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Writing a Great Direct Mail Postcard

Every day we talk to business owners, across the country, and hear the same story in different versions. They all want to know how to get more people to respond to their mailings. A key to success is a great postcard or letter.

Well, as our experience taught us, it all starts with a great mailing list. It’s the foundation. If you offer services or products that fit homeowners, and send it to renters, most likely you’ll fail. Our customers experience success in this regards – our list is authentic, accurate and frequently updated, such that they only reach the right people at the right time.

copy writing using fountain pen
The Art of Copy Writing

But then, there’s also a competition over people’s short span of attention. Businesses who use direct mail marketing already see better ROI (return on investment) than those investing in expensive online ads, simply because the digital media is so popular, that everyone is crowding it, leaving people’s physical mailboxes a bit less full than in the past.

That still doesn’t mean people will stop and read through every piece of mail. You have to give a fair fight to win over their hearts and minds, and mostly, their time.

So how do you create that compelling short-and-to-the-point postcard, or letter that intrigues a recipient just enough to get them to respond, take action? Well, here are 10 tips that are guaranteed to improve results.

[1] Research your audience

Before writing your postcard or letter, learn all you can about your target audience. What are their challenges and concerns? How will your product or service help them?
The first two feats a mailer must achieve are to earn the reader’s trust and identify with their needs. Research will help you to walk in their shoes for a while.

[2] Strive for a personal, conversational tone

Take the time to address your readers by name, and make the message more about helping them than just about your product or service. Use “you” more than “I” or “we”. The most persuasive style of copy writing is conversational in nature, simply because it’s easier to follow. It should be no more difficult to understand your direct mail offer than it would be sitting at a café with the prospect, describing your product or service over a cup of coffee. Your copy should be as easy to follow as a conversation with a friend.

[3] Spend time on headlines

Decide on the most compelling reason people in the target audience group would read your promotion and begin speaking to that immediately. If your message addresses people’s needs or desires, they’ll continue reading. Try to make your opening headline as brief as possible. Eight words is typically the maximum length that most people can digest at a glance. 90% of your readers will decide from the headline alone whether to read your promotion, so take steps to ensure the headline gets read. The headline can be followed by a supporting and credible sub-headline. Sub-headlines don’t need to be, but are often longer than eight words – a succinct headline will draw in the
reader’s attention and pave the way for a longer sub-headline.
If your headline implies a claim – perhaps your company was the first in your industry– the sub-headline or a sidebar can support the authenticity of the headline. Readers are very discerning these days, and most promotional copy is assumed to be hype unless your brand identity is firmly established and highly credible (or the claim is followed by supporting evidence).

[4] Use their language

Professionals, interest groups and industries all have their own lingo. By taking the time to understand and use industry terminology, you’re showing readers that you’re in the same boat with them. If your product or service clearly makes for smoother sailing in their industry, reader interest will be strong. It’s a competitive disadvantage to miss out on the latest and greatest industry tools and services, so become an industry insider and your promotions will get noticed.

[5] Weave in the big picture

Stop and consider what you’re truly offering at the level of aspiration. Does your product or service have an aspirational feature? If so, think of ways to get that across with copy, design or both. Ideally your mailing will dovetail with the dreams and aspirations of your target audience, through both copy and design, and even the promotion itself.

[6] Create a risk-free offer

Some ideas: a discount, a free trial, a free consultation, a contest, a free or discounted e-book, a coupon. Whatever you offer, send it to an interested audience, and make it hard to resist. Many direct marketers will set their opening price-point so low that they only break even on the promotion. The logic behind this is that most new customers will continue to buy from you once a relationship is established – and also tell their friends about you. If you consider all the time and energy it takes for a prospect to learn about your company and set up an account, many direct marketers consider it a fair trade off to simply break even on the initial promotion. Include a guarantee of satisfaction – the first sale is the hardest to get, so use everything in your sales toolbox to make it easy for the prospect to get started with
your company.

[7] Provide clear instructions

Do you want the reader to call you, visit your website, fill out an enclosed response form, or send an email? When you send a postcard or letter, make it easy to do business with you by including a clear call to action (CTA). If the response is email based, set up a very clear email auto-reply so they know what the next steps are – and follow up personally as soon as you can.

[8] Use an expiration date

A time limit on your offer can turn a procrastinator into a customer. It has to be clearly marked on your postcard. Also, if your offer is truly valuable and compelling, you may not want to leave it open-ended. There is such a thing as having too many orders to fill, and many direct marketers have been relieved to see a promotion expire. This will give you a chance to catch a breather and plan your next successful promotion.

[9] Power of good postscript

A good percentage of people opening your letter or postcard are going to read the postscript before the rest of your letter. Use that important space to summarize the most compelling part of the offer. If you don’t craft a compelling postscript it can actually work against the promotion. It’s better to leave the postscript off the letter if you feel it detracts from a strong headline.

[10] Spell check, type proof

Your mailer is probably a prospect’s first impression of you. Take the time to make it shine. If you’re not sure how to do so, there are 2 easy ways to go about it:

  1. Use a word processor software. If you have Microsoft Office, then MS Word has built in spell checker. Any other word processor will do, as well.
  2. Use online word processor. If you have a google account (gmail), then google has free online versions of the Microsoft office suite. Using an online word processor, simply means using a web browser instead of launching an app.
  3. Finally, the cheapest option – your email client. Whatever you use to write emails daily; whether it’s a stand-alone email client (like Apple mail, or Outlook) or a web-based client (like gmail), any modern email composer includes a built-in spell checker. Write your offer as an email, and once you’re done proofing and spell-checking it, copy-and-paste it to where you really need it, in order to print it yourself or send to a printer/designer.

Go Get’em Tiger

No matter what you business you are in, we assure you, based on having worked with over 26,000 businesses, in every industry and every state, that it’s easier than you think to find new customers using weekly direct mailing effort.

You just have to put a few hours of work up front, and thereafter probably about an hour a week, to mail 100 or more prospects from one of our industry leading lists, and we guarantee you will see your investment pay off as leads become prospects and some of those graduate to become paying customers.

It’s exciting – let’s get started. Let us help you grow your business.
We want to earn your business and respect – give us a chance. Contact us or call us. We’re here to help and prove to you that direct mail is still a winning instrument in 21st century marketing.