Three Parts of a DM Letter
Do you know how to construct a true and effective direct marketing letter? Maybe you think you do. But do you know there are three parts to a proper direct marketing letter? I’ll be there are many financial services marketers who don’t.
Creating an effective letter for a marketing campaign is different from the way you write a business letter or a personal letter — or other types of marketing materials. Many years ago, this was the formula I was given for these special prospecting letters:
Tell them what you told them.
Tell the again.
Here’s what that formula means.
Tell them. The beginning of your direct marketing letter summarizes your entire offer, typically in the first paragraph. Forget the “We know you’re a wonderful person and we’re a wonderful company…” type of introduction. This isn’t baseball. There’s no windup before the pitch. Make your offer right at the start.
When I was learning to write direct marketing letters, I was told to finish my letter and then go back and throw away the first paragraph. Maybe the second one, too. By then, a novice writer finally gets to the reason for the letter.
Tell them what you told them. The remainder of the body of your letter expands on your first paragraph’s offer. You present more details, and if there’s enough room (like in a multi-page letter), you show benefits, reasons, and examples of why the prospect would be foolish if he didn’t accept your offer.
Tell them again. Now we get to the P.S. This isn’t like writing to your mom. In your personal letters, the Post Script is where you include some news tidbit you forgot when you wrote the body of your letter. Not in direct mail. Here’s where you “tell them again.” You summarize your offer again. Repeat a phone number or whatever you’re using as a call to action.
Why repeat your offer here? Because studies show people read the P.S. and Johnson Box before they read the rest of the letter. If the P.S. interests them, they decide to spend time reading about your offer.
I’ve seen marketers treat the direct mail P.S. like it was a personal letter. They add all sorts of new information. NEVER add a new offer to the P.S. The reader will look for a deeper explanation of that offer and won’t find it, so you’ve placed negatives or questions in the reader’s mind and that influences how he accepts the rest of your information.
There’s much more to writing a good marketing letter, but when you know the three parts or divisions that help make a common letter powerful, then you’re on your way to a successful marketing campaign.
Maybe you’re wondering, what’s a Johnson Box?