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12 Direct Response Marketing Tips

Author: Jeffrey Dobkin   |   August 5th, 2010

Didn’t get the response you wanted on your last direct mail campaign? Here are 12 marketing tips to help increase response.

Start by writing your objective in the upper right hand corner of a blank sheet of paper.  Then write your direct mail marketing letter to achieve this objective.

Is your objective to generate further interest in your product or service?  Generate a phone call?  Have customers place orders by direct mail or phone?  Generate phone calls for inquiries or product sales?  Fill in the BRE for a follow up sales call?  In store visit?  Whatever your objectives, state them in writing – then draft your letter to fulfill those objectives.

1. Include copy in the Johnson Box. This is the hot spot to begin your direct mail letter.  This small are is 2” x 3” above the salutation but across the page on the right hand side.  Include one or direct response marketingtwo lines flush right – to highlight your offer, pitch your best benefit, or for teaser copy to make the reader read the rest of the letter.

2. The salutation: salutation should be as personal as possible without the danger of turning anyone away.  This is a high risk area, if it’s too far off readers won’t identify with it.  So better safe than sorry here.  Be as personal as you can but don’t take chances.

Examples would be “Dear Motorcycle Enthusiasts”  “Dear Colleagues” “Dear Pet Lovers”.

Also, adding “and Friends” can increase familiarity and loyalty.  “Dear Neighbors and Friends”  “Dear Dog Owners and Friends”

3. Write benefit-packed direct mail marketing letter copy. Show your best stuff first – why wait till you lose them?  Then immediately expand on the biggest and best benefit.

4. Don’t try to write your direct mail letter in a few minutes. Don’t forget – this really isn’t a letter – it’s a highly stylized ad designed to look like a letter.

Like any good ad, a polished letter takes hours to create – both write and design.  You can’t dash it off like the letter you write to grandma every Thanksgiving to make sure she remembers you at Christmas or Hanukkah.

It takes me 5 to 8 hours to write and design a clean, crisp one page direct mail letter; more if I’m hung over.  If it takes you less, let’s compare notes.  No, no TV on, either – even if it is on only in the background.

5. Make it look like a real letter — the personal medium that it really is.  Use typewriter style type (Courier).  Include a personal salutation.  Use an informal writing style.  Short words – like you’re writing to a friend.  You are.  Sentence fragments are OK.  This isn’t English class, and the only grade you receive is by readers placing orders… or not placing orders.  Your choice.

6. Design your direct mail advertising letter to look easy to read, even if it isn’t. A well designed direct mail letter increases readership and response. Use lots of white space and direct the eye flow of the reader, don’t leave it to chance or let your computer design it for you.

Use a short one or two line opening paragraph.

Like this.

See how it commands attention.

Indent the first line of all paragraphs.  No paragraph over 7 lines.  Vary paragraph length.  FLRR, never ever justify the type.  Bullet list in the center. Foreshortened paragraph in the body for added visual interest.

7. Accent words you want readers to read, and what you want them to do. Use sparingly: bold, italics, underscore, caps, marginal words. Accent action words always pointing at the phone number and asking readers to call now.

8. A bulleted list of benefits in the center paragraph gets high readership. Visually stimulating letters work best, and everyone reads a short bulleted list.  It can’t hurt to have the last bullet-point ask for the order, or for readers to call right now.

Best Marketing Tip #9. Call to action early… and often. Soft sell of the product, show the benefits, and sell the phone call hard – this is the secret for success in direct mail marketing.  Ask for the order and the call several times – if you don’t get a call, nothing else matters.  If a person calls, your letter is a complete success.  It did everything you asked it to do.  Then it’s YOUR turn to persuade the caller to become a customer.

10. Sign legibly. This adds credibility.

11. Include a PS. Busy people know the best parts of the offer are often repeated in the PS – make this last shot a response-generator, call-getting, order clincher.  Give your best feature and biggest benefit then make your offer sound irresistible. And ask for readers to call you again.  Give the phone number again, too. Yes, right there in the text of the PS.  Yes, I know it’s in the masthead.

Sure, people know it’s not a personal letter.  But if it’s done well, they’ll somehow overlook that and let you into their hearts and minds. If you’re really good, they’ll also follow by letting you into their wallets.  If your direct mail letter shows them some hard hitting benefits that strike home it will show up here: your telephone will ring.  It’s easy to tell when your letter is successful in direct mail marketing: your phone rings.

Now here’s the 12th tip: it’s the Jeff Dobkin $1 idea. Dobkin’s best copywriting trick of all time, and the best copywriting trick you’ve ever learned in your entire life!

Go back go back and cross out your first sentence.  No, don’t pay me for this idea now, just send me $1 every time you use this.  Having a bad day?  Go back and cross out your first paragraph.  Still… a bargain at just $1!  Better letters = greater response = more revenue, make yours a winner.

Only in direct marketing can you send a personal note to 10,000 or 10,000,000 of your closest friends.  Show them reasons why they should order from you, and they will.


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