…Before you even meet them.
We’re still talking about the three aspects that make for a successful marketing strategy and so far, I’ve identified the first two…the list and the offer.
Of course, the third stepping stone to direct mail success is the mailing piece itself. If one is the list and two is the offer, then three is what we might call the packaging or the presentation of the offer.
In mailing development you will basically deal with copy, graphics and format. I want you to understand that it is not necessary or even necessarily advisable for you to engage the expensive services of graphic designers or ad agencies to create your direct mail pieces.
If you will make the format decision yourself, write the copy yourself and provide some graphic components yourself, all of which I’ll help you with during our journey together, then you can have your piece prepared by a small store front printer and his typesetter.
An ad agency or graphic designer may charge you thousands of dollars to prepare a single mailing piece. If you choose to use such services, you must stay in control and avoid creativity for creativity’s sake, or pretty or clever at the expense of function.
But given today’s PC’s, just about anybody can do much of this themselves, especially if sticking to simple, serviceable formats.
There are two commonly used formats that can serve most of your needs….
Let’s talk first about format. There are two commonly used formats that will serve most of your needs.
One is called the solo piece. This is a single sheet, printed on both sides and half folded or folded in thirds to self-mail without an envelope. This is the most commonly used format by small business and the least expensive.
If you watch your own incoming mail a little more closely for the next few days you’ll receive several such mail pieces and can get an idea of the different things that can be done within the solo format.
Another solo format that is even simpler and less costly is a postcard or oversized postcard. This can be a very cost-effective way of communicating with your established customer list.
The other format is a more complex, sophisticated multiple piece mailing in an envelope. This is the kind used by Publishers Clearing House and the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes as well as many other direct mail marketers. Again watch your incoming mail for the next few days and you’ll be able to collect some samples of this type of piece.
Usually this package is made up of #1 – a cover letter, #2 – a brochure or flyer presenting the main offer, #3 – a separate response device – a coupon to bring into the store or an order form to mail back and #4 – some extra sales piece – possibly a page of testimonials from satisfied customers or a flyer on the premium or bonus gift.
The theory behind this type of mailing is that the odds of something catching the reader’s interest are increased proportionately by the number of loose pieces.
Your choice of formats can be governed by how much space you need to tell your story, cost and budget factors, who you’re mailing to, and the dollar value of the response.
You then have to write the copy that will present your offer and tell your story. I’ve written all of my own advertising copy since the 1970’s and have never had any formal education in advertising. I’m self-taught through studying the many excellent how-to books readily available and through practice.
This is a very valuable skill and I urge most business people and entrepreneurs to develop the ability to write good advertising copy.