Five Ways for the Letter to Overcome Short Attention Spans
Every day, marketers battle the shrinking attention spans of their potential customers. While the electronic channels appear to operate on the same wavelength—and, in part, created those waves of attention and inattention to begin with—of our scatter-brained society, direct mail naturally struggles with it.
Direct mail requires the prospect to read sentences, paragraphs and—gasp!—even pages. How anachronistic. Of course, unless it wants to go extinct, every company that uses direct mail needs to acknowledge this attention-span problem and adapt—just as it is grappling with the postal rate changes. But, no, that doesn’t necessarily mean gutting the package.
Instead, consider six ways to get that attention back just long enough to improve your chances of getting a response.
1. Provide Plenty of Value
Just because prospects have decreased attention spans, it doesn’t have to follow that letters get shorter, says Peggy Greenawalt, president and creative director of Tomarkin/Greenawalt in Hartsdale, N.Y. “It has always been true that when you give people the feeling that they are getting a lot of stuff for their money—value—they are more apt to buy. A long letter makes it seem like you’re getting a lot, even if the reader just scans it,” she remarks.
If you do make the letter shorter, she recommends you use a four-page booklet format in a smaller size. That way, “you can cram in a feeling of ‘more stuff,’” says Greenawalt.
But there’s a method to such creative madness. Instead of filling the open air around the Johnson box and the signature, as well as the big margins in an 8-1/2˝ x 11˝ letter, or writing long lines to use up the margins, Greenawalt says to fold a similar sheet size to four pages so the real estate can be used more efficiently. Also, she advises to not drop the still effective P.S.