The 40/40/20 Rule of Direct Mail

In today’s digital world, where so much marketing endeavor has migrated online, why does advertising via traditional direct marketing remain so ubiquitous? The answer: It’s still extremely effective when done properly.

Executing a successful direct mail campaign that generates impressive results is not rocket science, but it does require a good deal of thought, planning, and adherence to what is known as the 40/40/20 rule.

Below is a simple, time-tested recipe to get the most from your direct mail campaigns:

40% Devoted to a GREAT LIST


  • Determine the target audience that matches your product or service in terms of demographics and psychographics.
  • Obtain a list that fits the target.
  • Utilize your list provider to assist in order to target your ideal audience.


40% Devoted to a SUPER OFFER

Create Urgency

  • In order to optimize your direct mail, provide an offer and/or impart a high-degree of urgency your target audience simply cannot refuse to ignore.
  • Whether it’s a limited-time discount or incredible special-buy made available only to recipients, there must be a clear, incentive-driven call-to-action, carefully crafted to garner maximum response.




  • The presentation of creative (including copywriting) that identifies with your audience completes the recipe.
  • Avoid the pitfall of choosing creative that you, think is “neat” or “cool.”
  • Creative should be dedicated to fulfilling what your target audience desires to see, read, and ultimately act upon.
  • Savvy marketers that wish to go a step further may provide several creative options to target identified focus groups.
  • For tips on picking the perfect creative, click HERE.

In order for your next direct mail campaign to be the very best it can be, all three parts of the above percentage-based formula must work in complete concert and in total harmony. When this tripartite is wholly realized, the reward you’ll achieve is nothing short of amazing!

Dave is an Account Executive with CEA Marketing Group.

For more information on CEA Marketing Group and what it can do for you, visit us!


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