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Bright Ideas

Direct mail success is all about bright ideas. Through the years we have seen thousands of mail pieces. The mail pieces we receive in our inbound mail continue to amaze us. Some seem spectacular, others are missing key components for success and many surprise us.

We have listed just a few ideas that might inspire your next great success. Every success starts with you, assessing who your target is, what you want them to do, and how you can motivate them to take the action you want.

List - List - List

Most people spend more time on creative than list. If you reverse that, you will increase your likelihood of success. You should mail to only the best prospects!

Sell the Offer - Not the Product

If you have done your list homework, you are mailing to people who just need a nudge to action. The offer is the nudge to action they need. Focus your copy, creative and space on the offer.


People react - buy or give - based on emotion - comfort, fear, happiness, greed, hope, satisfaction, stress, promise. Emotion will move them to take the action you want. Those you have moved emotionally will look for rational support to convince them that this is not a bad thing or is a risk free action to take.


You are far better to mail multiple times to a small, strong list, than one time to a larger, weak list.

In-House List

It is far more profitable to cross sell, up sell your current customer or upgrade your current donor than it is to find new customers/donors. You will need new customers/donors for growth, but for profit, spend your resources on your in-house list. It is gold.

Print is Credible

Your customers and prospects or donors and donor prospects read mail. Studies indicate they take action based on what they receive and read. There is something confidence building with "getting it in writing". Use the medium to drive people to order/give, or to drive them to your inbound phones, web site or store.


The post office makes a bulk mail "lick and stick" stamp. It helps make advertising fundraising mail look first class and can boost response rates. You can even use 2 stamps as if you sat at your desk, wrote a letter and had to use 2 old stamps out of your desk drawer.

Business Reply Mail

If you do not pay the return postage for your customer/donor, you may want to test it. It may increase response rates. For high end customers/donors, you may want to consider putting a first class stamp on the reply envelope. It has been shown to dramatically increase response.


Put some valuable information in your newsletter and people will read it very differently than advertising or fundraising mail. They will look for the information that might help them. Each article should have a "close". Everyone does not read every article so if there is not a "close" in the one they read, you lose the business/donation.

Post Cards

Tell less, sell more. Your prospective reader does not have to open anything to see your message. But, you have very little space. Only sell why and how they should take the action you want. This has become a very cost effective mail option.

Bold Colors

Bold colors will pull better than pastels. The mail piece needs to grab the readers attention. Bold colors will do that best.

Envelope Teaser Copy

You should test teaser copy on the envelope. A highly charged message alerts the reader that this letter is about advertising/fundraising mail, but if it is strong enough to get them inside the envelope, it will increase response rates.

3-Dimensional Mail

Packages will most always get opened. This gives you the readers attention. You still have to motivate them to take the action you want, but having their attention is a good start.

Variable Data Printing

Lots of people use the reader's name to personalize the mailing. That has been proven to be valuable, if not over done. Variable data printing allows you to use the name in more powerful ways (ie, their company name on the display you could sell them). You can also change images based on what you know about the prospect (ie, they are more likely to give to lions, so the image is of a lion or more likely to give to pythons so the image is of a python). This is a very powerful tool worth testing.

Courier Font

Courier font (that is right, the old typewriter look) pulls a better response every time it is tested in fundraising letters. Who knows why, but it does. We are not aware of tests with courier in business letters.