(This is part 2 of the “How to super-charge your lead generation” series. Find part 1 – “Why Direct Response Marketing Is The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread” here)

Welcome to part deux in our direct response marketing education. In this section, you’ll learn more about how to create the marketing piece that goes out in the mail. In the final and 3rd installment, you’ll get more resources and links. You’ll also find out the best ways to get it mailed (earth-mail) and how you can track it.beginners guide to direct marketing piece development

I’ve researched and tested these direct / offline marketing strategies and they work, so let’s get right to it.

Creating the content and the “irresistible offer” (Read more on Amazon, Mark Joyner) will take some tweaking. You’ll not be very likely to create a home-run on the first try. But, you can copy and model others (see the resources section at the bottom of this special series).

Let’s begin by choosing the right formats.


Many different formats exist – from dimensional mail (lumpy mail, 3Dmail (Travis is great)) to regular letters and ‘express’ letters in various sizes and differences in packaging. For this special blog series, we are only focusing on postcards.

Over-sized postcards stand out from the piles of earth-mail received. That’s the 8½ x 11 sizes. BIG is often better.direct mail marketing formats

6 x 11 postcard – yellow background, black text. Use this – no matter how UGLY it looks.

IMPORTANT: Put headline on front and back. And, if you have a brick and mortar business, put map on there and consider QR codes (mobile) also.

Try with 2,500 sends for a green one, 2,500 for a yellow one. If using a phone number (you should) – use a call tracking code and test it. Put the entire sales-letter on a postcard (even if small font)! The ROI can be better than anything you’ve tried before, but don’t expect a land-slide of phone calls or web visits. The ‘action’ events are good if 1-2%, but very typical is half of 1%. (That’ll give you some math on what to expect from mailings)

You know about the lumpy mail idea from above. Here’s a simple tip: just put a rubber band into an envelope and send. It’s not expensive, and will cause somebody to open it faster.


This is covered in thousands of books written about Copywriting and Persuasion techniques for your sales copy. If you follow a simple formula however, you’ll be ahead of the next guy.

Here is the formula to use:

Research your audience, find out what keeps them awake a night, and then write the sales letter with this in mind: “Problem – Agitate – Solve”.

Problem.problem agitate solve graphic

Discover and share the problem, rub some more salt into the wound, and then provide a solution to it. (I know this sounds harsh, but it’s been done with so much success, why try to fight it?)

So… Learn what their problems are (a specific problem/issue is best). What is the “itch” they want scratched? And, remember the adage – “the more you tell, the more you sell”. That means you shouldn’t just focus on short copy sales letters. The ones who are REALLY interested will read the entire thing. And, the more they read – the more likely you’ll get them to contact you. (assuming you have a clear, specific call-to-action).


How can you further agitate (“pour salt into the wound”) that problem”? In other words, how can you “twist the knife” even further to make the problem seem bigger than it is?


Solve it. Present a solution to clear up their troubles. Since you are sending this offline – ask them to call or visit a special URL (or PURL) and offer a special report, teleclass, webinar, CD/DVD and test with a free offer, or just pay for shipping, etc.

List brokers

SRDS (from part 1) will give these to you. You can search online as well – but they can do research for you (non-paid) and get a quality list for you. It’s very helpful if you’ve done some research on the demographics, for example. Be as specific as you can – and give them more than just an age group!


Use of images and graphics should be tested. Each market is different. For example, a male-centric financial services area may enjoy a “beautiful girl/lady” on the cover, with an intriguing headline. However, as a general rule – see what others are doing in your industry, and try different options. In fact, just “doing the opposite” may work very well for you. Go basic on the mailers. For example, you may choose only black text on white background.

Note: many top marketers have found that black regular courier or times new roman font on a yellow (yes, ugly) background works fantastically well!

Mail optionsUSPS united states mail options small business

Fedex, overnight deliveries, 2-day air, first-class mail, etc. Most of the time, first-class mail is preferred, but it needs to be tested. It also depends on what you are sending. If you are a regional business, a regular ‘bulk mailing’ may be fine. You should look into Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) if you’re just starting out. You can send postcards for 14.5c a piece! You can blanket a ‘house region’ for very little money for your tests.

Read my “How To Start A Direct Mail Marketing Campaign” for vendors, strategies and more tools.

Let me know what you think!


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.