All posts by Alex Gorges

3 Keys To Writing A Good Sales Letter

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

Last weekend, my wife and I sat down with our computers and notepads and begin researching a new cell phone company. We started with the websites of three major carriers – Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. But as we scrolled the web pages of the first company, we got this feeling they weren’t telling the whole truth. As we went to the next two companies, the trend only increased.

What was going on here? Why did the websites not give us the exact details we were looking for? We only acquired about 80% of what we needed. And we weren’t going to choose any carrier until we had ALL the information.

After scouring their websites, we called a salesperson from each company for more details. Sure enough, she filled in some of the gaps, especially about the pricing. But then one call took a strange turn: a sales rep. of one of the major carriers (I won’t say which one) admitted that it’s always best to call in to buy services or phones because the website will never have all of the information. Why is that? Why conceal information, making it more difficult for people to find? But then, even with the sales person, I had to probe for further clarification. I knew they knew. But why was I – the customer – having the pull the information out of them. At the end of our research, we did choose one major carrier after all, but we never felt 100% confident. We felt icky about the whole thing and had to choose the least of the three evils.

woman-writing-good-sales-letter

Have you ever spoken to someone and knew they were hiding – intentionally – something from you?

In today’s world, marketers dress their marketing with vague phrases, fuzzy nouns, trite sentences, or just plain general nonsense. They don’t say what they mean, or worse, they hide what they mean because they’re afraid of what people think.

But writing is about communication. It’s about getting a message from one party to the next.

Remember this story when you write your sales copy, create offers, and form calls to action. Let’s go into each of them to make a good sales letter.

Crystal Clear Copy

Tell your audience exactly what you sell. Don’t hide it under a bushel basket. Just say it — in concise, clear language. Don’t use fuzzy jargon, vague concepts, and empty generalities. Use specific, common words so that your readers will understand you. Choose shorter sentences over longer ones. Opt for smaller words over bigger ones. Or better, choose the right word for the right context. There’s over a million words in the English language, so you have a lot of options. People often assume the more pretentious they make their writing the smarter they are. It’s the opposite. Simplicity is a sign of a sharp, clear intellect. It’s extremely arduous to make something simple, while it’s easy to write in a verbose manner. If your reader has trouble grasping the idea, rewrite your sales pitch until it’s 100% clear. And remember, clear writing is clear thinking. So, do your readers a favor and make it simple, and you’ll begin to create a good sales letter.

What idea or ideas are you trying to give to your audience? Is there something you want them to learn from reading your copy? What are you trying to sell? How much? What are the benefits? What’s in it for them?

There’s an adage in writing that says to “write like you speak.” That’s only a half-truth. It should be “write like you speak, when you speak well.” Most people (me included) don’t write it right the first time around. The first thing they say is fuzzy, pompous, illogical, verbose, or misleading. And that’s OK. That’s how writing works. Think of writing, instead, like a sculpture. The first draft is a stone block. Each tap of the hammer and chisel is the editing. The more you edit, the clearer the writing becomes. Word by word by word — the writing falls into place. And many times, the revisions to the writing will become something altogether different from the rough draft. That’s OK!

So, when you set out to write a good sales letter, know that it’s OK to rewrite it over and over and over. That’s where the magic is. Thank goodness for word processors; they take out much the work of editing, making it super easy.

My coworker Ryan reads much my writing, and he points out areas where I can improve. I accept these corrections because he can see a lot that I can’t see. Try to do the same in your writing. There’s no harm in having others read your writing.

Only Obvious Offers

In forming your good sales letter, there’s no place that requires more clarity than your offers. Is it 50% off or 50 dollars off? Is it buy one, get one? Decide and stick with the same offer throughout the sales copy. Use the same language for the offer, too, so that your readers know what you’re referring to. Sprinkle it multiple times throughout your sales letter or postcard. The more you say it, the better. Remember, repetition is the mother of all memory.

Be VERY clear about terms and conditions. There’s the temptation to either hide or not mention the terms and conditions attached to the offer. Often a company will think something like this: “See, if I just hide the terms of this offer, or because of legal reasons, conceal the terms very small so they can’t read it, then I’m more likely to make the sale. Don’t do this. People aren’t dumb. And if you intentionally hide something from them, and later they find out that you hid something from them, they will not trust you. So, be honest, upfront, and clear – and people will naturally develop trust in you. If you’re looking for a good example of how to do this with elegance, check out how Apple does it.

apple-screen-shot

Finally, price. I get it – your pricing is complex, right? So you don’t mention the pricing upfront or you wait until the end to reveal the pricing. You fear that if you say the pricing, the potential customer will balk and walk away from the sale. But there’s something to be said about upfront pricing. A lot of people just want to know how much it’ll cost. And with the internet and smartphones, most people don’t have the same patience they once did. Google and other search engines have made us used to getting results instantly. We also want prices instantly, and we’re not patient enough to read through miles of copy to get to price.

Absolute Automatic Action

Finally, how do you want your prospects to respond to your sales copy? Do you want them to call, email, text, go to a website, or mail in a form? What is the best way for them to reach you? I’ve seen many marketing pieces with clear, amazing offers. But when I go to order, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I couldn’t find the button anywhere. Or worse, they created confusion by placing two or three small buttons side by side, buried at the end of the email. Please, don’t do this. Make it simple. Hold your prospect’s hand through the entire ordering process. Go through each over and over, and like your sales copy, make sure you 100% crystal clear on EVERY step. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as this that separates an average and a good sales letter with conversions.

Multiple offers. Sometimes, too, you might want to include different offers they can choose from in your sales copy. That’s fine. But be aware – the more you add, the more risk you run of them not buying. My favorite hardware supplies, Ace Hardware, does an exceptional job at this. Each month, they send a flyer in the mail that with two offers. On the left side they have a card that saves “Save Now.” And on the right it says “Save Later.” This text is the biggest sized text of the whole mail piece, it’s at the top, and it’s easy to understand. I know I just need to unstick the card from the flyer, take it to Ace, and they will reward me with my 5 dollars off. There’s no confusion about what to do next.  

Resources For a Good Sales Letter

ultimate-sales-letter

So, when you begin composing your next sales copy, remember – clarity is king. It’s the simple message that people understand. If you’re looking for a great book on writing a good sales letter, creating offers, and forming calls to action check out these two resources: 

  1. The Ultimate Sales Letter, Dan Kennedy 
  2. Hubspot-contains thousands of resources with marketing tips and strategies to form your next marketing campaign.

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What’s The Future Of Direct Mail?

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

It took only one device in 2007 to change the world. I’m talking about the Apple iPhone. This one phone has changed the entire landscape of how we interact with one another and the world. The iPhone isn’t the only smartphone, but it was the first, and all smartphones emerged from its breakthrough technology. Released over ten years ago, this device has continued to innovate and inspire other companies. It’s taken on new technology like the ability to unlock your phone with your face or finger. It’s connected us to even more services in social media and has made texting and calling easier.

Yet, despite these changes, the iPhone has changed little. Sure, it’s better and faster and the software can do more. But the phone itself — its essence — remains the same. iPhone is still iPhone. Anyone who saw the first iPhone, released in 2007, would recognize even the newest models.

original-iphone

I mention the iPhone here because I notice a similarity between it and direct mail. Yes, you read that right. Direct mail may be as old as Ben Franklin himself, but it, like the iPhone, keeps what is fundamental.

Still, some aspects of direct mail have changed, and a lot more will continue to change in the future. Let’s look at three ways that technology will impact the future of direct mail.

  1.    Opportunities for Mail Pieces
  2.    Accessibility of Data
  3.    Integration of Marketing Channels

What Can I Mail?

If you’ve been out of the direct mail scene for a while or have never used direct mail for marketing, you’d be amazed at what you can now mail. We have clients mailing anything  from a box filled with a sales letter and candy to customers having us produce 600,000 postcards in less than three days. You can mail bank bags or stuffed plastic trash cans. If your brain can come up with it, you can probably mail it. You’re no longer restricted to boring envelopes stuffed with sales letters or simple postcards. In fact, if you need a good place to start, or if you’re looking for something crazy, check out this blog here. The future of direct mail is ripe for the plucking.

But that’s not all. Advances in software have enabled us to integrate more complex variable data into our direct mail. In the past, software has limited us to a person’s name and address in sales letters. No longer! If you’ve got the data in a spreadsheet, you can sprinkle that data in your postcard or sales letter. You can make it about as personal as you wish. After all, you’ll convert more leads if you’ll make your marketing more personal. Because the more personal it becomes, the warmer the piece feels. You can say something like this: Hey, {John} – I noticed it’s been {three months} since you last came and saw us at {our store on West Street}. Just thought I’d say hello and that if you come visit us within the next couple weeks, I’ll give you {30 dollars} off your next order. All right, thanks, {John}. In the previous sentence, all those phrases outlined in brackets are variable data you can use in your next direct mail campaign. And the more you can do, the better.

Ample, Accessible Data

A belief 10 years ago was that as computers and technology advance we’ll have little need for printers. We can eliminate printers and paper altogether by turning to our smart devices. In some sense, this is true. I don’t use my home printer; I have my smartphone for all the essential information to get through the day, like bills I need to pay and news I read. And even though I work for a direct mail company, I’ve opted to receive all invoices through email.

But the prophets who predicted the downfall of printers and paper could not have predicted the growth in the future of direct mail. Direct mail is up. Companies now send millions of direct mail pieces each year. Why is this? Printers can now produce more and more with higher quality in smaller windows of time. All with fewer resources. This allows companies to print and mail much faster than in the past. Soon, the possibilities will become endless and the costs will go down, leading to a brighter future of direct mail.

With companies like Google and Facebook, we now have ample data about people. And it’s not limited to their location. It reveals their likes and dislikes, where they spend their time and with whom. This, like the speed and power of technology, will only increase as Google and Facebook grow bigger and their tools become more insightful.

consumer-data

With this data, you can compile lists of your customers and prospects. Let’s say you own an organic dog food company. That’s a niche company. And because organic food costs more to produce, to make any profit, you’ll have to raise your food price. Now, you won’t be able to compete against Pedigree, a global giant in this market. Since Pedigree is so big, they can produce bags at a much cheaper rate than you.

What’s important is this, you need to sell your food to people who only want fresh, organic dog food. With data collection in the future, they’re might be a time when you can mail a list of people who only want this exact type of dog food. You’ll know when they last purchased, what type of organic food, their breed of dog, and much more. Some of this information might be out there already from list brokers. You’d have to poke around to find it. But in the future, it will probably be much more accessible. See how this works though. You don’t need to compete against Pedigree at all. With better lists, you can offer customers products that really suit their needs, and since every person is different, the possibilities are limitless here. With good data you can create and maintain a thriving business.

Better Integration

Finally, you can integrate direct mail even more with other marketing channels. Right now, many companies use every marketing channel to sell their products and services. They might lean more on one than others, but to cover their bases, they use them all.

Oftentimes, you can use Facebook to capture a lead. A typical lead will become aware of your company through Facebook and develop an interest in your service. He or she then decides to fill out a form by entering their name and email information. With that information, you can email, offering a discount or free service to the person. The person only needs to fill in their mailing address to redeem. Then, with that same mailing address, you can send your lead a direct mail piece, again offering a discount. If the person responds to the offer on the direct mail piece, you can track that they responded to your direct mail. See how this works – it’s all connected. All marketing channels collaborate to capture leads and sales conversions.

So what does integration look like in the future of direct mail? Future technology will enable companies to integrate these channels even better. Many companies have been using QR barcodes on their postcards. And while the QR buzz has died down, it goes to show what’s possible. I recently read of a company that considered hiding an NFC chip in their postcards, which would track the exact time the recipient held the postcard and whether they turned it over, as long as the person had a smartphone near them. Further, when the person picked up the mail piece, it would send an alert to the company. Imagine the possibilities (and legal ramifications) if this became commonplace.

Whatever happens in the future of direct mail, its essence will not change. I believe it will remain a relevant and effective form of marketing.

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Little Things, Big Impact (On Your Direct Mail)

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

A famous person once said, “Don’t sweat the little things.” WRONG! In direct mail, you need to sweat the little things. Don’t glaze over minor details. It’s easy to get swept up by writing your copy and sending it ASAP that you fail to take care of the small things. Believe me, nothing will go to the trash quicker than a piece that looks like it was produced with minimal effort and zero thoughtfulness. Spend time hashing out ALL these aspects of the sales piece: the envelope, the font, the spacing, the graphic design, grammar etc… Remember you build a brick wall one brick at a time. These little things are the bricks that form the impenetrable brick wall of your sales piece.

The Delivery

Perhaps the most important “little thing” of the sales piece is delivery. I’ve seen it countless times. A marketing team spends days, weeks, even months working on a sales piece. And then, because they were so absorbed by the sales piece, they failed to consider the package in which it was delivering. And when they received a terrible response they wondered why. Please analyze every bit of the delivery. Take it just as seriously as any other aspect.

man adjusting his tie

The Envelope

Is your prospect wary of direct mail? Can he or she sniff out a mass produced marketing piece? Do you know what other marketing promotions your target is receiving? Does the prospect have a secretary (“Gate Keeper”) who sorts through the mail, filtering out each piece. Or does the piece go straight to the customer’s mailbox?

You must ask, answer, and solve all these questions — and many more — before EVER sending your mail piece. It doesn’t matter how good your sales pitch is if your customers never read it! Try sending your sales letter in Fedex or UPS packages. Yes, you’ll spend more (sometimes considerably) but it increases the chance your customer will receive it. As an example, we once created and sent a mailing to dentists via FedEx. We followed up in the next few days and EVERY dentist received the package. Fedex and UPS package scream important. They always get past the gatekeeper because legal and financial documents arrive in a similar manner. Use these to your advantage.

The Font

Many copywriters — even very talented ones — fail to consider the importance of the font. But it matters. A quick Google search reveals there are over 32,000 different typefaces. Needless to say, you have A LOT of options. Choose one that most accurately reflects the tone of your sales piece. Times New Roman, Calibri, and Arial are safe options; they are well known and readable. That being said, they may not be the best option. Often, sending envelopes with handwritten looking (or handwritten itself) works best because it looks personal. Realize this: the font you choose for the exterior of your sales piece sets the tone for what’s inside. Ensure the font is consistent with the sales piece enclosed and conveys an unified message.

Spacing and Formatting

Hire a competent graphic designer who has a background in laying out text and sales pieces. Or, if you must do it yourself, research the best ways to improve the readability of your sales piece. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a slightly misaligned paragraph or unevenly spaced title immediately deteriorate the effectiveness. Even slightly blurry images or fuzzy logos can be a wrecking ball to the rest of your piece. Take care of the individual details that matter! These are just a fraction of the things you can do to improve the quality of your marketing. They are small, sure, but added up they create a tremendous impact.

mailing services

Drive More Traffic With Your Newsletter

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

Life’s a bundle of paradoxes. You think something should be the case, and then the opposite turns out to be true. Here’s one: the more you give the more you receive. How does that work?! By the rules of logic – if I give away 500 dollars, I have 500 dollars less. While on the immediate level, this makes sense, at a deeper level, you might gain far beyond and something more important than 500 dollars. Think of charitable giving. But the same rules apply to business.

Most people know the importance of creating compelling, persistent offers. It’s how you gather leads into your marketing funnels and convert them into sales. This in turn creates more profit. You may run a Facebook ad that offers 25% off any product for the next three days. Or you choose a buy one, get one free. Whatever the ad, it’s important to have a lot of them. So, let’s expand on this idea by talking about how to drive more traffic with your newsletter.

Drive More Traffic With Your Newsletter

The newsletter is more than a conduit of information between you and your customer. It’s a superb sales tool. If you have a newsletter today and want to drive more traffic, then create more offers. And to create more offers, follow these steps.drive traffic

 

Figure Out Your Audience

Who’s receiving your newsletter? Open your customer list and place the people on that list into categories. Here are a few examples to get started:

  1. What is their age?
  2. Are they male or female?
  3. What do they like? What do they dislike?
  4. What are their past purchases?
  5. What is their average income?

The more you can answer these questions, the better data you’ll have to create offers. If people fall into multiple categories, consider creating multiple offers. You can create an array of offers and then place those offers next to the name in your list. Then, when you do the mail merge, you’ll be able to use a specific offer for a specific person. You can even include different pictures to correspond with your offers.

Once you’ve pigeon-holed the people on your list, ask yourself what products or services would your customers like to receive?

Let’s say you own an orthodontics treatment center. Your average patient is 15 years old. What does a typical teenager want. What would get them most excited? Maybe a pair of speaker, shoes, a concert ticket? An iPhone? A smartwatch? The first few don’t cost much, so you can give them away. But an iPhone or smartwatch?!

You might think it’s not worth it. The iPhone X alone costs more than 1000 dollars after taxes. You might think that there’s no way you’ll make any profit if you give away something of that caliber. But try not to think of it that way. Think rather of the potential referral.

If Sally Jones goes to school the next day after hearing of this referral contest and tells her friends, who then tell their parents (who I presume are footing the bill), how many potential clients could you bring in? And if you only get two patients (probably even one) that will outweigh the cost of the iPhone. If you can do more, you’ll drive more traffic with your newsletter.

Weigh Risks vs. Rewards

Of course, use prudence when choosing the item. Before buying anything, weigh the cost vs potential sales. Ask how many leads does this item need to convert before it makes profit? And how much profit do want to make? Buying a cheaper item for your referral contest might seem wise (less you’ll deduct from the overall profit) but be aware that a cheaper item might drive fewer leads than a more expensive one.

Either way, affordable or expensive, it’s still an expense. And it’s only natural to feel hesitant, knowing that nothing could come from it. If the referral flops, you might be a big cost and have nothing to show for it.

But don’t let that scare you into throwing the referral out altogether. Any item will drive more traffic with your newsletter rather than no item. And the more valuable the item, the more potential profit you could make.

Newsletter Engagement

Let’s say your company offers cloud-based storage to people for a monthly subscription. Customers pay 15 dollars a month and receive secure, unlimited cloud storage. You’ve had a hard time in the past driving traffic to your business. You’ve used Facebook ads and Google pay per click. But you’ve had little success.

You email a monthly newsletter containing valuable information about data breaches, hard drive failure, and the importance of cloud security. You put a lot of work into it. Your company is small, and can’t afford a marketing director, so you must write all the content. Since it’s an e newsletter, you’ve installed some analytics to track engagement. Some are reading it. But most open it, scroll down half way on the first page, and then delete the email. That’s not the type of engagement you want.

So, here’s what you can do. Try including a fun game to drive more traffic with your newsletter, like a cross word, a word search. (Take a look at how we incorporate a crossword in ours) And most importantly, tie the game to the content. If you’re doing word search, create questions based on answers found within the various articles.

Now, that’s fun and creative, but it will still only attract a small number of people. You must do more. If a person completes your word search, give them a prize. Offer them five dollars off their next month of cloud storage or send them an Amazon gift card.

You might think that giving away five dollars here and an Amazon gift card there doesn’t amount to much, but it does. When you’re generous, people respond to you more. And the more generous you can be to your customers, the more profit you can potentially make.

But what if people are still not responding? Then like the referral contest, ratchet up the stakes. Consider giving away even more. Maybe a full month of free of cloud storage or a 30 dollar Amazon gift card. The trick is to get them to read the newsletter. You know your service is good and should be generating more profit. If it takes them reading your whole newsletter to believe it, then so be it. Hold a carrot before them and help them get through it.

Test Everything

If something doesn’t work the first time, then try something else. Don’t give up. Sometimes it takes many tries before something clicks. So, test, test, and test some more. You’ll never know how good an offer or referral is until you try it. Remember, your aim is to drive more traffic with your newsletter.

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3 Convincing Reasons To Send An EDDM Postcard

By | Every Door Direct Mail | No Comments

The other day I bought a cheap fitness tracker from Amazon. I wasn’t willing to spend the extra cash on a Garmin or Fitbit, as good as those are. They’re too expensive for my needs, and I’m not a runner (barely a walker). But I wanted to track and increase my daily steps as an effort to live a healthier lifestyle. Without doing much research, and only looking at a few reviews, I took the plunge and purchased a cheap fitness tracker.

I waited a few days, knowing this tracker would probably be junk, and that right after I opened it, I’d have to return it. The day came and I finally received the tracker. My skepticism turned to relief which turned to joy as I realized the watch was not only good, but that it packed extra features not advertised on Amazon.

My recent Amazon gamble shares some similarity with the way you might feel when you send an EDDM postcard. EDDM postcards are cheaper to send, but since you don’t use a targeted name list, you’re not always sure what you’ll receive on the other end of the line.

But don’t let that scare you. There is tremendous value in EDDM postcards, and it might be just what your company needs to market your product or service. So here are three reasons to send an EDDM postcard.

A note – for technical details about EDDM postcards, check out these two links:

https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm

http://handymailing.com/what-is-every-door-direct-mail/

suburbs neighborhood

Saves on Costs

The most important factor of EDDM postcards is that they can save you money, and in some cases thousands of dollars. They’re the cheapest postcards you can send. This is primarily for two reasons. First, the postage rate per piece can be under 17 cents.  Second, you’re not required to buy a name list from a mail house or list broker. That can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars, depending on the factors of your list.

This translates to getting more by spending less. There is, however, something to consider. Since the postcard won’t include a name, you might hurt your response rate. Personalized mailings typically have higher response rates. But it might not matter. Here’s why.

Let’s say you’re the owner of Pip’s Crab Shack, and you’re new to the area of Baltimore. No one knows you. You don’t know them. But you want to get the word out that you’re new to the area and would like them to come eat at your new restaurant.

So you scratch your head, thinking … I could send a newsletter, but that might be a bit much. I haven’t met these people, so all that information might not resonate with them. Or I could try a personal letter, but then again, we’re not friends. If I could just send something simple but impacting, like a poster or something.

This is where EDDM postcards shine.

You can send a postcard to everyone in the area, saying you’d like to meet them. Include some high-quality photos on the postcard and some endearing copy about how much you’d like to meet them. To seal the deal, create compelling offers they can’t resist. In this case, a name list doesn’t add anything to the mail piece. They don’t even know you, so there’s no need to send an addressed envelope.

More Bang for Your Buck

You can also send jumbo postcards to increase the effect of the EDDM. With jumbo postcards you can fit more onto a single card. That means more images, more text, more OFFERS. The possibilities are endless.

Direct mail leaves a deeper impression on people than email and social media. It’s sort of like reading a book – it feels better to feel, smell, and see a real book rather than a computer screen. EDDM postcards extend this idea. And you can write more copy to explain your product or service. Since we are visual creatures, we respond better to high-quality pictures. Place as many as you can on your postcard, and the better they’ll respond.

And because of its size, it will stand out from the rest of the mail your customers receive, which leads to higher conversion rates. Not only that, but it’ll get their immediate attention because it’ll be way bigger than anything else in their mailbox. Did you know you can send a postcard as big as 12” by 15”? And in some cases, the mail carrier will actually use it as a “taco shell” for the rest of the mail pieces when it’s stuffed into your mailbox.

Another feature of these postcards is that you don’t need much room for an address, barcode, and stamp. If fact, the Post Office requires only a small box with a permit and one line of text.

Super Easy

The final reason to consider to send an EDDM postcard is because they’re easy to mail. The tools needed are online from the USPS. It also doesn’t require any extensive knowledge about how mail works or the different levels of postage.

There are only three steps to follow when setting up an EDDM mailing campaign.

First, select your routes from the United States Postal Service EDDM mapping tool.

Second, design a mail piece or have someone design it for you.

Third, print and mail. It’s that simple.

For more details, again check out the EDDM page on our website.

 

every door direct mail

5 Terrific Fonts To Transform Your Envelope

By | Creative Services | No Comments

I remember a heated philosophy discussion in college. The topic was beauty, and as budding philosophers we had to convince one another of our opinions. We debated the perennial question: is beauty in “the eye of the beholder?” We never concluded our discussion (pretty normal for philosophy) but it made me think.

When I was planning this blog, I recalled this debate with my fellow students. No, I still haven’t arrived at any conclusion, but I have come to a different but similar one. When you’re doing direct mail, it’s not beauty that’s in the eye of the beholder. It’s appeal. And the more appeal you can create with your envelope fonts, the better the open-rate for your mailers, translating to more profit.

If you want to add energy to your envelope, charge it with a new font. You might find that one font works better than others. And often, it’s fonts you might not expect. We’ve tested many envelope fonts, and these five fonts all have high open rates. But it’s for different reasons. So let’s look at five different fonts and see what makes them special and appealing to the eye.

envelope fonts

If you want to proclaim rather than tell your message, choose Impact. It does what its name implies—it has an impact! If you’re sending a #10 envelope and want to tease your customer about the contents with a teaser, use this font to do so. “Your Free Gift Inside.” (And for sales copy, try using this font for your headlines to snatch their attention.) It’s a font that stops your readers, grabs them by the lapels, and forces them to read. It’s like when Gandalf slammed his staff into the bridge to stop the smoldering Balrog—YOU SHALL NOT PASS! It’s got that effect.

Next we have Copy Doodles Brad. This is a handwritten font that resembles a harried or flustered person.  It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s ugly. But that’s not the point — and that’s why it’s effective. It’s such a hideous font that your customers will have a difficult time distinguishing it from a real person’s. So when to use this font? Use it only for marketing. It’s not meant for professional or business transactions (for that we recommend Arial or Calibri). Second, be sure it appeals to your customer. If you’re sending a marketing piece to doctors or engineers, you’ll have a difficult time selling your services with this font. Finally, be sure this font meshes with your industry. If you run a funeral home, don’t use this font. You get the point.

Now if Copy Doodles Brad is 100% informal, then Edwardian Script is 100% formal. This is one of the fanciest, most elegant fonts you can use. It harkens us back to the idyllic time of Jane

 Austen and Henry James. When should you use it? On invitations. Especially invitations to a wedding and other important events. For marketing, use it for an event you’re hosting—like a conference with an important guest speaker or for a swanky auction. It’s classic and timeless, and it’s sure to give the appeal of importance.

Arial. When Google launched Google Docs nearly a decade ago, they chose Arial as their default font. And for good reason. Arial is simple, straightforward, and easy to read. It doesn’t contain the dynamite of impact, but that’s not its purpose. And now with Google’s success, Arial has become one of the most used fonts—up there with Microsoft’s beloved Times New Roman. And because it’s so popular, your readers will have an instant familiarity with it. They’ll appreciate your simple, no-nonsense approach.

Finally, Corradine. Here’s a font we love here at Handy Mailing Service. It’s a script font, but it’s not as “scripty” like Edwardian. It doesn’t contain the restricted, Victorian feel of Edwardian. Instead, it has the appearance of someone with methodical, cursive handwriting. It’s easy to read, and it’s clear. It’s best to use this font on pieces where you want people to think you hand wrote them an envelope. It has that power. Try it out. It’s pretty cool.

These are only five envelope fonts, but they’re thousands you can choose for your mailing. But for any font, choose one with these two factors in mind.

  1. It must be consistent with your message.
  2. Your audience must be receptive.

If you’re a doctor or a lawyer and you’re running ads for your service, a font like Arial might work best. Do not use CopyDoodles Brad. People will think it’s a joke. But if you want to market to your audience as a dear friend, try using a font like CopyDoodles Brad or Corradine. They work great for that.

Remember, keep your brand in mind and study your audience for the envelope fonts that best suits them.

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6 Things To Consider Before Sending A Print Newsletter

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In the last blog post, I wrote about the factors you should consider before choosing an E-newsletter. In this blog post, I want to examine the factors of a print newsletter and whether to send one to your customers. I’ll start with the pros, the cons, and present my final thoughts at the end. The end might surprise you!

The Pros Of A Print Newsletter

Pro #1: It’s tangible. I love my Amazon Kindle. It stores thousands of books, lets me read in the dark, and each page is crisp. But I miss real books: the smooth page, using my thumb and forefinger to turn from one page to the next. Real books engage my senses and involve me at a deeper level.

It’s the same for print newsletters. Like books, you flip through pages to read the content. And you can’t beat the way they feel in the hand. Plus, with all the different paper types available today, you can get really creative with your newsletters.

Pro #2: Less competition. How many emails did you have in your inbox this morning? Over ten? I bet so. And that’s nothing compared to what many others receive. Combine personal with professional email, and you create a recipe for chaos. Your E-newsletter enters that maelstrom and mixes with a jumble of other emails. What are the chances your customer will read your E-newsletter?

Compare that with direct mail. I receive three or four mail pieces a day. Then, I pull them from the mailbox, sift through them, read the ones that interest me, and the others I toss them into the waste bin. I don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed like I do with email. At that moment, each piece has my sole focus for at least a few seconds.

Pro #3: Perceived value. Everyone knows email is cheap. So when your customer receives your E-newsletter, will they believe you’re cheap or they’re not worth sending a print newsletter to? It’s something to think about. Because while it’s convenient and affordable to send E-newsletters the upfront cost of a print newsletter might lead to higher sales in the end.

print newsletter

Click on this image to view our April newsletter!

 

The Cons Of A Print Newsletter

Con #1: Cost. Print newsletters cost more. Not only do you need to hire a graphic designer to design them or a copywriter to write them, but you have to pay for the print and mailing. Doing this monthly can get pricey.

That said — while the print newsletter does have a high upfront cost, in the long run it might not matter. What’s important is to look at the benefit of sending a print newsletter as a whole. If it’s converting more leads, then you might make enough profit to offset the cost of printing and delivery.

Con #2: Delivery speed. The print newsletter must travel to its target by good ol’ direct mail, which can take up to 10 days to deliver, depending on the postage attached. If you send your newsletter with plenty of time to deliver, then there’s no issue. But if you’re delayed in designing or writing your newsletter, you can’t afford it to take half a month to finally mail.

Con #3: No linking and tracking. You aren’t able to embed links to other content or track customer engagement.  While, you can see they’ve mailed, you can’t track metrics like words read, links clicked, and how long. You also can’t link a call to action, which might decrease the chance to turn leads into sales.

So what do you think? Is a print newsletter or E-newsletter better for your business? If you want my opinion – send both! This way you’ll reach all your customers, no matter where they are. In fact, take it a step further. Once you complete your newsletter, create social media posts with links to your newsletter. The more you share the better.

 

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5 Factors Of E-Newsletters You Need To Know

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As much as we complain about email, it’s one the greatest inventions of the modern age. The ability to send and receive a letter through the web is a triumph of the times. And while I hate opening my personal inbox and seeing 30-40 emails a day, I’m thankful for the technology.

If you’re not doing so already, you should email a monthly e-newsletter to your customers in addition to a print newsletter. The monthly newsletter keeps them engaged with your company while giving you ample opportunity to sell products and services to your customers. It’s also the best way for you to distribute important (and fun) information.

The E-newsletter (aptly named because you send it through an email) has a list of pros that make it a great option for distributing news and updates for your company. Let’s take a look at some.

monthly e-newsletter

The Pros of E-Newsletters

Pro #1: Cost. You can create, produce, and send with less money than a print newsletter. Apart from the cost of writing and designing the newsletter, you don’t need to pay a lot to send them. Once you design your first newsletter, you only need to plug in the new content each month. And since you’ll send an email, you don’t need to worry about the cost and time of production.

Pro #2: Speed of Delivery. Another pro of E-newsletters is that delivery is instant. Once you’ve written and designed the newsletter, load your email list and hit send. Can it get any easier than that? Also, you can set up delayed delivery and other cool features that make sending newsletters even more effective. So what’s the easiest way to start sending them? Here’s a few websites that make sending e-newsletters a breeze: Campayn, Constant Contact, and MailChimp.

Pro #3: Hyperlinks and Calls to Action. Another great benefit of E-Newsletters is the ability to embed hyperlinks and calls to action within the newsletter. Within any given month, you can link articles or calls to action within the newsletter to give your customers a deeper engagement with your company. And from well-designed software, this process has become intuitive. You give your customers an easy, direct path to a buying decision. Because of this, the odds are much higher that they act on what they’re reading, compared to having to go online if they receive something in print.

These three benefits alone might cause you to consider this option, but a monthly E-newsletter is not without their problems. Let’s look at three of them.

The Cons of E-Newsletters

Con #1: It’s mixed with other emails. There’s a common phrase called “junk mail” that refers to the type of marketing pieces we toss in the trash. Most people think of direct mail when they hear this phrase. But if you think there’s a lot of junk direct mail, consider the amount junk email. The amount of junk email we receive on a daily basis outweighs junk direct mail by 10 fold. And if customers won’t read a direct mail newsletter, what are the chances they’ll read an email newsletter?

Con #2: Little assurance of delivery. While you can have confidence your newsletter will deliver in a timely manner, the same cannot be said about the assurance of delivery. How is this possible? How can something deliver quickly but not really deliver at all? The reason? Spam. It filters emails based on a number of various factors. And while it may deliver, your customer might not open it, let alone read it. There’s already a small open chance when it goes into the inbox, and spam only decreases those chances.

In an upcoming blog, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of a print newsletter. And then we’ll compare and contrast the monthly E-newsletter with the print newsletter, to help you decide the best fit for your business.

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Two Killer Strategies To Personalize Your Mail Piece

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A few weeks ago, I hired a guy to come out and build me a privacy fence. When he finished, he invited me to the backyard for a final inspection. Walking back there, I recalled something I said to him during the estimate. “Jason, more than anything else, I want you to build this privacy fence straight across the top.” He remembered what I said – because my fence is straight. And I don’t mean just straight. I mean razor-blade straight. He went above and beyond my expectations. It feels like Jason listened to me because he personalized my fence the way I wanted.

privacy-fence

Personalize Your Mail Piece

In a similar way, you should think about personalizing your mail piece as much as possible to drive traffic and increase sales. Let’s take a look at two of the ways you can personalize your mail piece.

  1. Include personal fields from your list in your letter
  2. Send different offers to different types of customers

Personal Fields In The List

Let’s start with personal fields in the list because they’re the primary way to transform a mail piece from generic junk mail to personal letter. And the more you personalize your mail piece, the more you’ll drive leads and increase sales.

It’s spring time and you’re an HVAC company wanting to mail to locals. You ask your mail house to give you a list of prospects in the surrounding area. You write your sales letter, create the enticing offer, and now, you’re almost ready to mail.

But you hesitate. In the past you’ve written generic sales letters, and you haven’t received much business. You want to try something different, but you don’t know where to start. Let’s see what we can do.

We can start with the salutation. Instead of using “Dear Friend” or “Dear Neighbor,” let’s use “Dear First Name.” This way your prospect will feel like you’re addressing just him, and he won’t feel like a victim of a mass-mailing campaign.

Next, look for some other fields in your list you can use. How about the “city” field? In the next paragraph alter your copy to add in a “city” field. Say something like, “In Wichita, we only have 5 more appointments we can book this week, so please call now to reserve your spot.” Not only do you include their name but also their city. It’s becoming more and more personal.

But let’s go even further. If you have a customer list, you can really take your sales letter personalization to the next level. Let’s include a unique field. You probably have a lot of information about each customer such as: years of service for, lifetime customer value, dollars spent in the last year, and so on. Find a creative way to place that in your sales letter. Say something like this: “Last year, Mike, you spent $250 dollars as a member of our quarterly check up program, so this year we’re offering to you – for a limited time – a program renewal for only $199.”

Remember, the more personal data you can include in your letter, the more personal your letter will become. Include as much as you can without going overboard with too much data.

Send Different Offers

The second way to use personalization is to segment your list according to the offers you want each person to receive. As mentioned before, this is where a customer list can become very advantageous when incorporating personalized data with each customer.

Here’s an example of what that could look like. You’re rolling out a big time “Memorial Day Extravaganza Sale” and you want to send out a postcard to your customer list. First, divide your list into three different categories based on dollars spent in the last year. Second, create three different levels of offers you’re wanting to give away during this sale. Third, assign an offer to each category by filling in the corresponding field in your list.

Now when you print that postcard, using the variable field in the list, recipients from category “A” will receive offer “A.” And recipients in category “B” will receive offer “B,” and this will continue with category C. So what may this look like in your campaign?

This could mean your bottom feeders, who didn’t top $500 on the year, would only receive 10% off, but your big spenders of over $2,500 on the year would receive 25% off. The beauty in this is that you can completely customize and create as many different offers and levels as you’d like. All you need to do is make sure the offers match up with the recipients in your list.

Well, I hope you can find ways to personalize your mail piece in your next campaign. Remember, try to include personal fields or send different offers.

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4 Questions You Have To Answer Before Mailing An Envelope

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Whenever I’m drawn in by a book’s flashy cover or edgy title, my mind hearkens back to my grade school librarian, Mrs. Gabriel: “Alex, don’t judge a book by its cover.” She was right – the best books often have the worst covers or titles. But while her advice works in the book world, it does not apply to direct mail.  

In direct mail, the people receiving your mail pieces ARE judging. And the covers aren’t cardboard rectangular covers. They’re envelopes –  the “covers” of your direct mail piece.

Your envelope is like the first sentence of a book. The whole message hinges on that first sight. Your envelope might contain sales dynamite inside, but it’ll never detonate if your customer doesn’t open it. So spend ample time crafting each part and parcel.

Here are four questions to consider before mailing an envelope:
  1. Do you want to use a stamp or permit?
  2. What kind of font do you want to use?
  3. Will it have teaser copy to entice the reader to open it?
  4. What size do you want it to be?

Stamp or Permit?

We’ve found that when mailing an envelope, using a stamp has a better open-rate than a permit. Stamps are warm and welcoming; permits are cold and corporate. Do you want to be in the ranks of banks, mortgage lenders, and utility companies? Probably not, right? If you want to sell your product or service, choose a stamp.

Now, choosing what kind of stamp … that takes more thought. Is there a stamp consistent with your brand? Do you want to appear professional? Do you want to present yourself as a friend? Are you a non-profit company looking for donations? What kind of postage rate do you want to mail at? These are some questions to consider when deciding. The USPS offers a variety of stamps. You’re sure to find one or two that fits your brand. Oh, and here’s a pro tip: place the stamp on slightly crooked. It’s more human. We’ve done this for customers, and while it requires a little more time and setup, it’s worth it.

The Font

After you decide on a stamp, select a font that stays consistent with the message you are trying to send. If your tone is more formal, then choose one that gives that appearance. But if you are trying to imitate a personal letter, then definitely choose a handwritten font. Modern technology has blessed us with a plethora of handwritten fonts that can be applied using machine. You can choose an elegant font like the ones on many envelopes for weddings invitations. Or you can choose a font that resembles the signature of a harried doctor. There are even fonts that resemble the scribblings of children. And like the stamp, you can rotate the address block at a slight angle to make the envelope feel more human.

mailing an envelope

Example of an envelope with a handwritten font, teaser copy and a stamp.

Teaser Copy

You may want to consider using teaser copy for your envelope. This can persuade your customer to open your envelope. We’ve seen thousands of different teasers over the years, and our customers continue to use them with success. Don’t overdo it though.  If you present teaser inconsistent with your sales piece, you risk losing the recipient’s trust, which will kill the whole sale. Use teasers that persuade them to open, but also present an honest message about the contents inside. And try using variable data in the teaser like, “Hey, Dave, check this out!” The more personal the teaser, the higher the chance for a better open rate.

Size

The size of the envelope matters. Bigger is often better; these types of envelopes are easier to notice, and they’ll stand out among the other mail. We’ve even used FedEx envelopes before to market our company, and we encourage our customers do the same. They work, because governments and banks often send their documents in this way. They do cost more, however, so calculate your potential return on investment carefully. On the other end of the spectrum, consider sending a really small envelope. Like the one you would receive a note card in from your grandma.

Just remember this, whatever you decide for the envelope needs to stay true to what message you are sending with your mail piece. Keeping a unified tone with your piece allows the reader to develop trust with you and your package. So when in doubt, always let that be the deciding factor for your decision.

There’s more that can be said about mailing an envelope, so subscribe to our blog to make sure you don’t miss another post!

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