Essential Elements That Can Make or Break Your
Direct Marketing Campaign
Welcome to Direct Marketing 101. Your instructor,
René Gnam, is a leading authority in the direct
marketing industry. Gnam presented these 18
Essential Elements during a seminar at a Florida
Direct Marketing Days event. Take notes. You will be
tested, over and over again, in the years to come.
1. A terrific product or service is absolutely
essential. Otherwise, people won't return to buy
from you again.
An important direct marketing concept: the back end
is more important than the front end. In other
words, getting your customers to buy from you again
is most important and you won't get them back unless
you have a terrific product or service. If your
product or service can stand on its own without a
lot of hype, you will get repeat customers.
2. The lists you choose can make or break your
How can you possibly create a successful mailing
without knowing who you are mailing to?!? You must
know their thoughts, dreams, and goals. Know their
demographics (how they are) and psychographics (how
they would like to be). And when you write copy to
them, write to them expressing the way they would
like to be, not how they really are.
Most people want more out of life than work and
their paycheck. Promise them more in your direct
mail piece. In addition, choose lists that can grow
with you. Select vital lists that can return
repeaters to you and you will do so much better in
3. The offer you use can dramatically increase your
Too many of us use the same offer over and over
again. Good offers to good lists are two key
elements to the success of a mailing package. Test
your new offer even with the lists you've been using
all along and your results should go up.
4. In creative work, copywriting skills are vital.
Art attracts but COPY SELLS.
Concentrate on the correct copy for the appropriate
audience. Proselytize them with the appropriate
offer and then you've got a good, strong package.
Your wording must appeal to the reader by informing,
persuading, cajoling, convincing and motivating the
There are only three types of people to whom you
mail. They are:
Those who will buy from you.
Those who won't buy from you.
Those who might, but they need a little push in your
If you get argumentative in your copy, you turn off
all those who will buy from you. Concentrate on the
in-between group with your copy. Inform, persuade,
motivate and inspire them.
5. Good design should lead the eye. It should not
dominate the display.
The design does not sell -- even if you're selling
Caribbean vacations. Art attracts, explains and
enhances, and good art will let the copy make the
Write the copy first. Design once you know how long
the copy is, when you know the key copy points, and
once you know to whom it is going. Design follows
copy, and then design gets the reader hooked and
leads the reader to respond by using the response
form. In all instances, do not have your art display
dominate your mailing package. You want the reader
to understand everything the first time it is read.
If the reader has to read it twice you lost him!
6. Format selection influences the reader's
A self-mailer (one not mailed in an envelope) allows
for fast decisions. Your prospect may feel a self
mailer is a bulletin, an announcement or an
annoyance: "Let me glance at this and throw it
away." The reader doesn't pick it up with the idea
of reading every word but rather "do I want to get
rid of this?" The reader has 17+ pieces of direct
mail on his desk each day and he needs to get rid of
Produce your self mailer with a powerful headline
and design it in a way that traps the reader. Then,
the reader thinks: "Oh, I can make a fast decision."
A mailer in an envelope is more complicated. The
reader may think: "there's a lot of stuff in that
envelope and I don't know if I have time for it." So
it may be set aside. Then it gets piled on and the
mailing package may never be seen. An envelope
mailer is okay, but not when it says to someone,
"It's going to take two hours to read this thing!"
That's how you lose readers.
7. Proper timing is essential.
You need to reach prospects at a time that is
convenient for them. Mail to people at a time when
they're not grossly involved - like their busy
season - and when they've got the time to read your
8. Budget restrictions can severely hamper results.
Saving a few pennies per thousand may mean you
create the wrong impression on your audience. What
you want to do is test with the most powerful
presentation possible. If the test is successful,
then the second time you mail, modify the expense on
the new package (B) and test against the more
expensive one (A). This will help you see if B, at
the reduced cost, pulls as well as A, at the higher
9. You must take advantage of A/B split testing.
Never, ever mass mail without doing some split
testing. The point is to get information back that
you can use in the next mailing.
10. Segmented marketing can achieve very high
responses for you.
Select a segment of names from a database and mail
them a given proposition. When you are selling the
same product to different groups (clusters) it is
important to use a different approach, touting
different benefits. Remember to treat each cluster
11. Tailor your mail to an individual prospect.
Tailored mail PULLS BEST because it talks to the
reader as an individual. When tailoring mail, you
must change more than a couple of headlines. The
first few paragraphs of the letter could be
different to suit a specific reader's interest.
In addition, tailoring means the order form will be
composed with different benefits on it. The outgoing
envelope or headline portion of a self-mailer will
also speak right to the reader's interests. When you
tailor your mail to the specific interests of the
reader, you will pull far better.
12. Personalization pays.
This includes personalized reply cards and letters
which will ALWAYS outpull non-personalized mailings.
But, you have to be sure to use personalization in a
natural way. Don't personalize so that every
paragraph has a personal message. It's a turn off
and makes people think you're scamming them.
If you are personalizing, you must take very special
care to talk with your computer programmers and
inform them that you are personalizing the mail.
Otherwise, mistakes are made.
13. Options put your prospects in a power position.
If you don't offer the reader options, you don't
pull as well as if you do offer options. Once you
get the reader to pick up a pen to choose an option,
you've got him. The more options you put in, the
more you pre-qualify the recipient.
14. Urgency lifts your total response.
If the reader sets aside your mail piece for later,
it will not be read again. Give a deadline to force
the reader to read it and make the deadline as
specific as possible. For contests, sweepstakes,
lotteries, or prize drawings in which the prospect
must qualify, use the time of day, along with the
day and date. The more specific the deadline, the
better the pull.
15. Risk relievers, such as guarantees or
warranties, build confidence.
Your prospects are tired of a rip-off society.
Guarantees and warranties need to be highly specific
and point out why it is appropriate for the reader
to deal with you.
Double guarantees out-pull single guarantees. So,
try this Gnamism: If one works, try two. If two
work, try more. It may increase your response
16. Use reinforcers, such as testimonials and case
histories, which state your product or service is
really the best.
If someone else says you're great, that's better
than you saying you're great.
17. Benefits are better than features and are more
important than features.
People buy benefits. They don't buy features. They
use the features to rationalize the benefits. And
there must be more than one benefit. A smart
marketer sets his/her product apart from all others
by promoting benefits.
18. The response command.
Telling someone to do something works better than
assuming the prospect knows what to do. For example,
the outside of an envelope should say "Open Now" or
"Look Inside." Once inside, tell them to fill out
the order form and fax it back. Here's where you
need to push a little.
from Direct Marketing Magazine by Debra Ray, editor.
Increase response rates with accurate email addresses
Get a mailing list that practically pays for itself
Find your marketing solutions in the Melissa Data catalog