Have you bought into the direct mail confusion? It is the most frustrating marketing, or the most lucrative, if you know what you are doing. Here are four things not to do.

1.) Tell the reader they are about to be sold something.

Savvy direct mailers know that the Postal Service requires you to put your return address on the mailer somewhere– but that doesn’t mean it has to be on the front. If the envelope states: “Acme Insurance Services,” you are apt to give it to your crayon-wielding 2-year-old to practice staying within the lines. Getting the letter opened is 90 percent of the battle. If they don’t open it, they won’t read it.

2.) Tell the reader what he will be seeing inside. If you tell the prospect on the outside that they are about to win a million dollars by opening the envelope, many will toss the letter, jaded by past unkept promises. But if you don’t advertise on the outside and instead put your best material on the inside, they will at least read the first paragraph.

3.) Make it look like a mass mailing. There are few things that topple interest quicker than telling the prospect they are not even important enough to warrant a personalized address. One good way to address your piece is to put the envelope in a laser printer and crank it out. Better yet, pay a high school kid to hand address the envelope.

4.) Not ask the reader to respond. Include a self-addressed postage-paid mailer. The easier you make it for them to respond, the more responses you’ll get. Some companies offer a free pen or a getaway weekend for two. Some savvy marketers include a dollar bill in a solicitation. If you want to get a quick response, give something away that the reader can use. One of the best examples I have seen yet is a lottery ticket in the envelope with the statement, “If you don’t win, you need to come to this seminar!”

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