It’s unfortunate how awful some direct mail campaigns are.
Bland, gimmicky postcards that flash catch phrases like “FREE MONEY” and “WIN CASH NOW” fall flat, both physically and fiscally. They don’t elicit a visceral emotional response from their audience. You know what a lack of emotional response gets your direct mail campaign? The deep dark depths of the nearest trash bin.
Need some inspiration to shake up your direct mail campaign and make your message stick? Look no further.
Use Fear To Make Your Direct Mail Message Stick
Fear is one of the most primal motivators of human behavior. People will invest more effort into avoiding and removing fear than they will to gain something they desire. To use fear in your direct mail campaign, you must first identify a specific threat, like the fear of missing out. Then, offer your product or service as the best solution.
Fear was exactly the emotional response that customers of the wholesale insurance broker Mercator experienced when they opened a large, innocuous white envelope from the company. When they tugged on the upper edge of what appeared to be a black postcard, a full-size cutout of a menacing burglar dressed in black and wearing a mask unfolded an inch at a time.
The 2-D assailant held a sign that read, “It’s that easy to get into your house.” It was followed by a note asking how well the recipient thought they were insured — in the case of a burglary or a casualty caused by one. Even though this kind of direct mail sneak attack isn’t for everyone, their message of fear was definitely effective.
In a random poll, many people responded with shock and outrage at the company’s direct mail campaign. They couldn’t believe a company would try to use fear tactics to convince them they needed a product.
But on the whole, the ad struck an obvious chord — 38% of responders across a broad demographic stated that they would absolutely call the company. Some called it “chillingly effective.” Most direct mail campaigns are considered effective, with a 1-2% response rate. Over a third of respondents committed to connect with the insurance broker, and the campaign was an obvious success, despite its controversial nature.
Shake Things Up To Stay Memorable
The response to Mercator’s burglar campaign may have been intense, and 62% of respondents reacting negatively. But science confirms that shaking things up with your prospects may be the key to memorability.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, fear-inspiring events leave the kinds of memories that not only stick, but that are so strong they are remembered longer and more intensely.
The good news is, you don’t have to give your prospects a heart attack to be memorable. The same part of your brain that turns scary events into memories is also responsible for linking all emotional perception with experience. This means all you have to do is incite an emotional response — any emotional response. But overall, fear, guilt, anger, and exclusivity are the most effective emotions to elicit in marketing.
Give Them Something They Can Feel
I know what you’re thinking: “Thanks for the biology lesson. But what the heck does this have to do with my marketing?”
To get your prospects to act, you need to apply the science behind Mercator’s fear tactic to your marketing campaign. Just avoid the pop-up villains. The goal is to get your prospects to experience a high emotional response. This response that will cause them to form a long-term memory and a personal connection with you.
An emotional reaction — fear-provoked or otherwise — will help them remember you. That personal connection will make them more likely to reach out and investigate your products and services.
The key is to take the focus off your business. Shine the spotlight on your audience and their reactions to events. Instead of focusing on what you have to offer, focus on how your offer will impact your consumers.
What experience can you deliver that will cause them to have an intense emotional response?
The answer to that question might very well lie in the stories of your customers who have already experienced success with your products or services. Consider what made them purchase your product in the first place and what problem you solved in their lives. Then, present that problem in a very big way to make your audience feel. You have to tell a story; you have to make it real.
With or without the use of a burglar, the one-two punch of an extreme emotional response is exactly what you need to create an engaging and profitable direct mail campaign.
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