Direct Mail Strategy: Ready, Set, Action!
What makes direct response advertising different from general advertising? One word sums it up: response.
No matter what type of direct marketing media you use to target your customers and prospects, your primary objective is to generate response—immediate or delayed, in the mail or online.
And it’s your call to action working hand-in-hand with your offer that generates this measurable response. That’s why your call to action should never be overlooked, under-valued or taken for granted. It plays a very important role in every mailing you send out.
What, When, Why and How
So, how do you make your call to action more compelling and effective as a response generator? Start with the basics: Focus on what, when, why and how. Know what you want your reader to do before you start writing and designing. If you’re the approving manager or creative director, make sure your writer and designer understand your specific response goals from the very start.
What. Do you want your reader to call, mail, fax or visit your Web site—now? Or do you want her to stop by your retail store in three days, or drop by your trade show booth in three weeks?
When. When you want your reader to act must be effectively reinforced by your copy, design and mailing format. For example, when your call to action is for delayed action—such as visiting a retail store or exhibit at a trade show—make sure the mailing format includes a retention piece such as a coupon, gift card or calendar sticker to serve as a reminder. This retention device also should include your call to action, in case it’s the only piece that gets retained.
Why. You also need to be specific about why your reader should respond. The call to action on a recent postcard from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)—“Register Early and SAVE $”—is too general to be compelling. How early do I have to register, and how much will I save? It’s not explained on the postcard. It leaves the reader asking, “What’s in it for me?” And he or she doesn’t want to have to work to learn the answer.