Consider a New Direct Mail Strategy of Turning a ‘No’ to ‘Yes’

I read a book recently called “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss. It’s all about negotiating skills. It got me thinking about how some of those same strategies could be applied to direct mail.

Direct mail has been around for a long time, so there are many established strategies to get the best results. You have probably tried several of them.

I read a book recently called “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss. It’s all about negotiating skills. It got me thinking about how some of those same strategies could be applied to direct mail.

Direct mail is not a negotiation, but it is trying to convince people to buy from you. The better you are at convincing, the more response you will get.

So let’s take a look at one specific strategy that focuses on getting people to say “no” in order to get them to say “yes.” I know that you are thinking this is crazy. “No” is bad, and we don’t want people to say “no” to us. But hear me out. I think I can change your mind.

Why ‘No’

Simply because it works. Consider this, by allowing your prospect or customer to respond to a question with a “no,” you put them into a more confident position of being in control and decisive.

So by starting your direct mail messaging with a question that prompts a “no,” you will have more success getting a “yes” to them buying from you.

So how does this work? When people say “no,” they are now secure and confident. This leads them to take more action.

Let’s say you are a pest control company, selling your services to homeowners. To start with a “no” question, you could ask them: “Do you like ants in your house?”

Of course they will say “no.” Then you can follow up with some information about how ants get in. Then finally, finish with the real question you want them to say “yes” to; which is, will they hire you to remove bugs?

Why ‘Yes’ First Sets the Wrong Emotions

When your prospects or customers receive your mail piece, they know you are soliciting them. It’s not a big secret that you want them to buy from you. So they are already in the mindset of being wary and defensive. This is not the best mood to be in when making decisions that will be in your favor. By forcing them to answer your “yes” questions, you seed this mood within them more deeply.

In order to move them quickly to the right mindset, you should start with a “no” question. When you get someone to say “no,” you open them up to opportunities and to saying: “Yes, I will buy from you.”

In this context, “no” is a very powerful motivator.

Have you tried this tactic before? Many times, the strategy is to ask repeated “yes” questions, with the expectation that the final “will you buy from me?” question will then be “yes.”

This does work.

But starting with “no” can work better.

Because results matter, why not give the “no” strategy a try? You can run an A/B test one with your usual strategy and one that starts with a “no” question to see what works best for you. This “no” strategy scenario works for both B2B and B2C direct mail. Are you ready to get started?

6 Direct Mail Messaging Strategies That Work

Direct mail messaging strategies work when they’re simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, and filled with emotion and stories. Here’s how to create them.

Direct mail messaging strategies work when they’re simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, and filled with emotion and stories. Here’s how to create them.

The best direct mail marketing is able to communicate your message in a way that is understood, remembered and acted upon. Are your direct mail results as good as you expect them to be? In many cases they are not; and your direct mail messaging strategy could be the problem. So, how can you improve your message to increase your results?

6 Direct Mail Message Strategy Ideas

  1. Simple: This is not to say use the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” method, but to refine your headline message even more. To create a sentence that is both simple and profound. You want your headline to grab people and require them to read more.
  2. Unexpected: Do the unexpected in your messaging. The message needs to generate interest and curiosity in order to resonate and drive response.
  3. Concrete: Many times, direct mail messaging is ambiguous; this leads to poor response rates. You need clear concrete language to ensure that your message means the same thing to everyone.
  4. Credible: Your brand can help with your credibility, but so can enlisting customers to create testimonials that you can use in your marketing messaging. In order for people to respond to your mail pieces, they need to trust you and the product or service they are buying. Money-back guarantees or free trials work well, too.
  5. Emotion: In order to get people to respond you need to draw on their emotions. Nonprofits are great at this, but most other businesses could use some help. Humans are wired to feel for other people; when you can harness this effectively, you increase responses. There are many emotions you can tap into: anger, empathy and happiness are the most common emotions businesses try to elicit.
  6. Stories: People are drawn to stories. The best messaging is captured within stories. Are you currently formulating your messaging around stories, or are you just listing the facts and statistics on why people should buy from you? No one buys facts. They buy benefits that are communicated well through stories.

These six ideas in combination can help you create a strategy for better direct mail messaging to increase your response rates. One common messaging problem that organizations run into is that they have much more knowledge about their product or service than the people they are trying to sell to. This perspective can make it difficult to communicate effectively with prospects. You do not know what they know.

To combat this problem, you can use people outside of your organization to see what they think of your messaging. This can come in the form of an advisory group, an organization or a few select customers and prospects that you use as a focus group. There is a ton of knowledge that can be gained by doing this. In many cases, you will find that what you thought was a great message did not resonate or confused people. It’s better to learn that before you mail, than after the fact.

Your messaging strategy is extremely important; it can make or break your direct mail campaigns. Spend at least as much time on constructing your messaging as you spend on design. In many cases, effective message creation takes longer than design. Are you ready to create direct mail messaging that is understood, remembered and acted upon?