DM Design Aid Checklist


[ ] Does the prospect's address show clearly?

[ ] Is there a return address and indicia, meter, or stamp?

[ ] Is the carrier route or presorted first-class mark preprinted, if necessary?

[ ] Are the windows positioned to show the portions of enclosures you want to show?

[ ] Show folded enclosures to your lettershop. Ask if what you've done is machine-insertable.

[ ] On the largest insert, is there a 3/4-inch tolerance side to side and a 3/8-inch tolerance at the top to allow easy insertion?

[ ] Is the envelope within the post office's proportional tolerances?

[ ] Are perforations, tabs, window edges at least 1/4 inch away from the envelope edge?

[ ] Check your color break.

[ ] Request samples of stock from your printer—make sure they are correct.

[ ] Demand a color-press proof to assure even inking.



[ ] Does the order form fit in the reply envelope cleanly?

[ ] Does the name and address show through the outer envelope correctly?

[ ] Are tokens or three-dimensional items affixed to the order form machine-insertable?

[ ] Are perforations in the correct place? Be sure and check with your printer which perforations are easiest to tear.

[ ] Can the token be produced in the time allowed between now and the mail date?

[ ] On personalized order forms, are account codes and scan line positionings acceptable to the fulfillment operation?

[ ] Check for key codes and return address.

[ ] Look at overlays of tests to see that they make sense and are positioned correctly.

[ ] Are the folds correct?

[ ] Check for missing headlines.



[ ] Is it folded correctly?

[ ] Are fold marks indicated?

[ ] Are there any pieces of copy that could be enhanced by a type adjustment?

[ ] Are all test versions correctly overlayed?

[ ] Are the pages in sequence?

[ ] Are the prices correct?

[ ] Do the instructions in the letter match instructions on the order form?

[ ] Is the naming of the package elements consistent?

[ ] Are capitalization and style consistent?

[ ] Check the color break. See how you might enhance it.

[ ] Does the letter have a good strong P.S.?

[ ] Does the headline of the letter face out when it is folded?



[ ] Check to see where the personalization falls, to make sure it is positioned correctly. Use a transparent computer grid sheet.

[ ] Count characters of the longest fill-in to see if allowed spacing is correct.

[ ] Line up scan lines and automatic order entry account numbers to be sure they are correctly positioned.

[ ] Demand a sample printout and put it on your blueprint or mechanical to make sure the positioning is correct.

[ ] Are letters positioned properly to accommodate the width of the printer?



[ ] Are folds correct?

[ ] Is the color break correct?

[ ] Are photographs positioned and cropped properly?

[ ] Is all the copy there?

[ ] Are overlays done correctly?

[ ] Does it have a closed edge for machine-gripping on insertion?

[ ] Does it come out of the package in a sequence that makes the best promotional impact?

[ ] Check for even inking and color reproduction at the color-proof stage.

[ ] Have you checked the color proof against all original photos?

[ ] Are you approving the color proof on the paper the job is to be printed on?



[ ] Are all folds correct?

[ ] Does the peripheral insert in its correct sequence?

[ ] Does it belong in the package?

[ ] Is it the right version?



[ ] Are facing identification marks in the right position?

[ ] If the outgoing or return piece is a business reply postcard, does it conform to postal requirement size:

[ ] minimum: 31/2 by 5 inches

[ ] maximum: 6 by 3/4 inches

[ ] Is the address area no closer to the left-hand edge than one inch and at least 5/8 inch up from the bottom edge?

[ ] Have I checked my package against this list at all important stages of production?

[ ] mechanicals

[ ] blueprint

[ ] color approval


Fifty Questions To Ask

Before You Start To Write DM Copy

  1. What are all the product benefits?
  2. What are all the features of the product?
  3. How is my product different from—and, hopefully, better than—the competition?
  4. What does the buyer expect when he or she plunks down a few dollars for my product? And do we deliver?
  5. What methods, approaches, and sales techniques are the competition using?
  6. How is the audience for my product different from the general public?
  7. How much can my buyer reasonably expect to pay?
  8. Does my average buyer have a credit card or a checking account?
  9. Will my product be purchased for business or personal use?
  10. Can I expect to get multiple sales from my buyer?
  11. What is the logical "back end" product to sell someone—after he has purchased my product?
  12. Will I need to show my product in color?
  13. What's the "universe"—the total number of potential cus­tomers?
  14. Who will buy my product: teenagers or octogenarians . . . men or women . . . executives or blue-collar workers?
  15. Is there a market for overseas sales?
  16. Should I offer time payments?
  17. Will my product be a good gift item?

18.  Should my copy be long or short?

  1. Should my copy be breezy or down-to-earth?
  2. Should I test the price?
  3. Should I test lists?
  4. Should I test copy approaches?
  5. Should I mail third class or first class?
  6. Is there a seasonal market for my product—and am I taking advantage of it?
  7. Are there testimonials available from satisfied customers?
  8. Can my direct mail efforts be syndicated?
  9. Can I use a member-get-a-member approach? (Can I ask buyers to give me the names of other people I can mail to?)
  10. Do I need photographs or illustrations?
  11. Which appeals have worked in the past for this promotion?
  12. What objections might arise from a prospective customer? How can I overcome these objections?
  13. Should I use a premium?
  14. Should I offer a money-back guarantee?
  15. Is this item also sold retail? Are there price advantages I can stress for buying direct?
  16. Should I consider a celebrity testimonial?
  17. Can I tie in my copy to some news event?
  18. Can I tie in my copy to some holiday or seasonal event?
  19. Does my product sell better in a particular region or climate?
  20. Would a personalized computer approach improve the effectiveness of my message?
  21. Should I consider using a sweepstakes?
  22. Can my product be sold through billing inserts?
  23. Can my product be sold through a two-step advertising campaign?
  24. Should I consider using television?
  25. What must I do to give the reader a sense of urgency--so he or she will buy my product now?
  26. Can I use scientific evidence in my sales approach?
  27. Have I allowed enough time to create a direct mail package--or to create a space ad?
  28. Can I get my customer to order by telephone?
  29. What information will I want to get from my customer to get future sales?
  30. What approaches have been used to sell this product without success?
  31. Can I get powerful "before" and "after" pictures?
  32. Assuming I get a 10 percent return, am I prepared to fill all the orders?


Sales Letter Techniques Checklist

[ ] Shift your letterhead to the bottom of the letter to avoid distraction

[ ] Lead with a benefit or promise headline

[ ] Use the salutation to target your primary audience

[ ] The first sentence should make the recipient want to read more

[ ] Format your letter for the perception of easy reading

[ ] Use lots of benefit-loaded subheads

[ ] Place the basics of your offer up front on page one

[ ] Focus on the perception of believability

[ ] Always write from a "you" orientation

[ ] Always make the sales letter look like a letter, not a flier

[ ] Use emotional copy in the sales letter

[ ] Justify the desire to buy with proof of your promise

[ ] Choose one primary copy theme and wrap others around it

[ ] Include precise user benefits by audience type to increase sales

[ ] Remember that specifics are much more potent than generalizations

[ ] Prompt action in the last paragraph and sentence

[ ] Use command/suggestion copy throughout the letter

[ ] Never complete a sentence on an odd-numbered page

[ ] Keep words and sentences short and vary paragraph length

[ ] Add some sell to the closing

[ ] Always use a postscript and treat it as a headline

[ ] Choose a logical spokesperson as the signatory


Offer Contents Checklist

Does your offer cover all of these items?:



Checklist of Basic Offers

[ ] free brochure

[ ] free booklet

[ ] free catalog

[ ] free newsletter

[ ] free report

[ ] free white paper

[ ] free information kit

[ ] invitation to attend a free seminar

[ ] free information

[ ] more information

[ ] free trial

[ ] free use of product

[ ] free product sample

[ ] free gift certificate

[ ] free coupon

[ ] use of toll‑free hotline

[ ] free advice

[ ] free consultation

[ ] free survey

[ ] free analysis

[ ] free estimate

[ ] free problem evaluation

[ ] free product demonstration

[ ] have a technical representative call

[ ] have a salesman call

[ ] add me to your mailing list

[ ] not interested right now--try me again in the future

[ ] not interested--here's why:

[ ] free cassette tape

[ ] free videotape or film

[ ] free gift--for providing names of friends who might be interested in the offer

[ ] free special report

[ ] money-back guarantee

[ ] double-your-money-back guarantee

[ ] free sample issue

[ ] send no money now--we will bill you

[ ] cash with order

[ ] order by credit card

[ ] enter our contest and win prizes

[ ] enter our sweepstakes and win prizes

[ ] enter our drawing and win prizes

[ ] discount for new customers

[ ] discount or other special offer for past customers

[ ] your name removed from our mailing list--unless you order now

[ ] introductory offer on small trial orders

[ ] free price-off coupon when you request catalog or brochure

[ ] extra discounts for large volume purchases

[ ] free gift with volume orders

[ ] extra discount for payment with order

[ ] seasonal sale

[ ] warehouse inventory reduction sale

[ ] special clearance sale

[ ] remnant sale

[ ] buy at low prices now before prices go up

[ ] free gift item in return for your inquiry

[ ] free gift item with your order

[ ] free gift item with your paid in advance order

[ ] surprise bonus gift with your order

[ ] extra quantity with paid order

[ ] order now--we won't bill you until [specify date]

[ ] order X amount of product/service now-get Y amount free

[ ] order product X-get product Y free

[ ] discount

[ ] discount with paid order

[ ] discount if order placed by a certain date

[ ] discount if certificate or coupon returned with order

[ ] free information if requested on your corporate letterhead

[ ] free information to qualified buyers-others pay X dollars

[ ] call toll-free number

[ ] mail reply card

[ ] complete and mail order form

[ ] complete and mail questionnaire

[ ] complete and mail specification sheet for a prompt price quotation

[ ] send no money now-pay in easy monthly installments

[ ] reply today-while the reply form is still handy

[ ] order today-supplies are limited

[ ] offer good until [specify date]

[ ] this offer is for a limited time only

[ ] subscribe today

[ ] become a member

[ ] discount with trade-in of your old equipment


For direct mail copywriting call Bob Bly 973-263-0562, e-mail, or visit:



Direct Mail Response Times

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