Life would be so much easier if we all have a crystal ball. But we don’t, so we have to rely on good old-fashioned research with a dash of copywriting cunning.

You might think that writing a piece of direct mail is easy. All you need is a description of your product, the price, a method for the customer to get in touch to order your product and Bob’s your uncle.

Well, if that’s your approach, Bob won’t even be related to you because it won’t work.

Behind the innocuous façade of a direct mail letter, lurks an array of mystical mechanics. You need a list that complies with GDPR (no cold mailing), a stonkingly great offer, and of course superb content.

But they will only get you so far. Two other factors are often overlooked, and they are the focus of this article.


Get your offer out there – fast

This is the most obvious aspect but, surprisingly, one that is often overlooked.

Get your offer out there immediately (in your heading) and then say it again, and again, and again. Copywriting is a lot like storytelling– you create a drama by showing your readers the power of your product and how it will benefit their lives. There are two different ways of achieving this:

  1. When your product is desirable (e.g. jewellery, holidays etc.)

Show your readers a vision in the header or opening paragraph using the benefits – looking good, showing great taste, enjoying a luxury holiday etc. This is the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Show your reader how and why the product you are offering will fulfil all their dreams and desires (and don’t forget to mention the offer again).

  1. Overcoming pain and fear

This will help you by providing a formula for benefits that help you overcome things you don’t want like dirty clothes, higher taxes, ill health etc.

First describe the pain (e.g. disease, dirt etc.), then introduce your offer (laundry detergent, vitamins etc.) which is the cure and then follow it up with evidence of how your offer will cure the pain.


The carrot and the stick

This is an excellent tool within the freelance copywriter’s arsenal. It is a means of telling your reader that good things will happen if they respond to your offer and, of course, that there may be undesirable consequences if they don’t.

So, if you were selling washing power, your offer would be a brand new scientifically proven formula that gets all your laundry clean first time.

Carrot – buy the detergent and enjoy sparklingly clean clothes forever and be incredibly successful in all that you do.

Stick – use your regular detergent, wear dull clothes and spend your life aspiring to be your friend who always looks clean and smart and is incredibly successful.

So there you go, direct response mail is much more than just throwing a sales letter together. The words that you use have to convince the reader that your product or service is right for them.


Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting, has been writing successful direct mail campaigns for many years. Call her on +44(0) 1449 779605 to have a chat about how she can give yours a boost.