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Assistance with Direct Mail


Q. I’ve not had much luck with direct mail in the past. What might I be doing wrong and how can I fix it? – Sharon and Nick Osborne, the owners of Go Fitness, Columbus, Ohio.

A. Many marketing dollars are wasted on ineffective direct mail design. You tend to see the exact same postcard layouts, the exact same stock photos used and the same mistakes made on many direct mail pieces with the same poor results typically experienced by all.

By only adjusting one or two items on a previous ineffective postcard design, you can easily double or triple your response rate. Here are the five things you absolutely must include in your direct mail campaign to maximize the return on your investment.


You absolutely must have an attention-grabbing headline. First let’s start with some examples of ineffective headlines:

  • It’s New Year Resolution Time
  • Fall into Fitness
  • It’s our Anniversary

Your headline must invoke some type of emotion. It has to grab their attention. Here are some examples of effective headlines:

  • Drop a Dress Size in 21 days
  • Results Guaranteed, or Your Money Back
  • Try Before You Buy, Free Membership in March!

You only have a moment to grab someone’s attention and this is done with an effective headline.

Call to Action

You must be very clear about what you want the prospect to do. Do you want them to call? Tell them to call. Do you want them to visit your website? Tell them to visit your website. Do you want them to visit your health club? Tell them to stop by.

Whatever it is you want them to do; you have to be crystal clear in your message. Many health clubs make the mistake of simply putting their contact information on the postcard with no call to action. While it is good for the prospect to know your phone number, address, website, etc., it’s equally important for you to make it easy for the prospect to know what to do with that information.

The following are good calls to action:

  • First 20 new members receive six months of free tanning, Stop by Today!
  • Text this number to receive a free 14-day membership!
  • Join in the next seven days and pay Zero Enrollment! Don’t delay, Call Now!

No Mixed Messages

Be consistent in your message throughout the front and back of the postcard. If your focus is on “Reaching New Year’s Goals” on the front of the card, don’t change the focus to “Getting Ready for Spring” on the back of the card. Similarly, don’t try to offer too many things at once. If you are promoting a 14-day pass, don’t promote your “Summer for $99” program or your discounted enrollment fee in January. Focus only on the 14-day pass.


You must create a sense of urgency in your message. Something as simple as:

  • Limited Time Only
  • First 20 New Members Only
  • Within the Next 48 Hours

Many people may set your mailer aside as something they need to do later. You must have a clear call to action along with a feeling of urgency to get your prospects to take action quickly.

Be Unique

You cannot send the same style postcard everyone else sends. Challenge your direct mail provider to come up with something unique and interesting. It can be humorous, it can be emotional, it can be in-your-face, but DO NOT do the same thing as everyone else. Use actual pictures of someone at your gym. Present before and after photos of your members. Have a picture of one of your members with a testimonial or write a sales letter with no pictures. A good rule of thumb is to look at what everyone else is doing and determine how to be completely different.

The goal is to have your prospect pause long enough because of the uniqueness of the design. Get them to turn the card over because of the compelling headline, read a clear and direct message and know exactly what they need to do to take advantage of your offer and how long they have to take action. Your response rate will increase if you follow the steps outlined above. -CS

Curtis Mock is the host of www.fitness business television.com, the TV show for fitness entrepreneurs and is the executive director of GymSuccess .com. Curtis can be reached via e-mail at Curtis@ClubSolutionsMagazine.com.

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  1. Brien Shamp March 25, 2011

    Good blog Curtis. Hopefully, I will never see a lame postcard from gyms & health clubs again that says they have weights, cardio and locker rooms.

  2. Melanie Parker March 25, 2011

    The author is right on! In less the mailer requires me to do something immediately, it ends up in the stack of things to look at later. That stack never gets looked at later. It gets trashed.

  3. John March 25, 2011

    This is a really useful Article I am in the process of starting to use direct mail to grow my business.


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