Want your customers to respond to your direct marketing? You just have to ask them. Yes, it really is that simple.

It’s amazing how many direct marketing ventures fail to include this simple – yet critical element to their postcard, brochure or print ad. However, that’s actually good news for you. Now you have a competitive edge in knowing you must specifically ask for your customers’ business in future campaigns.

Also, remember to always use a strong but realistic call to action. The call to action is the culmination of the direct marketing message. It's what the entire effort is about. It tells the customer how to take the next crucial, and most important step – contacting you.

1) Keep it simple

If a call to action is not explicit, customers will not readily respond. Obviously, your customers realize they can call your phone or visit your website; however, people respond better when they are told exactly what to do. You also need to be selective, if you give them too many ways to respond you’ll just dilute the call to action. Focus on something very specific you want customers to do and ask them to do it.

2) Make it easy

Make a toll-free 800 number available and have it displayed prominently (and frequently) on the mailer. Add your web address and also display this information boldly. Remember, your customers are as busy and distracted as you are. They will not jump through hoops to reach the next step.

3) Create a sense of urgency

Provide a deadline for receiving a discount to motivate prompt action. For example, “Order by January 1st and receive a 25% discount.” When possible, try to make the cut off date in the same month, as your promotion. That way, your potential customers know they only have a limited time to respond and they won't procrastinate.

4) Share information of a price Increase

Everyone enjoys a bargain. “Buy now and save” resonates well with any audience. If your price is going up on a specific date, let your customers know. It’s another incentive for them to act now.

5) Offer a Trial / Introductory Period

Trial periods are a proven means of securing new customers. If appropriate for your business, offer a special deal, extra service or a lower price during your trial/introductory period. If feasible, offer a free trial period for a limited time.