As we begin our march toward Halloween (or should I say continue our march, since stores have had Halloween candy on display for weeks already), it’s an appropriate time to remind ourselves that when it comes to direct mail, it’s better to focus on the treats rather than on the tricks.
Forget about the articles that boast about “10 Tricks to Get Readers to Respond.” Why? Is it because you can’t trick anyone anymore? No, it’s because—when you get right down to it—people don’t like to be tricked. They may chuckle the first time. They may be slightly amused that someone “got them” the first time. But that chuckle quickly turns to a snarl when someone tries the same trick again.
Here’s an example.
If you’re looking for a great trick to get a mailing opened, send it in an envelope and hand address the envelope. A hand-addressed envelope screams, “Personal!” And how many times have you received a personal letter in the last five years or so? It really stands out.
I know because I keep getting these things in the mail. The only thing is—the letters aren’t from anyone I know. As a matter of fact, there is no return address on the envelope. The letters come from an outfit called US Airlines, and they offer two roundtrip airline tickets with a retail value of $1,229. All I have to do is call a toll-free number to collect my free tickets.
Some people are tricked by the handwritten address. Others are tricked by the clever name (there IS no US Airlines, but people think they are getting something from legitimate carrier US Airways), and so they respond—only to find out that they’re dealing with an outfit called “onetravel.com.”
That’s no treat. It’s a trick. It may work once, but it won’t work a second time. When it comes to business (whether it’s for profit or not-for profit), you don’t want to trick people into doing business with you. You want to win their trust. You want to deliver something they really want or need. You want to give them a treat.
The first time I received one of these letters, I opened it immediately. Hey, it was hand addressed to me! Then I realized I’d been deceived. I suspect a lot of other people have opened similar letters—one time. After that they go straight into the trash without being opened.
It’s a great trick for getting a piece of mail opened. But it’s a terrible direct mail practice. It doesn’t work and it destroys any possible credibility. Instead of focusing on tricks to get people to open your mail, focus on making sure you’re mailing to the right audience and focus on providing them with helpful information that they really want or need.
By the way, if you’re interested in improving the performance of your direct mail efforts, we invite you to download our free 21 Tips for Improving Your Direct Mail Campaign eBook (Notice that these are “tips” not “tricks”).
Don’t be a trickster. Treat your customers and prospects to something that will actually help them. And have a Happy Halloween!