Yes, you’ve listened to all of the advice about how direct mail is still astoundingly cost-effective, even in this age of the immediacy of social media and blogging. After all, people love to receive letters to open. But how do you write that letter to get results?
Of course, people should remember your letter and respond to it, which is why memorable and engaging writing should be combined with a follow-up call to the recipient, four or five days after the posting of the letter. But let’s get on with the actual writing, including…
Make the right first impression
Your letter should be sent to the ‘decision maker’, not the ‘Manager’ or ‘Managing Director’. You may consider starting the letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, although there is a danger of any letter that is not addressed to a specific person being identified as junk mail. So, phone the business in question and ask which person you should address your letter to. Ask for their professional title, too, so that you can fully update your database.
You might also give your letter that personal touch by handwriting the address, but only if your handwriting is good. Post it in a white envelope, not a brown one.
The essential elements of a direct mail letter
Remember, you have limited time in which to ignite any interest, and this letter is not all about you. It isn’t really about you at all, in fact. So, make sure that ‘you’ is used much more frequently than ‘we’ in your letter. Ensure, too, that the message matches the needs of the target audience, and above all, be clear, concise and to the point.
In keeping with the notion of this being about your customer, not you, your emphasis should be on what they will actually be interested in about your product – the benefits to them, not a mere list of features. Be personal and conversational, rather than stiffly formal, so that you communicate on the client’s level, but keep the language simple – not weighed down by jargon.
The letter should be restricted to a single page and should feature a call to action. Instil a sense of urgency with a deadline, too.
Ensure that your letter readers do business with you
Remember that the written composition of your direct mail letter says so much about the type of business that you are. This comes through in the language and tone that you employ. You will want to be approachable so that customers are tempted into doing business with you.
Your start will need to be good – limit the first paragraph to one sentence, make it enticing and ensure that it embodies your letter’s primary message.
As for that deadline, it could take the form of a discount that only applies prior to a certain date, or if the customer orders through your website. A deadline is likely to boost the number of email and telephone enquiries – which, after all, is so much of the point of your direct mail campaign.
Lastly, I’m a big fan of a brilliant marketer called Frank Kern… you may or may not have heard from him but he’s a bit of a genius! Here’s a video from Frank about Sales letters…
By the way, Frank’s language is somewhat “industrial” on occasion… if you’re offended be warned!