While sifting through my various marketing e-newsletter subscriptions recently, I ran across a nice review of one of my direct mail packages at Who’s Mailing What Insider by Ethan Boldt.
Who’s Mailing What is basically a library of direct mail pieces. They collect, analyze, scan, and file them. Then, for a price, you can download them for your own inspiration.
The image of the direct mail piece is no longer posted with the article, but you can look at an early version of the Intuit direct mail package here.
Here’s a snippet from the review:
Perceived value. It’s what B-to-B mailers often try to build within a mail package, and Intuit’s latest effort is an example of how to do it expertly . . . to the point that a response is nearly guaranteed.
Beginning simple, the computer company’s plain white #10 outer envelope says, “RE: Your FREE Retailer’s Success Kit.” Indeed, the word “free” becomes the theme of this package.
Inside, prospects are greeted by a letter that uses many of the standard response boosters: personalization (Dear [John Doe], We’ve created a FREE Retailer’s Success Kit for [X Studios], the word “free” running throughout, a bullet list of benefits (such as the key “FREE Software CD: Intuit QuickBooks Point of Sale 30-Day Trial”), a limited time offer, special offer code and a P.S. that emphasizes all of the above at once.
The top of the letter, however, goes an unusual route by titling the addressed portion with “Shipment Confirmation” and “Status: Ready to ship ***no charge***” and then the crucial “Instructions: Call [toll-free number] to confirm shipment.” Wow. Clever, huh?
The personalization – “Dear [John Doe], We’ve created a FREE Retailer’s Success Kit for [X Studios]. It’s ready to ship right now. May I send it to you?” – is equally clever.
Aw shucks. I was just doing my job.
That’s a pretty insightful review. Ethan hit on many of the carefully conceived features I put into this package to make it work.
He also hints at what I believe to be one of the most important. Look at the last line I quoted above, which is the opening sentence in the letter: “We’ve created a FREE Retailer’s Success Kit for [X Studios]. It’s ready to ship right now. May I send it to you?”
I started out as a salesman. So I learned the “assumptive sell” early on. It works quite well when used with a strong freebie offer like this lead generator. The kit we’re giving away is so packed with good stuff, no one in their right mind would refuse. So I started there, simply assuming every recipient would want it, and turned the package into a “confirmation” notice.
And I have to say, while the first sentence of a letter is usually pretty hard to write (do I tell a story or cite an interesting fact or show empathy or elicit fear or what?), this sort of direct opening is a joy.
Plus, I’ll let you in on a little secret I have for creating lead generation direct mail: I build the whole package around the freebie instead of tacking the offer onto the end like most people do.
Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. That little technique has helped make me pretty successful in the sales lead business.
Actually, this package is full of solid technique: personalization, assumptive sell, strong offer, plain outer envelope, free everything, and … well, I’ll keep a few secrets to myself. I’m not THAT generous with my advice. You have to hire me to get the full monty.