Hugh Chewning's

Direct Mail Insight

Lessons learned and shared to make your direct mail more profitable.

Fundamentals of Direct Mail Testing

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Once during my younger years, I was presenting test results to a client along with recommendations on what we should mail next.

The client acknowledged that the test results supported my recommendation but said, “Our president doesn’t like that particular copy.”

My immediate response was “So?”

Admittedly, it wasn’t my most tactful hour. But when it comes to successful direct mail, it really doesn’t matter what we think is the best offer, copy or package design.

What matters is what our customers and/or donors respond to.

Fortunately, direct mail gives us a reliable method for measuring what motivates our customers to respond. And when we know how new elements of a mailing—lists, offer, copy, format and timing—affect response, we can drive our direct mail campaign toward Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

21 Steps to Direct Mail Success (Part 2)

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 Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

21 Steps to Direct Mail Success

This is the first of a two-part series.

Download as a pdf

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 Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

How to Make Your Direct Mail More Readable and Achieve Greater Response

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Too often, we receive direct mail that’s offensive to the eye.

Big blocks of text crowd the page. Narrow left and right margins choke the life from the words. And small sans serif type makes the copy difficult to read.

Visually, these letters are uninviting.

Tips to Increase Readership

Tips to Increase Readership

Graphic designers may love the look of grey-colored type, but readers need text printed with high contrast. Illustrations and graphics can enhance a mailing, but when overused they pull the reader’s eye in so many directions that it’s virtually impossible

What might appeal to someone’s sense of design doesn’t necessarily help the reader. And with only a few seconds to capture the reader’s attention, any distraction to the eye flow can doom the mailing.

Even when you mail award-winning copy with an offer that meets the recipient’s every need, few people—even those who respond to your mailing—will read the entire direct mail letter. But when you follow a few proven techniques, you can lead more readers to the letter’s most Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

How to Help Your Direct Mail Copywriter Make You Money

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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 Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

How to Kill a Perfectly Good Direct Mail Offer*

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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 Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

For Direct Mail Success, Sweat the Details

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Too often, people and organizations put all their attention into getting the big things right, but ignore the details.

There’s a word to describe this. It’s “mediocrity.”
For direct mail success, sweat the details
Giving attention to the details can’t ensure your success, but ignoring the small stuff can quickly bring about your downfall.

Every detail has bottom-line repercussions and it’s irresponsible to think of any aspect of direct mail as trivial, unimportant or inconsequential.

Here are a few fine points often overlooked in a mailing. None will ensure your success, but collectively, they can make a huge difference in your Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

Is Your Direct Mail Brochure Helping or Hurting?

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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 Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

18 Proven Ideas for a More Effective Order Form

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Whether you call it an order form, a response form or a response device, it’s one of the most crucial components of any direct response mailing.

The response form is the tool the prospect uses to complete the sale. Yet when creating a new direct mail package, we don’t always give the order form the time, attention and respect it deserves.

Too often, we write copy that excites readers and motivates them to accept our offer only to lose the sale (or contribution) with simple, easy-to-correct design flaws in the order form.

Here are 18 tested and proven ideas you can use to make your response form more profitable. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning

Successful Direct Mail Starts and Ends With the Outer Envelope

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When receiving direct mail, the outer envelope is the first thing we see. Yet too often, its design is an afterthought.

But without a convincing envelope, even the strongest offer and best-written copy will take a quick, one-way trip to the trash.

When creating a new direct mail package, I try to think like a door-to-door salesperson. The outer envelope is my knock on the door and how effectively I use it, will determine the mailing’s success.

ELEMENTS OF THE ENVELOPE

Eye-study research reveals that recipients will spend no more than 7 seconds deciding whether to open the outer envelope. Fortunately, we have five tools we can use to convince the recipient to look inside. These are Read the rest of this entry »

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by Hugh Chewning