The 5 Key Elements of a Great Direct Mail Sales Piece

If you're new to direct mail, these 5 tips can help you create a sales piece that attracts a buying audience.

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By Craig Simpson

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In his book The Direct Mail Solution, direct marketing expert and entrepreneur Craig Simpson provides easy-to-follow solutions for creating direct mail campaigns that work! In this edited excerpt, the author outlines why you should write your own sales piece and how to get started.

If you've never written a sales piece before, it might seem like an impossible task. But let me tell you why you would be the perfect one to write the sales copy for your business.

  • You understand your product or service. You know its strong points and weaknesses. You know what makes it unique and better than anything else out there.
  • You love your product or service. You have great enthusiasm for it. You probably think about it every waking hour, and maybe you even dream about it at night. It's that positive energy that readers pick up on that makes them want to know more about the product and what it can do for them.
  • You're familiar with your competition. You know their strengths and weaknesses and why what you offer is a superior product.
  • You understand your prospects. You know why they need your product, what problem they have that it can solve for them, what they're looking for specifically, and how your product is designed to meet their need.
  • You know the story of the product -- how your passion for some idea drove you to create it or get involved with it. Stories make great sales pieces. They grab people's interest and get them hooked so they'll keep reading all the way to the end and finally place the order.

In other words, you're the best resource for all the information that's going to be the basis of your winning sales piece.

Good sales copywriting is often informal and comes from the heart. If you can talk about your product to other people, there's no reason why you can't jot down your ideas and turn them into a written sales piece.

Once you get started, it can actually be fun. Every time you come up with a great idea to add, like a new benefit, and every time you come up with an exciting new way to describe your product, you'll quickly jot it down, and the more you do, the more ideas you'll get. Start writing down points as they come to you throughout the day. Think of customers who've used your product or service and had a good experience so you can throw in some examples.

Then all you have to do is gather your notes--it's like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You start putting all the pieces together in the right order, and before you know it, you have a sales piece. You just have to polish it up a bit and you'll be ready to go.

If you're going to create your own sales copy, start by putting together a collection of sales pieces that appeal to you. You probably receive mailings every day from companies. Which ones grab your interest or have a tone that appeals to you? What are the elements of the piece that really capture your interest or make it seem convincing? What is it that clinches the deal for you? Spend some time studying them carefully.

Think about the following elements that will influence how you write the piece:

1. The message. What is your product about? What does it do? What makes it special? Why would someone want to buy your product? What's the benefit to them of buying it?

2. The audience. Who will be receiving the sales piece? What are they after? What do they already know, and what will you have to explain to them? What do you believe will appeal to them about your product?

3. The offer. What's the specific offer in the sales piece? Are you offering a special price or an added bonus? What will people receive if they order now instead of waiting? It's usually good to have an irresistible offer with a time limit to encourage a quick response. You want them to order now! Give them an incentive to do so. And make sure you have a clear call to action--step-by-step instructions for what you want the reader to do next.

4. The voice. Every sales piece has a "voice." It may be personal or impersonal. It may sound like it's coming from the owner of the company or from a third party. It can sound urgent, scary, encouraging, humorous. It can say "I'm just like you" or "I know how to help you." Above all, you want the piece to make you sound believable and trustworthy.

5. The lingo. You want the piece to speak the language of your audience. If there are certain buzzwords or certain specific expressions that should be used, use them judiciously; you don't want to overdo it. But if you're writing to a general audience who will be put off by buzzwords, don't use them.

In general, if your sales piece makes potential buyers feel that you're talking directly to them, that you understand their needs, that you have a unique solution to their problems, that you'll deliver on what you promise, and that you have a great offer, you'll be well on your way to receiving a great response from your sales letter.

Craig Simpson

Author and Owner of Simpson Direct, Inc.

Craig Simpson has managed thousands of direct mail campaigns and grossed hundreds of millions in revenue for his clients over the past 15 years. Simpson is the owner of Simpson Direct Inc., a Grants Pass, Oregon-based direct marketing firm, and a respected speaker/presenter on the topic of direct mail. He is the co-author with Dan S. Kennedy of The Direct Mail Solution. He blogs at

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