Official-looking direct mail works better than you think

official-looking direct mail

“There are no pictures.”

“The copy is too short.”

“It violates our brand guidelines.”

“It’s so damned ugly!”

These are just a few of the objections you’ll hear if you ever suggest testing an “official” direct mail piece like the one shown here.

However, to those who know better, official-looking mailers can be pure gold.

I received this piece recently and had one of those “Oh, you got me” moments.

Since I specialize in direct mail, I’ve seen every trick in the book. And 99.44% of the time I can spot a marketing piece a mile away no matter how well-crafted.

But it was the end of the day. I was tired. And the direct mail part of my brain had shut down. So when I saw it in the mail pile, I responded like an ordinary human and opened it.

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The dos and don’ts of marketing to today’s seniors

marketing to seniorsThere’s a moment you dread. You know it’s coming. You know you can’t do anything about it.

You want to think you’ll be calm and rational when it happens, but the cold shock of reality will almost certainly catch you off-guard.

I’m talking about the day you get your first “senior” mailing.

It could be an invitation to join AARP. It could be a catalog of pain relief products. Or maybe it’s a mailer with a picture of a gray haired couple on the front.

Whatever it is, it’s something for seniors and you’re not happy about it one little bit.

At first, you assume it’s a mix-up. That envelope can’t be for you. Not yet. No way. But it’s addressed to you. And a quick glance at the birth date on your driver’s license confirms that you’re not exactly a teenager anymore.

That’s when you feel a twinge of anger. “How dare they mail this to me! Do I look old or something? I’m not old. And even if I am, they don’t have to throw it in my face like that.”

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The 3 hot buttons of political fundraising letters

anger, fear, revenge for political fundraising Anger.

Fear.

Revenge.

It sounds like a promotion for a summer blockbuster movie, but it’s actually a formula for political fundraising.

Some might think this is cynical. However, if you’ve ever done any serious work in politics, as I have, you’ll know a few truths:

Most people have little interest in politics. Of those who are interested, only a few will ever do anything other than talk. Getting people to take action, such as making a donation, requires that you hit their hot buttons and hit them hard.

Which hot buttons seem to always work best? Anger. Fear. Revenge.

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Truth 101: a primer for direct marketing professionals

true or falseTelling the truth can be dangerous business.
Honest and popular don’t go hand in hand.
If you admit that you can play the accordion,
No one’ll hire you in a rock ‘n’ roll band.

Those are lyrics from a song performed by Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty in the movie Ishtar, one of the worst (and sporadically one of the funniest) comedies ever made.

Whatever you think of the movie, you can’t argue with the message of that song. Telling the truth can be dangerous business, especially if you work in direct marketing.

It’s dangerous because clients with crappy products expect you to lie, and telling the truth can get you in hot water with people writing the checks.

But I prefer to think that telling the truth is good for selling and for the whole direct marketing industry.

Think about it. Have you ever wondered why some people are direct mail responsive and others are not? Why some buy from catalogs, the Internet, or home shopping shows, and others wouldn’t even consider it?

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