Miscellaneous

Understanding how people read your direct mail can increase response

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

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The purpose of a direct mail letter is to motivate the recipient to take a specific course of action. But to persuade the reader to take action, we must first get him or her to read our letter—or at least its key parts.

Readers typically start at the top of a direct mail letter by reading their name in the address and salutation. From here, they go to the end of the letter to see who signed the letter. After the signature, readers typically go to the P.S.Direct mail in mail box

Let’s see how we can use this reading pattern to increase response.

 

Addressing your letter

Your direct mail letter is a one-to-one conversation between the letter’s signer and the recipient, and nothing assures the recipient that your message is intended for him better than seeing his name at the beginning of the letter.

People love to see their name, and today’s technology makes it cost-effective to personalize your mailing. But when you do personalize, use title codes—Mr., Mrs., Rev., etc.—in the salutation. There’s nothing less personal than a letter beginning with “Dear Hugh Chewning.” Without a title code, the attempt to personalize seems insincere and (more…)

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21 Steps to Direct Mail Success (Part 2)

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

This is the second of a two-part series.

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21 Steps to Direct Mail Success, Part 2

Getting the basics right goes a long way toward achieving direct mail success. In my last post, we discussed 11 strategies that you’ll want to include when planning your next campaign.

You can see these here.

To complete 21 Steps to Direct Mail Success, here are ten more often overlooked strategies that you’ll want to include in your next (more…)

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21 Steps to Direct Mail Success

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

This is the first of a two-part series.

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The key to success is to avoid making mistakes. And with direct mail, getting the basics right accounts for 95% of all successes.

21 Steps to Direct Mail Success

21 Steps to Direct Mail Success

You can find many articles about effective direct mail testing, copy and design in my other posts, but here I focus on key–but often overlooked–elements of a successful direct mail campaign.

Below are 11 essential elements of a successful direct response campaign. In my next post, I’ll follow up with an additional ten steps that you’ll want to (more…)

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How to Help Your Direct Mail Copywriter Make You Money

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

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Whether you’re promoting an idea, a product or a service, successful direct mail copy persuades the reader to take a desired course of action.

Years ago, the televangelist Don Stewart successfully wrote to his supporters saying, “Send $25 now. I’ll explain later.”

But today we live in an “age of skepticism,” and without facts to support the letter’s claims—and a clear understanding of the mailing’s purpose—the direct mail copywriter cannot write his or her most persuasive appeal.

Facts help build creditability, and every promise needs to be supported with believable data. But, to do his or her best work, the direct mail copywriter needs more than product information. Before beginning to write, your copywriter also needs (more…)

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How to Kill a Perfectly Good Direct Mail Offer*

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

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Direct mail is a sales medium. We use it to sell ideas, products and services. And like any other form of sales, its success is based on trust.

Regardless of how much the prospect may value your offer, if he or she doesn’t trust the person attempting to make the sale, it’s not going to happen.

In direct mail, our salesperson is the letter signer. And to establish trust we use testimonials, money-back guarantees and clear, straightforward language.

By definition, an asterisk “indicates omission…”

An asterisk signifies that the claim being made isn’t complete. There are qualifications and/or limitations to what you’re being told. In blunt terms, an asterisk says that (more…)

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Is Your Direct Mail Brochure Helping or Hurting?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

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With direct mail, it’s often said, “The letter sells while the brochure explains.” With this in mind, it’s important not to let your explanation get in the way of making the sale.

I do a lot of “Beat the Control” work, and whenever I’m up against a package that includes a brochure, my first instinct is to test eliminating the brochure. More times than not, dropping the brochure will increase the mailing’s response.

Why? Because when people are reading your brochure, they aren’t responding. Too often, the brochure becomes a distraction and diverts the reader’s attention from the letter’s call to action.

Yet, there are times when it makes sense to test a brochure.

With some products and services, you can better communicate their benefits with a picture, illustration or (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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How to Get More Value from Your Direct Mail Copywriter

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

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When I started my direct marketing career, I wanted to be a copywriter. Copywriters were the agency “hotshots”; it seemed like they were the star attraction.

Yet my mentor told me that the people of most value to the agency were direct mail “generalists.” Taking his advice, I spent the next six years learning how to initiate, develop and manage successful direct mail campaigns.

I studied list selection, graphic layouts, the letter’s structure, print production and lettershop capabilities. And I gave special attention to what and how to test.Empowering the Direct Mail Copywriter

Yet today, most of my income comes from direct mail copywriting.

Over the years, I’ve tested (more…)

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How to Edit Direct Mail Copy for Greater Response

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

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Just about every direct mail copywriter can benefit from a good editor. Yet many decision makers who approve copy—clients, compliance officers, board members and managers—aren’t trained to edit the copywriter’s work. How to edit direct mail copy

Here’s a simple 3-step method and checklist that might help.

Step 1

When reviewing a direct mail letter for the first time, sit on your hands.

One of the biggest mistakes is to pick up your red pen before you’ve reviewed the complete mailing package. Checking for errors in grammar, spelling and sentence structure is essential. But when you proofread (more…)

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