99 Direct Mail Resolutions

by Dean Rieck

If you're anything like me, you have trouble keeping just one resolution, let alone ninety-nine. So just think of this as a smorgasbord of savvy possibilities to improve your direct mail response.

Now repeat after me: When creating a direct mail package, I resolve to ...

  1. Make an irresistible offer.
  2. Give away something free to boost response.
  3. Prefer a free gift over a discount.
  4. Increase the perceived value of my offer.
  5. Reduce perceived risk in accepting my offer.
  6. Offer attractive payment options.
  7. Use a time limit to increase urgency.
  8. Test a two-step offer for high-priced goods.
  9. Test a "yes/no" offer to clarify the buying decision.
  10. Test a "yes/maybe" offer to lower commitment.
  11. Dramatize my offer with stamps, stickers, or other involvement devices.
  12. Make my offer tangible with a check, certificate, or coupon.
  13. Create the envelope exclusively to get opened.
  14. Use teaser copy to tease, not tell.
  15. Consider using a plain envelope.
  16. Avoid a misleading, official-looking envelope or faux government notice.
  17. Use a low-key envelope for business prospects.
  18. Use my sales letter to sell and my brochure to tell.
  19. Make my letter look like a letter.
  20. Grab attention in my letter with a short first sentence.
  21. Express one central idea in my letter.
  22. Write my letter in a friendly, personal tone.
  23. Call for action early and often in my letter.
  24. Have a high-authority person sign my letter.
  25. Personalize my letter if possible.
  26. Use a P.S. to cite a benefit, deadline, or extra detail.
  27. Use my brochure to add credibility.
  28. Use brochure tables, charts, diagrams, and visuals to support my claims.
  29. Design my brochure for easy reading.
  30. Use clear benefit heads and subheads in my brochure.
  31. Include all features and specifics in my brochure text.
  32. Include complete ordering information in my brochure.
  33. Test my package with no brochure.
  34. Use a separate, stand-alone order form.
  35. Restate my offer on the order form.
  36. Include an order acceptance statement.
  37. Make my order form easy to read, fill out, and return.
  38. Highlight the deadline on the order form.
  39. Make my order form look valuable.
  40. Call the order form something else.
  41. Consider extra order forms for pass-alongs.
  42. Order something from myself to see how easy it is.
  43. Offer a fax response option for businesses.
  44. Use my order form to highlight last-minute specials.
  45. Pre-print my customer's name and address to simplify ordering.
  46. Restate my guarantee on the order form.
  47. Offer a toll-free number for faster orders.
  48. Avoid a two-sided order form.
  49. Use the back of my order form for supporting information.
  50. Give clear, simple ordering directions.
  51. Include a BRE if I ask for confidential information.
  52. Pay the postage on reply cards.
  53. Feature compelling testimonials.
  54. Edit testimonials carefully and honestly.
  55. Prefer many short quotes over a few long quotes to engage the bandwagon effect.
  56. Group testimonials to increase impact.
  57. Use names, titles, and locations to increase testimonial credibility.
  58. Turn a good testimonial into a lift letter.
  59. Use a testimonial as a headline or benefit statement.
  60. Show people using my product or service.
  61. Give case histories of my best customers.
  62. Display a seal of approval or rating.
  63. Cite favorable reviews.
  64. Cite media coverage.
  65. Back up my offer with a strong guarantee.
  66. State my guarantee in the strongest possible terms.
  67. Keep my guarantee conditions to a minimum.
  68. Make my guarantee a prominent package element.
  69. Prefer an unconditional guarantee.
  70. Strengthen my guarantee with a signature.
  71. Extend my guarantee for as long as possible as a benefit to my customer.
  72. Make my guarantee look official.
  73. Avoid weasel words, asterisks, and legal-looking teeny type.
  74. Reinforce my guarantee with a merchandise return label.
  75. Encourage involvement with a quiz, checklist, or survey.
  76. Emphasize exclusivity with a special membership card.
  77. Add fun with a rub-off or hidden message.
  78. Answer objections or highlight a benefit with a lift letter.
  79. Increase credibility with a separate testimonial insert.
  80. Answer questions or objections with a Q&A insert.
  81. Prove my product superiority by sending or offering a sample.
  82. Share supporting information with an article reprint.
  83. Deliver a quick pitch with an ad reprint.
  84. Announce last-minute news with a plain buckslip or flyer.
  85. Offer a premium on a buckslip.
  86. Draw attention with a yellow sticky note.
  87. Include company name, address, and phone number on every piece.
  88. Establish a solid, reliable control before testing elements.
  89. Test one element at a time.
  90. Run statistically valid tests.
  91. Re-test anything that shows a significant change to confirm results.
  92. Track results meticulously.
  93. Train my people on the importance of careful tracking.
  94. Analyze my results in writing.
  95. Use test results to guide creative strategy.
  96. Keep using my control until I beat it.
  97. Test.
  98. Test.
  99. Test.

Copyright © 1998 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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