Categories: Direct Mail ProductionI recently taught an EU University seminar on October 14th, my classic Direct Mail Production 101. There was a great turnout with some 25 direct marketing professionals in attendance. Normally, the class attracts quite a few veteran direct marketers who enjoy showing up for a refresher, but this time it was comprised mostly of people new to direct marketing – and they were in high gear. In fact, it was the most enthusiastic, gracious, appreciative group I’ve spoken to for quite some time. So what were these folks most interested in? Well, everything, really… but one topic that drew a lot of questions surprised me. Copywriting. We talked a lot about how long or short a direct mail letter should be … I used to say that, typically, longer is better. But in today’s climate, I’m going to say, ‘It depends.’ For B2B communications, one page is probably the best. On the other hand, if you’re working for a nonprofit you need to tell stories and it’s pretty much impossible to tell a compelling story on one – or even two pages. So what’s a direct mail copywriter got to fall back on? For starters, you can’t go wrong with the following well-tested copywriting strategies for direct mail.
- Understand WHO your audience is. Understand WHAT you are offering. WHY should someone take action? HOW should they respond?
- Write the letter to an individual person, rather than a group. In doing do, picture somebody you know well and speak to them in a natural way.
- Use “I” and “you,” but mainly you.
- Stick to the benefits. Most direct marketers have heard “sell benefits, not features.” That means always describe the product or service in terms of the good it will do for the reader.
- Be clear. You don’t have to be a poet, but you do have to paint a picture for the reader. Details, specifics, numbers, and examples are persuasive.
- Create urgency. Direct mail put away is direct mail thrown away. Give your reader a reason and a bunch of ways (response card, phone number, email address, personalized landing page, whatever) to act now, today, immediately.
- Ask for the order… or as one direct mail copywriter put it, “The direct mail that sells the most is the direct mail that asks for money.”