Why Too Much Choice Can Be a Bad Thing in Direct Mail


Why-too-much-choice-can-be-a-bad-thing-in-direct-mail.jpgOtis Redding is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul and rhythm & blues. But who knew that he was also a direct mail guru?

Millions know his iconic 1967 song, “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” but few are aware of the great direct mail advice (or warning) contained in that song:

Looks like nothing’s gonna change

Everything still remains the same

I can’t do what ten people tell me to do

So I guess I’ll remain the same

What did Otis Redding have to tell us about direct mail? One of the goals of direct mail is to effect change—to get people to act. But Mr. Redding accurately reminded us that:

I can’t do what ten people tell me to do

So I guess I’ll remain the same

Redding had too many people telling him what to do. A common problem with direct mail is that mailers tell their readers to do too many things (or don’t tell them to do anything at all). When there are too many directions and directives, people get confused. Instead of doing several things, they often end up doing nothing.

One key to getting the results you want is to keep things simple: Make sure you have a compelling offer for your audience and that it is clear what your audience must do to take advantage of that offer.

Think of your offer as the motivation for acting. What does your audience really want? Too many companies make the mistake of assuming that a prospect is ready to buy and that a lower price is the offer that will trigger a sale. More often than not, however, your prospects are looking for information – not a sales pitch. What you can offer is helpful information that will solve an immediate problem or answer an immediate question – something that helps the prospect where they are right now.

Make it clear what the prospect must do to get that help. Don’t give them 10 different options; give them one specific thing to do, and then ask them to do it.

If you want people to change, to act, you need to give them a reason to do it and to make it easy for them to act. Don’t confuse the situation with misdirection. Too many options can leave people sitting right where they are and remaining the same.

Direct Mail Best Practices