Direct Mail Journal

Direct Mail and Marketing Tips

How to Create Direct Mail That Stands Out


How can you send mail that builds trust, delivers your intended message and grabs attention? Is there a formula for success when it comes to winning with direct mail marketing? We think so! Of course, there are other factors involved in a successful campaign, like mailing to the right target audience and having a product or service that is worth investing in. Assuming you’ve got those things covered, how can you create mail that stands out?

Postcards That Punch

You can be as creative as you like with a postcard design, but generally, you can pack a lot of punch into a postcard campaign. They are low-cost but can generate a high ROI due to their attention-grabbing capabilities. You can use these in between bigger sends; for example, if you post catalogs then postcards in-between catalog sends could keep customers interested.

Personalization applies to postcards as well.  This can include the text, like the name of the recipient, and in some cases the image or offer used. If you’re sending offers to previous customers this might include something different to what you would send to new potential customers. You can personalize many aspects of postcards.

Be Bold

We have already learned the formula for success is 70% list, 20% offer, and 10% creative.  So, if we have the right list and the right offer, how do we use a creative to grab attention and close the deal?

Bold colors, bold images, bold words. Think bold if you want to be heard. It’s no good sending out a piece of mail that looks like every other piece. So, forget what you already know about direct mail and re-define the space for yourself. The first rule to standing out is not to be afraid to stand out in the first place! This means no holding back during the creative process.

To use a postcard as an example, think of it as a little (or little giant) billboard in the mail.  The advantage to a postcard is that you don’t need an open to get an impression. The person receiving your postcard will see your message – we already know that.  So, make it stand out from the crowd. Use personalization, use color in unique ways, use an image that grabs attention and begs for a spot on the fridge. Now that is the gift that keeps on giving.

Snap them Back

Snap-packs stand out for a different reason to postcards. They look like official letters from places of authority. With a snap-pack, you have limited space to work with. You need to be direct and to the point.  Chatty just will not work with this format. It will look like an official document (PIN number, rebate, contest notification, …) on the outside. You will probably want to continue with that theme on the inside – official: direct and to the point.

You’re almost guaranteed opens so you’ve covered that first difficult step. Once opened, you need to generate a response through wording and content that still engages. Don’t just connect, make the recipient take action.  We need an offer so compelling people have to respond. Make the offer so good that they will have regrets for weeks if they don’t respond.

Crystal Clear

A message that is simple but absolutely crystal clear will win. Use headlines and subtitles when necessary. Bullet point to reduce wording (for example on postcards). Don’t confuse the receiver in any way, use a strong call-to-action that is EASY to action. (take action on).

Extreme Messages

So even though your message needs to be crystal clear, that doesn’t mean it can’t be EXTREME! Extreme messages get attention. However, you must deliver on that message otherwise you lose trust and value. In the online world, it’s known as ‘click bait’ and often extreme headlines or video titles do not deliver on their promises. This only annoys the receiver and as we said, breaks trust. An example of an extreme message could be the following: ‘Change Your Life Today’. If your product or service is genuinely life-changing, then this could work really well. If it would be underwhelming in reality, then you wouldn’t go for this technique.

Headings should be concrete, and benefit-oriented.

  • Be Debt Free in 30 Days
  • Cut Your Mortgage Payments in Half
  • Experience the Best Vacation of Your Life – For Free

Sometimes the use of numbers, and concrete concepts help with visualization and credibility.

If you have tried sending mail in the past that seems to follow the rules above but hasn’t resulted in any success get in touch. We have mailing lists that might suit your product/service better and can offer expert advice when it comes to design, mail type, and deliverability. Creative design is easier said than done, so let our experts guide you if this isn’t your forte.

Right now, we’re offering YOU a FREE, no obligation, direct mail assessment. Our DM experts will spend up to 2 hours consulting with you, critiquing your current DM piece (message, offer, response device), your target audience, and suggest ideas for even more powerful future campaigns. ($280 value) Contact us today on our toll-free number.

Zairmail ( is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.



About the Author

Wilson Zehr is a Direct Mail Industry Expert, Direct Marketing Specialist, and CEO of Cendix (, the leading provider of Web-to-print solutions that increase sales both online and offline. He is also the founder of Zairmail (, the company responsible for many "industry firsts" in direct mail.


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