Direct-Mail Copywriting – Finding the Gold

When it comes to direct mail copywriting, finding quality marketing examples is like finding a needle inside the proverbial haystack.

Here, check this out: I’m a perpetual student. I have piles of books and papers all over the house. Courses, magazines, books, letters, and hundreds of pages of material I’ve printed from things I stumble across online.

And they’re everywhere.

Some small piles towards the back of the dinner table where no one really sits… another medium-sized stash on the chair in the dining room where no one notices too much… on top of every desk in my office… on the floor in the bathrooms next to the toilet (But not in my teenaged sons bathrooms – even I won’t venture into that place.)… and scattered around my desk on the floor in my office, I have several piles as well.

Occasionally I get through one or two of the piles, or if I take a long plane flight I’ll scoop them up and stuff ‘em in my briefcase and they’ll tend to disappear for a while, but then… within a few weeks, they magically reappear like some sort of weed in your garden you could swear you just pulled out last week, and the last week before that.

The thing is, while most of the stuff in these piles contains good information, most of the direct mail I receive, is pure crap. No matter how hard I try and find even one good idea I could use and run with, I just keep turning up empty-handed.

The other day, however, I received a very interesting piece in the mail, which I can use and actually improve on.

It was a crumpled up piece of paper, that was a cover letter to a sales piece. The letter had scrawled across it, in handwriting, something to the effect of, “I figured since you threw out the last two pieces of mail I sent you, I’d give you a head start on this one.”

This was pretty clever as a lift letter for a follow-up piece, I thought.

The copy itself wasn’t very compelling, but the concept worked. The piece was supposed to get me to stop and pay attention and I did.

Unfortunately, the actual selling piece was awful. They could have sent me the Hope Diamond as a free gift, and I still wouldn’t have been able to read through it. But the point is, at least I found an idea to run with.

The truth is, looking for exact models, in anything, is rarely productive. But searching for good ideas, finding them and then adapting them to your specific needs, is incredibly productive.

There are a few changes I would have made, to the lift note, and if you use direct mail, pay close attention to them: I would have used yellow paper, and I probably would have written the note in blue ink instead of black. I also would have included my picture on this lift note as well. Photos always get more attention and boost your response rates.

Since the transaction value was high, which means the vendor could afford to spend money to acquire customers, I also would have sent the entire thing in a garbage can mailer, instead of just crumpling the note up.

The garbage cans I’m talking about are small garbage cans you can mail out – several of my clients have used them successfully. I’m sure you’ll agree, it is virtually impossible to ignore something like this when you receive it in your mailbox.

The big problem with all this, is you typically can’t find good ideas like this in even 1 out of every 100 pieces of mail you might get. But that’s O.K., because… when it comes to direct-mail copywriting, even one good idea… is worth it’s weight… in gold.

How to Run an Email Marketing Campaign Properly

Email marketing is a tool for reaching your existing and your potential customers.

When it’s used effectively, it can deliver the most bang for your buck than almost any other form of internet marketing.

It must contain a call for the recipient to do something, like click on a link. This call should be made as easy and as non-threatening as possible, but still motivate the reader to take action, like signing up for a free newsletter or report.

Email marketing is just another form of direct marketing which uses an electronic means of distribution, as compared to the letter box drop and junk mail techniques. Obviously these printed campaigns work very well, otherwise you would not keep getting the flyers delivered to you.

With flyer campaigns, the control over its use is that if you do not specifically put “No junk mail” on your mailbox, you are deemed to be receptive to its receipt. Email campaigns are the direct opposite, in that the recipient must specifically request that he get your email, and under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 no sales emails can be sent without that request.

Despite this, email campaigns have certain advantages over the printed flyer.

o An extremely low cost per customer, in fact almost nothing.

o Your message is highly targeted it only goes to customers who are interested in your product and have so indicated by by using a double opt-in process of confirming their initial interest by means of a follow-up email in which they are again asked for their permission to be sent information.

o Emails can be customised, and made personal, using the recipient’s first name.

o It is completely measurable – match the number of emails sent against the number of responses.

o It uses a person’s main connection with the internet – their inbox.
Every email you send out should be considered an opportunity for email marketing, by including your site address as part of your signature.

You can use newsletters to keep your customers informed, or just to keep in touch. They don’t have to be necessarily long, just a few points. I rewrite the ones I receive, just using the main points, and it would only take me about ten minutes.

Newsletters tend to be more useful for long term goals rather than an immediate sale, and should always provide an opportunity to visit your website, where you can promote your products. They should be used to create a long term relationship with your customer.

If you are sending out a direct sales letter, always put the sign-up form where it can be easily seen – above the fold and throughout the email.

Always provide an opportunity for the customer to cancel their permission to receive emails from you, so that you cannot be accused of spamming.

One good technique is to try and include a small gift in your emails. It could be a music track, or an eBook – all of us have our hard drives cluttered up with information, you should have plenty of stuff you can give away. The aim is to get your customer to look forward to your emails and not just delete them when they see who it’s from, an offence I am probably guilty of!

Direct Response Copywriting Secrets – Effective Headlines That Sell

One of the most important aspects of effective direct response copywriting, is creating your headline. Over the last ten years, I’ve read literally hundreds of books, always looking for new appeals I can use in my headlines. Old books, new books, marketing books, fiction books – I even read books about books, oddly enough.

Back in 1957, John Caples wrote a book called Making Ads Pay. This book, although not as popular as his “Tested Advertising Methods,” is an excellent read nonetheless, although it might be harder to find.

Anyway, Caples mentions a headline that’s absolutely incredible, and today I’m going to go over it with you, along with some of the body copy for the ad. The headline says,

“Give Me 5 Days And I’ll Give You A Magnetic Personality. Let Me Prove It – FREE!”

This headline was selling a course called “Instantaneous Personal Magnetism,” in the mid 1920′s. Let’s deconstruct this headline and see why it’s so powerful.

First of all, it’s an emotionally powerful headline, pushing a number of buy-buttons of the reader. Curiosity, Vanity, Envy, Excitement – all cleverly woven in here.

“Give Me 5 Days.” Defining your time frame is a great way of enhancing your basic promise. The average Joe marketer would say something like “Let me give you a magnetic personality.” A superstar, however, knows the way to enhance your message is to put a deadline on it, and the shorter the better.

“I’ll Give You A Magnetic Personality.” This provokes extreme curiosity. What exactly is a “magnetic personality?” It sounds great – who wouldn’t want one? Plus, you are giving it to me, so this means I don’t have to do any work, right?

“Let me prove it.” This answers the objection of almost any sale, but especially a sale where what you’re selling in the first place isn’t necessarily well-known or well-defined. This also makes your prospect lower their guard and be less defensive, which is critical to making any kind of a sale. It shows your willingness to earn their business, and their trust, and that builds credibility instantly, especially in today’s crazy world. (Which was obviously crazy back in the 1920′s as well, funny enough.)

And then of course, “Free” means exactly what you think – no risk.

This formula, “Give Me __ And I’ll Give You ___. Let me prove it to you…” is one you can use in almost any business out there, or at least you can use a modified version of it.

So for instance, “Give me 90 days and I’ll show you how to find the love of your life. Let me prove it to you… Free”

Or… “Give me 7 days and I’ll show you how to make a small fortune buying and selling stocks, with NO risk to your initial capital investment. Let me prove this to you – free.”

When it comes to effective direct response copywriting, elements of proof and minimizing risk are an almost guaranteed way of capturing your prospects attention, as long as you’re focusing them around the right offer.