How to Surprise Your Clients with Unusual Direct-Mail Love

Summary: In this training episode, Dianna Huff shares 7 unusually effective ways to get the attention of clients and prospects.

Have you noticed how your mailbox is empty these days? Mine sure is - as you can see in the photo to the right.

I yearn for the days when I received interesting mail: well-written direct mail letters with calls-to-action, handwritten cards and letters from friends and family, and articles people tore out of magazines and sent to me to read because they were interesting.

I keep looking at my empty mailbox and thinking, "Damn, you know, it's a great time to send direct mail as there's so little competition." Besides, think of that delicious feeling you get when you see a hand addressed envelope or other types of interesting mail in your box.

I'm sorry, but email just doesn't compare.

Instead of giving you tips on how to do direct mail, I thought I'd offer up a challenge: this month, send your clients some love in the form of direct mail. Some easy things you can try include:

Handwritten Thank You Notes

In this day of rudeness and general lack of civility, your handwritten note, thanking your client for his/her business, will make you stand apart. You can order personalized note cards and envelopes from Vistaprint for short money. Bonus - tuck in a gift card from Starbucks or Peets.

Below is a picture of the stack of cards I've received over the years. (Yes, I keep my notes - I enjoy re-reading them as people have sent me very nice compliments.)

I admit, I hadn't heard of rack cards until I received a pretty classy one that contained a great call-to-action that led to a landing page. I was impressed - so much so, I hung it on my fridge for inspiration. I plan on sending out my own in the next month or so. You can order pre-designed rack cards from Vistaprint, too.

Discount Coupons

One year my Web designer, Jim Somers at Sonora DesignWorks, sent out $100 coupons to his best clients. You could use the coupon toward any job he did for you. I thought this a fabulous idea - and better than any Christmas card or email offer.

Birthday Cards

I try to learn people's birthdays and when I do, I send cards. Yep, I make the time to go to the stationary store and pick out a card especially for the person (and sometimes I'll include special cookies!).

This is another one of those things that will set you apart. Even though we're all adults now, we still love being remembered on our birthday. Plus, you can put the card on your desk; those e-cards have a shelf life of about 90 seconds.

Interesting Articles

If you don't read dead-tree media, this tip may not work for you. If you do, tear out articles you think clients, vendors and colleagues might find interesting. Write a short accompanying note along the lines of, "Thought you might find this article of interest. Hope all is well!"

People love knowing someone is thinking of them. I know I do. Plus, they might call or email you back, which leads to conversation . . . which leads to new business.

Direct Mail Letters With Fabulous Offers

Aren't you just a teeny tiny bit overwhelmed with email? I sure am! Since our mailboxes are empty, your direct mail letter, with an offer for a white paper, e-book, demo, info kit, samples, or customized fee schedule, will stand out.

Bulky Mail

Who doesn't love a present? One client I worked with sent me those plastic glasses with fuzzy eyebrows and a mustache. I still have them. Another client sent samples of his product to his list.

If you have a white paper, special report or e-book, you could have full color copies made and then send your best clients a copy with a nice note. I bet they read your enclosure as soon as it arrives - versus ignoring the email you sent with a link.

So here's my challenge to you: send out three pieces of direct mail love over the next 30 days. When you do, leave a comment on this post and tell me what you did. If you like, you can send me some love, too, as I adore getting mail. 😉

Here's my address:

Dianna Huff
DH Communications, Inc.
23 Atkinson Depot Road, Ste. 101
Plaistow, NH 03865

Do you miss receiving mail from people you know and love? Do you still send cards and letters? Tell me your story by leaving your comment below.

(Thank you to my pal, Lois Geller (@loisgeller) for inspiring this article with her Joy of Direct Marketing blog post, "Direct Marketing: Why Not?" and to my good friend Michael Trager for his Facebook comment that also inspired this article.)


Dianna Huff, President of Huff Industrial Marketing, Inc., is also the author of Cash Flow for Freelancers, a guide for freelancers and their variable income. You can hear Dianna's interview at Ed Gandia's High Business Writing Podcast.