Direct Mail Marketing: Choosing Clear Over Clever Every Time


Direct-mail-marketing-clear-beats-clever-every-timeA lot of people tune into the Super Bowl every year just to watch the commercials. Some years there are some great ones. Other years, not so much. If your particular team isn’t playing, the commercials can be the highlight of the whole day.  And when you think about what companies spend to air a commercial during the Super Bowl (an average of about $4.5 million for a 30-second commercial in 2015), you would expect that these clever masterpieces would have some pretty serious impact.

Hear we are, several months removed from that extravaganza, and many of us (perhaps even most of us) can’t remember what commercials ran. As a matter of fact, a lot of people couldn’t tell you what a commercial was for right after viewing it.

It’s not because the commercials weren’t clever. It’s not because they weren’t entertaining. It’s likely, however, that after watching a commercial, it’s not clear what one is supposed to do. That doesn’t seem like a very good return on investment.

When it comes to direct mail, however, many businesses succumb to the same trap: They sacrifice being clear in favor of being clever. The result? They waste their money and don’t get the results they want. Direct mail isn’t about being clever. It’s not about building your brand. Your brand is important, but that’s not what direct mail is all about. Direct mail should be about generating response.

Should your mailing get attention? Yes! But it should be for the right reasons. People watching the Super Bowl expect to be amused by commercials. Your customers, however, aren’t sitting by their mailboxes waiting to be entertained. When they bring their mail into the house, they’re not looking for a laugh. You’ve only got a few seconds to convince potential customers to read your mailer—before they throw it into the recycle bin. How can you do that?

It’s not by being clever. It’s by being clear and offering value. Have you got something to say that will make someone’s life better? Can you solve a problem or answer a nagging question?

What’s the big clear message your mailing sends? Is it about your audience and what they want to know, or is it about you? Is the information in your mailing helpful? Does it offer readers a clear course of action? Will readers know what to do once they’ve finished reading?

By the way, if you’re looking for suggestions on how to create great content for your direct mailings, you’ll enjoy this post about creating great direct mail content.

Is it wrong to be clever with your direct mail efforts? Not at all! Keep looking for new ways to get readers to explore what’s inside your mailing package. But once you get them inside, be sure to deliver what they’re looking for—and make it crystal clear what they should do next. Choose clear over clever every time. Your goal isn’t to get people to talk about how clever you are. It’s to move them to action—to get them engaged with your company so that when they’re ready to buy, you’re their first choice.

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