With Direct Mail First Impressions Matter


With-direct-mail-first-impressions-matterYou’ve probably heard it said that, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Whether it’s a first date or a first job interview, the initial impression you make can have some pretty serious implications. So what kind of first impression does your direct mail make on people you’re trying to win as customers?

There are two areas in particular where this first impression is important. One has more of a short-term impact. The other area can be long-range.

The Short-term Impact of Your First Impression: When it comes to direct mail, you don’t have a long time to make a good impression. Whether you’re doing B2B or B2C mailings, you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s interest and get him or her to open your mailing and read more. Here are some of the questions potential clients run through (consciously or subconsiously) as they hold your mailer in their hands.

  • Is this company credible? Do they know what they’re talking about? Why should I care about what they’re saying?
  • Is this information relevant? Is it going to help me in a practical, measurable way?
  • Is this content worth my time? Does the mailing offer me enough value to justify the time I’ll spend looking at it?
  • Will I be able to do anything with the information that’s being offered? Will there be a next step or am I simply going to have more information to sort through and think about?

As you create your direct mail pieces, make sure you can answer these questions in a positive and compelling way. The major components of your mailing (your audience, your offer, and your creative) need to be carefully thought through so that you’re reaching the right people with the right message in such a way that they can (and will) respond.

The Long-term Impact of Your First Impression: If you are reaching out to new prospects, your direct mailing is in effect your calling card. It’s the first impression some people will have of your company. If you’re a serious business, you want to come across as serious and capable. That means the design and copy in your mailing should reflect the nature of your business. If you run a mortuary, cartoons and clever wordplay simply aren’t appropriate. On the other hand, if you run an amusement park, you want your mailing to evoke an atmosphere of fun. So before you plan the overall look and feel of your individual mailings, ask a few key questions.

  • Do you have an accurate picture of your audience? There’s a lot more to this than simply identifying  your audience’s age, sex, income, or general interests. What’s important to your audience? What problems do they encounter? What questions do they have? Who do they trust?
  • Does the design (colors, fonts, images, etc.) fit the image of our company? Does it appeal to the demographic of the audience we’re trying to reach? Will recepients feel like we’re a good fit for them?
  • Is the copy a good fit? Do you use the same kind of language as your potential customers? While you don’t want to fall into insider industry jargon, you do want to talk about things that are important to your audience and you want to talk about things in the same way your audience would.

Designing your direct mailings (again, this includes look and content) around the things that matter to your potential clients gives you a much beter chance of having your mailing read—and of having people respond.

Direct Mail Best Practices