Data

Personalizing Direct Mail Copy

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

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You have probably seen how personalizing a direct mail letter can lift response and increase profits.

Personalizing our letter often means having a computer extract information from our database – the recipient’s name, address, past purchases, contribution history, names of elected officials, etc. – and inserting it into the letter copy.

We know this works. It’s been tested countless times and we regularly see the added cost of computer personalization justified by increased profits.

But when used incorrectly, attempts to personalize the letter can actually depersonalize it.

For example, my pet peeve are letters that begin (more…)

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How to Use a Pre-Event Routine for More Profitable Direct Mail Testing

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

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If you watch sports, you’ve seen a “pre-event routine” in action.

In baseball, major-league batters will go through their pre-event routines before every pitch. Watch them and you’ll see some batters come to the plate, take two swings and then tap the edge of the plate with their bat before each pitch. The routines vary with each batter, but practically every major leaguer has an established routine.

You’ll see the same thing in basketball. The next time you see a player taking a foul shot, watch what they do. The player may bounce the ball twice, hold the ball and then bounce it again before taking the shot. Whatever their routine, they will go through the same sequence of events each time they take a foul shot.

Athletes use pre-event routines to prepare for success. It gives them focus and purpose, and helps them achieve a higher level of performance. Now we need to develop our own pre-event routine to make our direct mail more profitable. (more…)

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A Copywriter’s Thoughts on Direct Mail Lists

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

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I still remember my first direct mail letter. I reworked it to perfection. Every word was just as I wanted it to be. The benefits to the reader were clear, the offer was strong and the call to action was unmistakable.

Then we mailed the letter, and I waited. And I waited some more. But nothing happened. Not even a single response. No one even bothered to complain about the letter.

About direct mail lists

Finding the right person to mail

Finally, after waiting a few more days, I went to see the agency’s owner and confessed my failure. I explained the letter’s objectives, my approach, the offer…how I had checked and rechecked every word but failed to get even one response.

Without even looking up, my boss said, “Check the lists.”

And I was ready for this. I’d already prepared a report on the mailing lists we were testing and started to go through the long list. But he said, “No, that’s not what I mean. (more…)

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Much of What I Know About Direct Mail, I Learned in High School

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

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Some of the best training I’ve had for becoming a direct mail copywriter came when I sold magazines door to door as a teenager.

I quickly learned that not every homeowner welcomed me. Some would not even come to the door, some would close the door in my face and others would listen but not buy.

Soon, I learned to how to better my odds. Each time I approached a house, I gathered all the available information on the homeowner and developed a plan before knocking on the door.

My marketing “data” came from what I could see in the homeowner’s front yard. Were there toys in the yard, indicating children lived there? Was a newspaper (more…)

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