Two posts back I shouted: SELL THE OFFER.
What does that mean?
The offer is the theme of your communication. Begin with it. Restate it. Denote its key benefits. The actual product or service is largely incidental to your sales pitch.
Let’s go back to the weight loss example. Remember, the big gun you fired first was:
“Want to lose 20 lbs before Christmas?”
At this point you could be selling diet pills, exercise equipment, a course in Pilates, motivational training or personal coaching. It’s appropriate now to tie your product to your offer:
Want to lose 20 lbs before Christmas?
On average, people who use the 21st Century Dietetics Method easily lose one pound of excess fat a week. Ask your dietician or doctor and they’ll tell you one pound a week is a safe, healthy amount of weight to lose.
Did you notice something? That’s right, the first paragraph consists of a single short sentence. The rule in firing your big gun is to keep your first sentence to 12 to 15 words, or less.
Another rule is: No long paragraphs. Keep your paragraphs down to 5 – 7 lines – which may equal only two or three sentences. And insert a space between paragraphs to break up your copy, making it look easy to read.
Herschell Gordon Lewis (him again!) says there are five main motivators to consider in your copy:
Fear is the strongest, but also the trickiest, motivator, because it knocks people on their asses.
If you are 30 lbs or more overweight you are a prime candidate for colon cancer.
Scary stuff. Enough to put them off reading any further – until you quickly offer them a hand up:
But now there’s a weight loss supplement that contains a powerful, natural, cancer-fighting ingredient…
To find out more about motivators, buy a copy of Lewis’s On The Art of Writing Copy.
One last comment on writing direct mail copy. It’s not clever, witty, cute or funny. It’s selling, and it’s serious. As Lewis says: “In the age of skepticism, cleverness for its own sake may be a liability, rather than an asset.”
Or to put it another way: When’s the last time you bought anything from a clown.