Direct Mail Rant


direct mail

Direct mail has been around for many years. Long before the internet was thought of letters would come crashing through your letter box promising all sorts of wonderful things.

It is one of those things you either love or hate. Personally I’m not a great fan but that is probably because I have seen so much bad direct mail.

Buy! Buy! Buy!

That is what immediately springs to mind whenever someone mentions direct mail.

There is so much today – on and off line – that shouts at you. Know what I mean? All those letters and landing pages that are a mix of fonts, font sizes, colours, bold text, underlining.

Why do it? Surely if your product is great and stands up on its own merits it doesn’t need all that fluff and decoration.

Surely concentrating on the benefits is the key. Tell me what it will do for me, how it will make my life better. Convince me of that and I’ll probably buy – if the price is right.

That’s another thing – the price.

Is the price right?

Only you know if the price you are asking is fair or not. When I say ‘is the price right’ I’m thinking more of where you’ve put it in your sales letter/landing page.

Often you’ll see it in the headline.

Only £5.99!

Great, but because you haven’t put forward your offer yet, what’s the point in thrusting the price at me? It is meaningless on its own.

It’s the same when the price precedes the benefits. You have to convince me that the benefits of your product are so strong I’ll want to buy it whatever the price.

Convince first, tell them the price later.

Forget the hype

Great swathes of writing going on and on and on about features, exaggerated claims and long winded testimonials can be a real turn off.

Yes, testimonials are strong but do you really need twenty of them?One or two persuasively written case studies would be far more powerful.

People today are very time limited. They don’t have hours or even minutes to waste wading through your longwinded letter or landing page.

If your offer demands longer copy, fine – so long as it is all relevant to your product. Long copy can be very effective when written well.

It’s very easy to write long copy badly – it’s not so easy to write good long copy.

Know who you are writing to

Another pet hate of mine is receiving direct mail that is of no interest to me whatsoever.

If you are sending off line direct mail make sure you do your market research well. There are three elements that make up a successful campaign:

  1. A great offer
  2. A great sales letter
  3. The right audience

Get any of those wrong and you’ll be doomed.

Even if you’ve slaved hours over your letter and written the strongest offer known to man, if you send it to a bad list you won’t get the return you are looking for.

There is money to be made

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m not a great fan of this particular sales format. However as a copywriter it is something I am called on to do frequently for my clients.

Learning how to write it has been a long journey (it isn’t something you can pick up over night) and a tortuous one considering my feelings towards it.

But I quickly learnt that direct mail could be written without excessive hype, bold colours, odd fonts and flashing boxes (or those annoying pop-ups on landing pages that chase you round the screen asking if you are sure you want to leave the page).

So don’t be put off by my rant. Direct mail can and does work. There are many big corporations out there using is well. Its just a shame there are so many bad examples out there too. 

What are your thoughts on it? Do you love it or hate it? It would be great to hear from you.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Alex Parr on 02.21.10 at 12:54 pm

Great post Sally! I hate direct mail and personally don’t look at it, unless I know who is sending it to me. The same applies to newsletters by e-mail, so I would warn those who are reading this article that you should seriously consider who you are sending your direct mail/e-newsletters to.

Don’t just send them to people that you have met at a networking event or that you have picked off someone’s database. Send them to people that you have actually met and could be interested in your product. I would also suggest that you don’t send them too frequently either as this will drive them crazy and away from you and your product!

So, now that I have had my own rant, I feel so much better! Thanks.

Leave a Comment