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Avoid Direct Mail Campaign Response Rates That Are Disastrously High

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I once wrote a direct mail piece that generated a dreadful response rate. It was too high.

My client was a brand new stadium in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. The stadium featured luxury suites that businesses could rent or lease to entertain prospects and clients, host corporate parties and reward employees.

I was asked to craft a direct mail lead generation piece that would invite local businesses to spend an evening in one of the suites. Prospects would enjoy a Neil Young concert from some of the best seats in the stadium, free of charge. The strategy behind the mailer was to let prospects experience the stadium suites for themselves, seeing how effective they were for customer attraction and retention.

A salesman was assigned the job of schmoozing with the prospects during the Neil Young concert. He was to give a subtle sales pitch to all who attended, identify the hottest prospects, and follow up afterwards.

Well, like I said, the mailer was a disaster. It drew such a huge response that the suite was filled to capacity. The guests, all of them prime prospects for signing a lucrative, multi-year lease on a suite, were cramped. And the poor salesman did not have enough time during the evening to make his pitch to everyone. He had a Heart of Gold. But he was an Old Man After the Goldrush was over.

This kind of problem, which is good to have, as they say, can harm your business just as easily if you are selling products through the mail. If you cannot fill your orders quickly enough (think of’s “This item is temporarily out of stock”), you will drive customers into the arms of your competitors.

So here is the lesson.

Whether you’re generating leads or moving product, make sure you have enough sales staff or product on hand before you mail your packages. In other words, know what you’ll do if the worst thing possible happens and you get a high response rate.

About the author
Alan Sharpe is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation specialist who helps business owners and marketing managers generate leads, close sales and retain customers using business-to-business direct mail marketing. Learn more about his creative direct mail writing services and sign up for free weekly tips like this at

© 2006 Sharpe Copy Inc. You may reprint this article online and in print provided the links remain live and the content remains unaltered (including the “About the author” message).

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  • Posted On December 29, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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