Succeeding with direct mail can be a very complex task.
Understanding what makes a mail piece do well (or poorly) is a bit mysterious.
What I’ve found is that there are MANY aspects of a mail campaign that need to be executed flawlessly in order to get a good response rate.
One of the most crucial aspects is the message that you are trying to deliver to your recipients.
As obvious as this should be – I consistently encounter a lot of cheesy, poorly written and generally thoughtless messages in the ads, letters and websites that people are using in their attempts to find motivated sellers.
Maybe it’s a lack of creativity. Maybe these people just don’t understand the psychology behind written communication. I’m honestly not sure… but it’s hurting them.
For example, it’s not enough to blast out a message like this:WE BUY HOUSES! 555-555-5555 CALL NOW!
Will people respond to this kind of message?
Some probably will – but not many.
Why isn’t this kind of message sufficient?
Because EVERYBODY else in your market is saying the exact same thing. There is absolutely nothing unique about this method of advertising.
If you want people to take notice of the mail you’re sending them, you need to look different. If you want to grab someone’s attention, you need to stand out from the crowd.
Think about it – when you get a mail solicitation in your mailbox, what kinds of things stand out to you?
I’ll admit – it’s not always naturally intuitive to figure out how to look different.
When you only have a split second to grab your recipient’s attention, you need to INSTANTLY show them why you are worth paying attention to and ultimately, you need to move them to action.
So how on earth do you do this?
Luckily, there are a lot of ways to pull it off.
I’ve experimented with a number of different messages and mail formats over the years. After trying dozens of different approaches (some of which succeeded, and some of which FAILED miserably), these are my Top 3 postcard formats that have consistently produced the best results for me.
(Note: To avoid stifling your own creativity, the examples below don’t contain the exact verbiage of my postcards. If you want more information on the precise words that I use in my letters, you can order them at the bottom of this blog post)
Template #1 – The Personal Letter
Why Does This Get Noticed?
This postcard takes the approach of “I took the time to write you this personal letter, so you should pay attention to what I’m saying.”
Think about it for a second – if you received a postcard like this in the mail, would you take the time to read it? My theory behind why this postcard has worked so well for me is that it doesn’t look like all the other junk mail that people get.
The goal with this postcard isn’t to be flashy. The goal is to be real. When a mail piece comes blasting out of the gate with “SELL! SELL! SELL!”, people don’t pay attention to it because that’s what everybody else does. As odd as it may sound, being down-to-earth is different, and people take notice of that.
Template #2 – THE FINAL NOTICE
Why Does This Get Noticed?
This postcard takes the approach of “You need ME more than I need you.” This can definitely strike a chord with some people (especially if it’s true – and they know it).
While this postcard has been slightly less effective than Template #1 in my rounds of testing (for reasons I can’t completely pin point), it still pulls in a lot of responses for me on a consistent basis.
Obviously, this template instills a sense of urgency and is likely to catch more attention than the generic, “WE BUY HOUSES” message that everybody else can’t seem to think outside of.
Template #3 – The Double-Sided AppealBack Side:
Why Does This Get Noticed?
This postcard takes the approach of asking questions and getting the recipient to think a little. “What is your situation? Perhaps I can help you?”
One look and you will see that this is the flashiest postcard I have. The benefit with using this card is partially in the choice of words, partially in the hand-drawn graphics, and also in the fact that it’s double-sided (which means we’ve got two chances to make a first impression).
Side one is your big, bold, attention-grabbing statement.
Side two is the personal message (a similar approach to Template #1).
One thing that probably stood out to you when you first saw this postcard is the hand-drawn star, lines and arrow…
Am I right?
Well, they work. In terms of “attention-grabbing”, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more powerful than the actual headline and letter on the postcard. These graphics tend to do the trick.
The Age-Old Marketing Problem
It’s difficult to know why some mail campaigns do well and others don’t.
The first time I tackled a direct mail campaign, I had no idea what I was doing. I got a list from a nearby county treasurer’s office, threw together a very basic postcard (similar to Template #1) and did a trial run, blasting out 106 postcards via Click2Mail.
To my shock, I had a whopping 6% response rate (which, in the eyes of most direct mail marketers, is pretty darn good).
Figuring it must have been a fluke, I tried another campaign two weeks later with 300 postcards. My response rate was 14%.
After trying this again and again and repeatedly getting a response rate of anywhere from 5% – 18% (and usually in the lower half of that range), I figured I must be onto something.
After toying with a lot of different variables and sending out MANY direct mail campaigns since 2008, I’ve really started to hone in on why some of my efforts produced great results, and why others were far less effective.
I’ll be completely honest, I don’t think anybody really knows all the reasons why some direct mail efforts yield huge results, and why others are deeply disappointing – but there is absolutely some very strong evidence that we can learn from when we analyze our ongoing response rates.
My theories above are just that. Theories. I don’t know why they work, but they do. My conclusions are based on what I have seen and tried for a number of years.
The Letter Isn’t Everything
As I mentioned earlier, the message of your mail is only one of many aspects that need to be fine-tuned in your direct mail campaigns. There are other areas (which are probably even more important) that need to be fined-tuned just as well. That being said – this whole process isn’t even worth going through if you’re not going to pack a solid punch with your message.
Remember the importance of looking different. Be real and you won’t have any problems standing out from the crowd.
Want To Get The Exact Postcards That I Use?
As you can see, the examples above are meant to show you the format of my postcards, but not the exact wording. I do this because I don’t want to dictate what you do with your letters.
You may very well be a better writer than me, so I don’t want to imply that my postcard is the best one that’s ever been created.
Given this, I’ve been mentally debating whether or not I should release the EXACT wording of the postcards I use. If you have any interest in seeing the exact copy that I’ve got on my postcards (word for word), send me an email via my contact page or leave a comment below and let me know.
UPDATE: I’ve had a lot of people reaching out to me to get access to these templates. It’s been exciting to see so much interest – and while I’d love to continue giving them away for free, I just don’t have time to follow up on all of these requests. Due to the high level of interest and feedback I’ve received on these postcards – I’ve decided to make them available right here on the blog.
I’ve literally spent thousands of dollars and years of my life testing, re-testing, and RE-re-testing these templates to come up with the final product that I use today. There is nothing particularly “magical” about the wording I use, I’ve simply invested a lot of resources to refine this type of written communication – to the point where I have a pretty solid grasp on how to get responses out of the right people.
You can do the same thing. If you want to spend years of your life and invest thousands of dollars into “testing the waters”, I am 100% sure that you can develop some postcard templates of your own that are just as effective…
…or you can save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration for nine bucks.