“Storyselling:” The Art that Makes a Sale

Direct mail marketers may not always put the topic of story telling at the top of their to-do list, but they should. “Storyselling,” as I call it, is the art of telling an emotional and compelling story in direct mail to effectively convey a call to action that sells a product or service, or gains a donation from the recipient.

A good story is something the recipient can read easily and which effectively touches that something inside of them that urges them to take action. Let me give you an example.

We work with an important non-profit agency in southeastern Wisconsin that provides multiple social services to a wide variety of people. When we first became partners in direct mail campaigns with them, they were spending $25,000 per year on direct mail, and receiving about the same amount in return. Notwithstanding the potential lifetime value of the donors who made the gifts, this is still not the kind of return an agency executive wants to see.

We have been working with them for eight years now, and each of the direct mail pieces we have done for them has focused on an emotional, factual story of one element of their programming. Of course, we have done considerable work in finding the right lists to target.

In those eight years, they have increased their annual direct mail expenditure to about $185,000 … with an annual return of more than $1 million! Now that’s a return a non-profit exec can get behind!

I had the privilege of doing a pod cast on the topic of storyselling at the recent DMA Convention in Chicago for Target Marketing Magazine. Here’s the link. Please take a listen and don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or comments … or if you’d like to explore a direct mail partnership.

Grant Johnson

Johnson Direct