Direct Mail Tip #3: The Power of Pictures

The use of visuals — black/white or full color, photographs or drawings — has gone hand-in-hand with direct mail since it’s humble beginnings. But what makes for an effective image? What’s the purpose of using them?


At first glance, visuals draw the eye’s attention faster than does text, so selecting the appropriate images for your campaign is crucial to it’s success. One of the most important visuals you’ll ever use is your logo. The logo should be featured on everything you send out to customers. Why? Because logos increase brand recognition and give your product or service an automatic visual in customers’ minds. For example, what do you think of when you hear the word cola? Most likely, Coca-Cola and their iconic red-and-white logo. What do you think of when you hear PURL? Naturally, and our iconic clam-shell logo!


Drawings or illustrations are another creative way to include visuals in your direct mail piece. A really old example here—from 1928!—shows us how pictures can work effectively in a direct mail letter.

While illustrations take time to create and can be more costly than stock art, they can give your piece a handsome, handcrafted look. Illustrations let your customer know your piece took a lot of time and effort to create, and they will hopefully correlate this with the perceived quality of your product or service.


The most popular visual in today’s market is the photograph. There are several great resources for “stock” photos for pretty much every scenario possible, such as and, to name but two of many. There are also some free (or free with accreditation) photo options, such as Wikimedia Commons and Many marketers use photographs in the marketing pieces because photographs give a face to your campaign and can easily portray emotion.

For example, this romantic and elegant wedding photo below immediately gives you the impression that this country club is very exclusive and perfect for special events (such as your wedding).

Keep in mind, however, that photos are here to help your campaign – not distract from it. Make sure you’re selecting photos that don’t distract from your overall message, and the amount of pictures displayed doesn’t overwhelm the text.

The right visuals can instantly captivate your audience and immediately clue them into or reinforce your campaign’s message. Have any questions about how to use visuals in your marketing? Let us know in the comments. Insider

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