Writing direct mail copy that sells

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You’ve got some great ideas brewing for the design for your marketing communications piece. But the copy is another story – so much to say but such little space!

Don’t fret yet! This is the first in a three-part series of articles that will give you copywriting tips for various marketing communications pieces. We’ll start with writing tips for direct mail copy, and future topics will include:

  • Developing newsletter content and writing articles
  • Writing frequently asked questions (FAQs)

 Getting the low-down

When developing direct mail copy, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself or your client some questions:

  1. Who is the target audience? Are they current customers? Prospects? Do you have any marketing research data about this audience? Is this a business-to-business communication? Or consumer? If b-to-b, what titles are we targeting? Which industries? What problems is the audience trying to solve? If they’re consumers, what do you know about them?
  2. What is the message? In other words, what is this piece trying to sell?
  3. What do you want the audience to do after they see the direct mail piece? What is the call to action?
  4. How does the audience benefit if they respond to the call to action?
  5. What is the contact information?
  6. Are there other marketing communications that work with this direct mail piece (e.g., brochure, ad, Web page)?

There may be other questions you’ll want to ask, depending on the product or service you’re trying to sell with this direct mail piece.

Writing headlines for direct mail

Once you get the basic information nailed down, you can start writing the copy. Often, you’ll want to start with the header and tagline. Then the rest of the copy can flow from there.

Keep direct mail headlines as short as possible, ideally no more than eight or nine words. The best direct mail headlines communicate the overall gist of your message/benefit in a way that’s attention grabbing. The best headlines also tell the audience what’s in it for them. In other words, don’t say you have a great new product; tell them what your great new product will do for them. Look for direct mail pieces with good headers and taglines and save them for your idea file.

Developing the body copy

The body of the direct mail piece is where you can supply more details about the benefits. Keep this copy as short as possible. Most people will only glace at the most compelling direct mail pieces, so use bullet points and subheads to catch their eye. Keep these short too. And remember to focus on how your product or service will benefit the reader. Don’t just list features. Good direct mail copy hits the main points in a concise, bold way.

Prompting your audience to ACT

The most important part of any direct mail piece is the call to action. What do you want the audience to do after seeing the piece? Call? Visit a website to place an order? Take advantage of a discount? Whatever your call to action is, say it concisely and in an eye-catching way. In other words, be bold with your call to action.






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2 thoughts on “Writing direct mail copy that sells

  1. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to
    say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

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