Building Trust In Local Direct Mail: Building Trust In Local Direct Mail

Direct mail is full of missed opportunities, like a blank envelope that doesn’t do its second, but equally vital, job: to get itself opened.

Here we have two local home services businesses that use very different self-mailers to share valuable information, and thereby build trust with their prospective customers.

The first contractor, Horizons Services, regularly mails a “Consumer’s Guide for Replacing Your Heater and/or Air Conditioner.” Besides tips on how to choose the right repairs, the brochure also highlights the extensive training of the company’s employees.

Another contractor, Affordable Water Heaters & Plumbing, mails a two-sided 6″ x 11″ oversized mailer. Rather than simply advise the prospect on who to call for emergency service, this giant yellow sticker is designed to be applied to the front of a water heater, and from there, start doing its job.

On the left side is a list of things to look for to avoid problems. The rest gives instructions for when trouble arises and includes a diagram to describe it to the company, whose local service numbers are also spread across the bottom.

By leveraging important content, these companies position themselves as authorities, ready to be trusted when they’re needed.

For more resources with extensive design and copy tips, as well as case studies and best practices- all designed to help build response- go to and click on the bookstore tab.

Paul Bobnak is the research/content director for Direct Marketing IQ, the research arm of NAPCO Media's Target Marketing Group. Since 1998, he's also been the archivist at Who's Mailing What!, which houses the most complete, searchable and fully online library of direct mail and email in the world. He has read and analyzed thousands of direct mail packages (offers, copy, designs, incentives and formats) in more than 200 industry categories, including nonprofits, retail, insurance, telecom, B-to-B, financial services and publishing. He writes for the e-newsletters Who’s Mailing What! Report and eM+C Weekly, and has been a judge in NonProfit PRO's Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence since 2006. Reach him at or on Twitter at @PaulBobnak.

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  • Shelley Sweeney

    Studies have found that people view printed marketing to be the “most trustworthy” of media channels. Moreover, the Direct Marketing Association found that direct mail has an average of 4.4 percent response rate, compared to email at a .12 percent response rate – an average 10-30x higher for direct mail. If a consumer feels a connection with a product, it is more likely that they will become a repeat customer. To gain this trust, marketers need to focus on personalization, relevancy and understand the way end-users think to cut through the clutter. So, printed direct mail pieces with valuable content is a surefire way to do so! – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

  • PaulBobnak

    Hi Shelley-Thank You for your comments. You are so right. Unfortunately, these mailings were the exception to what I see everyday in my job. Big companies can get away with it, they have branding working for them. There’s such an opportunity here for small & mid-size local & regional companies to create customers for life, without much investment.