Promises, Promises . . . How Making a Promise Can Get Someone to Read Your Direct Mail


Promises-promises-how-making_a_promise-can-get-someone-to-read-your-direct-mailIf you’ve been doing direct mail for a while, you know that one of the biggest challenges you face may be to get the person you’re trying to reach to actually open your mailer. It’s not surprising. After all, you’re competing with a lot of other messages—TV, radio, Internet, billboards, newspaper and magazine ads—for attention.

So what will convince someone to pay attention to what you have to say? Will a catchy graphic on the outside make someone open your mailing? Maybe. How about a clever or provocative headline? Sometimes that works. How about using 72-point type to make sure your message stands out? That could help. Maybe what you need is a celebrity spokesperson! People love celebrities, but they tend to be expensive, and there’s always the chance that they’ll do something stupid that will ruin their (and your) credibility.

One thing you may want to try is making a promise or a guarantee. A lot of people are adverse to risk. If you can make someone a promise that they will be satisfied, you have a good chance of getting them inside your direct mail package to check out your offer.

There is, however, a catch.

You have to deliver.

If you make a promise on the outside of your mailer you’ve got to come through on the inside. If you don’t follow through, you’re actually better off if people don’t open your mailing. If you do a “bait-and switch” (making a promise on the outside envelope and then delivering something else on the inside) you’ve just branded yourself as someone who can’t be trusted. Guess where your next mailing will go . . . unopened?

If, however, you make a promise on the outside of your mailer (something that people actually care about) and then give them what you promised on the inside, you’ve probably earned yourself the opportunity to talk to this potential customer again.

Let’s say the outside of your mailer promises: “3 Ways to Cut $15 Off Your Monthly Utility Bill.” And let’s assume that inside you provide three ways that can actually save someone $15 a month—guaranteed. And let’s say people actually try your ideas and find out that they work. What happens if you then offer them a product that can save them $750 dollars a year? Do you think they’ll be interested? Yes, because you kept your first promise.

There are lots of ways to get your target audience to read your content, and if you’re looking for some tips, you may want to check out this post that shows you 8 ways to hook readers into reading your direct mail.  But no matter how you get potential customers to take a peek inside your mailing, it ultimately comes down to delivering what you promise before they start reading.

So, go ahead and cross your heart and make a promise to your readers. Just make sure you deliver what you promised. Don’t promise one thing and deliver another. Don’t promise help and then provide a sales pitch. Because once you break your promise, your audience won’t trust you again.

Direct Mail Best Practices