Some companies that use direct mail to sell their products and services are like blind man in dark room looking for black cat that isn't there. They repeat same mistakes, and enjoy same poor results. Here are their eight most common misdemeanors, and a cure for each.
Wrong list The most important part of any direct mail campaign is not copy. It's not art direction. And it's not offer. It's mailing list.
That's why you can mail identical packages to two lists, one good and one poor, and find that good list pulls 10 times more responses than poor list does. Your mailing list, after all, is not just a way to reach your market. It is your market.
No testing There are no answers in direct mail except test answers. I didn't write that. Eugene Schwartz, author of Breakthrough Advertising, did.
If you don't test one package against another, one list against another, you won't know what works and what fails. So test lists. Test offers. Test formats. Test envelope teaser copy. Don't assume you know what works. Test and be sure.
No offer The second most important part of a direct mail package is offer. The offer aims to persuade readers to choose your product or service over what your competitors are selling. Your offer must differentiate you from competition by way of price, terms, guarantees or extras.
To generate leads, offer free technical information, a free analysis, free consultation, free demonstration, free trial use or free product sample. To build retail traffic, offer premiums, special discounts or exclusives. To sell a product directly through mail, offer a free trial, sample, premium or discount.
Starting with you, not me You're at a party. You meet two people. One greets you this way: "Hi, I'm a swell person and I make lots of money. But enough about me, what do you think about me?" The other greets you this way, "Hi, I'm Tony. You look like an interesting person. Tell me about yourself."
Now, then, which of these two people would you rather talk to? Your readers prefer to hear you talk about them, not about yourself or your product. Yet many businesses mail sales letters that begin: "ABC Incorporated was founded in 1982 and is in business of delivering quality, service and value into new millennium." Big yawn. Big mistake. Aim your messages at prospect and say everything from prospect's point of view. Don't begin your copy with "we" when you can begin with "you."