• Jen Haken

A-Z of Copywriting: D – Dare to be Different with your Direct Mail


Words beginning with D

Have you just developed a brand-new thingumajig? Does it have bells and whistles and a really funky looking twiddly bit that makes a cute sound when you, err, twiddle it?


Let’s call your new product the PingBop. It’s perfect for a certain special group of people out there. And one of the best ways to sell it to your target audience is through Direct Mail.


Hey, I think this PingBop could be the next big thing! Would someone please invent it? I want one!


When you need to target a specific audience for a particular product, like your PingBop, that’s when direct marketing tactics are needed. Even in our digital world, traditional methods still work brilliantly.


What is Direct Marketing?


Direct marketing is a highly focused and measurable promotional approach to presenting your product or service. With a variety of methods available, choose from targeted email campaigns and online ads to SMS text messages, flyers and Direct Mail. I’m focusing on the latter.


When you think about Direct Mail, what are the first things that come to mind?


I’m guessing: ‘Boring. Old fashioned. They don’t work. People just chuck ‘em in the bin.’


Not necessarily. Especially if you’ve put some thought into creating something quirky and different. That way, you’ll get noticed and remembered.


Be innovative!


The headline for this blog is: Dare to be Different with your Direct Mail. In fact, you must be daring. And unique. And innovative. If you’re not, your DMs may well end up binned.


When you receive a DM that catches your eye, keep it. Save the ones you like and notice what it is that makes them work. It could be an image, a clever headline, something interactive or funny, or a message that creates a reaction in you, an emotion or desire. Then see if you can apply similar tactics to your DMs.


Careful planning and implementation of your DM campaigns is key. And consider these points:


  • Define your campaign goal. Do you need to sell a new product with a special offer, increase subscriptions, request further information or something else entirely?

  • Create an avatar of who your audience is to help devise a relatable design, message and tone of voice.

  • Decide what format DM to use – postcard, flyer, letter or email.

  • Design the layout – areas for text, graphics and professional images, contact details and logo. Make sure there’s clear space; a page crammed with info is off-putting. The design all contributes to the effectiveness of your campaign.

  • A postcard or flyer needs minimal text. Make sure it’s punchy, clever and eye-catching.

  • Letters and emails can be longer, even six pages long if your product warrants it. But generally, shorter is better.

  • Keep words to a minimum. You want to tempt your audience to act. Remember the AIDA rule – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. So, only include the vital details using emotional, powerful words:

  • Headline – use your main benefit, make it attention grabbing and ideally no more than six words

  • Personalise whenever possible. Make sure you get their name right!

  • Your Offer – make it irresistible and time sensitive to create a sense of urgency.

  • Call to action – what should they do? Read more about CTAs here.

  • Always write the benefits first. Something like: ‘Save valuable time with our upgraded online accounting system.’ Or: ‘Feel cool and confident in our new summer fashion range’. If your features are exceptional and space allows, create a bullet point list further down.

  • Short paragraphs – ideally, two to three sentences. Have separate paragraphs for each point.

  • Maintain interest with a backstory to your product or service, but only if there’s space.

  • Convince new customers how good you are by including customer quotes or testimonials if there’s space!

  • If your offer is on your website, use a specific landing page to help measure the response. You can include more details there. Add a trackable URL – Bitly is a well-known one that’s easy to use.

  • QR Codes are great to use in DMs for tracking where the hits come from.

  • The persuasive postscript! A sales letter or email always needs a PS – many people skip the main content and go straight to that. Summarise the benefit and action required here.

  • Finally, proofread, edit and proofread again.

Often, it’s the third Direct Mail item that gets a response, so don’t give up too soon.


Need inspiring?


Dismiss your previous beliefs about Direct Mail and take a look at these for inspiration.


The fun example below is an Ikea ad used in Sweden. It went viral because it asked female customers to pee on the insert. If they were pregnant, the panel revealed a discount code on one of Ikea’s cots. Ingenious!


Being unique it was really effective. It appealed to a specific customer and encouraged people to become a member for more discounts.




Beat that for innovation!


So, you’ve invented your PingBop. Now you need to invent an intriguing Direct Mail campaign to get people crying out for it. Include a free whistle – probably better than asking people to pee on your ad!


Need any help? Then get in touch. Between you, me and my design associates, we could create something that’s ideal for your products. Either email jen@jennyhaken.co.uk or call me on 07799 648321.