99 Quick Tips for Upgrading Your Direct Mail Package

by Dean Rieck

Whether you're creating a new direct mail campaign or updating an old one, you have an infinite variety of choices for improving response. Based on decades of testing, here are 99 of the easiest and most effective. Consider this a smorgasbord of savvy possibilities and inspirations.

  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 your offer.
  5. Reduce the perceived risk in accepting your 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 perceived commitment.
  11. Dramatize your offer with stamps or stickers.
  12. Make your offer tangible with a check or coupon.
  13. Create your envelope to get noticed and get opened.
  14. Use teaser copy to tease, not tell.
  15. Consider using a plain envelope.
  16. Try an official-looking envelope.
  17. Use a low-key envelope for business prospects.
  18. Use your sales letter to sell and your brochure to tell.
  19. Make your letter look like a letter.
  20. Grab attention in your letter with a short first sentence.
  21. Express one central idea in your letter.
  22. Write your letter in a friendly, personal tone.
  23. Call for action early and often in your letter text.
  24. Have a high-authority person sign your letter.
  25. Personalize your letter if possible.
  26. Use a P.S. to cite a benefit, deadline, or extra detail.
  27. Use your brochure to add credibility.
  28. Use brochure tables, charts, diagrams, and visuals to support your claims.
  29. Design your brochure for easy reading.
  30. Use clear benefit heads and subheads in your brochure.
  31. Include all features and specifics in your brochure text.
  32. Include complete ordering information in your brochure.
  33. Test your package with no brochure.
  34. Use a stand-alone order form.
  35. Restate your offer on the order form.
  36. Include an acceptance statement.
  37. Make your order form easy to fill out and return.
  38. Highlight the deadline.
  39. Make your order form look valuable.
  40. Refer to the order form as something more valuable.
  41. Consider extra order forms for passalongs.
  42. Order something from yourself to discover how to make ordering easier.
  43. Offer a fax response option for businesses.
  44. Use your order form to highlight last-minute specials.
  45. Preprint your customer's name and address to simplify ordering.
  46. Restate your 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 your order form for support information only.
  50. Give clear, simple ordering directions.
  51. Include a BRE if you 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.
  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 your product or service.
  61. Give case histories of your best customers.
  62. Display a seal of approval or rating.
  63. Cite favorable reviews.
  64. Cite media coverage.
  65. Back up your offer with a strong guarantee.
  66. State your guarantee in the strongest possible terms.
  67. Keep your guarantee conditions to a minimum.
  68. Make your guarantee a prominent package element.
  69. Replace your conditional guarantee with an unconditional guarantee.
  70. Strengthen your guarantee with a signature.
  71. Extend your guarantee for as long as possible.
  72. Make your guarantee look official.
  73. Avoid asterisks and legal-looking tiny type.
  74. Reinforce your guarantee with a merchandise return label.
  75. Encourage involvement with a quiz or checklist.
  76. Emphasize exclusivity with a 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 testimonial insert.
  80. Answer questions or objections with a Q&A insert.
  81. Prove your product superiority with 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 buckslip.
  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 control before testing elements.
  89. Test one element at a time.
  90. Run statistically valid tests.
  91. Retest anything that shows a significant change.
  92. Track results meticulously.
  93. Train your people on the importance of tracking.
  94. Analyze your results in writing.
  95. Use your test results to determine creative strategy.
  96. Keep using your control until you beat it.
  97. Test.
  98. Test.
  99. Test some more.

Copyright © 2003 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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