While direct mail can mean everything from a postcard to a catalog, many business owners get the best response from sending out a direct-mail package. In addition to the sales letter and brochure, this typically includes three other elements:

  • The outside envelope: There are two schools of thought on this. One school swears that teaser copy on the envelope will get recipients to open it. On the other hand, some people throw away anything that looks like junk mail. The opposite strategy is to trick readers into opening your mail by sending direct mail that looks like a personal letter. Software programs can print addresses so they look like handwriting. Put only your address, not your company name, on the return address to arouse the recipient's curiosity.
  • A response form: The form should be easy to fill out. Be sure to include your phone number in case the prospect wants to ask a question or order by phone.
  • A reply envelope: Enclosing a postage-paid reply envelope helps get orders. If you can't afford postage-paid envelopes, include a pre-addressed reply envelope. If the prospect has to put the mailing down to search for an envelope, he or she may also have time for second thoughts.

Excerpted from Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Guide You'll Ever Need