How to Write a “Killer” Direct Mail Letter

10 Tips to Make Your Copy Get Results With Killer Copy Tactics

I am frequently asked, “How do I get more business in these challenging times?” or “How do you market yourself Patricia?” Well, the answer is to have an ongoing, consistent, marketing effort that consists of a variety of mediums. Part of my activities include direct mail. I thought I would let you in on a few of my strategies and secrets!! After all, my friend David Garfinkel, the genius copy writer, tells his readers how he helps me develop my business so why not tell you? I hope you enjoy finding out David tell us…

What if you could send a two-page letter to a few thousand customers and it quickly pulled in lucrative new contracts? Here’s the good news: You can get those kinds of results with direct mail. In this article, I will show you a three-person firm actually got those results! Not only that – I’ll also reveal their strategies and show you highlights from the actual letter they sent. Then, I’ll show you how you can get the same kind of results for your business.

To start, an interesting observation: Good direct mail letters do not follow the classic rules of composition that you learned in school. In fact, these letters are examples of what I call “the spoken language in written form.” You see, they read more like a conversation with the reader than like an essay in formal English.

So it probably won’t surprise you that I was having a conversation one day with my client Patricia Fripp (the famous keynote speaker and sales trainer), and it turned into the following letter to her customers:

Dear _________,

Just the other day one of my best clients Jerry asked me, “Patricia, would you consider speech coaching for our CEO?” I replied, “Why, as a matter of fact, this is the fastest growing segment of my business.” The client seemed to be a little upset and said, “You know, I wish you had told me that earlier; I could have used you last year.” In the very same week as my conversation with Jerry, 3 other clients asked how to market their expertise for fee as a speaker. After all, so many successful executives and business leaders get invited to talk about their experiences. Why not learn how to market that talent and success?

It has never been my policy to upset clients; quite the opposite in fact. To make sure this does not happen in our relationship, I thought I would update you with all the other services we offer besides keynotes and seminars on marketing and customer service…

The letter then explains Ms. Fripp’s other services – presentation skills training groups, executive speech coaching, and sales presentation training for sales professionals. The reader is given a variety of options on how to take advantage of available services, ranging from free articles on her Website to high-end customized programs. (

What kind of results did the letter get? It was very successful and resulted in a number of personal coaching contracts as well as some long-term corporate assignments. Let’s analyze three elements of this letter:

1) The letter’s objective: Ms. Fripp’s objective was twofold: first, to educate the readers – who already knew her as a keynote speaker – about new services she was offering; and second, to generate inquiries.

2) The letter’s target audience: The people who received this letter all had one thing in common – they had communicated with Ms. Fripp before. This letter did not go to a cold list. In direct mail jargon, it went to her “house list.”

3) The letter’s opening: It covers the same ground that the reader could conceivably cover in a live conversation with Ms. Fripp. In an anecdotal way, it immediately reveals important information that readers of the letter would like to know.

Important point: One reason the letter was successful was that its objective, target audience and opening were carefully selected, and worked well together, driving toward a single goal.

Now, let’s stop and consider what we’ve just covered and how you can apply it to the sales letters you send out for your own business. Here’s a review of the key points:


  • The best direct mail letters are conversational in nature, rather than formal and overly businesslike
  • You should start by carefully and clearly defining your objective for the letter
  • Pay close attention to who your target audience is for the letter, and write speaking directly to the people in that audience about their most pressing concerns, and
  • Use an attention-getting opening sentence to set the stage for what’s to follow.


You may be surprised to realize how much thoughtful preparation goes into a seemingly simple direct-mail letter. But make no mistake, this preparation is well worth it. The actual cost of mailing letters can be very reasonable – and the sales returns you get on your marketing can be astounding!