Do you remember the last time you opened your mailbox and got a marketing piece from a company or nonprofit?

Chances are ... after looking at that piece of mail for just a few seconds, you knew exactly what the sender wanted you to do. It was clear, and reiterated repeatedly throughout the piece.

This clarity came because the organization followed the science of direct response marketing. By following these same principles, you too can see success in your HR communications.

1) Always Include A Specific Ask

There's an old saying in the direct response world: "No one does anything unless you ask them to." This saying is true. Unless you give someone a specific thing to do, they probably aren't going to respond to your marketing piece.

So, whether that specific thing is to register to get their flu shot, fill out an open enrollment form for benefits, or come into an on-site clinic for the very first time, the next time you are constructing a marketing piece, remember one specific thing:

It Pays To Ask

Be as specific as possible. For example, it's better to say "Get your flu shot when our mobile flu shot clinic visits your department on December 10" than to simply say "Get your flu shot."

The more specific you are, the more likely someone will take action.

2) Only Talk About Information That Supports Your Ask

It's tempting to add in every detail about a specific program, disclaimers, or even legal language. But here's the thing, this extra content will reduce the number of people who will respond to your marketing effort. Excess details cause confusion.

We recommend including only the essentials. When you're writing HR communications, ask yourself the following:

  • What information does someone need to take the action I'm suggesting?
  • What information will persuade them that taking action is important?
  • How can I convey this in a simple and straightforward way?

By asking these questions over and over again, you'll build effective marketing communications that drive results. We all like results.

3) Talk About Your Audience, Not Your Program

It's an old trick to subtly shift your messaging to speak to the felt needs of your audience rather than the features of your benefits program.

By doing this you'll actually drive greater engagement and higher usage of those benefits because people will be able to imagine themselves participating in your program.

See if you can pick out the subtle difference:

  • Program Focused: Available gym benefit
  • Audience Focused: Get healthy at no cost, we'll pay your gym membership for you

4) Get To The Point, Then Repeat The Point

People are busy. They don't have time to read through paragraphs of text. And, even if they do, they aren't going to remember every nuance.

The best direct marketers know to make their main point and ask their reader to take action within the first paragraph or two of their content. They'll repeat the call-to-action throughout their communication (even emphasizing it in bold or a callout), whether it be a letter, brochure, newsletter or flyer.

Your main goal should be to ensure anyone reading your HR communications piece knows exactly what they want to do, and how to do it. Using direct response principles, you can make this goal a reality.

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