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How To Write A Mailshot

If you are putting a mailing campaign together in-house, without any bought-in expertise, here are a few tips on making your mailer more responsive.

The Letter

Whatever you are sending, be it a brochure, a product sample or a leaflet, always enclose a letter. Use the letter to

  • Introduce yourself
  • Highlight the main benefits of your product/service
  • Guide the prospect to the contents of the envelope eg see the enclosed brochure for details
  • Alert the prospect to the response mechanism eg phone 020 7419 7999 to order or fill out the enclosed order form

1 Personalise - if you have a list of named contacts (and if you are using Electric Marketing, then you will have), then personalise the letter: Dear Mr Smith is better than Dear Sir/Madam. If you haven't got the target's name, then Dear Marketing Professional or Dear Stationery Buyer is OK, but it is probably better not to use the Dear - at all.

2 Headline - a person casually glancing at a piece of paper will look at the headline at the top and the PS at the bottom. Make sure your headline grabs their attention. If you are running a promotion the word FREE or SAVE ££ works well. Or you can offer a solution to a problem. The following examples come from a leadership coaching consultancy, CoachingNorth.

[headline] 'Are your staff held back by poor leadership? Are your managers just managers or are they leaders?

[body copy] We are a specialist consultancy that helps leaders to raise their game. We are passionate about leadership and our aim is to create sustainable performance improvements within your company.

3 Body Copy - Try to tell a story. If you have captured the target's attention, your job now is to keep it. Use short sentences. Use short paragraphs. Use joining words to begin each paragraph so that it is not easy for the target to stop reading eg

  • "And that's not all..."
  • "Plus, we offer you..."
  • "What's more..."
  • "As well as..."
  • "In addition..."

Overuse the word YOU to communicate the benefits to the target eg

  • "You will receive..."
  • "You will find..."
  • "You will be able to..."
  • "You will discover..."
  • "We offer you..."
  • "You can see..."
  • "We help you..."
  • "You might like to.."

Use bullet points to break up the letter visually and to highlight key benefits succinctly.

Use underlining, emboldening, different type faces. All these typographical tricks will catch the eye of the casual reader, as his eye travels from headline to PS and possibly, back up to the body of the letter.

4. Towards The End - make sure you have a 'call to action'. You must tell the reader what they must do next be it phone you, fill out the form, send an email, look at your website. You can offer an incentive such as a free sample, a gift or money off if they respond quickly. Make sure you can afford the incentive by capping it eg first 20 orders get a free CD.

The PS - After you have signed off always use a PS and if there is room a PPS. Use it to communicate your key benefit or your call to action eg PS If you want your leaders to get better at leading, call us today.

The Response Mechanism

Make sure your mailing piece has a response mechanism and that the target is given clear instruction as to what to do next eg phone now, fax back the enquiry sheet, fill out the order form. It might seem obvious to you but make sure you tell the prospect what you would like them to do next in the letter. Response mechanisms can be

An order form - which should ask for all the information you need to process the order - name, address, phone number, email, payment details (will you invoice or must they send payment? - ask if there is a separate billing address and leave a space for the purchase order number to remind those that need them to get one, to ensure that their accounts department will pay you).

Enquiry sheet - this is useful for high value projects or consultancy which require a meeting or a phone call. It gives the target the option to say yes, I'm interested but not quite now. It can give options such as. Please call me now. Please call me in 6 months
It gives you a diary of phone appointments with interested parties

Phone call - if you want them to call you, make sure your phone number is emblazoned across the mailer and make sure there is always someone there to answer the phone. You should always enclose a form of some kind as this also gives you another chance to sell your company to the reader. If you have ever received something from Reader's Digest, think about all the bits of paper that tumble out of their envelopes. They have been using direct mail for some years, so on the grounds that they must know what they are doing, enclose as many items in your envelope as space and postage allow.

The Envelope

Your envelope must have a return address. The Post Office no longer opens undelivered business mail to return it to the sender. If there is no return address on the envelope, it goes in the Royal Mail bins and you may keep on mailing the target, wasting money on postage and brochures.

If you are paying a printer to put your address on the envelope, then it costs only the typesetting fee to add an envelope message to encourage the reader to open it.

Something that will appeal to a wide range of people. Again the word FREE will increase the number of people who open the envelope. Or ask a question that no businessman can say no to eg Do you want to improve your company's performance?


Remember to keep a record of your results. How many orders did the mailing generate? How many appointments, enquiries and phone calls? Listen to your prospects when you speak to them. Did they understand the mailing and did they know how to respond? Were they the right people to mail or did they pass your mailer up the corporate ladder, sideways to another department or down to a subordinate. Make note of all comments and incorporate them into your next mailing campaign.

One of the best things about direct marketing is that different creative approaches can be tested. So if you have two ideas, try one out on a small proportion of the list and if response is poor ie less than 2%, try the other idea on a second batch.

Re-mailing the same mailing list often works well, as long as you are careful to remove the people who have already responded or unsubscribed. Electric Marketing does not charge you extra for re-mailing a list but GDPR insists that you keep your data up-to-date, so don't leave the re-approach more than three months after the purchase date of the list without using one of our mailing list update services.

If you get a great response and you are really pleased with your list, please drop us a line. We'd like to feature your review of Electric Marketing on our website.