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Direct Mail Marketing - Appealing to Hidden Addictions


With a century of practical application, the validation of countless business and academic studies, and robust statistics supporting its effectiveness, direct mail marketing is firmly established as an essential marketing channel. Any marketer can create a successful campaign by sticking to the core elements of a quality list, appealing design, and a strong offer. You may be satisfied with achieving average response rates, but you could take your direct mail to the next level by triggering response through appealing to our hidden addictions.

Many years ago when I first started studying marketing and the psychology of selling I stumbled upon a book written by Blair Warren titled, The Forbidden Keys to Persuasion. I realized immediately many of his ideas, especially those related to our hidden addictions, could be incorporated into direct marketing. Over the years this has been proven repeatedly with great success.

The following is a short summary of how to achieve increased response rates by appealing to some of our most powerful hidden addictions.


People Need to Feel Needed17-researchersw.jpg

Our self-worth increases when we feel useful. Being needed makes people feel good. If you can improve a person’s self-esteem you will gain trust and acceptance. Explain what is at stake and how the prospect can play an important role. Acknowledge you are asking them to make a sacrifice. Let the prospect know they are being counted on to help and that their help is absolutely crucial. This technique is a powerful means of persuasion and works exceptionally well for donation solicitations.


People Need to Feel a Sense of Power

When people feel powerless the result is despair, apathy, disinterest, and detachment. What often makes ushow-to-be-a-strong-woman-e1445881541759.jpg feel powerless are the situations, circumstances, and events beyond our control. We need to be able to choose for ourselves. We need to feel our choices are impactful and that we control our own destiny. One small but effective means of enabling prospects to feel a sense of power is to offer a real choice. Point out the alternatives. Gear your message to make it obvious which is the right choice, but allow that choice to be made.


People Need to Feel Noticed 

Everybody wants to feel like they matter to others, to feel noticed and understood. In your marketing you can facilitate people feeling special and wanted by offering praise. Numerous studies have shown positive praise is more effective than negative consequences in regards to shaping behavior. One of the best forms of praise is a simple thank you. Single out a segment of your target audience for special treatment, or acknowledgment of their efforts. Be sure to sincerely thank customers for their business and donors for their contributions.


People Need to Know Things Others Don't Knowsecret.jpg

We all like knowing what other people don’t know and what we shouldn’t know. Having secret knowledge gives us a sense of power and of control. When we are trusted with a secret we feel special and that we matter. It can create a bond in a relationship, make us feel worthy, add excitement to our daily lives, and influence how we treat people and respond to situations. Appeal to our need to know what others don’t by offering to reveal a secret only to those who respond.


Crafting a marketing message with the power to persuade the recipient to respond can be achieved a number of ways. There are numerous psychological triggers which can be incorporated into marketing campaigns. One of the most influential methods is appealing to our own human nature and taking advantage of our hidden addictions. Do your own testing. I am positive you will see the benefits and increase your response rates.


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