The 6-Step Direct Mail Autopsy: Why Your Mailer Is DOA
Also check to make sure that you have a reply form, the form is sized to fit into your reply envelope, you have actually included the reply envelope, there are no other missing pieces, the right mailing list is used, your tracking codes are correct, etc. Always have samples of the piece printed with your mailing list and go over it with a fine-tooth comb. Fill out the form, call the number, go to the website and check the entire response process. And make sure the people in your organization who have a knack for finding mistakes are those who look at it — which may or may not be you!
3. Compare it to successful pieces.
Take a hard look at your offer. Has it changed? Weigh the information included. Is there more or less? Are you speaking about your product in a different way? Are you using a different format than before? Are you asking people to reply in a different way? Does the design look wrong for what you're selling?
Technically, if you're testing correctly, you will change only one element at a time, and you'll always know why something fails or succeeds. If you're not testing that way, now you know why it's a mistake.
4. Look for the "muleta."
That's the name of the little red cape bullfighters use. They wave it around in one hand to distract the bull from the sword they hold in the other hand. In a direct mail piece, the muleta is something that distracts potential customers from your offer, message or product.
One direct mail piece I saw recently had a teaser on the envelope that read, "Stop monkeying around." There was also a big picture of a goofy-looking monkey. This piece was selling a set of high-end automotive tools, but the verbal and visual puns acted as muletas serving only to confuse people. Jokes don't sell.