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Marketing / Business marketing

Direct mail campaign tips

Direct mail campaigns are an important part of the marketing mix. Here are some tips to make yours a success.

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Also know as direct marketing, a direct mail campaign consists of a piece of correspondence, typically a letter or a postcard, sent to a particular audience with the aim of:

  • Generating leads
  • Selling something by mail order
  • Increasing sales to clients/customers
  • Letting people know about a new product or service

I’m sure you get the idea.

As soloists you don’t want to attract a 100 new clients because you probably couldn’t handle the workload. Usually, five or so new clients would certainly make a difference to the cashflow. In some instances two or three new clients would suffice.

There’s an art to writing direct marketing material, but before we discuss that, let’s look at the way people actually read this type of correspondence.

First, they glance at it and whatever stands out they take in. Second they scan, taking in the headline, sub-heads and anything in bold type. Other parts of direct mail that are read at this point are the headlines and the P.S. Astute readers can tell just from these two things whether it’s worth their while investing time to read the whole letter or package. If so they go to the third step, namely reading it in its entirety.

"Direct mail can be very effective, but your level of success depends on how tightly focused your material is and its appeal to your chosen audience."

If they glance and nothing is attractive enough to make them want to go to the next stage, the mail will go directly in the rubbish bin.

Want more articles like this? Check out the  business marketing section.

Obviously if you can get your reader to move past the glance to the scan stage, you have a better chance of getting this person to take action. And once they take enough time to read the direct mail and you have done everything right, you have increased the potential for them to take action.

The trick is to keep readers with you through the whole process. Make the offer up front, tell them the benefits, tell them exactly what they’re going to get, don’t keep them guessing. Make sure you also tell them what they could lose if they don’t take some action, and then tell them how to take the action.

Length of copy

How long should the letter be? There is no set length, so the letter needs to be as long as necessary to get your message across in a succinct and attractive way. If you can do this in four paragraphs with a strong headline and powerful P.S. then that’s the perfect length. If you think you need two pages to get the message across this may be the ideal for a particular offer.

If you need to give people a lot of information before the reader can make an informed decision, the letter could run to four or more pages.

But before writing anything too lengthy, be really careful not to bury your offer and the benefits in a long wordy letter that becomes ineffective. People are busy; give them every opportunity to take action by delivering the information quickly and clearly.

Aim for an easy to read, conversational style with the message written in words everyone can understand. This isn’t the time to impress people with the extent of your vocabulary. Keep it as simple as possible.

The secret is to write what the reader wants to read, not what the writer wants to write –  believe me, these are two very different things.

Direct mail can be very effective, but your level of success depends on how tightly focused your material is and its appeal to your chosen audience.

Barb Clews

is a skilled copywriter and editor. She writes in plain language and believes material for print and the web should be clear, concise and user-friendly.

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