Write direct mail envelopes that get opened

write direct mail envelopesThe direct mail envelope is both the easiest and hardest part of every direct mail package.

It’s easy in that there’s just not that much space to fill with copy or design. But it’s hard in that there’s so much riding on what you say or don’t say.

The envelope determines whether your direct mail package gets opened or trashed.

Before I give you some envelope writing tips, let’s get one thing straight.

You should not expect an envelope to position your product. You should not use it to show off your design skills. Its job is not to entertain or amuse. You are not required to cover it with clever copy to impress a client.

Aside from holding together the contents until delivered, an envelope has only one job: to get opened.

Here are few ways to do that.

Follow headline rules to write teaser copy. Generate interest with a provocative statement. Provoke curiosity with a question headline or incomplete statement. State a problem on the envelope and suggest the solution is inside. Teaser copy acts like a headline and leads people to read the letter.

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Stop clowning around: 3 reasons jokes don’t sell

People don't buy from clownsWill cracking jokes help you sell?

Considering how often advertisers and agencies put on the fool’s cap and prance about in an attempt to evoke giggles, laughs, and outright guffaws, you would think the answer is “Yes.”

However, we in the direct marketing business are almost always warned against clowning around.

John Caples, in How to Make Your Advertising Make Money, states the generally accepted rule of thumb for most direct marketers, saying simply, “Avoid humor. What is funny to one person is not funny to millions of others.”

But I think Claude C. Hopkins said it best. “People don’t buy from clowns.”

However, while this is accepted at face value by the bean counters, creative people often don’t believe it, since they are by nature inventive, curious, and suspicious of any so-called rule.

Confronted with the dictum “Don’t be funny,” the doubting creative genius will nod in agreement to avoid an argument. However, he or she is secretly thinking, “Yeah. It didn’t work for you, because you didn’t do it right. You’re boring. You’re not funny.”

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3 irrefutable proofs: people-centered ads win

people centered adsI’ve been seeing some pretty crappy advertising recently and it’s all crappy for the same reason. All of it tries to make a point with clever concepts rather than benefits and relevance.

It made me think of the following article I wrote a while back. Some of the examples may be a bit dated, but the point is still valid.


There’s a saying: Dumb people talk about people. Smart people talk about ideas.

This might be true in some areas of life. But in marketing, it’s flat out wrong.

In fact, I’m going to show you why people-centered ads are very smart indeed, much smarter than abstract concept-centered ads.

And I’ll prove it by taking you on a tour of my local grocery store, the experimental lab of evolutionary biologists, and my own advertising swipe file.

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How to grow a nonprofit website with a simple “traffic portfolio”

By day, I’m a copywriter and direct marketing consultant. By night, I help run a nonprofit political action committee (PAC).

Since I prefer to keep politics off this blog, I’ll forgo mentioning the name of the PAC.

In my last post, I talked about driving web traffic with direct mail. However, direct mail has its limitations, especially for small nonprofit organizations with tight budgets. Our PAC budget is less than $50,000 a year. So from the beginning, I’ve put an emphasis on highly cost-effective tactics.

As a result, the organization has no brick and mortar presence and operates almost exclusively online with a website and a variety of online “outposts,” including a forum as well as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

While we run a variety of real-world events, such as political rallies, dinners, and meetings, online tools and social media drive the marketing, enabling the website and organization to grow rapidly with minimal cost.

I decided to look at the numbers recently and found confirmation that these tactics have worked spectacularly well.

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How to use direct mail to drive website traffic

direct mail drives website trafficIf you want to drive traffic to your website, which media should you use?

Email delivers traffic quickly and at low cost, though open rates can be low. Social marketing shows great potential, but it takes effort to make it work.

Then there’s PPC, banner ads, and other online strategies which deliver varying results. But what about traditional direct mail?

Too many people suffer from an “oil and water” mentality when it comes to mixing online and offline media. But the fact is, they work well together. And when you need to drive online traffic, an integrated approach can often work wonders.

According to the 2009 Channel Preference Study by ExactTarget, direct mail influences 76% of Internet users to buy a product or service online. Better still, direct mail remains the one medium that gives you direct and reliable access to nearly everyone in your target market.

How do you drive web traffic with direct mail? Here are some pointers:

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