Six Tips for Direct Mail Gifts

4 Mar

Originally published in Target Marketing’s Tipline E-Newsletter
by Britt Brouse
Mar 5, 2008

Premiums are known to boost open rates, response, cash with order and other kinds of consumer behavior. Read on for a few good tricks to using these gifts well in direct mail packages.

1. Editorial premiums work best. “Editorial premiums are inexpensive to create and ship, strongly identified with the product, and can be a powerful incentive to an information-hungry audience,” says Jay van Wagenen, owner of Pittsburgh, Pa.-based JVW Direct. She points out that merchandise premiums sometimes have a higher perceived value but tend to burn out faster, especially if many mailers use the same item.

2. Eschew subtlety. “I’m always surprised when I see a mailing that doesn’t mention the free gift on the outer. The only reason to have a premium in the first place is to generate more orders; don’t make the prospect work to find it,” says van Wagenen. She also recommends attention-getting and involvement devices such as stickers, bursts, violators, arrows, cartoons and color to emphasize gifts.

3. Choose specific content. “Tantalizing specifics are what generate the got-to-have-it response. People want the four-ingredient recipe for authentic marinara sauce or the pressure point that instantly stops tension headaches much more urgently than they want the booklet on Italian recipes or natural pain relievers,” van Wagenen shares.

4. Show savings as a benefit. Discounts or dollars-off deals are great tools, but a free gift that offers some savings benefits will help response too. “It’s really the same kind of thing that motivates an order in general: people always want to save things. They want to save time, money and work, so anything you can do that will help them save things works,” says Elaine Tyson, president of Brookfield, Conn.-based Tyson Associates.

5. Free still pays. “‘Free’ is still a pretty good word … It’s still about the strongest word I can think of other than ‘you,’” Tyson muses. “The words ‘Your free gift’ are like an arrow to the self-interested part of the brain where the urge to order lives,” adds van Wagenen.

6. Use warm colors. Tyson says that, as a rule of thumb, warm colors work best on order forms and to hype premiums. “How you use them depends on your whole mailing. Brick red could be a screamer in one context and too quiet to get noticed in another,” van Wagenen notes.


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