Showstoppers and the One-Two Punch

What makes a direct mail package a success? It’s usually a combination of elements. Marketers and copywriters tend (rightfully so) to spend the most time developing the big idea and writing the perfect headline and lead for a letter. But two components are often relegated to being afterthoughts.

•    Your outer envelope should be a showstopper.

•    The order device should pack a one-two punch to close the deal.

By showstoppers on the outer envelope, I mean six to eight graphic elements, each worth about a half a second of gazing time so the recipient pauses and looks more closely at the envelope. That extra involvement of a half a second per showstopper could mean three to four seconds of additional time that gets the reader more involved and inside. Showstopper ideas include:

•    Vivid colors and design
•    Tactile texture
•    Emblems (both front and on the flap)
•    Official-looking indicia
•    Handwriting fonts (Marydale Bold is a reliable choice)
•    Strong teaser copy
•    Personalization

Then there is the order device. Now, think about yourself: when you open an envelope, what’s the first component you look at? For many, it’s the order device. But these days, it’s my observation that many direct mail packages no longer include an order device (or what’s there is weak). Perhaps it’s a belief from direct marketers that the printing expense can be saved, since most of the time a prospect is being driven to the Web to complete the transaction. But a strong order device visually communicates something to the recipient.

An order device can be powerfully positioned to command attention and close the sale. Here are a few reminders about what you should include on your order device:

•    Re-use (or modify) the killer headline you’ve created for your letter
•    State (or restate) your guarantee
•    Specify pricing and terms (the order device serves as a contract of sorts)
•    Clearly state how to order
•    Add urgency to close the deal (if you fail, the recipient sets your package aside for another time, which often never comes)

Typically, when creating a new direct mail package, I start by developing these two components. They may not initially seem as interesting to develop as other items in the total package, but they may very well be the two most important items you spend time creating.

This article first appeared in Today @ Target Marketing Magazine.



Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.