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Tips for Direct Mail Advertising Success

“Tips for Direct Mail Advertising Success”

— provides tips for success in direct mail campaigns.

Direct mail is one of the very best ways to get new customers. It can, however, be quite frustrating.

Have you ever done a mailing that you felt would produce lots and lots of leads only to be disappointed with negative results? That’s happened to just about everyone who ever put a stamp or meter imprint on an envelope and sent it to a name on a list.

So what can you do to improve your chances of direct marketing success?

After years of trial and error and much study on the subject I have learned a few things about direct mail. I want to share with you the results of some of those lessons. You can use what I learned to improve your own mailings.

  1. Use a good mailing list.

    Everyone says he or she has a good list. What most people have to sell are simply names and address and sometimes phone numbers.

    While these names can be useful, all too often the lists are not good. Many times the names are out-dated. People have moved. Businesses are in fact out of business or also moved. They have new managers, owners.

    Always ask the list broker how old the list is. Let’s say you use the telephone book as a source. By the time the directory is actually printed the addresses in it are usually five or six months old already! On average, that means that 7% to 8% of the names are already out-dated.

    So use reputable brokers. And try to really target your list. If, for example, your best customers are males with an income of $50,000 to $75,000 living in the western United States, get a list of just that type of prospect. Purchase a list with that type of criteria.

    Remember, your mailing is only as good as your names. A great sales letter sent to the wrong names is not going to pull leads for you.

  2. Do a test mailing before you do a big mailing that may fail.

    If you have a list of 10,000 names do not mail them all at once. Oh, it is exciting to think of the returns you could get, but it’s not so exciting to think of the flop it could be.

    Test drop 100 to 200 names over a period a several weeks and gauge the response.

  3. ALWAYS put a business reply card in with your sales letter.

    This will greatly increase your response. Face it, people are lazy. Make it easy for them to respond. Don’t give them too many choices. But do have them provide you with their current name, address and phone number; the best time to call and any other information you need for your particular product or service.

    The business reply card should "sell" for you if all the prospect saw was the card; if there was not letter, no brochure.

    So don’t make the mistake of thinking a BRD is simple form; that one size fits all. That’s simply not true.

    The business reply card is a necessary part of the direct mail package. You want to make it easy for the prospect to check a box or two, fill out a line or two, and put it in the mail.

  4. Always put your phone number on the business reply card and in several places in the letter.

    Some people like to use telephones. They would much rather pick up the phone and call than send in a card or use the fax or anything else. They want action and they want it now.

    These are my favorite people. They’ll be yours too. Make it easy for them to call you. Provide an 800 number if you can. Do so especially if you take orders by phone as opposed to offering information.

  5. Let the prospects know exactly what you want them to do.

    Do you want them to ask for more information? Do you want them to order now? What do you want from them? With some products, one mailing is enough. What you want is an order. With other products and services you want to offer more information. But let the prospect know what he or she must do to reap the benefits of your offer.

  6. Know how many mailings your product or service requires before a deal can be struck.

    If you have a mail-order business, you probably want an order with your first mailing. If, however, you sell a service as I do, you may simply want to interest the prospects enough to contact you for detailed information.

    Therefore, the first mailing should be short and simple, yet very seductive. The second mailing, on the other hand, should be detailed and personalized, It should prepare the prospect to order or to call.

    Finally, you should tell the prospect to call you and order your services or fill out an order form.

    This is the three stage direct mail strategy as opposed to the one stage.

    The one stage mailing should be detailed. You must sell and sell hard in one stage mailing. You must provide the order form and all of the details.

    But in the three stage mailing you take it a step at a time. First you present your product or service…you entice and inform and cause interest. You ask the prospect to request more information.

    Second, you offer detailed and personalized information based on the facts the prospect has provided you. You ask the prospect to contact you to finalize the deal or get even more information based on his or her "personal" needs.

    Finally, you cut the deal. Hold some vital information until this point and make it available ONLY in the third stage.

    When you see a one page letter with three or four paragraphs you may say, "How hard could it be to write this?" Ah…how hard indeed!

    While the letter is short and sounds simple it takes just the right amount of sales psychology to convert the letter into a lead. It is more difficult to say a great deal in a few paragraphs than to say a great deal in many paragraphs. Writing a good sales letter is not easy. It is not for the faint hearted. Not everyone can do it.

So there you have it…some tips to improve the odds of your direct mail getting read and those business reply cards getting sent back to you.

About the Writer: Susanna K. Hutcheson specializes in writing that sells and publicizes people, businesses and products. She is a leader in the sales and motivational writing field. She has been published in national magazines including Entrepreneur, The American Salesman, Salesman’s Opportunity, The American Oil & Gas Reporter and Specialty Salesman among other publications. This article was originally published in the 5th Anniversary Edition of Entrepreneurial Edge.

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