Making Direct Mail Work

If you’re like most small businesses or entrepreneurs you may have already learned that typical marketing, particularly direct response advertising is a waste of time.   

You spend lots of time and money creating a marketing piece. Maybe you hire a designer to create the right message with creative photos, illustration, copy and layout. Or perhaps you do this yourself, investing many hours or even several days in developing the materials. Then you pay a fortune to deliver the message to your prospective clients. This could be through the mail, email, web site, print ad, signage or other media.   
You have high hopes for a great response. You are sure this will take your industry by storm. The phone is going to ring off the hook. Then, NOTHING . Not a peep. Suddenly a few calls trickle in. In short your campaign has, at best, ended in a break-even proposition. You say, “never again,” only to find in a few months you rationalize and change a few things around, use a new media and give it a try again. Sadly this cycle repeats itself.  
Sound familiar?  
Or maybe you are doing great with your marketing efforts. You are getting double digit response. You have learned how to ATTRACT business rather than simply chasing it down. In either case there are some very specific things that we can do to significantly increase or chances of attracting business. I would like to cover these today with a special emphasis on direct mail.  
I think that many have become fed-up with direct mail and have abandoned it as a viable form of marketing. I can say by experience that nowhere are the rules of attraction more effective than they are in the direct mail arena. I know there are many that have tried using postcards via direct mail. It is a fact that 99% of these campaigns end in disgust and disillusionment. But I’d like to introduce three simple steps that will all but guarantee double digit response by properly using postcards. They are as follows:  
1. People hate to read so use design and color to SPEAK your message. 
2. Leverage emotions to focus on the problem rather than the solution. 
3. Create a simple, clear, no risk, compelling call to action.  
STEP 1: People hate to read so use design, imagery and color to SPEAK your message.  
If you have read this far you are in the minority. Less than 22% of all readers finish the article that they set out to read. Most say they “speed read” or “skim through” the article which basically translates to laziness. In addition we should note that 16% of the adult population has dyslexia which inhibits them from reading with complete comprehension. In any case most will say they just don’t have time to read. So why not learn to speak with design and color. Let me practice what I preach and SHOW you what I mean. Check out post card at the right. It has one image and a four word headline. Not much to think about, yet the message is obvious. This one has a little humor also. Another note: don’t take yourself too seriously. Also notice the use of negative space at the top left. This is a visual strategy to force the reader to actually read the headline. This image and headline also prompts the reader to do a “double take” and re-process the ad in order to ensure they understand the intent. This also is a tactic to ensure readership. 
STEP 2: Leverage emotions to focus on the problem rather than the solution.  
As I’ve said before, we have to raise the customer’s level of curiosity and increase their attraction by aligning ourselves with their problems. Most marketing messages say the SAME thing. They talk about what the marketer does, the services they provide, and the products they sell. Most customers are interested in the question: “What’s in it for ME?” Make sure your headline clearly addresses what’s in it for them. I would in fact encourage you to tell them what pain or discomfort they will avoid by participating in your solution. You will note that is what both of these postcards do. Certainly you don’t want to end up like an uninsured dear (road-kill). Nor do you want your children to be injured in an accident due to faulty brakes. In addition we need to create a way for customers to “try out” your solution. This lessens their risk and makes them more familiar with your solution. It also allows them some time to make the purchase decision. In this Internet age more people are spending time researching various options in order to make the smartest buying decision. In the postcard at the right I might change the call to action to read: “Call now for your FREE brake check-up.”  
STEP 3: Create a simple, clear, no risk, compelling call to action.  
Make sure people know what you want them to do. I have seen some great marketing messages that leave the customer hanging not knowing where or how to purchase the product or service. This is a pretty simple one but it is effective. They want you to come in to their store. I might change the call to action to read something like: “Come in and get our FREE color test.” Also make sure that you reverse their risk in some way. No one likes to be trapped. Often times customers fail to try alternative solutions or change suppliers because they thing that the “grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” I always recommend that we allow people to TRY our solution. This is why in marketing our Attract More Business Program we offer a FREE 5 day self study where customers can experience what the Attract More Business Program is all about. In addition we offer an unconditional money back guarantee with every program sold. By the way, we have NEVER had anyone ask for a refund. If you are confident in the value of your product or service don’t be afraid to offer some type of risk-free guarantee.  
Here are some other postcards showing the rules of attraction in action:
These postcards are both aimed at soliciting home improvement but the one on the top focuses on the actual service and the other keys into the motive. Obviously more room for a “newcomer” to the family. You may be wondering if this same three step strategy can be applied to your business. The answer is absolutely, YES! In our Attract More Business Program I take you step-by-step through how to develop your own marketing strategy and advertising campaign. This includes a branding strategy, concept, copy, developing headlines, selecting media and much more. If any of this makes sense to you please enroll in our FREE Attract More Business Self Study program. Simply go to   
For more information on direct marketing check out this article that I wrote a few years ago:   
By the way thanks to Zairmail for letting me use their postcards as examples. Check them out. These guys have some great postcards. I’ve used them before. They are reliable, affordable and friendly. Call them at: 1-877-239-1253 or Have a great week! 
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email  
Mark Deo
Posted in Effective Advertising, Uncategorized.

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