What Makes Direct Mail Worth Reading

Growing up when people still wrote letters, I still, in spite of myself, look forward to checking the mail every day. Often, I’m disappointed.

Mostly, my mail is full of junk that I toss without opening: coupon cards for products I don’t care about, solicitation letters from a zillion causes looking for donations, catalogues. Then there are invoices and a few magazines, sometimes a package I’ve ordered. And maybe, just maybe, some kind of hand-written note—an invitation or a thank-you.

Recently, I received two thank-you letters for donations to non-profit organizations. No surprise, as I was anticipating follow-up letters for my online donations. Both used well-written, boiler-plate text. Each was signed by the organization’s executive.

What? Someone Actually Wrote Me a Thank You?
But one letter stood out, because it included a personal, hand-written note, thanking me for my contribution. It only took a few extra minutes for the signer to add those words. But it made a strong impression on me and raised my appreciation for this particular organization.

We’re bombarded with so many messages, every moment. It’s easy to dispose of unwanted emails with a simple click. But unwanted direct mail is a real annoyance. It clutters up your mailbox. You have to take time to sort it, pick up the thing and toss it in your recycling bin or circular file.

Especially today when consumers are much more conscious of wasted paper, you need to be extra careful that you’re not undercutting your messaging by sending nuisance direct mail.

The Personal, Human Touch Goes a Long Way With Direct Mail
If you do use direct mail as part of your integrated marketing mix, be sure that you really understand your target market and use good lists that reach the people you want to contact. And to increase the chances that your mail will actually be opened, personalize your mail piece. There’s a lot to the science of direct mail, but here are three fundamental rules to follow:

  • Address your direct mail letters to the individual, using a mail merge. This is basic. Don’t use a generic salutation like “Dear Valued Customer” or “Dear Donor.” Sign off with a real signature, not a typeset version.
  • Focus on relevant, helpful content that your target audience is looking for—educational tips, how-to’s, useful resources to solve a problem that concerns them—information that makes it worth their while to stop and read. Whether you’re selling a product or soliciting for donations, be sure you understand your audience and give them added value for taking the time to read your pitch.
  • If possible, especially when it comes to thanking donors for contributions to your cause, add a personal note of appreciation. In these days of message over-saturation, the extra effort will make a lasting good impression.

Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your great work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.

 

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