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Envelope blurbs are great vehicles to increase the response rate in direct mail.
But here is the Number One Commandment of all envelope copy: Thou Shalt Not Confuse and Obfuscate.
Here are two recent direct-mail envelopes that I found in my mailbox recently that raise more questions than they answer.
1) The Kennedy Center
The back of the solicitation envelope that the Center mailed has a beautiful multicolor pie chart as an answer to the question: “How Important Is Kennedy Center Membership?”
So you look at the pie-chart to understand how important the “membership” is and guess what? NONE of the pie slices is labeled “Membership”.
- The 37% slice is labeled “Contributions”
- The 19% slice is labeled “Federal Funds”
- The 44% slice is labeled “Ticket Sales & Other Earned Income”
Why not just call it “Membership” so I can establish an immediate visual connection between the Question and the Answer?
But it’s not over yet.
The pie-chart is followed by a call to action: “Help make us whole!”
Yes, BUT HOW? That’s not clear either.
Here is the Other Cardinal Rule of direct mail envelope copy – If you are asking the reader to do something, you should also provide specific steps to complete the requested action.
From the pie, it’s not clear which slice should I help EXPAND to make it the WHOLE?
Should I help the Kennedy Center become WHOLE by increasing their Federal Funds?
Should I help the Kennedy Center become WHOLE by increasing their Ticket Sales & Other Earned Income?
Should I help the Kennedy Center become WHOLE by increasing their Contributions?
I suspect the Center would like me do the third pie-chart alternative.
Then why don’t they simply tell me “Send in your Contribution today!” ?
The lesson — do not force your readers to solve puzzles. That will drop your response rate considerably.
2) IONA Senior Services
“Experts on Aging”
Like in “we are experts in helping you get older”?
Probably what they meant was this: “Experts in Elder Care…”
What a difference the right and wrong copy can make.