Photo by Brian Mitchell
Direct Mail might seem prehistoric in an age of social media and e-mail, but there’s still something about having a concrete piece of paper to hold in your hand. It’s more personal, and it’s less likely to get lost in the mix. (Be honest: how many times have you received an e-mail and just glossed over it, or promised to open it later just to forget it?)
“We know that people need to hear our message on average 8-13 times before they even notice we’re talking to them. But, in this age of being fascinated with all things digital — we need to remember to keep focused on creating a media mix — and that means adding some offline efforts into your overall marketing plan.”
Here at Value Prop, we’ve been doing a lot of research into what makes a Direct Mail letter a hit, and we wanted to share with you what we’ve found (compiled from a variety of different sources, as well as our own experiences).
1) Make It Real
- Absolutely no business jargon: If you use jargon, you won’t sound like a person, everyone’s heard the “talk” before, and your letter will be sent straight to the recycling bin without a second thought.
- Be down-to-earth: Level with your reader. Be yourself. Make sure they know that you understand where they’re coming from.
- Don’t be too formal: Use “you” (second-person) language.
- Be encouraging: State the benefits; be the help they’ve been looking for.
- Put yourself in the receiver’s shoes: What wouldn’t you want to read? What would sound false? Do the opposite of everything that you personally would throw out or gloss over. Also ask yourself: Would this letter grab my attention? Would I read all the way through it? Would it drive me to action?
2) Make It Easy
- Make sure your letter is approachable and easy to read: Don’t talk longer than you need to, break up your letter with headings, and include lots of white space. In other words, make it easy on the eyes, as well as the brain.
- Give direction: Don’t beat around the bush or be vague. Make sure the reader knows exactly what they are supposed to do next.
- Make it easy to respond: Your letter should make it easy to respond to whatever you’re offering. Make the contact information clear — include an easy-to-remember/type web address (preferably to a landing page specific to this initiative) — and highlight it repeatedly, or even consider including an already-stamped postcard.
- General rule: If you have to spend more than 5 seconds figuring out what to do next or what the letter is about, it’s not easy enough.
3) Make It a Priority
- Commit to doing it: If you decide to do it, decide to do it right. It will take time and a few drafts. Commit to spending that time on crafting a great letter.
- Don’t rush: Yes, it’s a process and yes, it’s a process that takes effort and time. Don’t rush it. If you’re on a deadline, work the time into your schedule before you start writing.
- Vet the letter: …and not just internally. Bounce the letter off a variety of different people in different spheres.
- PRINT IT OUT AND READ IT OUT LOUD: Let me say that again: Print it out and read it out loud! Merely proofing it on the computer doesn’t count. Your brain can easily skip over typos and grammatical errors on the screen, because you read faster than you do when it’s on paper. You should follow this advice, and have at least two other people do so as well. Skip this step at your own peril.
4) Make It Stand Out
- Find a voice: Is it empathetic? Direct? Inciting? Be certain that whatever voice you choose is consistent throughout the whole letter. Use the voice to grab the reader’s interest — and make sure it’s an honest way to catch attention. Again, jargon is a great way to ensure your letter collects dust or gets turned into a Starbucks coffee cup.
- Be bold: Don’t let it be “business as usual.”
- Be as honest as possible: Level with someone as a business-person to business-person (CEO to CEO is particularly effective).
- Add bolded sentences just as you would in a blog post: People are busy (just like you!) so even if they are interested in what you have to say, they may not have a lot of time. Highlight what’s most important so they come back to the letter later on.
5) Make It Timely
- Time your mailings with other marketing efforts: Don’t let it stand on its own.
- Follow up: Don’t send it out into the void and hope something happens; follow up with a postcard or a call (or both). People need to be reminded, even if they are interested from the get-go.
- What other tips have you found to be effective in your Direct Mailing campaigns?
- What was the best Direct Mail letter you’ve ever received, and why?
- The Ridiculously Inexpensive Magic of Direct Mail Letters – Forbes
- How to Use Direct Mail to Successfully Grow Your Business – Business Marketing Success
- Direct Mail Dos and Dont’s – Inc Magazine
- Eight Ways to Make Your Direct Marketing Copy Work Harder – Inc Magazine