As direct mail marketers, we are always looking for ways to get prospects to open the envelope – and then actually read the sales piece. Sometimes our approach requires us to be a little more creative to grab the prospect’s attention.
I want to share with you one method that I’ve used many times with great success. It’s known as a Tear Sheet Mailer, and it has a number of components that make it so effective.
Components of a Tear Sheet Mailer
The key aspect that makes this method work so well is that when prospects rifle through their daily mail, the tear sheet mailer looks like a personal letter that could have been sent by a friend. Every part of the package is carefully designed to foster that impression.
Let’s break it down step by step so you can see exactly what’s going on, and why each element is so crucial.
- The envelope: The mailer does not look at all like it came from a business. It’s informal-looking, and maybe even a little bit sloppy, like your friend was in a big hurry to get this letter to you. That means that whatever is inside must be important. The elements of the envelope that help create this impression are:
- The envelope is small, and may be white or in color. It’s not a business-size envelope, but more like a stationery-size envelope that an individual would use.
- The address is handwritten, just like your friend would do.
- There’s a first-class stamp. This is key. If there’s a bulk-rate stamp, a pre-sorted first class stamp, or an indicia, it will be a dead giveaway that this is not from your friend.
- There is no return address on the envelope. This serves two purposes. First, it doesn’t reveal that this letter is from a business. Second, it makes the envelope very mysterious. Who on earth is this from? Prospects may try to identify the handwriting, or run through a list of friends who might send them something. They can’t wait to open the envelope and solve the mystery.
- The contents of the envelope:
When prospects open the envelope, the mystery deepens. What they find is a newspaper clipping that looks very much like it was torn out of a real newspaper. It’s folded so that the headline of an article is prominent.And then there’s one final clue – a handwritten Post-It note stuck on the clipping, just like your friend might do. The Post-It note is personalized with the prospect’s name. Then there’s a vague message, “I thought you might be interested in this.” And it’s signed with some common name, like Rick, or even just an initial. Just about everyone has or at one time has known an acquaintance named Rick, or knows someone with the initial “J.” Of course, the clipping itself is the carefully disguised sales piece. It looks like a news article or a press release written by a disinterested third party who is just giving the facts. The purpose of these “facts” is to present the advertiser as an expert in his or her field, and the product or service as some kind of breakthrough or somehow newsworthy. The illusion that this comes from a real newspaper is enhanced by printing on newspaper stock, two-sided, with other phony articles and parts of articles laid out on the pages. Usually at least one edge of the paper really looks torn.
Also, to keep up the image that this is a real article, the sales angle is really played down. A phone number to call or other contact information is provided, but it is presented as though this is a resource for the reader to learn more. Everything is kept very subtle.
Prospects should be favorably disposed toward the product because it was featured in a newspaper, and better yet, it was recommended by their friend Rick – even though they’re still not sure who Rick is.
By increasing the open rate and the reading rate, the Tear Sheet Mailer also increases the response rate. And that’s the whole point.
When to Use Them
Tear Sheet Mailers are excellent for lead-generation. They get people interested enough to make inquiries. I wouldn’t use them for follow-up mailings, and I wouldn’t use them to make a direct sell on a specific product with a special offer. You could mention that special deals are available, but the whole point is that this looks like an independent article, so you want it to be a soft sell on getting the prospect to take the next step and respond for more information. You want to drive the prospect to the phone or to a specific website.
If you want to present yourself as an expert in some business, like real estate, financial investing, or injury law, this might be a perfect vehicle. Or if there’s anything that could be made to sound newsworthy about what you do – like a green process dry-cleaning business – this might be a great solution. Really, any business or service that has some angle that could be the basis of a newspaper article is a good candidate.
Remember, your goal is to get people to contact you, so have a follow-up package of information ready to send out to everyone who makes an inquiry.
One last note – you can also do a Tear Sheet style mailing with the sales piece looking like a magazine article instead of a newspaper article. If you are a medical professional, you could make it look like an article of yours was torn out of a medical journal.
Tear Sheet Mailers are a great way to boost response rate. Several of my clients have had great success with them. If they are appropriate for your business, they are worth looking into.