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10 Ways to Prevent Direct Mail from Stinking

Today, some of the most innovative and effective advertising is delivered through the mail. More and more business owners are reaping the rewards of direct mail when their campaigns are thoughtfully designed with a real strategy in mind.
How do you create a direct mail campaign that brings in results? Consider these 10 tips.

  1. Explore what works visually (and what doesn’t). The next time you go through your mail, examine what catches your attention and what repels you.
  2. Instead of “see and say” visuals, play to your prospects’ intelligence. With a creative headline and visual, entice your audience to complete a story in their minds of how your product or service solves a problem they have.
  3. Provide the decision-making information your audience needs. A knowledgeable consumer is more willing to make a purchase.
  4. Adopt a data-first approach. Consider demographics to identify the right prospects for your direct mail campaign for better response rates.
  5. Don’t overpromise. Tell the truth. Your strengths will seem even greater, and creates a sense of honesty and trust.
  6. Do tell prospects what you want them to do. Know exactly what action you want your mail piece to elicit, and then ask for it.
  7. Consider the format. Postcards or self-mailers are an effective medium for most products. However, a letter is a more appropriate for large sales and financial services direct mail.
  8. Think color. Color often gets more attention than black and white. Choose colors based on the corporate image, product and the feelings they elicit.
  9. Make it personal. Personalization in text and art areas creates a sense of familiarity, emphasizes the prospect’s importance to your business and their interest in offering.
  10. Mail it right. First-class, presort, live stamp or indicia are just a few options. Think about your prospects, the value of your product, as well as time sensitivity.

Personalized, relevant, and well-executed direct mail continues to be an effective channel to yield excellent results for your business. And be prepared to follow through when you get a bite. Happy fishing! And while I can’t vouch for the ROI on the Fishmail foam fish mailing pictured, I can talk about the success of direct mail campaigns we’ve created for our clients.


Austin Williams is an outcomes-driven full service advertising, marketing, digital and public relations agency, creating ideas that inspire action for clients in healthcare, higher education, financial services, nonprofits and professional services.


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