Copywriting for direct mail marketing

At HubRunner, we find new customers through referrals and through a range of different marketing campaigns, from social media to traditional direct mail marketing. While the costs are significantly higher, we do have success with our direct mail campaigns, and we wanted to share a few things we’ve learned. But first…

A pop quiz!

What’s wrong with the message on this direct mail piece that we received from Time Warner Cable?

Direct Mail Marketing Piece from Time Warner Cable


The primary message on this piece guarantees that Time Warner will provide service that is hassle-free for 30 days, which implies their service will involve hassles after that time. Actually, we’re surprised that Time Warner would be honest about this, since its pretty much a guarantee that you’ll be frustrated with their service at least once.

Tips: Copywriting for direct mail marketing

Here are five quick tips to keep in mind when you’re creating a direct mail marketing piece for your business:

1. Five seconds first

Do you actually read all the text on direct mail marketing pieces you receive? No? We don’t either! You know why? Because nobody does! Your message must grab the reader’s attention in five seconds or less. If it doesn’t, your piece probably won’t work.

2. Everyone likes pain killers

No, not the ones that give you that warm fuzzy feeling! We mean that folks like it when you can solve a problem for them — when you can address a real pain point. So, make sure that you address a challenge that the recipient is likely facing, but address it in the context of how you can easily solve it for them.

3. Less is more

We suggest editing down your copy at least three times. Shorten it everywhere you can. Don’t just make the phrases shorter, actually remove messaging from the piece. We know, it’s really hard to do. The one thing we did like about the Time Warner piece shown above is that it is super concise, and that’s a good thing.

4. Get feedback first

Print out a color copy of your piece — this is called a “comp” and you will use it to get feedback. If it’s two-sided, print both sides, trim them with scissors, and glue them to each other. If you’re working on a postcard, glue them to both sides of a different postcard so it feels substantial. Then take your comp and show it anyone you can to get their opinion. Ask them what makes sense, what’s confusing, what they like and dislike. Don’t be offended by their input. Just stay subjective and learn from what they tell you.

5. Know before you go

Do a pilot campaign! If we wanted to be super rhyme-y, we’d say, “Know before you go, so you can go with what you know.” Lame. But it’s true! A pilot campaign helps you know what works before you go with a big campaign, so you know what works before you scale it up. Print a small number of your mail pieces and send them to a range of different lead types (think about sending maybe 500 or 1,000). This type of smaller test marketing campaign is called a “pilot” campaign. In your pilot, send a small number out and track how many responses you get and how many sales you make. Depending on your product, you may need to send a few rounds to get enough data. Make sure to track your metrics and then calculate whether or not you’re getting enough return (in real dollars!) to justify the expense of your direct mail marketing campaign.

We hope these tips are helpful! Got some ideas on things we should have mentioned in this post? Please email us or add a comment!