6 Tips for Prospecting with Direct Mail

Last week, I gave you five reasons why prospecting with direct mail is an excellent way to reach potential clients.

In this article, I’m going to give you six tips on how to use direct mail to prospect for new clients.

#1. Focus on highly targeted, high-probability prospects.

Instead of sending a mailing to a list of 10,000 people, you want to be very, very focused. Cherry-pick the prospects you’re going to send your mailing to. They should be your best potential clients — your dream clients.

Let me give you an example.

I know a copywriter who was putting together a direct-mail campaign to promote her services. She focuses on big-name speakers who do highly paid motivational speeches to large groups.

One of her specialties is writing sales pages. So she wrote a sales letter where she made a special offer for tips on how to write a speaker sales page.

She sent it out only to the professional speakers who were her top prospects. It was very targeted, and as a result, very successful.

You can do the same thing. Find a very targeted group of prospects that are high-probability prospects for you.

Tailor your message specifically to them. Don’t send a letter that is suitable across multiple industries, because then it becomes too general and you dilute your message and it won’t be as effective.

Write a direct-mail piece that appeals to your prospects’ specific needs. Your piece will get their attention, and you’ll land more clients.

Now, you want your list to be very targeted, however …

#2. Send out at least 100 pieces.

I was talking to a copywriter a couple of weeks ago who said she had sent out 16 letters and nothing much happened. I’m not surprised.

That’s not nearly enough!

I recommend creating a list of at least 100 prospects, and mail your letter or postcard to that list. With 100 names, you’ll get a better indication of whether or not direct mail is going to work for you.

Typically, a 2% response to direct mail is a good response. So, if you get two or three responses from 100 names, you’ll know direct mail is going to work with your target audience.

If you do one or two mailings of 100 or more pieces each, and get a response or two, you’ve got a winner!

#3. Personalize it.

Never send out a sales letter or a postcard that simply says, “Dear Marketing Director” or “Dear Business Owner.” You need to research each company so you know the full name and title of your prospect.

You want to be able to say, “Dear Margaret McKavitch, VP of Marketing.” You want to know their name, their proper title, and you want to address your postcard or letter to that specific person.

#4. Make it memorable.

There are two ways you can do this.

First, you can make a great offer. For example, you can offer a special report, such as Seven Tips for Writing a Sizzling Sales Page, a bundle of articles, or a tip sheet.

Make sure it’s something that’s memorable, because even if they don’t request it, they’ll remember it. If you follow up later on, you can say, “Hi, I’m that person who sent you the letter last week that offered you the free report on writing the sizzling sales page.”

A second option is to use a gimmick. By gimmick, I mean something in the letter that grabs attention.

I heard a story years ago of a copywriter who sent out a direct-mail letter. Inside the envelope was a little bag with some sawdust and a couple of small nails.

His letter said something to the effect of, “My dad wanted me to be a carpenter, but I wanted to be a writer so I’m giving it a go. Here’s my introduction to you.”

It was memorable because he had the sawdust and nails inside the letter. It’s impossible not to remember that letter!

When that copywriter followed up with a phone call a week later, the prospect remembered him instantly.

They had something fun to talk about. He said, “I’m the guy who sent you the nails and sawdust, whose dad wanted him to be a carpenter.” It breaks the ice and gets the conversation started.

Try putting something memorable into your letter. It can be a great offer or it can be a gimmick. You’ve got to use your imagination here a little bit, but if you do, it can make your direct-mail piece much more effective.

#5. Don’t forget the envelope copy.

When sending out your letter, don’t send an envelope with just an address on it. Put some text on the envelope — something that will grab their attention.

I remember years ago I used to send a blank envelope, with nothing on the envelope. You had to open it up to figure out what was inside. It used to work pretty well. But I think these days, things have changed.

Communications have become more visual. To get that envelope opened, you need to have something interesting on the envelope. I used a sales letter a couple of years ago that actually said on the envelope, “Inside is a terrific example of a direct-mail sales letter. Feel free to use it as a model.”

I was bragging a bit, because I’m saying my letter is a terrific example of a sales letter. But it was a terrific example because it worked!

It was a way to pique the marketing director’s attention and get him or her to open up the letter. In fact, I probably got a 100% open rate on that letter.

#6. Your best copywriting.

Make sure whatever you send is well written. That goes without saying. They're hiring your copywriting services, you want to make sure the copywriting for your own materials is exceptional. It should be strategic and persuasive.

Make it a showcase of your best copywriting, because a prospect will judge you by the promotional materials for your own business.

In fact, they may be motivated to call you because they’re so impressed with the letter that you sent them!

Those are my tips for prospecting with direct mail.

Use a highly targeted list, mail at least 100 names, make sure your letter or postcard is personalized, put something in the letter that makes it memorable, put text on the envelope, and make sure the letter or postcard is well written.

Use these tips for your direct mail prospecting and see how well it can work for you!

This article, 6 Tips for Prospecting with Direct Mail was originally published by B2B Writing Success.

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Published: June 8, 2017

1 Response to “6 Tips for Prospecting with Direct Mail”

  1. What is the best approach to direct email marketing. I. Saw a diet advertisement that lacked substance so I emailed them to let them know I am a copywriter and suggested they contact me for copywriting work.

    El CID 71January 2, 2019 at 11:12 pm


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