Direct Mail

How to write a winning mailshot

A good mailshot catches readers' attention, maintains their interest and encourages them to take action. The question really is; what makes a great mailshot?

Grab the reader’s attention

  • First impressions count! Avoid using "Dear Sir or Madam", or “Dear Homeowner”. These get flagged as junk as soon as they read it and you’re more likely to get up in their rubbish bin than on their dining room table.
  • Tantalise. If your prospects have been accurately profiled, you already know what they long for. So write a headline that puts it within their grasp. They'll read on to find out if they really can have it.
  • Use impressive facts or case studies. It's a great way to grab the reader's attention, and it gives you something to refer back to when you're rounding off the letter.

Keep their interest

  • Keep it personal. Assume you're talking to a friend, not writing to the bank manager. You don't want to be over-familiar, but remember important people are still human beings who respond to a warm, friendly approach.
  • Stress the key points. Use sub-headings, indent important paragraphs or italicise vital words. But AVOID CAPITALS and exclamation marks!!!!! And don't emphasise too much - or nothing will stand out.
  • Make it easy to read. Keep your sentences short. Like this. Keep paragraphs to half a dozen lines or less. And leave plenty of blank space on the page. If it's daunting for the reader, it goes in the trash.

From interest to desire

  • Sell the benefits, not the features. By and large people don't care how something works as long as it does the job. Unless you're writing to experts or hardened enthusiasts, lengthy product specs will only slow down the read.
  • Focus on the end result. Give the reader something to dream about - look beyond the product and show how it's going to change their life forever. Insurance buys you peace of mind. A car buys you freedom. A new sofa gets you precious moments at the end of a busy day.
  • Banish doubts. Part of building desire is silencing that nagging voice that says "there's a catch". So prove your credentials with qualifications, testimonials or a no-risk offer.

Desire becomes action

  • Don't be shy asking for what you want. Make your call-to-action clear, concise and powerful.
  • Add an incentive. Even a warm prospect could put you on the back burner unless you give them a compelling reason to get in touch today. But remember that needn't mean offering a discount. Adding value with a second product or service is just as powerful and doesn’t devalue your brand.
  • Make it real. If you can, even with the mass mailers, sign it off from a real person. Or, for national campaigns, add a local angle. People buy from people, not from companies. This personal touch can go a long way.