|Welcome to our Library & Learning Center. In this section,
you will discover "How to" and "What to do"
articles broken out into four basic categories.
1 - Effective Direct Mail Letter Writing and Marketing Techniques
|1. How to Utilize the Two
Most Important Elements in Your Direct Mail Campaign
you write a word, you should build profitability into your mailing
• A mailing list that reaches your
best markets, and
• A strong offer that is extremely
enticing to your markets.
Discuss possible mailing lists with your list professional when
you begin to plan your mailing.
Ask your list professional how to test a representative sampling
of each recommended mailing list. Use your test results to select
only the most responsive lists for your entire mailing.
For the most profitable response, have a strong offer in every
mailing you make. A direct mail offer is the inducement (or
combination of inducements) that stimulates a reader to respond
Examples of possible components of your offer can be a free
trial of your product, a free gift for responding, a deadline
to respond in order to qualify for the offer, and low monthly
Always have as irresistible an offer as you can make, and present
your offer right at the beginning of your direct mail letter.
|2. What are the Four "Musts"
sight of the four "musts" as you put together your
direct mail letter. They are the backbone of any profitable
direct mail letter.
Benefits! Benefits! Benefits!
always stress benefits throughout your letter, from start to
finish. Only benefits keep your prospect reading.
#2: Make your letter look easy to read
a letter that looks easy to read constantly encourages the prospect
to keep reading, and will get more orders and sales leads.
"Must" #3: Make it easy to order
ask for the order right from the beginning of your letter, have
a toll-free "800" phone number, and include a postage-paid
reply card or envelope.
Encourage immediate response
always try for a quick sale. Have a deadline to respond, and
tell the reader "act now!"
|3. What are Key Points to
Remember in Writing Your Direct Mail Letter
come to putting together your letter, write in a way that comes
naturally. If you're not sure where to start, begin by making
a list of the benefits of your product and your offer. Then
separate them into primary benefits and secondary benefits.
Give your letter a headline and put your most enticing benefits
there. Make it as attention-getting as possible.
If you have a free offer, put the word "free" In your
headline and wherever else you can in your letter. Continually
vary the graphic format and break up your entire letter into
"bite-sized" segments. Keep your sentences and paragraphs
In your first sentence, stress your strongest, most enticing
benefits. Continue emphasizing benefits throughout the entire
first page of your letter.
Talk about features on page two, and try to connect your features
with benefits whenever possible.
On your letter's last page, restate your offer in detail, and
ask for the order. Reassure the reader with such devices as
a free trial period, a money back guarantee, testimonials from
satisfied customers, and independent test results.
Have a p.s. make it intriguing but not complete. Force the prospect
to go back and read the letter for the full story. Repeat the
importance of acting immediately.
Use graphic devices to make your letter look exciting and easy
to read. Put in such devices as:
• A typewritten
• All capital letters
• A blue or red color for emphasis
of entire paragraphs
• Switching between single spacing
and double spacing
• Handwritten notes
• Headlines and sub-headlines
There are several similarities between a mailing that seeks
an order and one that seeks a sales lead. In both, the most
important part of the mailing package is the letter.
A strongly enticing offer is necessary in both. Offering something
for free increases response. Both should employ short words,
short sentences and short paragraphs, as well as any other appropriate
The differences between an order-getting letter and a lead-getting
letter are, primarily, that a lead-getting letter is shorter
and attempts to tease the reader into responding, instead of
telling the entire sales story.
It is essential to keep the offer simple and understandable.
You go for quantity by making it as easy as possible to respond
(toll-free phone number, free gift offer). Get higher quality
leads by asking it more difficult to respond. You can get both
by making it easy to respond and including a box to check for
the respondent to ask for a sales representative to call.
|4. How to Use Your Envelope
and Reply Card to SELL!
every inch of your mailing as an opportunity to entice your
reader to respond. And some components have very specific jobs
The outer envelope must induce the prospect to look inside.
Every word on it -even the return address- must be there because
it increases response. When in doubt, put the strongest parts
of your offer on the envelope.
Always include a postage-paid business reply card or business
reply envelope in your mailing. The reply card will often be
he first thing a reader looks at, so restate your offer there,
including your deadline to respond.
And get bigger response by making your reply card look like
a certificate. Also, make the reader do something, such as tear
a dotted line, take a quiz or punch out a paper token.
|5. How to Use Non-Standard
Mailings to Get Great Response
situations, you'll get better response by using an unconventional
type of mailing.
If it's not possible to devise a direct mail offer, a promotional
newsletter may be your answer. In it you can keep your prospects
aware of your product's or service's high quality, and of some
ways you've solved your customer's problems.
Have your newsletter's lead article deal with a subject that's
real news to your readers, then work into that article the advantages
of your product or service.
The key to a newsletter's pulling power is to mail it out consistently.
To do this, keep it as simple and easy to produce as possible.
And always ask for a response. Include a business reply card
or business reply envelope.
A postcard mailing can get excellent response to follow up on
your first mailing (which could be an envelope-letter-reply
card package). It could announce that the deadline is about
to expire, or it could say that you're extending the deadline
due to the large response.
This type of mailing usually costs less to produce than the
conventional mailing, and because of this, it's often worth
testing to see if it draws a successful response.
Package mailings are limited only by your imagination (and your
budget). While they are usually more costly and time-consuming
to produce, their results are often well worth it. These can
be especially effective if your market is of a fairly small
|6. How to Boost the Profitability
of Your Mailing
not sure the wording in your letter will bring in the most orders
or sales leads, a copy test can help you decide.
Prepare two competing mailings with the only difference between
them being the copy approach. Let your market determine the
winner, then you can get on with your mailing.
Select your suppliers with great care.
• In selecting
direct mail professionals look for proven past performance,
flexibility, the personal chemistry between you, and whether
they can help you save money and make your
mailing more effective.
• Ask your suppliers
to recommend other suppliers. Always try to expand your list
of potential suppliers.
• Get estimates in advance
of costs and time scheduling
• Don't automatically
choose the lowest bidder. Factor in proven reliability when
you make your choice.
• Set up a realistic timetable
for the entire job. Use your supplier's deadline dates as a
starting point. Try to allow three to four months for your mailing,
from start to finish.
paper samples from your printer, and order paper early.
• Make as many corrections as possible in the draft
stage... That will save you a lot of time and money later on.
• Keep in close contact with your suppliers throughout
the process. Call them frequently and tell them to alert you
to any problems as soon as possible.
• Have backup
suppliers. Always be ready in case one of your suppliers cannot
do what they said they would do.
analyze what went right and what went wrong. This is the beginning
of the planning for your next mailing.
your professionals, and expect a professional job. Respect their
abilities and experience, but be firm in holding them to their
|Section 2 - Effective Brochure Writing and Marketing
|1. What to do Before Preparing
a Seminar Brochure
writing a word, do you have all of these items clear in your
mind? Use this as a great pre-writing checklist.
The Cover and Mailing Panel
• Title of the Activity.
• Date(s) of the Activity.
• Sponsorship of the Activity - All
Organizations and Agencies.
• Location of the Activity.
• Mailing Class - First Class, Third
Class, Bulk Rate, Non-Profit.
• Return Address to Appear on the Mailing
• Indicia on Mailing Panel.
• Local Postmaster's Approval of Mailing
Panel and Format of Self-Mailer.
• Full Address to which Form should
• All Fees Outlined Clearly and What
• Cut-Off Date for Advance Registrations.
• Payment Methods Accepted - Check (Payable
to Whom?), Money Order, Bill Organization, Charge Card etc...
• All Information Desired on Registrant
- Name, Address (Home/Business), Phone (Home/Business), Affiliations,
Job Titles/Functions etc.
• Full Information on Location of Activity
- Address, Room Number(s), Names etc...
• Date by which Registrations Must Be
• Initial Instructions for Arriving
• Statement of Fees and Payment Options.
• Meal Information - Included or Not
• Lodging Information - Availability,
Names and Addresses to Contact, Rates and Deadlines.
• Cancellation/Refund Policy.
• Available Parking and Cost.
• Direction to the Program Location.
• How to get Further Information.
Body of Promotional Material
• Audience Identification - Specific
Primary Target Groups and Secondary Audiences. Include Everyone
that would Benefit from the Program.
• Benefits Statement - Why People Should
Attend - Why Attend This Program over Another - What will They
Get Out of It - What will They Leave With -
Why is It Worth the Money.
• Schedule of activities - Chronologically
• Titles, Sub-Titles and Descriptions
• Speaker's Names and Specific Credentials
Relevant to the Seminar.
• List of Planning/Advisory Committee.
• Special Features/Offers - Continuing
Education Units, manuals, Certificates, Workshops, Case Studies,
|2. How to Prepare a Seminar
Get Outside help from freelance art, copy and marketing professionals.
In-house staff may be too busy or not qualified.
• Make the brochure readable and easy to follow. Use loose
groups of text with key benefits and features graphically highlighted.
• Use graphic elements to maintain readers interest and
to make key points.
• Test an 800 number.
• Use a self-mailer to maximum so that organizational
pass-along is greatest.
• Before printing, check with postmaster on self-mailer's
• Mention future seminars in your brochure.
• Ask attendees to fill out a comment card and permission
to use their comments.
• Try to have your mailing label returned with your reply
card - to track response.
• Key code each list separately.
• Try to avoid using identical or similar lists from several
• Use your marketing professional expert to advise for
identifying other prime markets.
• Fundamental Direct Marketing demands a systematic tracking
• Test new lists regularly.
• When selecting titles, be as wide as possible to get
the correct person in larger companies.
• Segment your lists by job function and second by job
• For specific programs, select by specific industries
by Standard Industrial Codes or S.I.C.s.
• To reach managers, select branch offices and plant locations.
• Consider selecting firms by sales volume and or employee
• To reach all decision makers, select Presidents/CEO's,
Personnel and Training Directors.
• Consider testing Canadian markets.
• Respond to all inquiries in 48 hours.
• Do not overlook the vice presidential titles of Senior,
Group and Executive Vice President. These are an excellent resource
for prospects and referrals.
• Be sure your phone is answered by a competent person.
|3. How to Write a Brochure
Copy that Sells
it is not your brochure that sells your seminar, it is the benefits!
The features are the little things that separate your seminar
from another seminar.
• Describe your benefits and features in a positive
tone - readable and comprehensible at a glance.
• Keep your copy simple and short - if it's easy to read,
it will get read.
• Avoid Cliches and Buzz-words - they can be vague to
some and a turn-off to others.
• Avoid $20.00 words and any word you have to look-up.
• Put your copy in plain English - busy people respond
to straight talk.
• Use the present tense - active verb.
• Break up long segments of copy with headlines and sub-heads.
Consider an outline format.
• Use your copy like a roadmap. Have the reader start
on the cover reading through all the material and finding themselves
at the registration form at the end.
• Make your benefits believable - don't promise what you
• Tell the whole story - don't save paper and lose attendance.
• Put a benefit in the seminar title: "How to..."
• Give the reader the ammunition to convince their boss
or superior about attending your program.
• Write copy that will involve the reader. Get them to
feel like they have participated in something just by reading
• Emphasize "you will get..." instead of "we
will give you..."
|4. How to produce a Direct
a free gift
Giving a free gift increases response. If your objective is
to get leads for your sales force, your sales can deliver
the gift when they visit the prospect.
Emphasize your free offer
Highlight free premiums prominently. Include the premium’s
specific value if it can be perceived as a benefit.
Make it easy to respond.
Be sure that your offer is easy to understand and respond
to. "Simply check the YES box and drop the postage-free
reply card in the mail. Or call our TOLL-FREE number."
The use of credit cards can also increase response.
Back up your claims.
Whenever possible, include proof of your claims. Refer to
research studies or use testimonials of satisfied customers
with their photographs.
Color gets response.
The use of full color and "bleeds" (graphics
or color background printed all the way to the very edge of
the page) can increase response.
No risk, no obligation.
Eliminate the risk with a free trial or guarantee, and emphasize
that there’s absolutely no obligation to buy.
Give a time limit.
Make the offer limited for a quicker and bigger response.
Include a specific deadline, if it’s genuine.
Avoid big technical word.
Write your copy in plain, simple English. No buzz-words
or technical jargon. Busy people respond best to straight
Keep it simple.
Make your offer simple, clear and easy to understand
at a glance. Avoid the temptation to group several different
offers in one promotional piece. This usually weakens the
impact of your primary offer and cuts response.
Use copy and design pros.
Hire the best, most experienced professional copywriters and
designers you can afford. A prudent investment at the creative
stage of your direct mail package will pay off in higher response.
In-house staff often lack the experience and the time to produce
a strong mailing package.
Where to find creative pros.
The best way to find good copy and design people is to ask
for a recommendation form someone who has created an effective
brochure. Other possible sources are the Direct Marketing
Associations and Direct Marketing Clubs in your area. Or you
can call Hugo Dunhill Mailing Lists, 1-800-223-6454 (in New
York State, 212-682-8030).
Consult your printer early.
Before you spend money on typography and mechanicals,
show the brochure design to your printer. If necessary, modify
the design to avoid expensive complications at the printing
Get paper samples.
Ask your printer to provide several choices of paper samples.
Fold each sample into a "dummy" brochure to see
how it suits your purpose in terms of effectiveness and cost.
Be at the printing.
If possible, go to the printer when your brochure is being
printed. There are many ways a brochure’s quality can
be enhanced right on press. Make it your business to learn
the printing process; this is usually the most expensive part
of a brochure’s production.
Determine content first, then design.
Before you decide how many pages your brochure will have,
determine what information it will contain. The design should
grow logically out of the subject matter.
Study your competition.
Make a collection of the direct response solicitations
you get in the mail. Get your competitor’s promotional
packages. Learn from what others do well and not so well.
Talk to your mailing list pro early.
Start working with your mailing list professional
in the beginning stages of your mailing. Your brochure should
speak to all the people most likely to buy your product or
service, so determine your lists as soon as possible. Then
share that information with your copy and design people.
How will the brochure be used?
Think through all of the possible uses for your brochure before
it is designed. Will your sales force use it on sales calls?
Will it be a handout at trade shows? Will it be used as a
self-mailer? Will you include it in a different mailing package
later on? Should you leave room somewhere for a sales rep’s
imprint? Should some be folded differently than others? Decide
on these things early on, because the later in the process
you change the brochure design, the more difficult and expensive
Finalize copy before you set type.
Try to make all your writing changes before you set type.
Changing copy after it’s been typeset can get very expensive.
Go over your typewritten draft again and again and again until
you’re sure it’s right.
For self-mailers, check postal rules.
If you plan to use your brochure as a self-mailer, check with
your post office to make sure it satisfies all postal regulations.
Mailing label back-to-back with reply form.
For self-mailers, back up the reply form with the mailing
label (with its all-important key code) to make sure you get
the label back. This tells you which of the mailing lists
you used pulled the response.
Don’t proofread your own work.
Unless you’re an ace proofreader, have someone
else proofread the copy you’ve been working with. It’s
surprisingly easy to overlook the same error over and over
|5. How to prepare a Direct
Mail brochure that sells
elements of most direct mail packages consist of an outer envelope,
a letter, a brochure, a postage-paid reply card or envelope,
and the mailing list. (The mailing list is the key to your success.
A good mailing package can only get a high response if it goes
to the right audience.)
Additional pieces are sometimes included, such as enclosures
highlighting a special discount or free premium, or a personal
message from the owner of the company.
Each element of the direct mail package has its own job to do.
The outer envelope's job is to get the package opened. The letter
explains the offer in detail, describing the specific benefits
the buyer will gain, and ends by asking for the order. The reply
card clearly spells out the offer and makes it easy to respond.
The purpose of the direct mail brochure is to restate the offer
made in the letter, but more graphically. Where the letter tells,
the brochure shows. Prospects who are interested will want to
see what the product looks like, what it does and how it works.
The brochure and the letter are the most important parts of
the mailing. They work together to get across memorably the
product's benefits and features, the letter explaining with
persuasive words and the brochure showing with vivid, stimulating
Most if not all benefits and features should be mentioned in
both letter and brochure. As in all sales efforts, repeating
your story in a different way can increase response.
There is no strict formula for preparing brochures. They are
produced in many shapes, sizes numbers of panels and colors.
Many mailers have found that the more enclosures they include,
the better the response. However, all enclosures should have
a logical connection to the primary offer. Otherwise, they could
distract the potential buyer.
The brochure shows the product and its benefits
The emphasis in a direct mail brochure is on strong visual impact.
Headlines and sub-headlines should get the product's benefits
across instantly, so that, even if a reader skips over the text
copy, he still understands clearly what he will get from the
product. Therefore, headlines should be placed according to
their importance to the prospect and be logically organized
to lead the reader like a road map.
Graphics should be clear and understandable and memorable. The
reader's attention should instantly focus on the main point,
which can be a headline, a photo, or even a combination of the
two The reader's eye should then be directed to the second-most
Wherever possible, demonstrate the product's benefits and features.
Show a person using the product. In a way, the direct mail letter
takes the place of a salesman's verbal "pitch" while
the brochure represents the salesman's demonstration of the
product. Both should end by summarizing the offer and the key
benefits, and asking for a response.
Include benefits everywhere
Above all, stress first, last and always, the product's benefits
to the buyer. Think through the reasons, in priority order,
why a buyer would want your product. A reader who is considering
the offer is constantly trying to judge whether the product's
price is worth the benefits he will reap, so pile on the benefits.
In fact, the benefits are the only reason he is reading at all.
|Section 3 - Successful Techniques for Direct Mail
|1. Getting a Big Response
from What to Consider when doing a Business-to-Business Mailing
in a mailing to consumers, your mailing to a business audience
should focus primarily on benefits to the reader. But while
consumers often buy because they want a product, business prospects
usually order only those products they feel they need.
To get business prospects to buy what they need from you, appeal
to their "hot buttons." Typical business hot buttons
• Higher profits
• More productivity
• Excellent value for the price
• Proven reliability
• Greater efficiency
• Easy to put to use
• Quick results
To get your mailing past the mail room, consider using a job
title (not a name) in the address. Or include routing instructions
right on your outer envelope.
To get past your prospect's secretary, consider these tactics:
• Put the most enticing elements of your offer on the
• Offer the secretary a free gift in addition to the gift
your target prospect will receive for buying. Put almost nothing
on the outer envelope, and make it look extremely important
In business-to-business mailings, often several people have
a say in the decision to buy. So your mailing must include enticing
benefits for all of these possible audiences:
• The target prospect.
• Any other influentials who may have a say in the decision
• The decision-maker.
• The purchasing agent.
Be sure to talk with your mailing list professional before you
finalize your sales copy. They will help you identify all of
your potential markets so you'll be able to include benefits
for every potential buyer.
One good method of keeping your business prospect aware of you
and your product is to regularly mail to a promotional newsletter.
Keep it simple and easy to produce, and always include with
it a postage-paid business reply card.
Another idea is to include a rolodex card in your mailing, so
prospects can find you easily when they need you.
|2. What Factors to Consider
when Obtaining a Mailing List
Put your customer list on computer.
• Choose a computer company with experience in mailing
• Store the information you'll need on your customer list.
• Before you talk with a mailing list professional, make
your own priority list of potential buyers.
• Use key codes to determine which lists brought the most
orders or leads.
The questions included here will give you a starting point,
a framework for talking with list owners and list professionals.
And talkig with list people early on is crucial o your mailing,
because if you haven't got an available mailing list, you can't
do a mailing.
• Ask of Each Mailing List Recommendation:
• Is the buyer of my product or service reachable through
• Is it important to select geographically?
• Should i title address?
• What title will best reach the prospect?
• Is the prospect's sex a factor?
• It is important to select companies by industry?
• Do I want to reach the prospect at home or business?
• When was the list last updated?
• Is company size a factor?
• Is the prospect's age a factor?
• Is the income level of the prospect a factor?
|3. Summary Checklist for
Getting Started in the Mail
|[ ] Prepare
[ ] Fill out a blank direct mail profit planner, using estimates
from your printer, lettershop, and other suppliers.
[ ] Verify that your product, free gift, and whatever else you
intend to offer will be ready when you need it.
[ ] Talk with your mailing list professional and order your
[ ] Meet with your copywriter.
[ ] Review the first draft, and ask for changes, if necessary.
[ ] Take the necessary action to have your product, free gift,
and anything else that will fulfill your order available on
[ ] Approve copy for all components of the mailing.
[ ] Meet with the designer and give them the approved copy.
[ ] Review preliminary design for the mailing and ask for modification,
[ ] Approve the design, and ask our designer to prepare "camera-ready
[ ] Ask your lettershop for an actual price and completion date,
based on the design.
[ ] Designer supervises photography and retouching, if necessary.
[ ] Review camera-ready art, and make changes as necessary.
[ ] Send approved camera-ready art to your printer, and ask
them for an actually printing price and completion date.
[ ] Check with your mailing list house if your list hasn't yet
arrived or is not correct. Ask your lettershop when they want
[ ] Redo your direct mail profit planner form, using your actual
lettershop and printing prices, and correcting any other figures.
[ ] Approve the printing price and printing timetable, and give
the printer your OK to print.
[ ] Approve the "blueprints" from the printer.
[ ] Be there when your job is being printed.
[ ] Get the printed pieces to your lettershop for mailing.
[ ] If you're seeking sales leads, distribute your mailing package
to your sales force, telling them when it will go out, and when
they'll get the leads that result.
[ ] Alert your fulfillment people when your mailing will go
out, and when they'll receive orders to fulfill.
[ ] Your lettershop tells you your package is in the mail.
[ ] Record when orders come in, and immediately get them to
your fulfillment people (or sales reps).
[ ] Supervise your staff and fulfillment people closely to be
sure that orders are handled quickly and professionally.
[ ] Use the actual costs and results from your mailing to fill
out your direct mail profit planner again. These figures are
the basis for planning future mailings.
[ ] Add the names of your customers and inquirers to your permanent
|4. What Factors Increase
Your Chances for Direct Mail Success
direct mail products and services have not been trail-blazing
or original. In fact, they have been deliberately patterned
after previous direct mail successes.
• Repeat business
• A proven successful mail order product or service
• A product that can be reliably delivered to the customer
• A high mark-up
• A definable market and a mailing list
• A market big enough to support an ongoing effort
• Is your product or service seasonal?
• Must be completely and carefully described
• Adequate financing
|5. What are Some of the
Most Successful Types of Offers
is a summary of the types of offers most commonly used by successful
mailers. This, of course, is only a bare bones outline of the
almost inexhaustible list of offers available to you.
• Offer a special discounted price.
• Give a free gift.
• Offer a free trial.
• Guarantee the customer's satisfaction.
• Let your customer buy now and pay later in affordable
• Offer free information, a free demonstration, a free
And don't forget to assign a deadline date for responding to
The list of possible offers goes on and on, and is limited mostly
by your own imagination. The basic types of offers included
here, along with the many ways to custom-tailor your offer,
are the most commonly used and they are without question worth
trying when appropriate for your product or service.
Just remember, above all, to keep in mind for all your direct
marketing promotions, to make an offer, give the reader a proposition
to respond to.
And because your offer is the prime element in your mailing,
that's where your effort to upgrade your response should begin.
Try for larger orders by offering a discount for ordering a
minimum quantity, then increase the discount as the order reaches
Offer a standard product as well as a luxury version at a higher
price. If it's appropriate, offer a one-, two- or three-year's
If you're seeking sales leads, increase your quantity by offering
something for free, such as a free brochure or promotional newsletter.
Have a toll-free "800" phone number and include a
postage-paid reply card or reply envelope in your mailing.
Get better qualified responses by making it harder to respond.
Don't offer anything for free. Or try asking readers to provide
some information on themselves.
Get both quality and quantity by combining all of the following
elements in your mailing:
• Have an "800" phone number, and include a
postage paid reply card or reply envelope;
• Try not offering anything for free, such as a free gift
or free literature;
• Include a check-box that allows the prospect to ask
for a sales rep to contact them.
Getting both quality and quantity of leads will give you the
"hot" leads as well as the "lukewarm" leads
who are only seeking more information. You want those "lukewarm"
leads because some of them may buy from you in the future.
|6. What are Proven Response
a checklist of the tried-and-true response devices.
• Ask for the order throughout your mailing package.
• Guide your readers along by saying what to do next.
• Offer the option of responding by mail, by phone or
• Take credit card orders.
• Include the price.
• Restate your offer in the response device.
• Always include a business reply card or business reply
• Make reply cards and envelopes postage-paid.
• Follow post office requirements for a business reply
card and business reply envelope.
• Sell in your order form.
• Highlight your phone number.
• Prepare your staff for telephone response.
• Have a toll-free "800" number.
• Make the reader do something.
• Use handwritten notes.
• Highlight the word "free."
• Say there's no risk, no obligation.
• Show a picture of your product or free brochure.
• Tell them to "act now!"
|Section 4 - General Marketing and Other
|1. How to have a Successful
Direct Mail Campaign - 99 Tips
Giving a free gift increases response.
• Be at the printer when your brochure is being run
to check the quality.
• Highlight the free gift prominently.
• Let the design of your direct mail package follow
your subject matter.
• Make your offer easy to respond to.
• Evaluate your competitors promotional material.
• Prove your claim with details to add credibility.
• Make sure your mailing speaks to all of your potential
• Using graphics or a color background can increase
• Thinks through all the possible uses of your mailing
before it is designed.
• Eliminate risk by offering a free trial or guarantee.
• Make all your writing changes before typesetting.
• Always make the most powerful offer you can for thegreatest
• For self-mailers, check with your Post Office on postal
rates and design before preparing artwork.
• Write your copy in plain, simple English. No buzz
• For self-mailers, back up the reply form with the
key-coded mailing label.
• Make your offer easy to understand -at a glance.
• Have someone else proofread your copy and look over
• Invest in a direct mail copywriter and a graphic designer
for higher response.
• More benefits make for greater response.
• For good copy and design people ask someone who has
• Put benefits on the reply card, in the P.S. and on
the outer envelope.
• Get input from your printer on your direct mail package.
• Benefits are the reasons to buy, promise many.
• Ask your printer about your paper options.
• Use an incomplete P.S. in your letter. Make your letter
look like a personal, typewritten letter from you.
• Include a "lift note" as an additional reminder
of the benefits.
• Ask for the order right away.
• End a page of a letter in the middle of a sentence
to encourage turning of the page.
• Your offer should be the most prominent copy in your
• Tell the whole story in the letter and on the brochure.
Make all your points on one side of your brochure.
• Keep your paragraphs short. Break up long copy with
• Start your letter selling immediately. Don't give
a history or use humor.
• Eliminate the risk with a free trial period and assured
• Keep the sales pitch positive and benefits driven.
• Use typefaces that are easy to read, inviting, accessible
• To get orders, use long copy and include every benefit.
• Encourage immediate action. Give an order deadline
for a Free gift.
• To get leads, use short copy to tease the reader to
• Include the price. The reader can compare benefits
with your price.
• Include postage paid or a return envelope in your
• Your product should encourage repeat business - the
heart of successful direct mail.
• Have a toll-free 800 or 888 number.
• Delivery of your product must be easy and economical.
• Take credit card orders.
• Offer a special discounted price.
• Make your order form simple and easy.
• Increase response with a deadline.
• Tell your reader what to do.
• Introduce an add on product as a free gift with the
purchase of a current product.
• Use testimonials using a name, title and affiliation
attached to the quote.
• Guarantee the customer's satisfaction.
• Use capital letters, bold facing, underlining, handwritten
notes, a second color and paragraph indents.
• Offer your customers to pay by installment.
• Tell your reader to respond in the beginning, middle
and end of your letter.
• Your offer must induce the reader to respond now.
• Offer free information, freedemonstrations and free
• Continue to develop new offers to test against your
• Response options should be open to phone, fax, e-mail
• Your offer must be simple and easy to understand.
• Before preparing a reply card or envelope, check with
the Post Office.
• Be careful not to confuse a feature with a benefit.
• Highlight your phone number and give the reader a
reason to call.
• The appearance of your letter should attract attention.
• Set up a telephone answering procedure to deal with
the incoming calls.
• Break your letter down to smaller "bite- size"
• Get the readers involved by tearing out a coupon or
answering several questions.
• Put an photo of your product on top of your letter
to increase response.
• Use handwritten notes to summarize key benefits of
• Make alluring promises in the beginning of your letter
to entice the reader to continue.
• Make "FREE" stand out.
• Use the middle of your letter to prove how the benefits
• Show a picture of your product or brochure.
• Use the last part of your letter to assure the reader
of the no-risk guarantee.
• Use key words that will stimulate your target audience.
• Link benefits with key features.
• Maintain a list of customers and inquiries as an in-house
list. This is the best list you will ever use.
• Restate your offer near the end of your letter.
• Store all your customer and inquiry data on computer.
• Use captions under photos to sell.
• Order your mailing list early.
• The P.S. is one of the most frequently read parts
of a letter.
• Merge-purge all of your mailing lists.
• Your envelope should sell as well as get the reader
to open it.
• Discuss list selection with your mailing list professional.
• If you have a strong offer, begin your benefits on
• Repeat your offer and benefits on your reply card.
• Expand your supplier network by asking your suppliers
to recommend other suppliers.
• Make your reply card look like a certificate.
• Get estimates from mailing list professionals.
• Mail several pieces to yourself to determine the timing.
• Get realistic timetables from your suppliers.
• Test different copy.
• Keep in touch with your suppliers throughout your
• When hiring copy writers, designers, printers and
lettershops, see samples of their previous work.
• Have back-up suppliers.
• After your mailing, evaluate your mailing. Can it
|2. How to Interpret a Standard
Industrial Classification - SIC
||Major Industry Group|
|01-14||Agriculture, Forestry & Mining|
|15-17||Contractors & Construction|
|40-49||Transportation, Communication & Utilities|
|60-67||Finance, Insurance & Real Estate|
|82-83||Education & Social Services|
|84,86||Art & Membership Organizations|
|87||Engineering, Architecture & Accounting|
|89||Household & Miscellaneous Services|
|91,95||Government & Public Administration|
|3. What should you know
before you sit down to write a word of sales copy
Your market - who you want to reach.
• The benefits and features of your product or service
(in priority order).
• What action you wish the reader to take (To call for
an appointment, to make a reservation, to send in an order,
• Your competition.
• Your budget.
• What mailing lists to use. The mailing list is a very
important part of your success. A good sales letter can only
succeed if it goes to the right audience.
There are no strict rules for creating direct mail. However,
certain copy and format devices and techniques have consistently
achieved results for the majority of mailers.
The guidelines presented here can only serve as a basis, a foundation
upon which to construct your direct mail letter. The actual
writing, format, offer, and mailing list will be determined
by your assessment of your audience, the prevailing market situation,
your budget, and perhaps other factors.
Before you sit down to write the letter, which is the keystone
to your direct mail package, determine clearly: (a) your market;
(b) your product's benefits and features (in priority order)
that will move readers to respond; and (c) the action you wish
your prospects to take.
The more you know about your market and competition, the better.
Ask yourself the hard questions, such as "What specifically
does my product have that the next fellow's doesn't?",
"What does my market want the most? The second-most? The
third-most?" and "How do I effectively respond to
the resistance a reader may have about my product?"
Make sure your letter is easy to read. Use simple, everyday
words that instantly get your points across. Try to keep the
reader with you, assuming you will lose him or her with the
first boring, overly complicated or overly technical word.
Most successful direct mail packages consist of several
• The outer envelope, with or without "tease"
copy to move the recipient to open it.
• The letter, which clearly explains the offer and the
benefits the purchaser will reap, and asks for a fast reply.
• A brochure (not always included), which restates the
benefits and features of the product or service, usually using
vivid, stimulating graphics.
• A reply device, which the purchaser fills out and returns.
Often this is a reply card, with the mailing label affixed to
the other side so as to show through the "window"
of the outer envelope. Getting the original mailing label back
helps you determine which mailing lists produced the best response.
• A postage-paid Business Reply Envelope, which the respondent
uses to return the reply device.
• Mailing lists are a crucial part of your direct mail
package. Your sales letter will only pay off if you choose the
mailing lists that match your market- who you
want to reach.
Another element sometimes included, especially in subscription
offers, is a "lift note." This is usually a more personal
message from someone like the publisher of the magazine seeking
a subscription, restating the key benefits, and urging again
that the recipient quickly take advantage of the offer.
More elements can also be included, such as special "flyers"
graphically highlighting free premiums for ordering, or perhaps
a small sample of the product.
|4. What to remember when
response with benefits.
The more benefits in your letter, the better the response.
Most of your copy should include benefits, from the very start.
State the key benefits and what you're selling in the introductory
headline or first few paragraphs of your letter. Whenever
you mention a feature of the product, link it to a benefit
("Automatic Memory" is a feature; "Saves Time
and Improves Accuracy" is a benefit).
Include benefits everywhere.
The response card is often the first place that people look.
Restate the key benefits there. Use the P.S. Use the outer
Pile on the benefits.
Promise many benefits; the more benefits, the more persuasive
is your copy as a decision-making instrument for the reader.
Divide your benefits into major benefits (develop extensively
with two or three sentences, or more) and secondary benefits
(a brief headline and one sentence that can be quickly scanned).
The reader must weigh the cost of your product or service
against the benefits he will reap. Help him decide with numbers.
"Typing in one-fifth the time." "Correct up
to 300 characters with the touch of a key."
Reinforce the letter with a brochure.
Present your benefits in a different way, but tell the entire
story a second time. The most interested readers will get
to both. Don't hesitate to also include a separate "lift
note," a personal reminder-type note that states the
key benefits yet another time and in another way.
Neatness doesn't count.
End a page of copy in the middle of a word or sentence to
encourage turning the page. Fold a brochure through the middle
of some important point or graphic element. Avoid making it
appear too neat to open.
Don't split the message.
Tell the whole story in your letter, and also tell it entirely
in the brochure. Try to make all your main points on each
side of the brochure. Always make it easy for the reader to
learn the benefits of your offer at a glance without having
to refer to another mailing component or a reverse side.
Delete needless copy.
Don't "set the stage" for your sell copy. Don't
give a history of the product of your company (unless a clear
benefit is involved). Don't use humor; it distracts from the
purchasing decision. . Stick to benefits; don't lead with
an attention-getting but irrelevant story about football.
Keep it positive.
Either ignore objections to your product, or somehow phrase
your response tot he objection as a benefit. If your product
solves a problem, make sure the problem seems "solvable,"
not a bluntly horrible situation that puts the reader off.
For example, change the "bad news" of the $1280
total price for the typewriter into the "good news"
of the low monthly cost of only $38.64.
Tell the reader what to do.
Read how our product benefits you 10 ways. Compare all the
valuable features you get with or low, low price. Call or
write or send in your order.
Make it easy to order.
Use a toll-free number. Use credit cards. Keep your order
form simple and easy to fill out. Use a postage-paid reply
card return envelope.
Use testimonials whenever possible.
Be sure to include the person's name and affiliation. This
is where you can say outright how wonderful your product is.
Use attention-getting graphic devices.
Keep the reader alert and stimulated to read further. Use
capital letters, a second color, indented paragraphs, handwritten
notes, underlining and bold face type.
Ask for action from the start.
Don't build up to it. Request the specific action you want
at the beginning, rephrase it from time to time, be very direct
at the end, and repeat it in the P.S.
Use a P.S.
This is often the first thing that people read, and they read
on if it interests them. So make it intriguing but incomplete.
Keep it personal.
Your letter should look like a personal typewritten letter
from you to the reader, one to one. Use handwritten notes
in the margins to emphasize key points. If blue is your second
color, make the signature blue. Otherwise, make it black.
Ask for the order right away.
If the reader goes no further than the beginning of the letter,
he still knows exactly what to do. For example, urge in the
headline of the letter, "FREE 30-day trial with no obligation."
Offer a free gift.
This nearly always increases response, and is usually worth
the expense. One free gift is better than none; two are better
than one; etc.
Summarize your offer.
Make your offer concisely in the letter's beginning and ending,
in the major headline of your brochure and as the most prominent
copy of your response device.
Keep paragraphs short.
No more than 6 or 7 lines. Break up long copy with graphic
devices (indented paragraphs, etc.), Always make it appear
that what is being read is effortless.
Eliminate the risk.
Whenever possible, offer a guarantee, a free trial period,
assured quality nationwide service for the product.
Be sure it's easy to read.
Use typefaces that are proven easy to read. Avoid using too
many different typefaces. Make it look inviting, accessible
Ask for immediate action.
Act now, while you're thinking about it. Order before October
31, and you'll get a free gift. Offer expires October 31.
(Only use a deadline if it is genuine.) Supplies are limited.
We cannot guarantee that the price will remain this low in
Include the price.
Readers want to compare the benefits of the product with its
price. Usually, mentioning even a high price will get a better
response than mentioning no price. If the product's low price
is a benefit, emphasize it from the start. If it's a high
price, talk about the benefits first, and mention the price
at the end, using small, non-headline type.
|5. How to Promote Meetings
attendance at your meeting or seminar with all the proven techniques
that seminar promoters have used for years.
• Allow 6 months from "idea" to meeting date
for a new, untried, small meeting or seminar.
• Allow a minimum of 9 months for a two or three-day conference
for planning, speaker selection and contact, marketing efforts.
• Consider a separate pitch (copy) for each major market
• Profile the prospective attendee who you want to register
and then begin subject and content planning.
• Bolster in-house "know-how" with freelance
talent - art, copy, marketing; don't try to "make do"
with inexperienced staff.
• Decide what benefits or knowledge the satisfied attendee
will go home with before deciding on content and format.
• In your brochure's copy, give personal benefits first
- before corporate benefits . . . agenda . . . speakers.
• Feature all locations and dates conspicuously.
• Price to match value - don't under-price.
• Say it without technical jargon whenever you possibly
• Write to give the prospect the ammo needed to sell the
boss and/or the Training Director whose decision is needed to
• Make benefits believable - no unreal promises that your
session can't really deliver.
• Consider overbooking to allow for no-shows.
• Adjust hotel and meal estimates for no-shows.
• Match the location and facilities with the audience-level
and purpose of the meeting.
• Tell the whole story - don't save paper and lose attendance.
• Mail enough to hit the total market - every registration
after breakeven should be almost entirely net dollars.
• Make your cancellation and no-show refund policy perfectly
• Link speakers to to/pics - avoid general "speakers
• Specify starting and ending times.
• Check competitive activity before selecting date and
• Check the local holiday situation before scheduling.
• Look in to Continuing Education Unit credits.
• Put "action" or even a benefit into the meeting
title; consider a phrase beginning with "How to . . ."
• Loosen up the layout - "packed" text looks
"heavy" and your copy must be readable to work.
• Use photos and other graphic elements to offset the
monotony of unrelieved text; graphically emphasize the features
and high points of your meeting.
• Tie your copy into related topical developments in the
• If the theme and market is really national, the response
to a regional "test" session can be misleading.
• Cite the speakers' credentials briefly.
• Mail 8-12 weeks before meeting date.
• Consider a second mailing to your prime market no later
than 4 weeks before the meeting date.
• Be sure to mail to your Customer and Inquiry files.
• Use Title Addressing when individual name is not available.
• Key your response for a traceable report, so you'll
know which list is working best for you.
• Obtain market information from mailing list brokers
who understand and service Meeting/Seminar firms.
• Self-mailers are usually the most cost-effective promotion,
and they get the greatest pass-along.
• Use a variety of alternate job titles for Title Addressing
to be sure to reach your prospect in large companies.
• Select markets (mailing lists) by function first and
• Select lists of relevant industries (S.I.C.'s) for specific
• Select branch offices and plant locations if managers
are part of your market.
• Select firms on the basis of sales volume and/or employee
size if important to your program.
• Consider Chief Executive Officers, Personnel Executives
and Training Executives to increase your registration.
• Canadian markets are worth testing.
• Distribute meeting critiques to registrants for their
comments and evaluation of the program attended. Ask them which
trade magazines and newspapers they
• Test an often overlooked market - Senior, Group, and
Executive Vice Presidents without functional titles - for direct
as well as referral registrations.
• Beware of the duplication factor when using lists from
various sources and/or brokers.
• Probe for further market definition and information
when mailing list data cards are vague and leave you with unanswered
• Check your list broker to determine the experience he
has in the Meeting and Seminar business.
• Do you continually test new lists?
• Do you prepare a registration profile to identify functions,
titles, management level, company size, S.I.C.'s and distance
• Evaluate post-meeting critiques prepared by attendees
to define your markets more precisely or future meetings and
• Send your promotional piece or draft to your list broker
to get his help in selecting prime markets.
• Send a letter with a copy of the promotion (via first
class mail) to the people who have canceled the previous time
the program was given.
• Consider an 800 number for registration.
• Be sure to include space for job title on the registration
• Design the registration form realistically and large
enough to be properly filled out.
• When using a self-mailer, try to get the mailing label
on the registration form so that it will be returned to you.
This can help you evaluate how well each list
• Never destroy the original registration form.
• Consider a second mailing to commuter area.
• Most lists are provided on 4-up Cheshire labels for
machine-affixing. Check with your lettershop to be sure this
can be handled by them.
• Always use a key code on the mailing label to prevent
different lists from being confused.
• In designing a self-mailer, before printing get design
approval from the local postmaster.
• "Piggy-back" on your promotion piece a mention
of any other seminar opportunities you may be offering in the
• Include in your promotion favorable comments elicited
from past attendees - include job title and organization.
• Mention any trade association or certification for your
meeting or seminar.
• Be aware that most of your response may build gradually,
instead of surging right away as in most direct mail.
• Include a detailed outline or program of the seminar
– treat this as a form of "contract" between
you and the registrant.
• Consider multiple promotions in one mailing, offering
two, three, four, or even ten meetings/seminars on one brochure.
• Consider testing a package including a cover letter
and brochure in an outer envelope. Add a substantive "P.S."
to the letter, and put attention-getting copy
on the envelope.
• On your mailing panel, include instructions like: "Attention
Mail Room: This is dated material. If undeliverable as addressed,
pass to Training Manager."
• Encourage pass-along by prominently placing a box on
the cover saying "Route to:" and leave three or four
lines for the recipient to fill in.
• Consider listing the major features of your seminar
on the cover of your brochure along with the title.
• Use a serif typeface for large blocks of copy to enhance
• Be sure your "indicia" meets postal regulations.
• Be sure you have obtained all the necessary postal permits.
• At the seminar, have available at all times coffee,
tea, and cold drinks.
• Attendees remember clearly the "amenities"
try to have soft executive chairs, allow plenty of writing room,
have good audio-visual equipment, use a climate-controlled
• Encourage attendees to talk together and get to know
• Offer some kind of extra bonus, such as a workbook unobtainable
anywhere else, a special workshop, case studies, a discount
price on equipment.
• Encourage attendees to bring their specific problems
to the seminar for discussion.
• Send press releases to the appropriate trade or regional
media in plenty of time to get included in their listings of
• Be aware that advertising has been known to work for
promoting meetings and seminars, but it is much more hit-and-miss
than direct mail.
• Be sure your phone is answered professionally by someone
who speaks well and who knows about the seminar and the sponsoring
• Answer all inquiries for further information within
• Include a "Who Should Attend," listing every
possible type of attendee who can benefit from the seminar.
• If appropriate, mention that Treasury regulation 1-162-5
permits an income tax deduction for expenses (registration fees,
travel, food, lodging) undertaken to maintain
or improve professional skills.
• Consider a discount of 10% for 3 or more attendees from
the same organization.
• Indicate clearly and simply, step-by-step, how to register
- emphasize how quick and easy it is.
• Consider including a list of the organizations which
have sent attendees in the past.
• If appropriate, offer to conduct the seminar at the
site of the organization, and indicate how to arrange for it
• Consider a discount for registering prior to arrival
at the meeting or seminar.
• If appropriate, mention that registration is limited
to a specific number of attendees.
• Urge them to "Act now."
• Be sure to include the phone number emphatically outside
the coupon, so they can still register after it has been clipped.
• Emphasize in your copy what "You will get"
and not what "We will give you."
• If applicable, mention that a bloc of rooms has been
reserved at a local hotel for seminar attendees.
• In a catalog, include the phone number on every page.
• Consider binding in your catalog a tear-off, postage-paid
business reply card for easy registration; be sure the card
meets postal regulations.
• Include a thorough, detailed subject index in your catalog.