Direct to the point: do's and don'ts for a successful direct-mail marketing campaign.

Author:Scott, Mike

Direct marketing is a $5-billion business in the United States. A large percentage of that is generated by direct mail--a one-to-one personal relationship between seller and buyer. The advantages are clear:

* Direct mail can be focused, largely because of the ease, affordability and availability of list services.

* Direct mail sales can be predicted with relative accuracy.

* Direct mail allows sellers to take the product/service directly to potential buyers.

First impressions mean everything with direct mail. Your goal is to keep your piece out of the trash bin as long as possible. If certain guidelines are followed, chances are you can benefit from a response rate of 5 percent or higher, considered above average in the industry.

Make an offer

Your direct mail piece should make it easy for customers to recognize your offer or "hook." Typical offers include a free demo CD-ROM, informational brochures or product/service coupons--in general, anything that will encourage your audience to take action.

It's your responsibility to determine what you want to accomplish with a direct mail piece, and then design an offer around that goal. The offer or at least the hint of an offer should be easy to find.

Keep it short

In direct mail, short snippets are the way to go. Long blocks of text lose your reader's interest. While copy is an important component, be sure to keep it succinct.

Think of direct mail copy as you would a newspaper or magazine headline--be brief. Include a teaser line on the envelope or cover that should be treated as your headline. For example, if you are marketing the release of a brand-new style of rolling pin, your headline could read, "Our Rolling Pin Will Make Your Life Easier."

The body text of the direct mail piece...

To continue reading