20 ways to increase sales with direct mail letters

1. Adapt letterhead

If you are using company letterhead for direct mail, tailor it to your requirements. The name of the company and the profit of sale should be highlighted. If you want people to email you, the email address needs to stand out. If you want them to call, make the phone number prominent. Use the footer as a place to upsell by drawing attention to a trade association or quality control mark. Keep the legal information as small as possible.

2. Postal responses

Do you want potential customers to respond to you by email? Include a prepaid envelope.

3. Long letters

Don’t be afraid to write long letters (more than one page). Nobody will buy something without enough information to make a decision. Keep selling until you run out of outlets. Every word should be relevant, without rambling.

4. Be friendly

Address your letter to someone you know if possible because it shows you care about who they are. Second best is to target them for their work or interest, for example. ‘Dear dog owner’. The worst greeting is ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.

Sign up in a friendly way. Instead of having a secretary sign the letter on her behalf, sign it yourself. Include your first name and a friendly title. ‘Customer Services Manager’ says that your company cares about its customers.

5. Powerful headlines

At the top of the letter, write a title that communicates the main benefit of the product. It gives the potential customer a reason to keep reading. Keep it clear and simple: think communication, not clever puns.

6. Powerful openings

Grab your reader’s attention. Study magazine and newspaper articles. How do they do that? It works? Use your research. Here is a list of letter openers to get you started:

7. Subtitles

Subtitles make the lyrics digestible. Each subheading must sell the product.

8. Ask for what you want

Don’t beat around the bush. If you want your reader to buy your telenovelas, tell them. If you want them to subscribe, ask them to sign up (and make it super easy). Ask immediately, don’t leave it until the middle of the letter.

9. Talk about benefits

Learn the difference between features and benefits. Instead of saying ‘the X65 mower has a cylinder of sixty rotating blades’ say ‘the X65 mower develops a healthy lawn in a matter of weeks’. Decide what the most important benefit is and put it first. All other benefits follow.

10. Make it personal

Address the reader as if you were sitting next to them. Do it for them and not for you. Every time you write ‘we’ try to change it to ‘you’.

11. Emphasize the important points

Emphasize important words by using bold or underline, but don’t overdo it or you’ll lose the power. Indent to emphasize key paragraphs.

12. Make sure the lyrics flow

Gently guide the reader from one point to another. The sentences must be linked (‘what is more…’, ‘but…’) and the ideas must be arranged in a logical order.

13. Incite the reader to act

Your letter should end with a ‘call to action’. Now (hopefully!) you’ve convinced the reader to make it easier for them to act. Don’t complicate it by providing lots of alternatives that involve decisions. Give an incentive too: ‘respond before August 20 and you will receive a free watch’.

14. Provide reinsurance

Make sure the reader knows they can’t lose. For example, say that you will not accept payment until the product has been shipped or that you will not be charged for 60 days.

15. Use a PS

When you receive a letter, do your eyes go directly to the PS? The same goes for your reader. There should be a new ‘just remembered’ perk here to seal the sale.

16. Make it a package

You don’t have to send a letter by itself. A creative package is likely to generate a higher response rate. You can include a sample of your product or a promotional item that will be a constant reminder of your company, for example. a coaster for drinks or a pen.

17. Includes a response device

Prepaid postcards with checkboxes make life easier for potential customers. If you can print your name and address for them, all the better. Reassure people that a salesperson will not call and that they are under no obligation to buy.

18. Includes a backrest

Feedback from happy customers is very helpful, as are market research statistics: “85% of our customers have used us for more than 2 years.” Always be truthful. Never be tempted to lie; doing so deceives your customers and undermines your reputation.

19. Engage the reader

Ask rhetorical questions: ‘What would you do if…? Write questions potential customers might ask and answer them: ‘How much will it cost?’ Give an example of a company or individual who reaped the benefits of your product: ‘When James & Son bought our product, they cut their production costs in half in one week.’

20. Overcome objections

Make a list of all the possible reasons why your customer might not have to buy. Decide how you would respond to these objections and put them in your letter. For example: ‘I can’t pay it now’ could be resolved with an easy payment plan. If you think people will want to compare offers with other providers, provide a comparison chart.

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