Ivan Levison —
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting

Fifteen things you can put on the back of an envelope.

If you're the Internal Revenue Service, you don't need envelope teaser copy.

Those three little words on the top left corner of the envelope are all that's needed to get most people's attention.

If, however, you're a software company that's getting ready to do some direct mail, you've got to work a little harder to generate interest and curiosity.

That's why God created teaser copy.

As we all know, a headline here, a bonus offer there, can do wonders for your mailing. But should you use both sides of the envelope?

Not necessarily. If you're doing a simple, low-key mailing, printing on one side only may work just fine. But if you're pulling out the stops and printing four color on a flashy converted envelope, it's reasonable to pay the extra money and use the space on the back to wow the reader.

What should you put on the back of an envelope? How can you generate excitement that's guaranteed to get the enveloped opened?

Here are just a few suggestions worth keeping in your idea file:

    1. A note from the President of the company. She/he can talk about the guarantee, the special offer, you name it. It's like having a personal lift note right there on the envelope.

    2. What they'll find inside the envelope. "Inside: Your choice of two upgrades and three FREE bonuses!" Don't make them guess what the pay-off is. Give them a good reason to tear open the envelope and start reading!

    3. A restatement of the bonus offer: "Yours FREE: the most terrific strategy game on the market!" Never underestimate the power of a bonus offer to boost sales. If you have something neat to give away (and I hope you do) say so loud and clear!

    4. Several screen shots with captions. Go easy on this one. Unless you've got something really interesting going on, save the screen shots for your flyer.

    5. A photo of everything that comes in the box including all disks and bonus items. It's a nice way to increase the perceived value of your offer. This works particularly well if you have something interesting to show like special hardware that comes with your software.

    6. Rave review quotes. These can carry a lot of weight with readers! Three to five reviews are enough. If you include too many, they won't get read.

    7. Customer testimonials. They can be powerful, but make sure you choose people from highly-regarded companies. No anonymous testimonials please.

    8. Award logos. If you've got them, flaunt them! Obviously they build confidence and overcome skepticism.

    9. Box shots with bulleted lists of features. A little dull unless you've got a clearly superior product.

    10. Product contents lists: (For example, from CorelFLOW) "Includes 2000 Symbols, 1000 Clip Art Images, 1000 Photos on CD-ROM, 100 TrueType Fonts." If the prospect will be blown away by a multi-part offer, lay it on thick!

    11. Product uses: (From CorelFLOW again) "The Ideal Program For Flowcharts, Network Diagrams, Schematics, Organization Charts, Family Trees . . . (twelve more examples are listed). If you give a long enough list you may very well hit a hot-button and go on to make the sale.

    12. A long list of satisfied customers. If the related company names are recognized by your readers, go for it! Note: a bunch of companies that no one has ever heard of won't do you a lot of good.

    13. Examples of product output: drawings, reports, banners, menus, layouts, diagrams, etc. Don't forget to say "Actual Output!" or something like that.

    14. The offer expiration date. Make your readers worry that they're going to miss out on a terrific opportunity.

    15. A list of what's new in your upgrade. You don't have to wait until the letter to let readers know what's hot in your latest release. If you've got some red hot new features, list them on the back of the envelope.

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