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Push The Envelope

No matter how good your message is, it's useless if you can't get your prospects to open your sales letter. How can you increase the odds your direct mail will be read? Consider the following:

*Be inviting. Instead of a regular business-sized envelope, consider an invitation-sized mailing. It stands out, looks upscale and appears more personal.

*Use windows or not? One choice isn't necessarily better than the other. Window envelopes allow you to "tease" the prospect--they'll be able to see a bit of the offer through it. Recipients also know right away it's a business mailing. To some, however, nonwindow envelopes look a little classier.

*Indicate who you are. Don't print a return address without the company name. Some experts believe this makes the prospect curious, but you may also risk making the person wonder what you have to hide.

*Don't crowd the envelope. Offers can be put on the envelope noting particular sales, close-out items, special discounts and the like. Just don't overdo it--putting too much on the outside of the envelope makes it look busy.

*Avoid gimmicks. Nothing looks shadier than having pseudo-legal-lingo on your envelope, such as "Under federal law, the post office must deliver this to the person to whom this is addressed." Any message on the outside should be straightforward.

*Print or use labels. Unless you're writing a personal note, don't address the envelopes by hand. It simply doesn't look professional.

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