Open That Letter!

August 15th, 2008 No Comments

How to get your customers to read your message.

It’s the biggest problem in Direct Mail. How do you get people to open and read your letter? In this article, we’ll discuss some of the various techniques used.

The first thing you have to do is stand out in the mailbox. There are a lot of ways to do this.

An unusual size envelope can be a good attention getter. Using a 6×9 envelope, or a #9 instead of a #10 envelope will make your letter different. You will stick out from the crowd. You have to be careful in playing too much with size. Non-standard envelopes cost more. If you get too large, or make your sizes out of proportion, the USPS will charge you a non-automation penalty, or worse.

Everyone loves pictures. A cute cartoon, exciting photo, or even an unusual logo can sometimes be enough to catch your prospect’s eye and draw them in. Color is a close relative. While the right black and white photo can be just the dramatic touch you need, there are a lot more choices with color.

So you can play with size, and add photos. What about envelope color? A light blue or yellow envelope will certainly be different from most of what they’re looking at. While most colored envelopes are more expensive than white, they’re a lot cheaper than 4-color printing of photographs. A manila envelope (the tan “official mail” ones), can be effective too.

On the more artful side, there are a lot of things you can do to make your letter appear more “personal”. This can often be much cheaper than the bold techniques previously discussed. Using a handwriting font for the mailing address is a good start. If your mailer can apply pre-cancelled stamps instead of a postal indicia, that can help too. These allow you to have a stamp on the letter, but still pay the bulk postage rates. Selecting an invitation or greeting card style envelope can work well with this strategy.

Before you go too far, you need to make a critical decision. You must choose, up front, whether you’re going to go for the flashy or the subtle approach and stick to it. You can mix techniques some (perhaps using color with a handwriting font to make it look like an ink pen), but if you go too far, you’ll just turn off your prospect. That’s the biggest challenge. Finding the right balance between building interest and looking like a scrapbook (assuming you aren’t in the scrapbook business).

We hope this has given you some ideas. Remember, the best tool in your arsenal is your individuality. By using your own creativity, you can come up with something that will be truly different, and therefore effective.

Have fun!

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