7 Basics of Successful Mail Advertising

Involve your reader

Gain your recipient’s attention by making him or her a participant in your advertising—not just a passive set of eyeballs gazing at a TV screen. For instance, urge your reader to use involvement devices such as a sticker, with enticing instructions to scratch it off to reveal a freebie.

Keep your message relevant

Every potential customer silently asks, “What’s in it for me?” Your promotion had better answer that question fast and strongly. To do that, you must do your homework and know your best prospects and their hot buttons.

Target your promotion

One direct-marketing agency discovered that a client had two main audiences—working-class and executive-class people. It mailed two 9" X 12" packages that employed virtually identical copy appeal. However, the mailing that went to workers used an outer envelope with a “blue denim” graphic. Executives received envelopes reproducing “pin stripes.” Bingo!

Respect the calendar

Talk to prospects at a time when they are most likely to listen. Few people want to think about Christmas gifts in August. Many people, however, are open to “early bird” January close-out sales just after the holidays.

Protect your brand image

Some direct-marketing dinosaurs (names omitted to protect the guilty) still assert that response advertising exists solely to sell product or to generate inquiries. That’s nonsense. Every advertisement affects brand image (and has public-relations impact). Some advertisements focus mainly on measurable results, but that does not mean that they do not impinge on brand image.(In the words of one direct-marketing veteran,“When you send out invitations to a Gypsy wedding, you must expect Gypsies to reply.”)

Friendliness sells

Your mother was right—be nice! Pushy, hard-sell advertising may make a first-time sale, but you’ll make most of your profits out of transactions after that. A hard-edge selling proposition rarely makes money long-term.

Follow through faithfully

Never give your customers the impression that all that you want from them is instant payment. Make it easy for them to communicate with you, with toll-free numbers, e-mail, or other device. When you receive a customer message, reply as soon as you possibly can—the same day, if possible.