Copywriting

For Direct Mail Success, Sweat the Details

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

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Too often, people and organizations put all their attention into getting the big things right, but ignore the details.

There’s a word to describe this. It’s “mediocrity.”
For direct mail success, sweat the details
Giving attention to the details can’t ensure your success, but ignoring the small stuff can quickly bring about your downfall.

Every detail has bottom-line repercussions and it’s irresponsible to think of any aspect of direct mail as trivial, unimportant or inconsequential.

Here are a few fine points often overlooked in a mailing. None will ensure your success, but collectively, they can make a huge difference in your (more…)

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Is Your Direct Mail Brochure Helping or Hurting?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

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With direct mail, it’s often said, “The letter sells while the brochure explains.” With this in mind, it’s important not to let your explanation get in the way of making the sale.

I do a lot of “Beat the Control” work, and whenever I’m up against a package that includes a brochure, my first instinct is to test eliminating the brochure. More times than not, dropping the brochure will increase the mailing’s response.

Why? Because when people are reading your brochure, they aren’t responding. Too often, the brochure becomes a distraction and diverts the reader’s attention from the letter’s call to action.

Yet, there are times when it makes sense to test a brochure.

With some products and services, you can better communicate their benefits with a picture, illustration or (more…)

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18 Proven Ideas for a More Effective Order Form

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

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Whether you call it an order form, a response form or a response device, it’s one of the most crucial components of any direct response mailing.

The response form is the tool the prospect uses to complete the sale. Yet when creating a new direct mail package, we don’t always give the order form the time, attention and respect it deserves.

Too often, we write copy that excites readers and motivates them to accept our offer only to lose the sale (or contribution) with simple, easy-to-correct design flaws in the order form.

Here are 18 tested and proven ideas you can use to make your response form more profitable. (more…)

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Successful Direct Mail Starts and Ends With the Outer Envelope

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

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When receiving direct mail, the outer envelope is the first thing we see. Yet too often, its design is an afterthought.

But without a convincing envelope, even the strongest offer and best-written copy will take a quick, one-way trip to the trash.

When creating a new direct mail package, I try to think like a door-to-door salesperson. The outer envelope is my knock on the door and how effectively I use it, will determine the mailing’s success.

ELEMENTS OF THE ENVELOPE

Eye-study research reveals that recipients will spend no more than 7 seconds deciding whether to open the outer envelope. Fortunately, we have five tools we can use to convince the recipient to look inside. These are (more…)

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How to Boost Your Direct Mail Profits by Spending More

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

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When times get tough, everyone wants to cut direct mail costs. After all, if we can bring in the same amount of money and spend less, our profits increase.

And there are ways to cut costs without necessarily hurting the effectiveness of your mailing.

Cutting Direct Mail Costs or Making Money

Cut Costs or Make Money?

You can, for example, trim your package format by ¼ inch or so to make it run better on your printer’s press, use a cheaper paper, test smaller formats, omit package inserts or eliminate the premium.

But don’t act too quickly.

Before getting caught up in the rush to cut expenses, we need to remember the objective (more…)

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A Copywriter’s Thoughts on Direct Mail Lists

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

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I still remember my first direct mail letter. I reworked it to perfection. Every word was just as I wanted it to be. The benefits to the reader were clear, the offer was strong and the call to action was unmistakable.

Then we mailed the letter, and I waited. And I waited some more. But nothing happened. Not even a single response. No one even bothered to complain about the letter.

About direct mail lists

Finding the right person to mail

Finally, after waiting a few more days, I went to see the agency’s owner and confessed my failure. I explained the letter’s objectives, my approach, the offer…how I had checked and rechecked every word but failed to get even one response.

Without even looking up, my boss said, “Check the lists.”

And I was ready for this. I’d already prepared a report on the mailing lists we were testing and started to go through the long list. But he said, “No, that’s not what I mean. (more…)

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How to Get More Value from Your Direct Mail Copywriter

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

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When I started my direct marketing career, I wanted to be a copywriter. Copywriters were the agency “hotshots”; it seemed like they were the star attraction.

Yet my mentor told me that the people of most value to the agency were direct mail “generalists.” Taking his advice, I spent the next six years learning how to initiate, develop and manage successful direct mail campaigns.

I studied list selection, graphic layouts, the letter’s structure, print production and lettershop capabilities. And I gave special attention to what and how to test.Empowering the Direct Mail Copywriter

Yet today, most of my income comes from direct mail copywriting.

Over the years, I’ve tested (more…)

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How to Edit Direct Mail Copy for Greater Response

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

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Just about every direct mail copywriter can benefit from a good editor. Yet many decision makers who approve copy—clients, compliance officers, board members and managers—aren’t trained to edit the copywriter’s work. How to edit direct mail copy

Here’s a simple 3-step method and checklist that might help.

Step 1

When reviewing a direct mail letter for the first time, sit on your hands.

One of the biggest mistakes is to pick up your red pen before you’ve reviewed the complete mailing package. Checking for errors in grammar, spelling and sentence structure is essential. But when you proofread (more…)

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Much of What I Know About Direct Mail, I Learned in High School

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

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Some of the best training I’ve had for becoming a direct mail copywriter came when I sold magazines door to door as a teenager.

I quickly learned that not every homeowner welcomed me. Some would not even come to the door, some would close the door in my face and others would listen but not buy.

Soon, I learned to how to better my odds. Each time I approached a house, I gathered all the available information on the homeowner and developed a plan before knocking on the door.

My marketing “data” came from what I could see in the homeowner’s front yard. Were there toys in the yard, indicating children lived there? Was a newspaper (more…)

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How a Guarantee Builds Direct Mail Profits

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

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Value of Direct Mail Guarantee

When it comes to decision making, I have a simple approach. If I believe the outcome might be something I wouldn’t want my mother to know about, I don’t do it.

And when creating a direct mail offer a similar rule applies. If you can’t provide a meaningful guarantee, don’t promote it.

You have two reasons to offer a guarantee:

First, it’s the right thing to do. A meaningful guarantee shows that you believe in your product. And, when you’re asking for someone else’s money, you should believe in what you’re selling—if not, don’t do it.

Second, you’ll want to offer a guarantee because it can build profits.

Buyers, whether online or traditional direct mail, have plenty of reasons—real or perceived—not to respond to your offer. After all, whether we’re fundraising or selling a product, we’re asking the prospect to trust us to do what we promised. (more…)

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