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?