have not been revealed to me.

Here are a few things I would have done to improve this letter:

Improvement #1. I would have lowered the price so that the offer really was insanely cheap instead of insanely expensive. To qualify as “insanely cheap,” I think the price needed to be somewhere around $20, give or take a little.

Improvement #2. The letter clearly assumes I already know who Joe is, but what if I’ve forgotten? The letter contains nothing about Joe’s background or expertise. Remember, it never hurts to reestablish your credentials and remind prospects why they should pay attention to you.

Improvement #3. The letter’s call to action is to visit a website to watch a video Joe has made. If this was indeed Joe’s most desired response, he should have teased the video. For example…

“When you visit the link, you’ll discover the titles of the four most valuable books I’ve ever read, how they changed my business, and how to claim your copies for just $20. I have only X packages available, so please respond quickly.”

Improvement #4. I would have added more urgency. In the P.S. of the letter, Joe says, “So go watch my short video there right now and snatch it up before I run out of the books.” Besides being a poorly written sentence (“it” refers to “short video,” not the books), this is the only urgency in the letter. There is no deadline or reference to how many copies of the books Joe has.

I have nothing against Joe, and I think his idea was a good one. Loss-leading offers and break even offers can be a good way to generate a list of customers who are qualified to make a larger purchase at a later date.

Unfortunately, the amount requested to cover the “shipping and handling” destroys the credibility of the offer.

The other oversights I mentioned (no credentials, no urgency, no teasing of the video) contribute to the weakness of the letter.

You might think it’d be easy to write a short, persuasive letter.

But short copy is often more difficult to write than long copy simply because you must be frugal with your words.

Next time you need to write a short direct mail letter, keep the lessons I’ve shared here in mind.

-Ryan M. Healy


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Ryan Healy

Ryan Healy is a freelance copywriter, list manager, and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and

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