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AMiable Solution #380: Putting the Moves on Your Mail

Find out why Jeffrey Dobkin’s observation, “Direct mail is like professional wrestling: you can do anything you want to your opponent, but only for five seconds,” is both funny and true.

Wrestlers generally use one of two stances when they wrestle: the square stance and the staggered stance.

The square stance is all about balance. It requires the wrestler to keep both feet parallel and to distribute their weight equally across both feet. It’s a more neutral stance, allowing the wrestler to react either defensively or offensively.

The staggered stance, on the other hand, is an attack stance. The wrestler keeps one foot forward, one back, and pushes his/her body weight over the lead foot, ready to lunge at any moment.

According to experts, both stances are effective, and both are used throughout a match. The key is to mix them up and learn, through experience, when to use each.

You could say the same thing about direct mail. You’re not always going to use the same strategy.

You could, for example, decide to take a straightforward approach and mail a postcard. There are no surprises here: everything you have to say is out in the open and visible. You just have to wait and see if your opponent—your prospect or customer—makes a move.

Other times, you’ll switch up your strategy and entice your readers to take action with envelope mailings. Maybe you’ll put your best foot forward and engage him/her with irresistible teasers. Perhaps you’ll make an all-out attack with colored envelopes, bulky inserts, or stunning graphics. Or maybe you’ll opt for a more subtle, but still strong, move and send a personal-looking white envelope or official-looking envelope, both of which David Frey, President of Marketing Best Practices Inc, claim are the most-opened types of envelopes.

Your options are many, so your tests should be, too. Without a solid starting stance, it’s hard to make the penetrating shot, the killer letter or offer that results in a win.

You only have seconds to engage your reader. What kind of moves will you make?

To submit your own direct marketing challenge for a professional, outsider's perspective, email us at

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