One of the beauties of direct mail is that it comes with a long history of real-world testing and proven techniques.
This includes the “lift letter,” also called the lift note or publisher’s note.
The latter name hints at the origins of this technique. Back in the heyday of magazine subscription promotions, publishers often included a little extra letter in their direct mail solicitations.
They called it the publisher’s note because the message often came from the publisher.
Today, it’s usually referred to as the lift letter or lift note, since it has been adapted to work in a wide variety of direct mail packages for the purpose of lifting response.
In my Direct Marketing Glossary, I define a lift note like this: “Second, shorter letter in a direct mail package with a highly focused message. Generally signed by a different person.”
That sums up the characteristics of a lift letter pretty well:
- It’s smaller than the main letter and is generally folded. There’s a headline or teaser on the cover and a brief note inside.
- It’s usually signed by a different person. In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to have two letters signed by the same person.
- It focuses on one specific idea. It’s not a rehash or summary of the main letter.
In the photo above, you can see the cover of a lift letter for a direct mail package I wrote many years ago. I selected this example because it tells a story, which is something you don’t see too often in a second letter:
Please – Don’t let this happen to you …
Not long ago, while having lunch out, I met an elderly man in the booth next to me.
When he asked me about my business, I told him about The Entrepreneur Program and handed over the lessons I had in my briefcase.
He told me he had always wanted to be in business for himself. His whole life, he had tried to start one business or another, but always ended up going back to earning a paycheck.
He said, “I could never figure out what other guys knew that I didn’t. I just never knew what to do, how to do it, or when.”
Then, as he skimmed through the lessons, a sad expression came over his face. He looked up at me. “Are you telling me you put all this in this program of yours?”
I said, “Yes. Everything you need to know.”
He handed the lessons back to me and got up to leave. “I just didn’t know. If I’d had that, I could have…” He smiled and shook his head. Then he cashed his Social Security check, paid his bill, and walked out of the diner.
Right now, about 1 out of every 3 Americans like you are thinking of starting a business of their own. But only a fraction will try. And even fewer will succeed — merely because they didn’t have the simple know-how to turn their dream into a reality.
Please. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t end up like that dear old man, looking back on a life that could have been.
Take the first step now. Ask for your FREE Starter Set.
Looking at this lift letter now, I’d like to change a few things. But overall, it still looks pretty good.
While the main letter presents a sales pitch for an information product, this lift letter talks about the regret you could feel for passing up such a remarkable opportunity.
I got this idea from an old Gibson guitar manual I had in my youth. A letter in the front spoke about the regret I would feel if I didn’t apply myself and learn to play guitar. Since I didn’t apply myself, that message has haunted me ever since.
However, a lift letter can focus on any number of ideas. You can offer a bonus gift, answer possible objections, discuss a feature or benefit, present a customer testimonial or story, and so on.
Whatever the message, it should be important enough to justify a separate element in the direct mail package. Most importantly, the copy must focus tightly on that one idea. This is where most people go wrong by trying to summarize the entire package. Remember, divide and conquer.
Testing a lift letter is simple. Because it’s a separate piece, you can easily test with and without to gauge the difference in response.
If you’ve never tried a lift letter, test one in your next direct mail package. Then let me know if it lifted response for you.