May 11, 2017 50/30/20 Recipe for Successful Direct Mail. YUM!


So you wanna whip up a successful direct mail piece? Like any good recipe, we need to gather our ingredients. Unfortunately, direct mail is a bit different from chocolate chip cookies. No sugar. No chocolate. And you probably shouldn’t eat it…but if done correctly, it can yield some flavorful results!


  • 50% AUDIENCE
  • 30% OFFER
  • 20% DESIGN

One of the most important ingredients in our direct mail piece has to be the audience. Think of it like this-why would you slave away in the kitchen all day making this amazing feast of pot roast and bacon if you only invited over a bunch of vegetarians? Maybe it’s the best pot roast in the world, but it’s not going to be appreciated by your dinner audience. And it might even lose you some friends.

Much the same, your direct mail piece may be the most well-designed piece with the greatest offer but that means nothing if you send it out to the wrong people. So first things first, WHO are you trying to reach? If you’re in the business of selling water heaters, you probably aren’t marketing to college kids.

The best thing you can do is get a highly targeted mailing list. Have one already? Great! You’re a total professional! Don’t have one? Great! You’re in the right place! We can help you get the best list for your business.



So, you know WHO you’re targeting with your direct mail campaign, but do you know WHAT you’re offering? This is almost equally important! Once you get into the hands of the right people, you need to make sure you entice them with the best offer. A 5% off coupon is not as likely to see the same response as a 25% off coupon. It might be scary to offer such a large discount, but you have to think of the long run. Generating new business and loyal fans will reap you rewards in the future in the form of repeat customers and word of mouth referrals.

And don’t just think you have to offer a discount. Rebates or bonuses work well too. BOGO events (Buy One Get One) can be very successful, depending on your product. Just try to think of the offer from your target audience’s perspective. What would interest them the most—monetary discount, added value incentives, rebates or bonuses? And remember, limited time offers or first come, first served discounts can yield especially high results because they create a sense of urgency.



The good news? You are already 80% on your way to a very successful direct mail campaign. Imagine the cookies perfectly baked and ready. They’re already delicious on their own, but you HAVE to add some decorations for even more appeal. Think of design like the frosting and sprinkles of your mailer! They add a ton of POP but they really only serve to enhance the already yummy cookies.

The design should be an extension of the offer and should connect with the audience on an emotional level to illicit a response. No matter what your industry, the design should be clean and legible. Do not try to fill every square inch with text or graphics. You need to catch someone’s eye in just a matter of seconds, so leaving a bit of white space helps your offer stand out.

You also need to think about paper options. Give your mailer a bit of weight so it stands up to the mailing process. Other things to consider: matte versus gloss paper, mailer size and format, etc.


Congrats! You’re now in possession of the recipe for a successful direct mail campaign! But, as with any recipe, there are many variations and versions of one recipe. 

If you’d like to learn even more about direct mail,
download our Guide to Direct Mail.

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