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  • AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #379: 3 Essential Elements Every Direct Mail Letter Should Have

Letters don’t require all the bells and whistles that well-designed brochures do, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own required form or structure.

Letter writing may have gone to the wayside among friends and families in today’s email and text world, but it continues to be a mainstay in B2B and B2C marketing.

In fact, in his book, “How to Market a Product for Under $500,” direct mail copywriter Jeffrey Dobkin says, “If you are sending any mail without a letter, you’re probably losing about 30 to 40% of your orders.”

Why are letters so important? They feel, despite being sent to hundreds or thousands of individuals at once, personal. When done well, they cut to the chase of the sale: they tell the reader what’s so special about the product or service being sold and why the reader can’t live without it.

In short, they work.

Although you can find all kinds of checklists of must-have elements in your letter, we think the success or failure of your letter boils down to three key elements:

1. Benefits. Whether you’re selling a service or a product, your letter should focus on the benefits—not the features—of the offer. This is where you draw your readers in and show them how amazing their lives would be if they had your offer in it. Sell the experience. Highlight the emotional or practical “wins” your product provides. Emphasize the changes your readers’ donations make in the lives of others.

2. Call-to-action. The purpose of your letter is to generate a response. That response won’t necessarily be a purchase. It could be to visit a website, request a sample, reserve a spot, access more information, etc. Whatever it is, ask the reader to respond throughout the letter, not just at the end.

3. Letter elements. Your “letter” is another form of marketing, of course, but it should look, as Dobkin says, “like a piece of personal business correspondence.” Your letter should include letterhead, a salutation, clearly defined paragraphs, a signature, and a P.S.

Well-written letters take time. Although they don’t involve the intricacies and creative planning that brochures do, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your careful planning and efforts. Take your time. If you do, and you do it well, your readers will let you know.

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