Going Postal

April 1998


Going Postal

Get consumers' attention with direct mail

It's a jungle out there in junk-mail land – as you no doubt know if direct mail is part of your marketing mix. Last year the average American received 34 pounds of catalogs and other solicitations – a total of 553 direct mail pieces. The volume of junk mail is expected to triple in the next decade. How can jewelers hope to cut through the clutter?

A recent story in U.S. News & World Report includes a list of "proven principles" to which savvy marketers adhere:

  • Live stamps get more letters opened than metered postage. A commemorative stamp is better than a standard one, and four 5-cent stamps are better than one 20-cent one on postcards.
  • Handwriting – whether real or computer-generated – works wonders. So much so that one company in Minneapolis employs 170 women to handwrite sales letters and thank-you notes for direct-marketing clients. Other companies use laser scanners to duplicate handwriting, sometimes employing such tricks as leaving dots off of i's or crossing out words. "Computers can even produce letters bearing simulated coffee spills," U.S. News reports. (Not recommended if you want to be recognized for your careful attention to detail.)
  • The most effective letters end with a postscript. The P.S. is the second most read part of the letter, surpassed only by the first sentence. Many marketers use it to restate the benefits of their offers or to underline the importance of acting now.
  • Enclosing a premium may induce guilt and makes customers more likely to respond. (How can they refuse to visit your store after you've sent them a goody – even an inexpensive one?)
  • "Free" is still the magic word in direct mail. The phrase "Buy one, get one free" draws a 40% higher response rate than "50% off" or "half-price," the magazine says. And while the term "free gift" is redundant, it draws three times as many people as a simple "gift" will.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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