Copywriting for Direct Mail – Part 1: It’s Measurable

Direct mail is a subset of Direct Response Marketing. All forms of direct response, including direct mail give you results you can measure accurately. Image and awareness advertising – which you see so much of on TV – cannot do that. Because direct mail is so measurable, it puts an onus on the copywriter to get it right. Fortunately, expert direct mail writers have tools and techniques that get results. Over the next few posts, I’m going to reveal some of those tools and techniques.

First, there are five key components to any direct response campaign, in any medium:

1. List – also known as target audience. This may be as broad as everyone who reads the Wall Street Journal, or watches Anderson 360, or as narrow as left-handed CEOs of biotech companies. How broad or narrow depends on what you are trying to sell, and the budget you have to acquire contact names.

2. Offer – Why should somebody buy this product or service from you. What’s in it for them? Special pricing? Two-for-one? Bonus add-ons? Longevity? More time off? Greater ability to concentrate? Tips for successful online marketing? What’s important, as I wrote last time, is not your product or service, but its direct and ancillary benefits. The job of the Direct mail copywriter is to SELL THE OFFER, not the product.

3. Copy – we’ll get to that soon, but you need this background, first.

4. Graphics – This is what the designer does to make sure you get noticed, and that the reader’s eyes are directed through the piece to the point where you ask him or her to take action. Graphics should promote readability and reflect your brand or image.

5. Timing – Direct marketing guru Herschell Gordon Lewis says “Shoot while the ducks are flying.” Don’t try to sell snow tires in July or Bermuda shorts in January (unless they are part a cruise package to Bermuda). Much of timing is out of your control. You probably can’t sell to somebody who’s just been fired, and equally, not to someone who’s celebrating a promotion. You overcome bad personal timing through repeat mailings.

The 40-40-20 Rule says: 40% of your success comes from the list you use, 40% from the offer you make, and 20% from all the rest. That’s enough background….

Posted September 22, 2008
Categories: Blog, Press Releases/Copywriting, Copywriting for Direct Mail
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