7 tips for creating standout direct mail copy

Direct mail copy can be difficult to master. Fortunately, there are a few principles of writing direct mail copy that have stood the test of time. Here are seven of them.

Direct mail marketing is a challenging field to be in these days. Not only are direct mail marketers up against advertising on digital channels (and everywhere else), but we’re also constantly competing with consumers’ ever-shrinking attention spans.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your direct mail copy stands out – so that your mailpiece won’t just grab customers’ attention, but convince them to act quickly.

Here are seven tips for creating copy that will set your direct mail piece apart and help you achieve your marketing objectives:

  • Be concise. Every word counts in a direct mail marketing piece, so keep your copy fluff-free. Quickly spell out your offer, its value, how it differs from the competition, why readers should believe your claim and how they should respond.
  • Be specific. Sharpen copy with precise language. Don’t just say your product will help the recipient save money, but give a dollar figure instead. Also, be sure to give ultra-specific instructions when it comes to the call-to-action. Let the reader know exactly how he or she can learn more, purchase your product, etc.
  • Don’t bury important info. Highlight key points using headlines, subheads, indentations or bullet points. Italics, bold type or different color text can also work to draw attention to certain points, but use these tricks sparingly to maintain a professional look. Reinforce particularly important or enticing points using a postscript underneath the signature in a sales letter.
  • Engage readers. Your piece is like a printed salesperson, and it should sound like it’s coming from a human and not a robot. Keep the tone conversational and focus on the reader, using “you” more than “I” or “we.”
  • Avoid jargon. Although you are a guru in your vertical, your end users probably are not. Going forward, it’s mission-critical to leverage language that your target audience can understand to move the needle.
    Translation: While you may be an expert in your industry, it’s likely that your customers are not. With this, it’s important to use language that your customers can understand to see results.

    See how much better that was the second time around? Using jargon in your direct mail copy can take away from your message, confuse readers and ultimately hurt your return. Whatever your industry, use words that are clear and digestible for audiences of all ages, backgrounds and occupations.

  • Explain, don’t list. It’s not enough to simply list the features of your product or service. Rather, show readers what’s in it for them by clearly explaining the benefits of choosing your product. The goal is to appeal to prospective customers emotionally, through their needs, fears or desires. To point # 3, consider putting your benefit statement right in the headline.
    Another point to remember: the benefits of one product might vary by customer segment, so plan to craft separate messages to address different needs.
  • Use hard-working language. Your space is limited, so use words that will carry some extra weight. Words like “free,” “save,” “new,” “sale,” “exclusive,” “finally,” “at last” and “guarantee” are attention-grabbing and proven to help motivate readers. Use expiration dates, as well as language like “call now” and “limited time offer” to create a sense of urgency.

As you craft copy for your next direct mail piece, keep these seven tips in mind. Focus on writing clear, informative copy that’s free of fluff or jargon – and as long as your offer is relevant and appealing, you should see a return on your investment.

Happy writing!

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