How not to get leads with direct mail

How not to get leads with direct mail Feature Image

A mailer came through my letterbox the other day from a company trying to get leads for their wall-coating systems. It was a graphic example of how not to do it!

Getting quality leads is tough. There is no single strategy that is going to produce the volume you want, so you probably have to try a combination of different approaches. Direct mail can work, but you have to avoid the classic mistake that this company made.

Lead with a benefit not your name

I'll change the name to protect the guilty. Let's pretend the company was called Home Protection Specialists.

On the front cover they had this:


There was also a little tab on the right hand side, in red, with the words OPEN NOW.

What's wrong with this? Everything!

In his seminal book 'How to make friends and influence people' Dale Carnegie repeatedly makes a simple point - people are self-centred. So if you want to get them interested in in something start by talking about their favourite subject themselves.

But what do most companies do? The exact opposite. They are focussed on themselves and their thinking is "I need leads, I need people to open this thing, I'm spending all this money, pleeeease open it!"
So they put your name on the front and then beg people to open it up. That's about as subtle, and effective, as a teenage boy going to a party, walking up to a girl, saying 'Hi, I'm Brian' then making a clumsy attempt to kiss her. Why did he do it? 'Because I'm desperate for a girlfriend!' Why do companies do it? "Because we're desperate to get our name across and need leads!"

How do you feel when confronted by someone who's desperate? You immediately think 'they have a problem' and run a mile.

Wise up if you want them to respond

The smart way to do it is outlined in our earlier post "It's the way you tell them how to create a compelling sales story". What HPS should have done is stop thinking about their own concerns and concentrate 100% on those of the target audience - then put a big benefit on the front cover, something that was really going to grab the attention of people in the market for a wall-coating solution. For instance:


That way the recipient would immediately know 'what's in it for me'. They'd be more likely to open it up and read the full story. And if the copy inside is any good they'd be interested in finding out more about the company offering the solution. But putting your name first and begging for attention is a total turn-off. Why should anyone care who you are when they don't know how you can help them?

So if you're going to do direct mail put a benefit to the consumer up-front and leave your name until last, otherwise you're putting the cart before the horse!

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