When - and When not - to Close your Letter with a P.S.

Almost every direct-mail authority urges advertisers to close letters with a postscript — after its headline, the most-read element in any letter.

A P.S.next to the signature gets the sales message across succinctly. If the letter lacks a signature (experts advise one printed in blue), chances are good that many recipients will toss the letter right away.

Now, according to noted mail expert Lee Marc Stein, it appears that, sometimes, it is a bad idea to finish your letter with a P.S.

  • Steer clear of a P.S. in a letter to an important executive, he says. It may detract from the tone of your communication.

  • Also, never use a P.S. in a very short letter. The postscript is supposed to be an afterthought, Stein thinks, and a brief letter has room for only one idea.

  • Use a P.S. in all other situations, Stein urges, to:

    • Repeat your major benefit or offer in a reprise of your letter’s headline — an alternative Stein favors

    • Introduce a secondary benefit or sales point

    • Burn in a trial offer or deadline date

    • Personalize your P.S. if you are using personalization in the body of your letter. You will generate a response lift, in Stein’s experience.

    • Make your P.S. four to five lines long at most, he advises.

    • If your P.S. is longer, Stein counsels, break it into a P.S. and a P.P.S. — the first stressing benefits, the second restating your offer.

Stein, in a P.S. (appropriately enough), offers three examples of productive postscripts he has written recently:

  • “P.S. As you get ready to mail back the Hope for Kids Donor Form with your contribution, please think about these words of wisdom from Henry Ward Beecher: ‘Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.’”

  • “P.S. Teachers’ Insurance Plan could well save you $300, $565 or more EVERY YEAR on your auto insurance. But even if the savings were only $200, it’s a smart move. A 12-minute call to save $200 — that’s like being paid $1,000 an hour! Call 1-800-2-TEACHERS (1-800-283-2243) to start saving.”

  • “P.S. Knowing how stressful trade shows can be, I’ve enclosed immediate help — soothing herbal tea. Let us show you how we can help you reduce trade-show stress and increase your visibility and profitability on a long-term basis.”

See also:

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