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Direct Mail Best Practices Part 2 – Create a Compelling Message

This is the second post in our series on Direct Mail Best Practices. It’s such an important topic that we decided to cover it in a series of posts rather then one big one. This post focuses on the “meat” of your direct mail campaign: the message.


Once you’ve decided to promote an offering using a direct mail campaign – whether it’s a product, a service or an event – your work begins. In the first post in this series on Direct Mail Best Practices, we talked about the list, and how important it is that your mailing list be a good one. The recipients must be appropriate (likely to respond) to whatever you’re promoting. And the data in this list must be clean (accurate and current).

At the same time, you’ll be crafting the message for your campaign. Are you making an announcement? Promoting a product or a service? Providing a special discount? Promoting an upcoming event? Maybe you’re doing a campaign to let people know your company exists. There are lots of smart reasons to send a print marketing piece to customers and/or prospects.

Here are 6 rules of thumb when developing your direct mail campaign message:

1. Keep it simple and direct

Some marketers have a tendency to overload their brochures or postcards with descriptions about every service or product they offer. Resist this. If you’re spending marketing dollars to get a good response rate from this printed piece, pay attention to the message. What’s the purpose of your campaign? What are the main selling points? What’s in it for them (how will it improve their lives, workday, efficiency, bank account, etc.)? What makes your offer so compelling?

2. Let print size influence the message length

Creating a 4 x 6” postcard as opposed to a poster or even a letter-sized mail piece has to dictate just how much copy your vehicle can carry (before it collapses under the weight!). Whether you’re working with an in-house copywriter or you’ve outsourced this function, keep the writer in the loop, making it very clear what this direct mail campaign is supposed to achieve.

3. Make sure key information isn’t omitted

This includes the following: a return address, your company name/logo and how to respond to the campaign, if appropriate (URL? PURL? Phone? Email?).

4. Triple-check the spelling and grammar

Nothing says “unprofessional” like sloppy writing. And if your direct mail piece includes data like phone numbers, email addresses and URLs, make sure that every letter and number is proofread.

5. Work closely with direct mail printer & designer

Personalized direct mail generates better response rates, which is why so many marketers are personalizing their campaigns. When you initiate a personalized campaign, you must work closely with your graphic designer and your printer. It’s critical to understand what will be personalized (Copy? Graphics? Color?) and where. This will directly impact your message.

6. Polish your copy

Hire a professional marketing copywriter if you don’t have one on staff. Constructing a compelling message isn’t automatic or quick. The copy must reflect your company, be appropriate for the printed product, be compelling, be professional, and garner good response.

Give sufficient attention to the message you're sending in your direct mail campaign. Make sure it’s targeted, well crafted, and memorable.

Topics: Direct Mail Print Marketing