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Are You Making These Direct Mail Mistakes, 6 Direct Mail Tips

Aug 17, 2007
Direct mail is a lot like blackjack. To win a blackjack you need to be aware of the odds at all times and play so that you are maximizing your chances to win while minimizing your risks. The same is true with direct mail. Direct mail is "played" so that you maximize your chances of winning and reducing your chances of throwing money out the window.

Each right move helps you increase your response rates and your return on investment. Mistakes, on the other hand will cost you responses and cost you money. Here's a few common mistakes and some proven direct mail and marketing tips that will help you maximize your success.

1. Marketing to too many low probability prospects. The list that you mail to is the number one factor that will determine how successful you are at direct mail. You should spend more time trying to select the right list than any other component of your direct mail campaign. This one component can mean more to your success than any other.

Look for lists that have a logical connection to your product or service. If you are raising funds for a charity you would want to select a list of people who have donated to a similar cause in the past.

2. Failure to differentiate. Have you ever noticed how many companies say the same thing in their marketing and advertisements. Open up a phone book and look at how many companies sound alike. They use phrases like "Quality Work, Affordable Rates, and Prompt Service."

It's all meaningless dribble to the people who are reading it. We've heard it all before from similar companies. If you say the same thing that everyone else does you say nothing. No one pays attention to the same white noise.

3. Your message is not credible. People make claims but fail to show the reader how they can deliver on those claims. They do not offer supporting evidence that tells the reader why they can do what they say can do.

For example, if I said I can service any retail location in the US in under 24 hours I would need to support that claim. In this case, I would say we can support this claim because we have over 2,400 offices through out the US. This connects the claim to some sort of reason why.

4. Failure to link your product to a benefit. People will only buy your product or service for what it can do for them. You need to provide them with both emotional and logical benefits that build their interest. Make sure that you connect the features of your product to something that provides a benefit to your prospect.

An example of this is, if I was selling a cell phone I would indicate that it has a vibrate function. That way, you can avoid the embarrassing feeling of having your cell phone go off in the middle of church while you are waiting for an important phone call. In this case, and the case of all good marketing, the feature ties to a benefit.

5. Over reliance on graphics. Graphics can be a wonderful way to support your direct mail message but, they need to be used correctly. Ultimately, no matter how well done a picture is, it will not sell for you. Your copy is what will do the selling.

Use graphics to support your copy. For example, if you have a chiropractic clinic your headline might read "Plagued By Back Problems?" and your picture might support this headline by showing someone wincing in pain as they hold their back.

6. Envelopes that won't get opened. If your envelope broadcasts the fact that what is inside is advertising then you have reduced your chances of that mail being opened. The more you can make your mail look like a personal letter the better your success will be in getting the envelope opened.

One thing you might want to consider is handwriting the address. This can be time consuming but, if the number of pieces you are sending is small this can be a great idea. The other thing you should consider is using a normal white woven envelope as opposed to a high quality paper one with your logo on it. A normal looking white woven envelope will look more personal and have a greater chance of getting opened.

I hope you find these tips useful in putting together a direct mail campaign that produces results. Stick to the basics and remember that your direct mail is a salesperson in print.
About the Author
Wayne Landt is a marketing consultant and copywriter. He has over 14 years improving marketing and sales results in a variety of industries. For a FREE marketing or advertising assessment. Visit or call 773) 588-1381.
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