Direct Marketing

Direct Mail

Direct marketing is distinguished from other types of marketing in that the message is sent directly to the consumer and that it is focused on driving purchases that can be attributed to a specific “call-to-action.” One of the most common forms of direct marketing is direct mail: paper mail is sent to customers on a list or within a certain postal area.

Direct mail pieces come in many formats from a single post card to an envelope containing several pieces. There are typically five components to a direct mail piece: the outer envelope, the letter, the brochure, the reply form and the reply envelope. It is important to keep a unified message throughout all components, and follow through on any promises your materials may make.

Direct Mail Components

The objective of the outer envelope is to:

  • Grab attention
  • Get opened
  • Set the tone
  • Start the “selling” process

The letter, along with being “reader-friendly,” is the way to draw the reader in. Use descriptive language and imagery to form a strong emotional connection with your reader. If you’ve done a good job of this, it will keep that reader engaged, no matter how long your mailing may be. The letter should incorporate the following for maximum readability:

  • Subheads
  • Bullets
  • Indents
  • Serif type (in a readable size, such as 12 point)
  • Underlined text when appropriate
  • Wide margins
  • A P.S. to restate your point

A brochure can add credibility and gives you additional space to tell your story. Keep the requirements of the letter in mind when you decide to use a brochure as part of or as your whole direct mail piece. It’s nice to have a beautifully designed piece, but functionality is paramount: if people can’t read it, it will join the pile in the trashcan. Some important tips:

  • Use exciting, colorful images
  • Put the most important content to the place where our eyes are naturally drawn – the right, upper corner of the page
  • Write concise and compelling copy to accompany your compelling images 

Now that your envelope got attention, set the tone and got opened; and your letter and brochure convinced the prospect to give, buy, order or attend; it’s now up to the reply form to get the job done. Remember:

  • Keep it simple
  • Restate your case
  • Test ticket packages
  • Test event pricing/combos
  • Attempt to get the subscriber to upgrade

The reply envelope provides another chance for you to restate your case and/or create a sense of urgency: “Rush!,” “New member – process immediately!” It is common practice to pay for postage for prospects, but not for current subscribers/donors. Even if you do provide postage, you can always ask for an extra gift to help make you and your organization grow in the future.