We’ve all received them. We occasionally read them. However, most end up in the recycle bin…But why? They’re only a page or two long, and yet many direct mail sales letters are just as dead as the felled log they were fashioned from..
I originally wrote the core of this post a couple of years ago and focused on direct mail. Revisiting it, its been adapted to provide our advice for both printed and electronic marketing and we hope it helps.
To Begin With, Send it to a Named Contact
Okay, so you’ve targeted suitable companies, found the name and title of the decision maker for your product or service, and the Trojan-like envelope has made it past the always-suspecting secretary/assistant, and the decision maker has opened up the letter!
If you are sending them an email, make sure you have their actual address not a [email protected] or [email protected] as these generally tend to be catch-all email accounts that might not be checked very often. You’d be very surprised how many remain unchecked for days, weeks and sometimes months!
What will your letter read like? The following checklist will hopefully ensure an image to set yourself apart from the pack.
Subject Line / Header
The subject line/header needs to capture their attention and engage. You want them to read on.
Ensure the Message Matches the Needs of the Target Audience
Does your offer of products and/or services match the needs of the recipient? Don’t make your pitch to a managing director or equivalent if your message only applies to the marketing staff. Make sure its relevant – don’t waste their time, it wont be appreciated!
Get to the Point
If you begin your letter with general, hazy information – you risk losing the reader. It’s critical you make your point in those first few lines. Who, What, Why, Where and When are very useful to include in the opening paragraph.
Be Clear and Concise
Sell benefits, not features.
Many businesspeople love to list and discuss product features. However, your potential customers
want to know how he/she will benefit from using the product. It’s okay to list features, but also
include the end-user benefits. For example, a feature of cloud-based accounting software is that it allows you to invoice at anytime and in anyplace thereby saving you time and increasing productivity. It’s bound to allow you to invoice clients so you don’t need to tell the reader that but they might be interested to know about how easy it is to use on the go.
Keep it Personal and Conversational
Given today’s access to current data, there is no excuse for sending out formal communications. Personalise each letter/email you send out. In terms of writing style, just write like you talk – and you’re sure to make a warm, genuine appeal to your reader. Remember, people often do business with people – make the connection.
Use Letters and Emails to Generate Leads – Not Sales
Often the goal of a direct-mail letter or email is to generate a response, not a sale. The purpose is to open doors, start a conversation, encourage them to visit your website – the sale is the next separate and distinct step in the process.
Write at a High-School Level
Studies have shown that most of us read at an early high school level. Avoid big words to make the letter easily understood. You can be technical if you choose but simplify your language as much as possible.
Postscript (P.S.) is Your Friend!
Case studies indicate that the typical letter recipient’s eye moves down the page to the P.S. before they read everything in the letter! Try to restate your proposition in the P.S.
Use White Space
Readers are often turned off by large chunks of text. Try to use short paragraphs, and bullets and/or numbered lists. Give the reader some breathing room!
Keep it to One Page
Most business decision makers are very busy people. Make your point, sell the benefits, make it easy to read – and keep it to one page.
Make a “No-Risk” Offer
Offer the recipient something – and make it no risk. Offer free information, an article, some industry tips, free tutorial, or product sample. This is also a good way of demonstrating your expertise in a specific area.
Create a Deadline
Whether there is a real deadline or one you create, make one. Usually, a deadline increases the rate of responses because of the limited amount of time to act.
Call to Action!
Ask and ye shall receive . . . Why not ask for the order? “Call our free phone number, 0800-, for a free consultation”.
Use Postage Reply Mail
If you are sending printed material, include a business reply card for better responses. Make sure it has pre-paid postage. Don’t lose an inquiry for the cost of a single stamp.
Include a Guarantee
If you can offer a guarantee – be it your follow-up, delivery, customer service, or pricing – do it. By offering a guarantee, you offer integrity and credibility to your products/services.
Nothing speaks louder for your product or services than a satisfied end user. However, if you use names and companies, make sure you get a signed consent from them.
If you require any further help or advice regarding preparing and sending your own marketing campaign, please get in touch and we will be happy to assist you.