Powerful Direct Marketing Numbers

Powerful Direct Marketing Numbers

Direct Marketing works!

Why? It works because it’s personal. It carries a message, answers questions and gets orders. Direct Response Marketing works because it is “conversation in writing”.

It works because, no matter what you have heard, read or believe … most people look forward to personal communication. They like being treated as a person – as an individual.

So, if Direct Response Marketing is so powerful, how can we as marketers use it effectively? To keep the business we have … to find new business?

As with most disciplines, these powerful “Direct Marketing Numbers” are common sense. Here’s a list of a few “Numbers” to make your Direct Response Marketing work for you:

60 – 30 – 10

A full 60% of your Direct Marketing success is making certain your message gets to the person who can buy what you have to sell. It’s very easy for the wrong person to say “no”.

An offer will be 30% of your Direct Marketing success.

What’s an offer? It is a reason for your prospect to do business with you. It’s the urge to action. It’s an incentive to get your audience to raise their hand. To indicate a willingness to talk with you. It’s a reason to respond.

The 10% remaining is creative. Not unimportant … certainly less important. And although it is the fun part of marketing – without a clearly identified audience and a sound offer – your creative has little chance of giving you a winner.

Now, once you’ve clearly identified your marketplace and put together an offer of interest – how DO you get your Direct Marketing message read, heard, seen, understood and acted upon?

A few more “Powerful Numbers”

Lucky 13

Write your message for a 13 year old reading level.

Television news, the morning newspaper and by far the majority of our conversation is at a 13 year old reading level.

Exceptions? Sure. The Wall Street Journal is written at a 17 year reading level.


Keep your opening paragraph to 11 words or less.

Yes, I did say paragraph!

Why? Because, by opening quickly you slip your reader into your full message. Make your letter, your brochure, the print advertisement – everything you write – easy to read. A quick beginning helps.


All your sentences should average 14 words or less.

The best way to write short: use a period. Yes, every so often insert the “dot”. It works. And it will help you get read.

1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Use words of 5 letters or less. About 70% of all your words should be 5 letter words, or less.

Why? Because they are easy to read – easy to understand. Your message will be quickly absorbed.

The 500 most common words in English have 13,000 meanings. No wonder we have trouble with basic communication. One answer is to go short. It pays with results.


Keep ALL paragraphs to a maximum of 7 lines. Never more than 7…and sometimes just 1 or 2. i.e., short paragraphs.

Again, why? Because a large block of copy looks tough, even if it is not. The tactic of short makes your message look more inviting.


A postscript (P.S.) is mandatory in every direct mail letter. Because 4 of 5 of your readers will read the P.S. first … before they read anything else in your letter.


Indent every paragraph 5 spaces.

This “Number” is really physiology – not marketing. Our eyes pull us “in” when we see indents. They pull us to a point – and while we’re there, we read. It works. Indent all paragraphs.

On the other side of the paragraph – the right side – use the ragged right design. Do not justify margins! Do not proportionally space your sentences. Ragged right increases readership.


Whenever you go to a second page in a letter – split the last sentence in half.

Begin it at the bottom of the first page…end it at the top of the next page. Why? To pull-l-l-l the reader with you. “Make” them turn the page. Keep them reading.

The same tactic works in anything printed with columns. Such as brochures, reply forms, print ads…anything. Split the last sentence…the last paragraph in two. And move the reader to the next column.


Be specific. The number 481 is much more specific – and much more believable! – than saying “almost 500”.

Odd numbers get more attention than even. Use 3 – 5 – 7 – 9 and you are more likely to be noticed. A list of 11 is better than a list of 10. 99 or 101 ideas is better than an even 100.

One more thing on numbers; use the number – not the word. As I have done in this article. The number 3 or 7 is easier to see, read and understand than the word three or seven.

By John Barney

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