Direct Mail Response Devices and How to Craft Them

Alan Sharpe

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Successful direct mail packages contain three things: an attractive offer, a call to action, and a response device. The offer is the Incentive. The call to action is the Imperative. And the response device is the Instrument.

The most well-known reply device is the business reply card. But today it could also be a landing page on a website. To make sure your mailing generates the kind of response you want—and the kind of sales you want—you must have a reply device that is clear, complete, compelling and convenient.


* stands out in the package and is easy to find
* gives explicit instructions on what prospects must do to buy the product or service
* has sufficient space for handwriting
* keeps choices (size, color, options) to a minimum


* repeats the offer and call to action
* shows price, tax, shipping charges and the total if possible
* describes payment terms (cash, check, credit cards, instalments, deferred payment)
* includes the complete address and phone number of your organization
* contains an unobtrusive key code so you can track response
* describes where your privacy policy can be found repeats mailing instructions


* features a strong, customer-focussed headline
* reiterates the offer in a compelling way
* summarizes the main benefits of your product or service
* expresses the price in the lowest terms possible (“Lease for only 75 cents a day. ”)
* includes other selling points, such as paying by instalments and guarantees


* features the customer’s name and address pre-printed on the form
* has check-off boxes wherever possible
* is postage-paid or features a toll-free number
* includes a deferred payment plan (“Invoice me later. ”)
* includes the return address pre-printed

Alan is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation consultant. As President of Sharpe Copy Inc. ( ), Alan specializes in helping businesses generate leads, close sales and retain customers, using cost-effective, compelling direct mail and email marketing. Alan also uses his direct mail advertising services to help charities raise funds and raise awareness of their causes, using fundraising letters.


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