The 10 Rules of Direct Mail

In a world dominated by text messages and email, direct mail is a great way for you to connect with your clients on a more physical level (no, not that kind of physical, the kind that places your direct mail piece physically into their hands).


But if you’re thinking, “I’ve tried direct mail in the past, it was a total waste of time and money!” You probably didn’t do it right. When sending out a direct mail campaign, there are ten rules you need to follow if you want to see results.

1. Be unique! Okay, I think we’ve effectively pounded this into your head over the past few days. But the bottom line is this; if you want your piece to be effective, it needs to be unique!

2. Find your purpose. Your mailer should have one single purpose. Why? Because you can’t realistically expect your readers to do more than one thing (i.e. enter a code, download a report, call your office, and check out your website, etc.), they just won’t do it.

3. Give them options. Your mailer should have one purpose, but several ways of going about it. Bear with me. If you tell your reader to contact you via email, but they’re not anywhere near a computer, they’ll inevitably put it off until later, and even more inevitably forget about you altogether. You need to give them the option to contact you however they see fit; phone, email, owl—whatever it takes.

4. Be an ROI guy. Don’t waste time worrying about how many people responded or how much postage you spent, the only thing that matters is your ROI. Did you get any new leads or sign up any new clients? Did your direct mail campaign achieve its goal?

5. Try and try again. When it comes to direct mail, there is no magic formula. Different people are more apt to respond to different things. So, if your first campaign didn’t do well, change it up and try again! Something as miniscule as the age of the people in the stock photo you used in the design can seriously affect your response rate.

6. Mail more than once. One mailer is not a campaign, it’s a test. In fact, the rule of seven claims that a prospective client has to see something at least seven times before they can be convinced to, not buy, but even look at what you’re selling. So don’t be surprised if your first attempt doesn’t garner any response. Your response rate should increase with each mailing.

7. Don’t forget your call to action! Don’t assume that your readers will magically know what to do after they’re received your mailer. You need to tell them (very clearly) what you want them to do. Otherwise, you got it, they won’t do anything at all.

8. Make your mailers recognizable. That means keeping a common element throughout the entire campaign. By the time your clients receive their third piece, they should recognize that it’s yours. Even more so, they should know to expect something worthwhile inside and look forward to reading it.

9. Add a personal touch. Bulk mail stamps and generic salutations (To Whom it May Concern,) scream “junk mail,” and junk mail doesn’t get read. If you want your readers to actual read your mailer, consider investing in funky stamps and hand addressing the envelope. Your response rate is guaranteed to skyrocket.

10. Do more than direct mail. Don’t get me wrong, direct mail is an amazing tool—but it’s not a single solution. You need to tie in that marketing message across several different media venues. Then, and only then, will you see the responses you’ve been hoping for.

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