How to Surprise and Delight Your Customers with Direct Mail

What is a prospect worth to you? More importantly, what would you be willing to spend to acquire that customer?

So many businesses' current marketing efforts focus on leveraging the power of digital marketing. I get it. I'm a tech geek. I absolutely love all the latest technology.

I have invested thousands of dollars in attracting leads through digital banners, blog articles, SEO, and PPC. I've spent hours connecting with and nurturing leads through social media, email marketing, and online webinars.

While these are all tried and trusted tactics for moving your ideal customer through the buyer journey, your competitors are doing the exact same thing.

They're investing all their time, energy, and budget into digital marketing.

To stand out, you need to do things differently. Because when you're dealing with high-value customers, the ones worth thousands of dollars, nothing beats old-school offline marketing. Whether you call it snail mail, physical mail, or direct mail, it delivers a wow experience and has a far higher success rate than online marketing.

If you want to stand out from your competitors and deliver an unforgettable customer experience, you need to invest in a surprise and delight package.

It needs to be an offer they can't resist keeping and acting on. But before we get into what that delight experience could look like, let's explain what surprise and delight marketing really is.

What is surprise and delight marketing?

Surprise and delight marketing focuses on doing the unexpected and reaping long-term customer loyalty as a result. It's all about delivering a personalized customer experience that's memorable and could lead to good PR.

When done right, it can take a cold lead and quickly turn them into a prospective customer. And it can transform an existing customer into a lifelong brand evangelist.

But really, the goal of this marketing strategy is to start a conversation and build a strong emotional connection with the customer. One which will compel them to reach out or pop down to your store and spend their dollars.

Some examples of delight strategies include direct mail packages, unexpected perks, special treatment, or personalized attention.

Why are surprise and delight strategies essential to customer satisfaction?

We're living in tough financial times. Job loss is at an all-time high. Markets are constrained. People are struggling to get by.

As a business, you need to go above and beyond the expected level of service to retain customer loyalty. Failure to delight customers will only lead to customer losses.

That's why I love using a surprise and delight campaign. It builds goodwill, enhances customer satisfaction, and costs very little.

Now you can go the digital campaign route. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. But like I said, every other business in your market is leveraging online tech. I prefer to use a pattern interrupt.

Instead of sending another boring email, think bigger. I like to delight my customers with a shock-and-awe package.

Here's why it'll lead to greater brand loyalty:


Best of all, you can really leverage email to support your surprise and delight strategy.

Providing you've gathered personal information during the opt-in process, you can analyze that data and use your findings to deliver a tailor-made experience.

One that confirms your business cares about its customers and is committed to delivering unforgettable brand experiences.


People love getting deliveries. There's something genuinely joyful about receiving a package in the mail and unboxing whatever's inside.

Remember, you want every interaction your customer has with your business to be delightful.

Create memorable experiences, and they're more likely to refer your business, especially if they know it will benefit their inner circle.


Picture this, a courier company arrives at your house with a package. You don't remember ordering anything, so initially, you're a little confused.

Then curiosity kicks in. You start to wonder what's inside the box. Now you're experiencing a kind of nervous anticipation as you open the box.

Finally, the big reveal. It's a massive surprise: a brand you know, and love has sent you a gift just because.

You're going to want to share that experience with friends. You're going to talk about it on social media. And you'll probably thank the business that spoilt you. Maybe you'll even spend a little more the next time you shop at their store.

Create experiences your audience can't wait to share with others.


How many brands are actually using direct mail to communicate with their customers?

Most stick to email and social media. And while there's nothing wrong with that, every other brand is doing the same thing.

Your customer's inboxes are overcrowded, and their lives are busy. If your email lacks pizzazz, it'll be relegated to the bin or spam folder.

In contrast, people's mailboxes are far less crowded than their email inboxes, so it's easier to delight customers.


Use this strategy to reward customers for doing business with your brand, or you can use it to show prospects you value your customers.

Don't be the business that only accepts withdrawals from their customers. Make small deposits like a surprise birthday voucher or an invitation to an exclusive launch. It's key to delighting customers.

Unlike other marketing strategies, surprise and delight marketing will lead to repeat business. It will also stimulate inbound leads because your customers are actively referring you.

But let's consider what you can include in your delight package to surprise customers and would-be customers.

Delight prospective customers with these 3 surprise tactics

79% of consumers act on direct mail immediately. That unexpected delight package your business sent to someone might take pride of place in their office, kitchen, or lounge. Emails, on the other hand, are easily forgotten.

I'll give you an example.

I celebrated my birthday a little while ago and received tons of emails and text messages from brands wishing me a happy birthday. While it did bring a smile, they were just wishes. And every single one of those messages was binned. I can't even recall who messaged me.

Had I received a birthday card or voucher on a nice, thick, textured card in the mail, I guarantee I wouldn't have been so quick to throw it away.

Knowing what to send in your surprise package comes down to understanding

  1. the type of customer you're trying to attract,
  2. what their potential lifetime value is,
  3. and how much you're willing to spend to acquire that customer.

Remember, the purpose of a surprise and delight package is to start a conversation with cold customers or keep your brand top of mind with existing ones. Sales and marketing need to be aligned because if that consumer chooses to act on your delight package, your sales department needs to be ready to close the deal.

Right, so let's look at what you can send via mail.


People don't write anymore. Everything is digitally printed. Don't get me wrong, digital notes can be beautiful, but there's something surprising about a handwritten note or letter.

It takes more time than typing something up on a computer, so it has a greater impact. It also says to a customer, you matter enough for me to personally write to you.

From my experience, after sending a surprise and delight note to a prospect, they've inevitably reached out to me via email or phoned the call center. And many of those conversations lead to new customers.

To recap:

  • Handwritten notes cost little in terms of time and money.
  • It's something that you can hire an assistant to handle or outsource to a service provider to help you with.
Use a handwritten note to show your customers you value them


A lot of business owners understand lead nurturing via email and using things like autoresponders. I've used them myself, and it's very powerful. But what if you could take a multimedia approach?

Instead of just emailing, you'd send text messages and follow up with a monthly postcard to your customers. That's bound to delight.

But before I get into what message your surprise and delight postcard could include, I want to share the story of Joe Gerard.

He's in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's top salesperson. Joe sold an average of 2. 5 cars every day for over 14 years. It wasn't unusual for Joe to have six people scheduled to view the dealership's cars every day.

So how did he do it? With a simple postcard strategy. Every prospect he met and customer he sold to would receive a surprise and delight postcard in the mail every month. It created an emotional connection and allowed him to position himself as a friend and trusted advisor.

You could use this to promote a special event, such as a VIP night for loyal customers or a secret sale. Use surprise and delight tactics to create a sense of exclusivity and make customers feel special.

Now, what could you expect to pay?

Including printing and postage, you're looking at roughly $2 per customer. Over the year, that would amount to $24.

Really, it's cost-effective and an excellent part of your marketing process.


One of my favorite ways to surprise and delight customers is with a care package. It's personal, unexpected, and tactile. You could include the following:

  • a free sample of your product. If you have a physical product, giving consumers a chance to experience your product before they buy is incredibly powerful. It will fast-track sales.
  • a book if you're a published author (especially if you're a business coach). I use my book to promote my services and knowledge. You can do something similar. It's a great way to pre-frame a prospective customer.
  • unusual stationery. I have a metal business card, but you could send a really nice pen or leather-bound notebook.
  • personalized stationery. You want to send something with their name on it, not yours. Because it's all about your prospect and making their life better. Not your own. A florist might courier an orchid contained within a handcrafted vase. An e-commerce site selling ceramic pottery could send a beautiful mug with the prospect's name printed on thick card. It'll make an impression. I once received a fridge magnet. It's small but incredibly useful.
  • a discount voucher. It doesn't have to be something massive like 50% off, but if you got a buy one get one free voucher which could only be redeemed in-store, chances are you'd travel 15 miles to get your delight freebie. The sample applies to most consumers. They'll go out of their way if they believe they're getting something free. And they might even land up spending more. It's a win-win situation. They get something new at a discounted rate, and you make a sale you might not have.
Social proof of the power of a surprise and delight branded package

I'll give you an example of how I used a shock and awe package in my telecommunications company (this was many years ago). For high-value prospects, my team would send a mini trash can filled with fake money.

The purpose was to show that staying with their current telecommunications company was costing them money. If they signed with us, they'd be saving big. Included in our surprise and delight package was a copy of the contract ready for them to sign.

It cost about 20 dollars and resulted in many deals. Even if those prospects didn't sign, it got their attention and garnered chatter online.

If you're stuck on ideas of what gifts you could send, check out Giftology by John Ruhlin. This book covers exactly how to boost revenue, increase retention, and cut churn with the power of surprises.

Next, I want to discuss when it makes sense to send a shock and awe package.

When should you use shock and awe tactics?

In my opinion, the shock and awe or surprise and delight package makes sense in a few scenarios.

  1. When the customer is worth a lot. Depending on the type of package you send, it can become costly. So you might want to limit your surprise and delight tactics to high-value prospects. Surprise and delight packages are a great way to micro-manage a relationship with people you want to do business with and whose attention you want to get. Every customer who becomes a coaching client receives two copies of my book, a handwritten note, and my metal business card. No matter where in the world they're based, I religiously send these packages.
  2. When you want to move the prospect up the buying cycle. It can help you skip several steps in the buying cycle, especially in the rapport-building phase. Especially if you own a coaching business or you offer some sort of software, enticing your customers to invest in the business suite as opposed to the entry-level could be as simple as sending a monthly card.
  3. When you want to rekindle interest in a product. Imagine you've gone to the checkout of an e-commerce site. You were looking at lighting equipment and made it to checkout, but for whatever reason, you abandoned the cart. You can use a business like Postpilot to pull that data and send that customer a postcard voucher with 15% off their next purchase. With an 8.6% conversion rate on abandoned cart follow-up emails. It's worth investing in.

Can social media and email fuel your offline marketing strategy?

Absolutely. I mentioned early that a great surprise and delight experience would produce good publicity for your brand.

Some of your customers will share their brand experience on social media. Your goal is to leverage user content to further promote your brand.

User-generated content is vital to marketing your business. You're not telling social media followers to like your brand or buy your product. You're sharing content created by customers who bought your product or service and loved it. It could be a testimonial or just a happy smiling face, but it says to the larger community that you can be trusted.

If you are going to use this type of content, you need to get user consent before sharing the posts on your social media channels.

how to use user generated content to promote your brand

Hosting an online giveaway is another way you can use social media to fuel your offline marketing strategy. You can direct customers to opt-in via your website, comment on the social post, or send you a DM with their personal contact information.

Then you can randomly select a few winners and create the ultimate delight experience.

Just be sure to clearly state the terms and conditions. If the post is directing them to a competition page, make sure you add a privacy policy.

Follow-up email conversations with a gift that delights. Use your CRM to track user engagement. If you notice that a customer hasn't opened your emails in a while, you can follow up with a surprise and delight gift in the mail. It doesn't need to be big. It just needs to get their attention and rekindle their interest in your emails.

The same goes for a sales conversation where the prospect needs time to think. Go into your CRM, pull their customer information, and put together a surprise and delight package that can help them to make a decision.

Start strategizing your direct mail campaign and get ready to delight customers

Marketing your brand isn't easy. Competition is stiff, and your budget is likely tight. You could focus your efforts on online marketing, or you can invest in direct mail. Not only is it massively neglected, but it delivers the ultimate brand experience.

Just remember that your surprise and delight package doesn't have to be big and flashy. Consider the type of customer you're trying to convert, and use that information to inform how much you spend on them.

If you're in the airline business and you're looking for investors, I reckon you'd spend in the tens of thousands. But if the average lifetime value of a customer is $100,000, look to spend a couple hundred or thousand dollars on them.


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