Making the Most of Direct Mail's Popularity – Part 5

To my mind the old masters are not art; their value is in their scarcity.

If the opening quote above seems a little cryptic, please bear with me. There is method to my madness. You see, our focus this week is on 'scarcity'. Namely, the need to inspire your target recipients into the need for urgent action without it coming across as a hard sell or junk mail.

The concept of scarcity is all about convincing your audience that you have something they want, then making clear that lots of other people want it to. The same basic rules apply to products or services, offers and promotions. The proposition needs to be strong enough to attract them and the suggestion of scarcity is the hook that will make them act, as opposed to placing the mailer to one side.

So how do we achieve this mythical concept of 'scarcity'? Well, don't presume it's all about products being high-end and exclusive. The growth of value-based retailers shows that people are trying to do more with less, and this carries through all spending, even eGaming, so it may be as much about offering great value as it is about special treatment or exclusivity.

You need to be clever though. Modern consumers are savvy, so lines like 'once in a lifetime', 'limited time only' and 'VIP offer' should always be used sparingly, if at all. Instead, focus on the genuine benefits of what you are offering and make the customer really want it, then you can introduce the subtle suggestion that the offer is limited, either by a deadline or by availability.

In the worlds of one expert, you need to 'think like a gambler'. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and think what would spur you into action. Use the design and the copy to convey the 'scarcity' of the product in a positive and engaging manner. The customer always need to be doing something because they want to, not in a blind panic.

Cracking the 'scarcity' card is all about establishing competitive advantage without joining the fabled 'race to the bottom'. You want to incentivise your target customers and give them a reason to act, but you don't want to be overly salesy or, whisper it, too cheesy. Get it right, and you can help to ensure that your Direct Mail campaign delivers for all the right reasons.

To find out how we can help you get it right, contact the Secure Direct Mail team on 01624 698488 or at

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