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Direct mail preparation

Direct Mail Services Buyer's Guide

In the direct mail industry, there is something called the "100% effectiveness rule". This breaks down as follows:

  • 40% of your success with direct mail lies with the quality and aptness of your mailing list
  • a further 40% of your success depends on the impact of the offer
  • the remaining 20% relates to the creative side of your direct mail letter or package

Assuming you have a relevant and up-to-date mailing list, you clearly need to put a lot of effort into creating a first class offer and a well written, good-looking sales package. To do this, either you or your staff can write the copy. Alternatively, ask the direct mail company to use their own professional copywriters to tackle the job – or to recommend an advertising company that can help.

Whoever does the job, the copywriting must

  • grab the readers' attention without delay
  • engage the readers' interest not by listing the features of your product or service but by showing how the product or service can directly benefit them and make their lives better in some way
  • explain your offer in simple but powerful terms
  • give clear details of how to contact you by
    • phone
    • completing a form and returning it in a Freepost envelope
    • emailing you
    • going to your website

When it comes to the design of your direct mail, the company you employ can almost certainly do this for you. If not, they'll recommend a suitably experienced graphic designer. You may, of course, be in a business that has its own designers on staff, so you may prefer to keep the design process in-house.

When the copywriting and design is complete, don't give the green light for printing until you've reviewed everything with a critical eye.

  • Have you personalised the letter as much as possible by using the second person pronoun, "you"?
  • Have you identified and addressed the needs of your customers?
  • Does the letter or package look good and stand out?
  • Do you have headings that make points the readers can relate to?
  • Does the sales letter tell a story that involves the reader?
  • Does the design match the copywriting and the offer?
  • Is the offer clear, straightforward and well positioned?
  • Will the offer strike a chord with your readers?
  • Can the readers quickly obtain further details from you?
  • Do interested readers know what to do next?

Also consider adding a code to the offer that customers must quote when they reply to you. This helps you determine the response rate.

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