You see these words all the time – in ads, TV commercials and, of course, direct mail. Does anyone actually pay attention to them?

They do – if you can back them up with a real proof of urgency.

Last week, I received my bi-annual postcard from Blue Diamond Window Cleaning. We’ve been getting their postcards for several years now, I think because we once requested an estimate.

The postcard is always the same – 4×6 printed in just one color (blue). Nothing fancy – actually it’s pretty dull – but there is one thing that is absolutely brilliant about this mailer. It creates a real sense of urgency.

Let me describe it: On the address side of the postcard, there is a list showing the next 12 weeks (Week of 8/22, Week of 8/29, etc.). Beside each week, there is a number indicating the number of open spots currently available. Some weeks are fully booked, others have just a couple of spots left and some have plenty of spots available.

You don’t see the words “Act Now” or “Don’t Delay” but you get the message – in a much more powerful and believable way.

Here’s another example: Some time ago, I received one of those typical conference promotions – which almost always includes a list of local hotels that are offering discounted rates for conference attendees. To create a sense of urgency, this particular mailing showed that some of the hotels were already SOLD OUT.

There are other ways to create urgency. The most common is to establish a deadline for responding. Sometimes the deadline is for an early bird discount, sometimes you’ll get a free gift, sometimes the deadline will be the final day a sale and sometimes it’s just a deadline with no particular reward or penalty. Deadlines are tricky because you need to have confidence your mail gets out on time so that the deadline isn’t passed by the time the mailer is received.

Another way to create urgency is to offer a “first responder” promotion. Here, you would offer a free gift to the first 10 or 20 or 50 people who respond.

Creating urgency may seem like a relatively small matter, but think of all the times you receive a mail piece with an offer that interests you. But instead of responding immediately, you set it aside only to find it again a few weeks or a few months later.


Written by Bob McCarthy

This article may be reprinted without permission as long as the article includes the following credit: Bob McCarthy is a freelance copywriter and consultant specializing in direct marketing and lead generation. His website is He can be reached at 508-473-8643 or by email at

About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."