APRIL 1989

If you market by direct mail, you'd probably love to: (1) identify who reads your material, and (2) drop the prospects who never even open your brochure. Doug Hotchkiss, sales and marketing director of Overseas Adventure Travel Inc. (OAT), in Cambridge, Mass., thinks he has a way to do both.

Last year OAT included a high-stakes contest in its mailing. In order to know about a trip to an exotic locale that the company was giving away -- you could choose, say, Nepal or Peru -- you had to at least open the six-page brochure. And in order to enter the contest, you had to answer six questions drawn from the brochure's text: for example, "Which nonfamily trip is the least difficult of our treks in Nepal?"

The trip cost the company as little as $1,800, Hotchkiss says, an insignificant expense compared with the $112,000 in printing and postage OAT saved by cleaning its mailing list of deadweight. Even better, those who entered the contest also had to answer questions about where they wanted to go and when: perfect fodder for OAT's salespeople.