A Guide to Direct Mail



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(1) Is DM for you?

(2) Choosing your list

(3) The Offer

(4) Call to Action

(5) The Package

>>Introduction<<
The Outer Envelope
The Letter
The Brochure
The Order Form
The Return Envelope
The Self-mailer
Your Printer

(6) The Copy

(7) Testing

(8) Tracking

History of DM
Links


Contents
Two kinds of mailers
Don't sweat the small stuff
The pieces of the mailer

Two kinds of mailers
Broadly speaking there are two kinds of mail pieces. One is called the traditional five piece direct mail package, and the other is a self mailer. Now obviously there are dozens and dozens of variations on each of these and five piece mailings don't necessarily have five pieces but the idea is still very useful way to think of different kinds of direct mail pieces.

Let's start with that traditional five piece direct mailer. This has been a mainstay of the industry for the longest time. The five pieces traditionally consisted of a number ten other envelope which was the envelope that the rest of the mailing came in, a letter, a brochure, an order form, and number nine reply envelope. So the idea was that a prospect would get the package in the mail open up and they would read the letter first. The letter is traditionally thought of as the salesman - the item that actually sells the prospect on the goods or servce. If the letters a salesman, then he typically leaves behind a a brochure when he finsihes talking to you. That's where the brochure comes in. The order form is generally thought of as the closer. That's why most order forms start off with a check box that says in big letters YES, SEND ME A PINK POTATOE PEELER FOR JUST $9.95. The prospect puts the order form in a #9 reply envelope and mails it back from whence it came, and you have an order.

Don't sweat the small stuff
You can't imagine how much research how many billions of pieces of mail have been mailed testing different elements of different ways to the package each of these pieces the amount of research out there is absolutely staggering. For instance let's just look at one tiny tiny part of a direct mail letter - the very end of the letter where there's some closing words, then a comma, then a signititure then a title. Like "sincerely, Bob Jones, Preseidnt". A tiny tiny part of the letter, right. How could anything matter less. But there is tons of research on this. First off there's research which explores which word you should use: Sincerely, cordially, respectfully yours, and so on. It turns out that which word you use has a measurable effect on the response rate of the mailer Then let's talk about the signature. If the signatures is in blue ink and the letter is typed in black ink that typically draws better than that the signatures in black. I guess the thinking is that it looks more like a real signature. Of course printing two colors blue and black on the letter cost more than printing in one and so people have to do the calculation. Then comes to the question of what title should be under the name the signs that should be a president should be a vice president of marketing should be a salesperson and so on. Finally the name that's assigned on the letter the gender or that the ethnicity, the legibility of these signature, and so on. All of these factors have been tested over and over again.

It is easy to get caught up in all of this. But these things really don't' matter all that much. If you are readers digest and mailing 50 million pieces of mail - then it really matters, But at the scale you are probably doing your mailing, you shouldn't really focus on these thing.

The pieces of the mailer
Having said that, however, let's take some time and look at each elelment of the 5 piece mailing and talk about some general tips for making each one work as well as it can. Let's also disucss the self mailer and how to make it as effective as pssobible.

Five-piece mailer:
The Outer Envelope
The Letter
The Brochure
The Order Form
The Return Envelope

The self-mailer:
The Self-mailer