The Idea

Try sending mailing targeted prospects a hand-signed direct mail letter about who you are and how you can benefit their company. Immediately you’ll stand out from all the spam emails and telemarketing calls because you took the time to look up their address, find their name, pay for postage, write the letter and get it mailed.

Pen for direct mail letter

Direct mail vs. digital marketing

Direct mail gets a bad rap because the conversion rates are so low. When digital marketing was new, people figured that sending emails and using display ads was the way to go. It was new, anyone with an email was glad to get one. But as with everything that works in marketing, everybody jumps on it and then it doesn’t work anymore. But people are so used to receiving spam email and seen so many ads that they’re almost immune to them.

Standing out is the only way to succeed. How many times have you received a professional, hand-signed or handwritten direct mail letter this year? How about one that clearly identifies the benefits of a product or service to your business. Maybe even written by a founder or executive? If mail shows up in a hand-signed envelope with your name on it, odds are you’ll open it and read the first line at least. The same can’t be said for emails because emails get filtered to your spam box and can be automated for cheap.

The pen is mightier than the printer

In the age of marketing automation, people tune out with ad blockers and auto-deleting messages that don’t connect with them. The good thing here is that direct mail is not a beauty pageant. You could pay a graphic designer $2000 to come up with a beautiful flyer and send it out to 100 people. But there’s no personal connection with mass-printing. In less time you could write and print a clear 1-paragraph message on a letterhead and personally sign it. In fact, you should do both and test the results.

How to write a personalized direct mail letter

  1. Be genuine – Explain your position in the company and don’t use any false statements or exaggerations. The tone should be personal without overdoing it on salesmanship.
  2. Do research on the client – You don’t have to go overboard because people can sense that you’re being fake if you jam in too many points starting with “I love how your business..”. Include just enough for the person to appreciate your effort.
  3. Clearly outline the benefits – Your direct mail letter should be all about their company. The benefits that address their pain-points are the most important part. The person should read and say “wow, if this is true it would be great”.
  4. Make sure you have something of value – No amount of personalization will save a product that’s obsolete or not useful enough. Business people are busy, they don’t owe you the time of day. You need to offer value to get their interest and time.
  5. Respect their time – Time is the most valuable resource for many people. Keep it short. A simple paragraph or two is all it takes.
  6. Outline a clear follow-up or call to action – Don’t leave the person wondering what they should do next. Close the letter with a call to action asking for a followup phone call or email. From there you can set up an in-person meeting or something else.
  7. Include a personal PS message – Research shows that people read the P.S. notes at the bottom of letters more than the rest. This is a great opportunity to compliment or comment on something specific to that business.
  8. Follow up if they don’t –  Give the business a phone call asking if they received your letter if you don’t hear back from them. You can find out if they didn’t receive it, are uninterested, or just didn’t have time to reply. All of those are better than not knowing what happened. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to set up a meeting then and there.
  9. Deliver the direct mail in person – If it’s a smaller, local business you can get extra points by delivering the letter in person. This works especially well if the business is a customer of yours already.
  10. Run an organized campaign – You should set up a campaign before writing your letters. Figuring out who to target, what goals you have for the campaign and when to stop is essential.
  11. Split test different wording – Like anything difficult, the odds of you succeeding on the first try are slim. A/B testing your letters is also a good way to gradually create a letter than gets the maximum number of responses.


  • Ease: Doable
  • Cost: $10+
  • Scope: Medium
  • Speed: Slow
  • Reach: Country