I wish I had come up with this phrase. I didn’t. It was given to me by small-business expert Mike Ratchford, who says that the purpose of good direct mail is to stop recipients so they don’t do the typical “left hand, right hand, trash can.”

If you are sending a letter to a woman, my favorite marketing “stopper” is pink envelopes. When you address mail to “Mr. and Mrs. Jones,” “Mrs. Jones” will wait for her husband to open it.

Instead, send a hand-addressed, stamped envelope with your message addressed to Mrs. Jones in a pink envelope. She will open it. It’s a curiosity. It’s different. Other than in October for breast cancer awareness month, when do you see a pink envelope? Rarely.

Does a pink envelope cost more than a white one? Sure. But, if your open rates increase by 10 percent or more, that more than covers the cost of the pink envelope.  

My next favorite move is using an unusual envelope. Send something in a shiny, metallic envelope, or one that feels like water, or one that has a pot holder, a magnet or some “thing” in it. Be unusual. It interrupts the “left hand, right hand, trash can.”

My absolute favorite is a postcard. How many of us can resist turning a postcard around to see the opposite side before we trash it? Not many. You have at least three seconds to get your attention-grabbing message across before the trash can. Can you do it?

A safe landing

The latest in postcards is sending a recipient to a landing page. Send them to your website. For example, the landing page for my “Make Your Financial Statements Fun and Sexy” course is www.funfinancials.com. It’s much shorter. No one wants to type in the course name. It’s too long and people can make a typing mistake.

Whenever possible, use a short URL explaining the benefits for your landing page. Postcards have also become gift cards. Thicker, laminated postcards are sent with perforations to tear out the gift card — saving customers $25 on their next service call, for example. People will keep these gift cards in their wallets or on their refrigerators. Be creative. Get your prospective customers to stop and read your message before they send it to the trash can.

Copyright Ruth King. All rights reserved. Write to Ruth King at Profitability Revolution LLC, 1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405, Norcross, GA 30093; email ruthking@profitabilityrevolution.com; call (770) 729-8000.