Whether it be via e-mail or mailshot, the content of the communication is critical to determining whether it is read or simply dumped immediately. You have two seconds to get the interest of the reader. For e-mail marketing, the subject line is critical, as is the sender name. For letters, the actual content itself is more important. However, in all cases, once the communication has been opened, the next hurdle is to keep the interest so that what you have taken the time to write is actually read. The following points should help:
Make sure you get to the decision maker
Does your offer of products and/or services match the needs of the recipient? Don't make your pitch to the sales department if the CEO or MD is the decision-maker.
Get to the point
If you begin your letter with general, hazy information - you risk losing the reader. It's critical you make your point in those first few lines.
Emphasise the benefit
It’s easy to spit out a list of the product’s features. However, you have to remember that the person you are targeting is not interested in what’s “in the box”, but more “what does this do for me?” The well-know drill analogy applies – a customer buying a drill is not primarily interested in the best machine money can buy – they want a hole in the wall as quickly as possible. So advertising the cleanest, fastest, most accurate method of getting a hole in the wall is much more successful than a bright, clean, shiny drill with lots of buttons and switches.
Keep it personal
Your communication should be personally addressed and should refer to the business name/sector in the body content. The contact’s first name should appear at least twice in the content.
Remember your objective: Direct marketing generates leads. That’s all. You are asking people to put a hand up, “yes I am interested in your product.” You are narrowing down a list of contacts to those who are genuinely interested. Don’t expect the orders to automatically arrive.
Keep it simple.
No Jargon. Unless it is a very specific product that you are targeting to a particular group of people, you need to keep the language simple – a twelve year old should be able to follow the text. People have been known to try the letter out on their kids!
Use a Postscript (P.S.)
If it’s there, everyone skips to the P.S. If that contains something interesting, there’s a good chance they’ll go back and read the body content.
Use short paragraphs.
Readers are often turned off by large gobs of text. Try to use short paragraphs, and bullets and/or numbered lists.
Keep it to one page.
One page is enough. By all means attach brochures, adverts, etc. if you wish, but generally one page should be enough to get the message across.
Get them to communicate with you.
Give the recipient the opportunity to come back to you.
Offer further information, white papers, free draw, etc.
Make a deadline.
If there’s no limit on the time they have to act, the probably won’t. The thinking is, “I’ll do that later.” If there’s a discount by the end of the week, then you’re far more likely to hear.
Call to action!
There’s not much point in sending a communication if you don’t tell them what you want. “Contact me NOW for this limited time offer...”
Nothing can sell your product or service better for you than your existing customers. Select customers you know are happy to give a good testimonial, and make sure that they won’t be put out by the odd phone call (prospects are ingenious at finding the contact details even if you don’t provide them). Don’t be too concerned if they give one or two negative points – every business is run by human beings and it helps to bolster confidence where this is pointed out.
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