Prospect Psychology in Direct Mail

Psychology has been very influential in the business world, particularly in advertising.  An advertiser needs to learn as much about their target audience as possible – what drives their buying patterns, why they choose one brand over another, how much they’re willing to spend on certain items, etc. – in order to market to them.  Without some type of psychological understanding of the target consumer base, it’s impossible to create effective ads that result in sales.

Direct mail marketing also relies on psychology.  If you’re creating a direct mail campaign, you need to do a psychological “evaluation” of sorts.  Think about what your prospects would want to see in a mailer: the type of offer that would excite them, the images that would grab their attention, the colors that they would find appealing.  Read on for some tips on adopting psychological concepts into your direct mail campaigns.

Short Attention Spans
Time is of the essence.  Last year, a Microsoft study found that the average human attention span is 8 seconds – which means that you need to pique your prospect’s interest as quickly as possible.  Cater to short attention spans by making your mailer easy to read.  Headings and bullet point lists allow readers to skim through quickly.  Any important information that you don’t want people to miss should be stated early on so that it’s the first thing that is read.  You can also draw attention to key points by bolding, underlining, or enlarging text.  It’s also important to be concise.  Your mailer isn’t Gone With the Wind – there is no need for excessive details and lengthy descriptions.  Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

Because you have little time to connect with your prospects, your copy needs to be engaging.  You can beat their short attention spans if you’re able to interest them and make them want to read more.  To do this, copy needs to be focused on the benefits customers receive from using your business.  If you only state the features of your service or product, consumers won’t be interested.  They want to know, what’s in it for me if I buy this?  A headline like “Refinance Now, Save $30,000” is attention grabbing and tells the reader what they would gain from going along with the offer.

Play to Emotions
Good ads connect with people on an emotional level.  They make people laugh or cry, feel happy, nostalgic or inspired.  Advertisers know that emotions are powerful and that many consumers make buying decisions based on how they feel.  If an ad can trigger an emotional response it’s more likely to lead to a sale than an ad that doesn’t.    In direct mail, graphics are a great way to touch people’s feelings.

Try incorporating aspirational images into your mailer to allow people to imagine how their life would improve if they were to purchase your product or service.  For example, a mortgage company might choose a picture of a beautiful mansion for their mailers.  The mansion would inspire prospects to apply for a mortgage to upgrade to a more lavish home.  Using sentimental images is also a good technique.  If a mortgage company wanted a more sentimental graphic for their mailer, they might choose a photo of a happy family in a nice suburban home.  This would resonate with someone who has a family and make them think about buying the perfect house for raising their children.

Don’t Overlook Color
Color psychology isn’t something to be overlooked.  Big companies know the importance of color and put a lot of careful consideration into selecting the right colors for their branding and logos.  Color preferences vary by gender and age, so you need to think about the basic demographics of your mailer recipients.  For example, men tend to prefer brighter tones and blue and green, while women’s favorite colors are usually blue and purple and prefer softer tones.  Millennials usually gravitate towards brighter hues whereas baby boomers prefer neutrals.

Aside from thinking about what your prospects like, you also need to think about how you want them to interpret your company.  Pick colors associated with traits that you want your business to be known for.  A bank or investment company wouldn’t want to include yellow in their mailer’s color palette because of its association with caution and danger.  Green, however, would be a much better choice because it’s associated with wealth and also stimulates the brain in a way that encourages decisiveness.