7 Secrets of Successful Fulfillment Mailings
Don't spend time, energy, and money developing a hot lead-generating piece, and then neglect the important fulfillment mailing — the mailing in which you "fulfill" the request and deliver the promised free item.
Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. I received an attractive self-mailer that did a great job of interesting me in a new software utility. I wanted more information and called an 800-number to request an Info Kit. The software publisher, who did such a nice job of getting me to raise my hand and identify myself, sent me a pathetic bunch of data sheets and product reviews.
Instead of treating the lead as a golden opportunity, they sent me a slovenly collection of materials that was a complete turnoff. The bottom line? The company did the front-end right but completely blew the back-end of the two-step mailing process. I suggest that you don't make the same mistake. Check out these fulfillment basics that can help you turn curious prospects into paying customers:
1. Be sure to put the right message on the front of the envelope.
It is imperative that you tell the reader right up front (literally) that the materials contained in the envelope were requested and are not junk mail! People may know the name of your product — not necessarily the name of your company. That's why your simple corporate return address all by itself may not mean anything to your prospect. You have to say something like: "Here's The WidgetPro Information Kit you requested!"
2. Don't waste money on a fancy envelope.
The envelope that contains your fulfillment materials can be simple and inexpensive. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it should be simple and inexpensive. You don't want potential customers to be confused by a prospecting package that looks like "junk mail."
3. If you're just sending paper, don't enclose a bunch of loose data sheets.
Put them in a special folder with a terrific title and promote that. Or what about creating an exclusive White Paper or Executive Report? Anything but a hodge-podge of random information.
4. Ask for the sale.
When you do your original lead-generation mailing, you're selling the offer, not the product. But when you mail the fulfillment package, you want the prospect to order. Lots of companies miss the boat. They include a two- or three-paragraph kiss-off letter with the fulfillment piece saying "Here's your information. Thanks for your interest," and that's about it. They simply don't give themselves the space they need to do what has to be done, namely: Keep moving the prospect through the sales cycle until the sale is made!
5. Explain what you've enclosed.
The letter is the place to position all the elements of the package and explain what you've included and why it's of interest. Tell them, "here's what I've included for your review" — then provide a short, bulleted list that explains what you've got waiting for them in the envelope. Remember, you should control your readers every step of the way and never leave them free to start rummaging around the package and thinking for themselves. As always, stay in control and tell them just what you want them to look at or do.
6. If you give readers a demo disk (or just about anything else), get them to try it out immediately!
One of the most important things you can do is get prospects to give your demo a look-see while they're still interested — not later on. If a reader puts your disk into the black hole between their monitor and the desk lamp, it may never emerge again! This advice holds true for whatever you've mailed to them. If you send prospects an Executive Report, ask them to read it now. If you enclosed an important White Paper, ask them to review it now.
7. Include a well-thought-through Business Reply Card.
If you want them to order on the spot, spend time creating an order card that works. This important item shouldn't be an afterthought. Here are some BRC pointers to remember:
- Make sure you state the offer clearly. A lot of prospects avoid the sales letter altogether and go straight to the BRC.
- Make the math easy to do. Your customers should not have to add up a bunch of numbers (cost of goods, shipping & handling, tax, etc.); be sure your art director has made life easy for them.
- Write with energy and personality (the way you always should!) When you're writing selling copy, you always have to keep the energy level up and the benefits in the reader's face.
- Always stress that the offer is risk-free. Restate the guarantee right on the BRC- - in the copy or in a separate guarantee box. Or, you can do both.
- Punch up the 800-number. Say, "For faster action call 800-123-1234" right there on the reply card.
- Use visuals to spur action and guide the reader. A well-placed red arrow can point the way to key chunks of copy and increase order rates.
- Give your BRC an appropriate title. I don't like calling a BRC an "Order Form" or "Order Card." Try "Action Card," or give it a special name like "Preferred Customer Upgrade Card."
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel and Microsoft. Levison writes direct mail, emails and Web copy. For a free subscription to his monthly email newsletter for marketers, and a free copy of his report, "101 Ways to Double Your Response Rates!", visit www.levison.com.