Secrets of Effective Direct Mail – Part I


The Sales Force That Never Sleeps (Part Two of a Two-Part Series)

The Secrets of Effective Direct Mail

If you thought the ugly, misleading junk mail you receive is direct mail, you wouldn’t be alone. But what you’re seeing is the least effective style of direct mail. Not all direct mail is junk mail.The most innovative and effective advertising being done today is via direct mail. Why? Because if you know how to do it and have a realistic strategy, it works. It really works. And there’s good news. You can do it without spending a lot of money.How do we know that direct mail works? We know because it keeps coming. If it wasn’t effective, advertisers would stop using it.

Direct Mail Works Because it’s a Tested Medium

What does that mean? It means that the most successful practitioners of direct mail use formulas and strategies that work. Strategies that have proven themselves time after time.Last week we talked about how effective the personal letter can be. Personal letters are a part of the direct mail arsenal. They should be a part of your marketing tool kit if you’re really interested in finding new clients and keeping in touch with your present clients. If you’d like to review what we’ve talked about before click HERE.

What Makes Direct Mail Work?

I have to admit, I’m a big fan of direct mail. Let’s look at 10 things that you must know in order to produce direct mail that works.

  1. Visually… What Works and What Doesn’t? Walk out to the mailbox and take a look at what’s there. Every night when I come home, I ask my wife, “Anything fun in the mail today?” I love going through the catalogues and other direct mail. Why? That’s where I do my homework.Granted… there’s a lot of really bad junk mail in there, but there are some gems of genius too. If I see something that I really like, I save it, learn from it and try to incorporate the things I like about it into what I do.But the really bad stuff is fun too. Junk mail has a unique style. Learn to recognize it and make sure you understand how to make your direct mail look different.
  2. Stay Away From Cheesy Tag Lines or Too Many Type Fonts- Bold with italics, ALL CAPS and multiple exclamation points!!!! look like junk mail. Don’t use them, no matter how tempting. Stay away from using every typeface in your word processor too. Pick a typeface that’s easy to read and stick with it. If it’s tough to read what you’re writing… nobody will.Copy writers and graphic designers have always disagreed on this, but it’s more important that your reader understand and respond to what you’re writing. The aesthetic beauty of the design and layout is secondary. Words sell. Everything else should be designed to promote reading the words. Keep the designs clean and simple.
  3. Don’t Make Me Think… Too Much- Don’t use too much jargon. (The language of your profession.) Most of your potential clients won’t know what you’re talking about. It makes it harder to read. (see #2) If you make it hard to read, they won’t.Of course, you want them to know that you are a professional, that knows your profession, but whether you’re talking to bankers, attorneys or housewives, keep it simple. Make it easy to read and understand.Break up your sentences in short, easy to read paragraphs. If your message looks daunting to read… they won’t. Most people skim, so make sure you’re message is understandable even if they don’t read every word. Indents, headlines and sub-headlines make it possible for the reader to pause and read more where it’s interesting. Underline or bold specific sentences or thoughts that are the “must read” parts of your message.
  4. Use Your Experience- If you know your model customer inside-and-out, use that knowledge. Your direct mail piece is nothing more than a written conversation with you. Talk to your clients and potential clients as you would if you were right there with them. Use a personal tone. Don’t sound corporate. It’s harder to say no to John Smith than it is to Acme Widget Corporation.
  5. Being Cliche is… So Cliche! Be honest. How would you respond to, “This Amazing Offer is Too Good to Be True!!!!” Yep, it probably is amazing, but if it sounds “too salesy”, nobody’s going to believe it. Tell the truth about your service and your potential clients will appreciate it. Not only that, but for example, if your offering a special price on payroll services, tell them why. “I’m offering this special price on my payroll services for new clients because I want to expand that part of my business.”My mom always said, “Honesty is the best policy.” Even in advertising it’s true. It’s the only way to keep clients once you find them.
  6. Ya Gotta Ask- As a younger guy I was a salesman for an industrial company. I spent a lot of my time with corporate purchasing agents. One day I received an especially big order from a buyer that my major competitor and I had been working on for a long time. As he gave me the order he said, “Do you want to know why I gave you the order?””Absolutely.” I said.”Because you asked for it. The other guy never asked for it. He told me all about how wonderful his company was, what a great job they would do. But he never asked for the order.” He said, “That’s why I gave it to you. You asked for it.”It may be at the bottom of the advertisement, it might be at the top… but you have to ask for the order. You may have the best bookkeeping/accounting service in the world, but if you don’t say, “I’d sure like to be your bookkeeper. When can I start.” You will more than likely never be his or her bookkeeper.
  7. Postcards, letters or flyers? Postcards are great direct mail because they eliminate the barrier of the envelope. But I’m a big fan of a letter or letter package for most high-end products or services. That’s why bankers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals usually don’t advertise with postcards, because there isn’t enough room to tell their whole story.What’s the difference between a letter and a letter package? A letter package could include an additional brochure, a coupon or a response card. They’re a little more expensive, maybe a few cents more per package, to send out, but they are often worth the extra cost.However, if you ask a direct mail expert, he’ll tell you the most important part of the package is the letter. If you have to dump anything in the package… dump everything else before you get rid of the letter. The letter is your salesman.
  8. Use Color… But Use it Wisely- Color will often attract more attention, if you don’t use too much. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Color is more expensive and if it doesn’t add to the effectiveness of your message, it’s a waste of money. Many very successful direct marketers don’t use color. If they do use color, they only use one or two colors.If you are going to use colors, remember that bright colors speak loudest and dull colors speak more subtly. Think about what you’re offering, the image of your practice that you want to represent and consider the audience you are mailing to. Use colors, but use them wisely.
  9. Get Personal- Look again at #4. (Use Your Experience) Business is personal. I realized years ago as a salesman, that my products weren’t as important as the relationship I created with my clients and customers. There were always substitutes for my products, but my success or failure depended on whether or not I was able to build a relationship of trust and confidence. Your clients will call you because they trust you. Not “Amalgamated Bookkeepers.”It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, business is done person to person. Forget that, and you’ll be just another face in the crowd.
  10. What’s the Best Way to Mail It? Although it might be tempting to bulk mail everything, don’t. Although bulk mail works fine for some products… catalogues, postcards, etc. A personal letter or letter package has a better chance of getting opened if it’s mailed first class.Why? Because statistically that’s what works. First class is hands-down opened more than bulk mail. Hand addressed letters are opened more than labeled letters and hand signed letters, (in blue ink) are read more than signature stamped letters.

The Professional Bookkeeper Program Teaches Tested Direct Mail that Works

Module 4 of the Professional Bookkeeper Program has tested and successful sample direct mail sales letters that you will use to find and keep clients. Letters that have proven themselves time after time. Marketing that will help you find new clients who will gladly pay you for your professional services.At Universal Accounting, our commitment to your success doesn’t end with teaching you bookkeeping and accounting. Any education that doesn’t give you all the tools to create the professional and personal lifestyle you want isn’t enough to help you build a successful and profitable bookkeeping business.We’ve been teaching people like you and me how to start a small business bookkeeping and accounting practice for over 25 years, since 1979. We’re the small business accounting experts. And we’ll be there with support and advice for 6 months after you complete the course to help get you on your feet and on the way to your very profitable business.

Remember #6?

I don’t know of another bookkeeping or accounting course that is as complete or offers as much support as the Professional Bookkeeper Program from Universal Accounting. Starting a professional bookkeeping and accounting business will provide you with a better income, create a wonderful lifestyle for you and your family and give you the personal and professional satisfaction that you’re looking for. You won’t regret it. Enroll today!

Table of Contents


Recent Articles


GrowCon Recap — Day 2

For owners of accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation, and advisory businesses, the opportunity to work ON the business and collaborate with fellow entrepreneurs at an event like GrowCon is truly invaluable. Scores of the over 100

Read More »

Recommended Reads

Tax Preparation Course

About How it works Testimonials Course Details Coaches Curriculum FAQs Apply Today More than just a Tax Preparation Course We focus on hitting your income & career goals. If you are like our students, you

Read More »

Professional Bookkeeper Certification Course

Get The Skills To Be A Bookkeeping & Accounting Professional     What is our Professional Bookkeeper™ Certification?   Many professions use designations and certifications to identify their areas of expertise. It recognizes individuals as

Read More »

Become An Enrolled Agent, EA

Become An Enrolled Agent, EA An enrolled agent is a tax practitioner who is licensed with the Internal Revenue Service to represent clients before the IRS. An enrolled agent is the highest credential awarded by

Read More »
QuickBooks Specialist Certification.jpg

QuickBooks Certification

Get the Skills to Be a QuickBooks Specialist QuickBooks Specialist™ Certification The Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide to QuickBooks is designed to teach anybody how to use QuickBooks. Whether or not you consider yourself a bookkeeping professional,

Read More »

Accountant Certification Programs

Get Certified in Accounting, Bookkeeping, Tax Prep, QuickBooks etc. Enhance & Grow Your Business Knowledge in as little as 4 Weeks with Our Accountant Certification Programs From employers to clients, everyone likes a financial professional

Read More »