1. Simulate an old-style telegram. Direct mail veterans disdain this device, because it has been around so long. Yet the odd yellow envelope still gets opened first - along with envelopes that look impressively official, such as legal-sized manila.
2. Include a sample. Firms have sent actual roof tiles. Carpet tiles. Industrial absorbent cloths. Or you could give a coupon, good for a free 30-day trial. You'll find most customers will want to keep it. This is the "puppy dog" sales technique. Or give the first business service free. This is the "guilt" technique. Yes, some prospects will abuse it, but it may still prove very profitable - by driving in volumes of new customers.
3. Give a bulk imprinted envelope a first-class personal touch. Affix canceled postage stamps as well (buy in bulk from a stamp dealer). Foreign stamps add extra interest, if relevant to your offer.
In a now-legendary mailing, a department store featuring international goods stuck on stamps from many different countries and over-printed the envelope: "We've gone around the world for you ..."
4. Stamp "DO NOT OPEN" on the outer envelope. Inside is another envelope: "Do not open ... unless you want to save $5,000 on your office supplies in twelve months." Inside that is another envelope: "Do not open unless you have the authority to purchase office supplies worth 50,000 or more this year". Inside that is a still smaller envelope: "Do not open unless you have the vision to seize an opportunity you may never have again!" Expensive, but irresistible... and profitable, for some products.
5. Put a yellow sticker on the envelope: "Review sample. Submitted to ... Your help is needed and will be greatly appreciated. Kindly examine the contents of this mailing - then, if you wish, please send your criticisms or comments to: . . ." Not only will you get comments (some of them useful), but also you will get attention -and orders.
6. Mail a bulky or crinkly package, that obviously has a mysterious enclosure. Like a Christmas stocking, it begs to be opened. In tests, bulky enclosures like pen-and-pad mailings drew double the response of flat enclosures of equal perceived value, like stress indicators.
7. Overwhelm them ... if your potential payoff is very high. A bank delivered just 1,000 mailshots in three teaser stages. Each stage cost $20-$50. First was a real house brick (a small one): "We're as solid as this brick". Next stage was a real diamond (industrial quality): "We're as bright as this diamond". Last stage was a real plug-in desk telephone: "We're as close as this telephone. Plug it in. Call us now."
It worked, for the big-ticket investment schemes they were selling. So they say.
Another firm selling design engineering techniques to automotive manufacturers mailed just fifty boxes. Each contained a 28-page brochure and a five-minute cassette - plus a portable stereo cassette player to play it on. The cassette had a recorded personal message from the firm's chief designer. Each shot cost around $50. They only needed one sale, to pay for the promotion. It worked. They say.