Direct Mail Design

Direct Mail Design

There are many elements that are critical when you design your direct mail piece. However for this post we will discuss only 2 things. Defining what your offer should be, and what format will work best for our customer/clients. 

If you are wanting to do a Direct Mail Postcard and want advice on sizing and structure specifically, then click here. 



The offer is also a critical element to a successful direct mail design effort. Despite its importance though, many direct mail efforts do not get it right. In fact, many direct mail pieces don’t really have an offer at all. A successful offer: 

Has a direct and RELEVANT connection to the target list you’ve chosen. 

Needs to be more SPECIFIC than just “Call us or visit our website for more information.”  

Must be SINGULAR. Do not try to promote more than one thing in a direct mail piece.  

Should be TIME-SENSITIVE to create a sense of urgency.  

Is EASY to understand and respond to. Avoid % (i.e. 50% off). Instead use a dollar amount (i.e. $50 off). Make any associated order forms easy to complete. And, keep offer restrictions to a minimum. Also, use easy response methods, such as toll-free numbers, email address, or easy-to-type URLs. 

Feels EXCLUSIVE. A person is much more likely to respond to a direct mail piece if they feel they are part of an exclusive group being offered the deal. I.e. Preferred Customer, Loyal Subscriber, etc.  

Offers as GUARANTEE. Companies are afraid of guarantees, but buyers LOVE them. A guarantee helps your prospect feel less nervous about their purchase and builds trust that you really want to do right by them. And the risk is low…only about 1-2% of your buyers will exercise the guarantee.  

Make sure the offer is OBVIOUS. Don’t hide your offer in the small text. Make it a prominent feature of your direct mail piece. 

Some SAMPLE offers: 


  • Buy One, Get One Free  
  • Try-Before-You-Buy (30-day trial, first month free, seminar, etc.)  
  • Provide a Premium  
  • A prize awarded for a particular act  
  • Something offered for free  
  • Be the first! (First 50, 100, or so on)  
  • Free Sample (Demo your product/service)  
  • Price Discount  Complete a Survey  
  • Information/Education (white paper, article, etc.)  
  • Consultation (free estimate, assessment, etc.)  
  • Choice of payment (deferred payment, credit card, etc.) 


In all of the samples above, if you target consumers, consider a coupon for redemption. Over 70% of buyers respond to a coupon message (across all age groups). 



Direct mail designs come in a variety of formats—the postcard, the business letter, or the 2-D or 3-D package to name just a few. The truth is, all three of these formats pull about the same percentage of responses, when used correctly. 


  • Postcards 42.0%  
  • Catalog 36.0% 
  • Flyers 35.5%  
  • Larger Letter Envelopes 35.2%  
  • Letter Envelopes 34.0% 

The magic then is to choose the format most suited to reach your goal and specific audience. 



  • Postcard or Self-Mailer. If your message can be communicated in a short and simple way, the postcard is the way to go. Best used as a traffic builder (to a store or website) or transaction (placed orders). 
  • Catalog. If you have a lot of products to sell, a catalog makes sense as a direct mail format. Especially if product photos are necessary for purchase decisions.  
  • Flyer. Great if you have a general message or announcement you want to release. Usually no bigger than 81/2×11, the flyer is often used when no current relationship exists. Still, the flyer can be effective with customer announcements, as well (i.e. invoice supplements, etc.) 
  • Package. The direct mail package usually comes in a large letter envelope and works well when more education is needed than can be covered in a 600-1000 word letter. A package can include the letter, additional brochures, order forms, and other supplemental information. This format is a good option for those people that have already established contact with you (prospect, lead, customer) and should be uniquely “packaged” (i.e. bound as a “reference” guide, sent in a hard envelope, etc.)  
  • Dimensional. If your target is more of a high-end buyer (i.e. executive level) then a dimensional mailer is a good choice. Most “gatekeepers” will not throw away a package that includes a “gift”—no matter how big or small (i.e. pen, book, chocolate, etc.).  
  • Letter. This option is best when the direct mail needs to feel “personal.” For example, be addressed to a specific person, be from a certain person, and/or be a part of building a relationship with the contact. 2 page letters pull a higher response than 1-page letters. Always include a companion piece with a letter (i.e. brochure, case study, article, etc.), which can count as the second page. 


These are just a few things that will allow your Direct Mail Design to be more effective.

If you are in need of any direct mailing services, would like a free estimate, or just simply have a question feel free to click here or call 972-242-2427.


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