Somehow I got on the email distribution list for TMR Direct, a company that specializes in direct-mail services. I’m glad I did, because they keep track of direct-mail trends and have a ton of research to back up their stats and recommendations.
With so much emphasis placed on e-marketing media—email, twitter, Facebook—you might think that direct mail is all but dead.
Au contraire! According to TMR, direct mail has a greater response rate than email, and people are far more likely to donate to nonprofits in response to a mailed rather than an emailed solicitation. Plus, in a sea of electronic messages, direct mail messages stand out, especially for the younger crowd (in fact, according to statistics gathered by ProfitFuzion.com, young people were the most likely demographic to respond to a direct mail piece in 2012).
So sales letters are still a worthwhile assignment for bcomm classes, and you can find good coaching tips on the TMR website. For example, . . .
–The latest TMR email I received was titled “Should Your Direct Mail Scream?” The article had good advice to share with your students when they’re trying to craft an appropriate attention-getter.
–“A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Customers” talks about the importance of giving your direct mail visual appeal—while also pointing out that the most important factor for success is the right distribution list, not words or pictures.
–One article gives “6 reasons Your Direct Marketing Strategy Should Include Coupons.” Until now, it never occurred to me to suggest that my students make coupons part of their sales messages. But in many cases, they should.
You can also download free whitepapers from TMR, such as Best Direct Mail Practices in an Evolving Marketplace, to learn about the role that direct mail can play in today’s multimedia marketing campaigns.
The sales letter has always been a popular assignment with my students, and I’m glad to have solid evidence that this is still an important genre in business writing. A well-designed sales-letter assignment can help students think through not only their verbal and visual choices but also how the message will function in relation to other media in an integrated sales effort.
So as you’re planning your fall courses, don’t feel shy about including the time-honored sales letter. Just be sure you have your students think about its new role and purpose in the e-media marketplace.