Storytelling has been an integral aspect of society since the earliest civilizations. Passed from generation to generation by word of mouth or written word, stories have always shaped the way we view the world and relate to each other. Why are stories so powerful? They connect with us on an emotional level and tap into our desires and fears; stories remain in our memories long after cold facts.
Any seasoned sales professional will tell you that the best sales people are also the best storytellers. The same goes for marketers. If you can tell stories rather than pushing features alone, you have a better chance of appealing to prospects’ emotions, and all buying decisions are, at their core, emotional. In your marketing, you should be capitalizing on this by telling stories whenever possible. Direct mail is a great venue for telling stories in creative ways, perhaps even more so than other venues of direct marketing.
Why is direct mail particularly good at communicating stories to prospects? For one, direct mail differs from email in that it provides more space. People have much more patience for direct mail than for email, largely because spam is sending everyone into email overload. To attract someone’s attention in an email, you need to be to-the-point, flashy, and exciting; if you don’t grab their attention right away, chances are they won’t even open your email, let alone read your story.
Good storytelling doesn’t happen in a flash; it requires time and development. Direct mail fulfills this need perfectly. People can experience your direct mail piece in their own time, perhaps when they are feeling more open-minded, and they are likely to grant your direct mail more time and attention than an email. If your story is best told in letter format, even better; direct mail will win out over email almost every time, because people are accustomed to receiving and reading letters from their mailboxes.
Direct mail also has other benefits when it comes to storytelling. One of direct mail’s strengths is that you can make it a truly interactive experience for the reader, either by using folding techniques, including special coupons or inserts, or, if you’re feeling really creative, sending a branded keepsake. Even with a simple folded brochure, you can control when and how information is conveyed to the reader. This is a particularly great mechanism for storytelling, because a folded mail piece has built-in chronology. When a prospect unfolds your direct mail piece, this will simultaneously let your story unfold, and since your reader played a part in this unfolding, they are now a part of your story as well. If you can accomplish this, your prospects will have engaged with you emotionally on multiple levels; you are golden.
Never underestimate the power of a well-told story. If you can appeal to your prospects’ emotions with your story and simultaneously engage them interactively, you have the recipe for a winning marketing campaign that they won’t forget. Direct mail is the perfect medium for this kind of storytelling; it is engaging, palpable, and emotional. Direct mail adds that personal touch to storytelling that captivates and enthralls readers.
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