Recently, our client, Whole Botanics, went back into the mail because its launch campaign was so successful.

How did we do it?

We followed the direct response rules.

And today, I’ll share 35 of those rules with you. Use this checklist and you’ll see the difference in your results …

Direct Mail Rule #1

Use Short Paragraphs and Sentences

Never go over six lines in a paragraph.

Direct Mail Rule #2

Use Short Words

Strive for at least 65% – 75% of your words being five letters or less.

Never go under 50% unless you’re writing to PhD’s.


 Direct Mail Rule #3

Keep Sentences and Paragraphs Simple

Make them flow like a breeze.


 Direct Mail Rule #4

Write a Short Opening Paragraph

Limit the first paragraph to a maximum of four lines; shorter if possible.


 Direct Mail Rule #5

Vary Paragraph Lengths

Occasionally, use a paragraph of just one line or several words.


 Direct Mail Rule #6

Use a P.S. if Direct Mail

The P.S. is one of the most-read parts of the direct mail letter, so maximize this space.


 Direct Mail Rule #7

Indent Key Paragraphs For Emphasis

Use one or two paragraph indentations on each page.


 Direct Mail Rule #8

Use a Second Color

Do this for the occasional paragraphs, plus subheads, bullet points, and/or indentations to draw attention to key parts.


 Direct Mail Rule #9

Express Only One Idea Per Paragraph

Be clear and concise.


 Direct Mail Rule #10

Don’t Be a Grammar Nazi

A conversational tone is more important that grammar rules.


 Direct Mail Rule #11

Keep the Bucket Brigade Going

Start paragraphs with “And,” “But,” “So you see,” “However,” etc.


 Direct Mail Rule #12

Be Creative

Use the freshest concepts and the most colorful language possible without disturbing the flow.


 Direct Mail Rule #13

Use Hot Words

You, free, new, emergency, now, secret, easy, introducing, save, guarantee, today.


 Direct Mail Rule #14

Use Bullets a Lot

Your best bullets should make the prospect drool.


 Direct Mail Rule #15

Develop your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

Discover, isolate, and dramatize why your prospect should do business with you instead of someone else.


 Direct Mail Rule #16

Learn To Give

Embrace marketing as a tool to give as well as receive.


 Direct Mail Rule #17

Use Testimonials

Use them liberally.


 Direct Mail Rule #18

Make Your Offer Clear and Simple

Don’t make the reader guess about your offer.


 Direct Mail Rule #19

Avoid Bureaucratic Talk and Clichés

Avoid “a legend in his own time,” and “all things being equal.”

Avoid words that draw attention to themselves such as “awesome” and “NOT.”


 Direct Mail Rule #20

Use Commas and Semicolons Sparingly

If you’re using them, your sentences are too long.


 Direct Mail Rule #21

Avoid Weasel Words

Avoid “We think,” “It appears,” “It seems,” “You might find.”


 Direct Mail Rule #22

Stick To the Facts

Don’t oversell or exaggerate.


 Direct Mail Rule #23

Provide Proof

Use case histories, illustrations, testimonials, and endorsements to reinforce your message.


 Direct Mail Rule #24

Be Timely and Relevant

Relate to present news in your copy if appropriate.

 Direct Mail Rule #25

Build Credibility

Write copy that makes prospects perceive you as an authority or expert.


 Direct Mail Rule #26

Use Specifics

Don’t say, “thousands spent in research.”

Say “$159,652 spent in research.”


 Direct Mail Rule #27

Never End the First Page With the Last Word Completing a Sentence

Always make the reader turn the page.


 Direct Mail Rule #28

Don’t Make Assumptions

Write “over please” on the first page.


 Direct Mail Rule #29

Make Text Easy To Read

Blow up type 110% to make it easier to read.


 Direct Mail Rule #30

Nix All Passive Voice

Always use an active voice.

Don’t say “The free book will be forwarded to you.”

Say, “I’ll send you your free book.”


 Direct Mail Rule #31

Always Write to One Person

Don’t write to a group of people.

Be interested only in one person’s likes and dislikes, needs and beliefs.


 Direct Mail Rule #32

Be Preemptive

Anticipate questions and prove your benefits.

Confront negatives with positives.


 Direct Mail Rule #33

Don’t Brag

Let the facts and testimonials brag for you.


 Direct Mail Rule #34

Use 5-Star Ratings

Reviews and social proof, including the 5-star rating system are powerful trust-building elements.


 Direct Mail Rule #35

Benefits, Benefits, Benefits

Don’t just list features.


We’ve used these rules for business to business and business to consumer marketing … to beat control packages … to launch new products … for revitalizing mature products.

We’ve even tested over 10,000 variables using these rules.

If we can help you get these rules working for you, call or email us. You can reach us on 615.933.4647 or