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The mince pies have been on sale since March and you’re dusting off the Christmas cards and advent calendar that you bought on special offer last January.  Far from being a bad time to contact people, Christmas is the perfect time for professional services organizations to get in touch with clients and targets.  You have an audience that are actually willing to open mail (just in case it’s a nice card) and generally people are in a friendlier mood… far from shying away, now is the time to give direct marketing (sending out mailings) a go.

Ok, you’ve decided to take the plunge; you have a new service or a seminar you want to organise… what next? How do you make sure your mailing is actually worth sending?  Try working through these 12 steps and remember… if you aren’t happy with any of your answers then stop, change things and try again.

Pretend you’re the one receiving it

Take a good hard look at the whole package.  Does it look interesting? Does the headline/title grab you and make you want to read on to find out more?  Does it have a point and is it obvious? Is it well presented and does it convey the image of your firm that you want it to?

Wake them up

Present your proposition in a way that’s going to make your reader sit up and pay attention, make them want what you’re offering and make them want to read it NOW.

Worth unwrapping the package

Make sure the whole package (letter, flyer, feedback form) ‘flows’. Do all the elements appear to fit together as though intended? Or does it look like ‘odds and sods’ just thrown together? Should you include anything else?

Get your priorities right

You might feel that it’s unnecessary but most people read the letter before looking at any flyer. Most of your readers will make their decision based entirely on this. Make it worth reading! Set the scene and tempt them into reading the flyer. In some cases it isn’t appropriate to include a letter so make sure that the opening of your flyer does the job of setting the scene clearly.

Find a problem, find a solution

Most people will read on if they can identify with a problem you mention… if you then go on to present a solutions then they’ll probably read it all. If there’s nothing in it for them, there won’t be a response.

Why should they?

You need to make it clear why they should do business with you. You may even have to say why they should do business with you rather than their existing firm. You’ve brought to their attention that they need what you’re offering, now ensure they don’t go elsewhere for it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Try to avoid filling your direct mail with ‘pretty pictures’ just because you like them – if they have no significance to the copy then they probably shouldn’t be there. Only include images and graphics that improve or support the copy. There is NO EXCUSE for the inclusion of Christmas clip-art!

Just a note

Include a brief outline of your ‘story’ in your reply device. If you are including one, does your fax-back form state everything your reader needs to know and clarify what they need to do next?

Once in a lifetime offer

Have you given your readers a reason to reply now?  It’s best to coax your audience into action now, rather than give them time to go away and forget about it.

Easy to get hold of

Have you made it painfully easy for your readers to reply? Be sure to offer every possible option: Phone, fax, email or postal etc. This should increase the number of responses you receive. Don’t forget, though, that you could use this as an exercise to improve your database records so make sure you update and save details.

Would you?

Take a step back and look at your direct mail, or indeed, ask a colleague to take a look at it for a fresh opinion – if you received this through the post would you respond? Whether it’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, consider the reasons for your answer and act accordingly.

Go back and re-read the previous 11 tips

Once you have addressed all of the above, go back and check again. You never know maybe you missed something!

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