Investment brokers, colonization projects, cooperative apartment enterprises, large subdivision operators, savings and loan associations and real estate financing corporations are employing direct by mail advertising methods with considerable success.
In this class of advertising the same psychological phenomena are recorded as in other advertising.
It does not particularly impress a reader to learn that the advertiser is enthusiastic over a certain piece of real estate offered for sale, or that the advertiser considers it the "best bargain ever presented."
Part I - Letters
Present day readers of circular letters are not responding to those who try to say too much about themselves or make reckless use of superlatives. They are more attentive to what directly concerns the reader. In other words the letter should be big
"U" and little "i." The conservative letter creates confidence.
A mail advertisement must provide an easy-means of contact, such as return post card or coupon. There should be some inducement for the reader to respond such as writing for a free booklet, or a set of plans. It is important that the street address and telephone number be easy to find.
In dealing with young persons appeals to emotions are best. Older persons insist on things being explained more in detail and reasoned out. Also they are pleased to recall the experiences of their early life and these characteristics should be indulged.
Good English is an asset to any letter, but attempts at "fine writing" are in poor taste and usually ineffective.
The following letter fails to register a selling appeal. One of the principal reasons is an unfortunate choice of words.
Dear Mr. Homebuyer :
No matter how nebulous, the desire to own a home lies deep in the inner consciousness of every mortal. The desire to own property, to have a real home, is universal, and to satisfy this desire is a real avocation.
Whether your ideal home is to be built in the beautiful Lake Park District, or should your tastes be more bucolic, you surely should find fulfillment of your desires in either of the two locations herein shown.
Surcease from the technical details involved in acquiring property and from the petty matters which often vex the prospective purchaser may be had in the competent attention and service given in our office.
We suggest that you consider investing now and permit the writer to take you for a cool ride to either of these additions so that you may have an early opportunity for favorable selection.
Very truly yours,
The message would have been better presented if the letter had been couched in ordinary terms. If a definite appeal had been made to the love of outdoors or the desire for a garden instead of referring simply to bucolic tastes it would have been more forceful. Letters that have produced best results have used simple language and direct, straight from the shoulder statements.
As a contrast here is a letter written to prospects for farm lands:
To the Farmers of the Middle West:
Let's get acquainted. You - many of you - need better opportunities for your farming skill, your industry and your ambition. We need more farmers of your kind in California, and so can give you the chance to succeed for which you have been looking.
At the James Ranch we want the kind of men who want Homes, not those who only want to rent land. We have a modern community now of home owners, ambitious, intelligent, hard-working men and women - people who demand the best in social and in living conditions, the best in farm methods. We want more of the same kind.
In the Middle Western localities in which we are sending this "letter" to every rural address, about half the farmers are "landless" - men who till another's acres. Why not farm your own land? If you have the small amount of capital necessary to get to California, and to make a piece of land your own, and to make a start - the very sure returns of farming on this soil, under irrigation, and in this climate, will make you independent.
On the James Ranch you can produce two crops for every one crop you now produce. You may have 300 days of "growing weather" where now you have only 150, or less. You may have 270 days (not counting Sundays) when you can do field work as against about 100 days where you farm now. You may have "rain" here, when and as you need it - neither floods nor drouth, by the weather's whim. Your markets are almost at your doors, here on the James Ranch.
California can take off your shoulders that terrible burden - "The High Cost of Winter." You have carried that load so long that you don't know it is there. Come out into the sunshine and you will find out that just to save, year by year, what Winter costs you, will make you independent.
It takes Two to make an acquaintance. The Settlers on the James Ranch - your neighbors to be - have told you, in this letter, about themselves. The State of California certifies that this is an honest land offering, in the hands of dependable men. We have written to you, now you write to us.
Tell us about yourself, what you would like to do, and what you have to do with - your farming experience and ability, your capital and equipment. Write fully and frankly. Your letter will be held in confidence.
You can easily see that I do not want any man to risk even his time trying to get a foothold on the James Ranch unless I am satisfied he has the farming ability and the necessary capital and equipment to succeed. Every man who does succeed is an asset and an advantage to our community. We do not want any man who Might make good, not to have the chance to try. Write me promptly. There is no time to lose.
While rather longer than the ordinary letter this has tremendous force. A reader feels that Herman Janss has a personal and direct concern in his welfare. It is conservative, contains definite information and has distinct appeals, such as pride in ownership, investment, and bodily comfort. By association of ideas this letter gives the impression that James Ranch is a prosperous and happy community and consequently a desirable place in which to live. It is a particularly good example of self-effacement by the advertiser.