6 Things You Should REMOVE from Your Direct Mail Piece

 In Advertising, Marketing

My creative department designs 100s of direct mail pieces every year.

I routinely look at what they’re producing, and it makes me happy to see so many of my clients using our proven checklist of 10 essential elements for effective direct mail design.

You know what else I see? Pieces cluttered with superfluous elements that distract from their message

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I’ve narrowed down the worst offenders to a handful of points. Read on for the 6 things you should REMOVE from your piece…

Believe me, I understand this:

You want to give your prospects as much information as possible!

That impulse is even stronger when you’re using a large postcard. It has more room, so you should put more things on it! The more a prospect knows about your business, the more they’ll want to do business with you. Right?
Wrong. More isn’t always better!

Your prospects are busy, and they’re already being bombarded with marketing messages — by some estimates, as many as 5,000 PER DAY! If you give them any reason to toss your marketing message in the trash without reading it, they will.

So, to prevent that:

I give you the 6 things you should REMOVE from your direct mail piece!


If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times — NEVER sacrifice clarity for cleverness! Never!

If your prospect doesn’t IMMEDIATELY know what you’re offering, they likely never will. They are NOT going to put in extra time and effort — not one fraction of a second — to figure out what you’re trying to sell them.


Don’t overwhelm your recipients with too much copy (words). Too much text is a turn-off. People need a short, easily digestible copy with a clear hierarchy: A bold headline, sub-headlines, bullet points, etc.

You know what they DON’T need?

Your business’ entire history
An extensive list of your professional achievements/awards
Every single product/service you offer
See how easy that was to read? Bullet points, I tell you! Love them, use them!


Photos that are low-resolution (meaning they appear pixel-y or of low quality) come across as unprofessional and diminish your rapport with prospects. If your photos are poor quality, your prospects will assume your product is, too.

Your smartphone can take a good-looking picture that’s high resolution enough to be printed on a postcard, so if you don’t want to hire a photographer, whip it out and take 20 or 30! One of them will be ready for prime time – aka your postcard!

One small caveat:
If you’re in an industry where image is important (for example, jewelry or interior design), it’s ABSOLUTELY worth the expense to hire a professional photographer. You can’t expect people to invest in your product or service to enhance their own image if you won’t invest in yourself!


Your postcard’s purpose is FUNCTION, not form. If it doesn’t get your message across quickly, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is — it’s going in the trash!

Sure, use some cute flourishes if you have room and it makes sense for your industry — but NOT at the expense of valuable information.

The same goes for photos. Use only the BEST ones — the one(s) that most quickly show your prospects what you’re offering.

If it doesn’t promote your message, NIX IT!


Test specific offers, find which work best, and use them. Splitting up a prospect’s attention with several offers on more than one service dilutes their interest. Include one or two GREAT offers, not four or five so-so ones.

And this is important:

You need separate offers for your current customers and new prospects. Sending your customers a postcard with an offer for “25% off for first-time buyers” will insult them.

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Send TWO DIFFERENT POSTCARDS. One to prospects, one to current customers!


It goes without saying that your postcard should be free of spelling and grammar errors. (But if using “luv” instead of “love” is on-brand for you, go for it.)

But there are other, less egregious offenses that you might not realize are hurting your credibility. Capitalizing Every Single Sentence, For Example.

Misusing punctuation is another one. Avoid “unnecessary quotation marks” or too many exclamation points!!!!!!!!! It looks unprofessional. (Doesn’t it!?)

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