It's difficult to stand out in a crowd, yet sometimes all it takes is a good line to garner a little notice. Like old friends, these 16 best lines in direct marketing are great to have at the ready.

"Gift certificate enclosed"

This is my favorite envelope teaser copy line for getting any direct mail package opened. Reasons?

  • Gift certificates are inexpensive to print and light to ship at a third or a quarter of a sheet of paper.
  • May be printed on the same sheet as the letter, catalog or the order form — saving printing costs.
  • Much more upscale than coupons, gift certificates have a high perceived value.
  • Cheap to redeem and no cost until redemption.
  • May be targeted to specific merchandise or offers — good for overstock or high margin items.
  • Naturally easy to track.

Any arguments?

"Free offer inside"

Envelope teaser copy that works almost as well, but not quite. When a gift certificate just won't suffice, this is usually my next choice.

More often than not, the other writing on the envelope is:


Tell the recipients exactly what you want them to do — for the best chance of having the readers do exactly what you want.

Best salutation:

"Dear Colleague"

So much better than "Dear Reader," which is always my last choice.

"... and Friend."

Add this phrase after the salutation to make it friendlier and more personal. Example: "Dear Chevy Owner and Friend…"

Best letter copy:

"Just call and get ..." and "Call us toll free ..."

Don't feel bad about asking customers to call three or four times on the same page. The objective of 99 percent of my letters is to make the reader call. If they don't call, the letter failed. Ask again — really, it's OK.

"Thank you."

You can never say "thank you" enough to your customers. Never. Every letter you send should have the word "thanks" in it at one point.

"Thank you for your kind referral."

One of the best ways to get business is through referrals. One of the best ways to get more referrals is to send a thank you letter to the person who just made a referral.

Best headline formulas for ads and press releases:

"New product offers benefit, benefit, benefit"

Example: "New tennis racket is lighter, hits harder, has less vibration." This time-tested formula works most everywhere: envelope teaser, the headline (and first line) of an ad or press release.

"Free booklet offers how-to information."

The headline attracts readers with a free offer, yet limits the attraction to your specific target of better qualified respondents. Example: "Free booklet shows you how to pack glassware for moving!" This produces great response, but only from people who are going to move. It produces a high quantity of highly-qualified leads.

Best line in press relations (PR)

"Nice speaking with you."

Even if it wasn't, "Nice speaking with you, thank you for receiving my call" should be the first line of any letter you include with your press release.

This reminds editors you cared enough to call. And does so at the perfect time: when they are considering to publish your release — which they are at this moment holding in their hands.

Additional best lines in marketing:

"See page ..."

In catalogs, booklets and newsletters, always refer customers to other pages. Whether it's accessories, similar items or just stuff that goes well with other stuff, the best way to increase sales is to have a customer thumb through the pages.

"What's new inside ..."

In newsletters, catalogs, long copy packages and long publications, entice readers on the cover with a bulleted list of fascinating things to see inside.

"And how did you hear of our company?"

A tracking system should be built into every advertising and marketing program. Leave a small pad of paper next to each phone. When it rings, ask this and write it down.

"It's a little over, is that OK?"

I don't know of a deli counter worker this side of Chicago who hasn't used this up-selling line at least a hundred times a week.

"Satisfaction always guaranteed"

Heck, if it comes back you're going to get stuck with it anyhow, might as well be a nice guy and say this right up front. It will increase sales.

"Kindest regards"

I sign off every letter this way. Kinda nice, don't you think?