Direct mail piece can utilize many forms: postcards, brochures, newsletters, and many more. However, nothing is more powerful in generating action than a well written and designed direct mail letter. Any savvy marketer knows that a direct mail package containing a letter will usually produce a higher response, therefore, results in a greater return on investment (ROI) than a package without a direct mail sales letter. The years of experimenting and testing has proven this to be almost always accurate.

To the point: 

What is the secret to writing a compelling and amazing direct mail letter? 

A lot of people get discouraged by the fact that writing a marketing letter is a difficult job inaccessible to the small business owner, and he or she are obligated to seek professional help from a copywriter. That is not always a true statement. Who else would know your business better? Who else would have the passion and the drive to do their best in presenting what they are doing on a daily basis?

So, drop your worries, lay down the paper and follow these simple to use tips.

Probably one of the oldest, and by far the most simple formula for creating an effective direct mail letter is AIDA* model.

Credited to the advertising and sales pioneer, Elias St. Elmo Lewis

A. Attract the reader’s ATTENTION.

I.  Inspire the reader’s INTEREST in the proposition.

D. Stimulate the reader’s DESIRE to take action.

A. Ask the reader to take the ACTION requested.

Having in mind, the original model was created by Mr. Lewis back in 1898; you can imagine how many revisions, enhancements, and alterations had been done. Some of them are:

• Description

• Advantage

• Persuasion

• Conviction

• Proof

But enough with the idle chatter, here are my nine really easy steps to follow in this great direct mail letter template:

1. Attention: The Headline or The First Sentence or Paragraph

The most important task of the headline is to grab your prospect attention. Make it short, easy to understand and as close as possible to the main point of the entire direct mail letter. Avoid negative words and don’t promise “easy money” as this will make your proposition identifiable as “scam” or “junk”. If suits into the anticipated concept - make the headline stand out. Use bold or bigger font than the rest of the copy, you might even decide to use a “Johnson Box,” but be careful with all the enhancements, to not make it look too much like advertising than a personal letter.

A great headline urges the recipient to read further in the direct mail letter.

Here are few fill-in-the-blank headline samples to excite.

~ Would You Like To Have A __________?

~ Why Are We Giving Away ________ For Only ___ ?

~ Who Else Wants To _______ With ________?

~ Which One Of These _____ Problems Do You Want To Break Free Of?

~ What The ________ Won't Tell You Can Save You ___ On Your _______!!!

2. Interest: An inspiring introduction

Start your direct mail letter with a greeting. When the name of your prospect is available, make sure to use the right Mr. or Ms. If you don’t know the salutation for sure - use “Dear ...” - it always works.

Keep in mind that you will send thousands of letters, but only one person will read it at a time! Write you sales letter to a person, not to an audience.

Try to get the recipient’s attention right from the start and make him/her crave to read more and more by saying as quick as possible the best qualities of your proposition.

3. Description: A Clear definition of your product

Now when you got your recipient attention, keep him/her interested by explaining your product or service. Make it clear, easy to understand. Avoid technical and business terms, remember you are writing a direct mail letter to sell, not a manual!

List benefits, not features. Develop a WIFM or “what’s in it for me” structure for the benefits of your product.

Women buy shoes because they give them confidence and make them look more attractive, not because shoes are slick, comfortable or cute.

Here is a quick tip how to create your list of benefits:

Make two columns. In the left one list, all the features your product has and are important enough to be mentioned. Now, go item by item down your list and next to each feature answer the questions: So what? How this helps the buyer? What will the prospect gain by having this? Write down as much as possible benefits, then put together a compelling definition of your product. (bold)

Remember: Feature tells, benefit sells!

4. Desire: Tell a success story about your product or service

To avoid your prospect stop reading, keep the copy flow. Contain their interest with friendly and conversational style. Tell a success story, use real names, numbers, and emotions. Convince the sales letter reader that Your product or service changed the character’s life in the story. Bottom line - make your prospect desire your product and want to hear more about it.

Here are few examples of how to keep your copy moving throughout:

~ Here is you chance to ...

~ Take advantage of this opportunity to ...

~ But there is just one more think ...

~ More important than ...

~ You will see for yourself why ...

~ And in addition ...

5. Conviction: Keep Convincing, Include testimonials and endorsements

One of the most challenging elements of the great direct mail letter is convincing your potential customer that everything you say is genuine and accurate, and it is not a sales trick! What better way to do so, than including testimonials from real customers explaining in their own words the extraordinary effect your product had over their lives. And if you can land a celebrity or influential person endorsement, that’s gold!

6. Advantage: List Special Features

Earlier I mentioned that it is essential to sale benefits instead of features, but if your product or service has unique characteristics, here is the place to list it. Use bullets as an alternative to a paragraph. It will make it easier on your reader’s eyes and will stand out from the rest of the copy.

7. Proof: Define One More Time The Statement of the Value

Reaffirming your unique value proposition is crucial to the success of your direct mail sales letter. Regardless of how well your headline is written or your product defined, in the end, the potential customer will buy your special offer, not the product or service.

8. Action: Specify Urgency In Your Call To Action

Well worked and designed call to action is the key for a higher response rate of your direct mail letter. Tell you readers exactly what they need to do (call, email, click on link) if they want to take your exceptional offer. Don’t make them wonder around your letter, repeat the call to action few times. Include urgency - limited time, limited items, etc.

9. Persuasion: The Postscript

Even if you write a masterpiece direct mail letter, remember nobody, reads any sales letter from the beginning to end. Use the P.S., one of the most read parts of any letter, to emphasize on your offer, call to action or additional benefit included in this particular proposal to make sure that your potential customer will go back and read more.  

When you finish your first draft, go back and edit. And edit again.

Test your copy by showing to colleagues and friends. Make sure your language is neat, understandable and in a conversational format. Make your reader feel how friendly, sincere and thoughtful you are. Make sure your story is believable and exciting. A successful direct mail letter means you drove your prospect to read “top to bottom” and click the “Action” button.

Quick Checklist for Best Direct Mail Letter. 

You can’t always get all 100 points but try to score over 75!

Remember! Features Tell, Benefits Sell! #salesletters
Milena Marguenski
Milena is the owner and CEO of US Presort.
US Presort | 3801 Victory Blvd., Suite 1 - Staten Island, NY 10314 | P : 718.980.6556