Direct Marketing Essentials – Create Better Mailings With Copywriting That Sells!

But whatever you’re trying to promote or sell, you’ll need to tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond in the way you want. Writing good, clear concise copy that effectively persuades readers to take some sort of action requires significant skill, time and attention to detail.So if your up for the writing challenge, I have included 12 Wonder Words which copywriters use to turn prospects into customers, plus I’ve outlined some guidelines to create better mailings.Wonder Words That Grab AttentionBefore you start rolling up your sleeves, you should write the following words down on a post-it note and stick it on your computer or fridge to remember:They appear in no particular order:
MoneySo why are these wonder words so important?Well, did you know that Yale University Researches have identified them as the 12 most powerful words in the human language?These words just so happen to attract readers attention more than any other words, while working on a very powerful, emotional level.But it is important to remember that these words should only be used as tools when integrating them within your copy. If your copy is poor, particularly your grammar, then these words will not win over a new customer. But they will make your communication so much more enticing.Here’s how easy it is to include them within your copy:Discover how you can generate more money by using this easy copywriting method, saving you thousands of dollars with proven results. Guaranteed!Empathise with your target marketThe main purpose of copywriting within a direct mail context, is not used to inspire admiration, it is there to get people to do something. The entire design and conception of direct mail piece, for example, must be built around this simple but vital necessity: Get Action!So when writing your copy, you have to start with understanding your target market. You will need to ask relevant questions and genuinely empathise with your customers. This may involve talking to your current and past customers, studying testimonials, even talking to customer service staff, who usually provide some very interesting vies.You should try and identify what type of person they are. What is really motivating them to respond? Is it:
Saving Money?
Power?It could be any of these reasons or combination, but I believe that only a few motives are ever at work.To view this in a more simplistic way, it has been identified that everything functions for either pain or gain in this world, and it’s the same for every person. Although every marketer would agree that people will always try to avoid pain over pleasure or gain.In other words, in order to get your customers to take action and buy from you, your product or service needs to overcome the pain and suffering associated with their problems.You need to stop talking about yourself and how wonderful your business is, and start addressing your customers problems by outlining the benefits associated with the product or service you’re trying to sell.For example, if you have a massage chair that is equipped with all the latest technology, you’re not going to start by mentioning that it has 12 multi-function settings, but rather focus on reducing back pain and restoring circulation.After fully understanding the person you are talking to, you now need to consider what format you want to write in and the critical elements needed given the overall proposition. In fact, until the format and the elements are satisfactory, you should not write a word.Creating Better MailingsFocusing on direct mail in particular, the key ingredients to include for a successful mail-out would typically include the outer envelope, the letter, the order form, the reply envelope, the brochure, and the flyer.It is far better for a writer and designer to sort out the overall plan before undertaking the specifics. Plus the function and message of each item becomes clearer as you start to develop them. Writing too early will be a waste, as ideas change and thoughts change.But for the purpose of this article, I am only going to concentrate on the three key elements of the direct mail package where effective copywriting is absolutely critical and the main points you need to consider before you start writing:The letterIn studies, the majority of people look for a letter first when the open their mail. But many businesses fail to use them in their mailings. There are some absolutes when it comes to direct mail – you must always include a letter and you must have a very strong reason for not making it a long one.Why does it have to be long? Well if you want tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond in the way you want, you need to be prepared to write some enticing copy. And I doubt if you can provide enough detail or a compelling reason in a cover letter only containing 2 to 3 paragraphs.To write a letter that is going to entice your customers you need to structure it in a format that will keep the reader moving down the page by incorporating the following key elements:
Attention Grabbing title – Used to get people to focus on you, your products and how you can benefit them. I normally write 30 different titles or more before I come up with a winner. You should even consider doing A/B split testing to track the best response.
Introduction – After capturing your readers’ interest, now direct their attention to your introduction. Write a brief paragraph about your product or service to let them know exactly what you have to offer them. Keep it brief and to the point with no fluff. You need to capture the promise made in the title in only a few seconds before the reader loses interest.
Identify the Problem – This goes back to empathising with your customers and help overcoming their problems. Providing a ‘reason why’ you’re writing the letter is also critical when making an offer to your customers, and it is best relayed in the form of a story. In fact, good copywriters and marketers often use stories the reader can relate to.
Provide a Solution – Tangible benefits, not features that can help your customers. After identifying your customers greatest fears and concerns, show them how other people, just like them, have overcome these problems and discovered there was nothing to worry about.
Details of what you are trying to sell – This contains all the pertinent information such as what’s on offer, what brands, what service your providing? You need to deliver on the promise made by the title.
Testimonials – Provide evidence of happy customers. Please ensure they are the original letters for them to carry any authority at all.
Endorsements – Whether they be from a celebrity, or an official organisation, an endorsement will help bring credibility to your product or service.
Use an enticing marketing offer – An additional offer is used over and above what you are trying to sell. It could be a free gift, free information or a free consultation. It helps to overcome BUYERS INERTIA and gets the reader to take action.
Contact information – How do you want your customers to contact you?
Your signature -….and not a digital one that has been scanned onto the page.
Use a P.S. to reiterate the offer and even another P.S.S. to outline any other important information. E.g. A deadline or, advising the product is only available to first 100 callers. These help the reader to ‘take action’ now.What is your copywriting style?Now that you have the right layout to use for your letter, you also need to be aware of the tone and style of your writing, and what is the best way to lay out the copy to make it easier to understand? Here are a few tips to consider:
Most letters are written in a compassionate, informal style to provide a more human touch to help the writer relate better to the reader.
The approach you should take is to let the customer know that you are talking to him or her as a person and not some random number or customer. Always personalise your letter where possible.
Use bullet points and sub headings to break up information and make it easier for the reader digest. Your subheadings should provide highlights of each section of your sales letter and be displayed in a larger, bold font.
Bold important information, titles, sub headings and key points
Change the colour to broadcast your offer. Colour can be used to draw the reader’s attention to get something for FREE!
Use italics and underline for greater emphasis on a word.
Use a handwriting font to express your testimonials as they provide more credibility.The brochureIf you have a budget, then a brochure of some form is always useful. It will improve response but it isn’t always critical to include in a mail pack. It should be seen as complimentary to the other items rather than the hero.What I mean by brochure, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be high cost and a lavish 4-colour production. It can indeed be in black and white. Usually its role is to provide credibility to the rest of the mailing with pictures, charts and other informative items.In this role, the brochure shares the selling task with the other items, so what you say in the letter copy may be replicated in the brochure, but said differently of course. The tone of the brochure copy is completely different. The letter is typically writing using a chattier, more colloquial style, while the official brochure is more formal.Never fall into the trap of leaving things out of the letter, as if you were going to save it for the brochure. Both items have to stand on their own feet but also contain the entire selling message. Only the tone and style is different, which provides excellent practice to developing your flexibility with different copy styles.The flyerThe flyer is basically any other piece of paper you want to add to your direct mail pack.You may think that your letter and brochure have provided your prospective customer with all the information they need. But it is primarily used as a stand-out piece. It sticks out and draws the reader’s attention while reinforcing the message.The flyer mainly comes in two forms, the testimonials letter, or ‘third voice’ letter, and the free gift flyer.A variation of the testimonial letter is the ‘third voice’ because it appears to come in the form from someone other than the writer of the main letter. An example of this letter can be applied to fundraising: The state government will have credibility in signing an appeals letter, but you can’t really have them asking for cash. Therefore, we would write a separate letter from the Leader talking about politics, but with a little bit at the end talking about the need for funds.The free gift flyer has two jobs to perform. First, it has to focus the readers mind on the free gift, then it has to be able to ‘sell it’. All too often the free gift flyers end up as a photograph of a watch with a paragraph underneath stating ‘FREE’ in bold. This is hardly going to give you the results you want. Many other types of flyer can be devised. In fact, don’t limit yourself to just one – I’ve seen successful mail packs use as many as 50 flyers!To sum upSo that is a brief overview of how to create better mailing using effective copywriting. By now I think you will agree that if you use the right words, the right tone and style, and the right format, while focusing on the primary needs of your customers – you can’t go wrong.It may be easier said than done, which is why you may have to consider using an experienced copywriter to get the most out of your next direct marketing initiatives.

Direct Marketing Essentials – Buying and Negotiating Media

Every business has a vast array of media options available, which includes both Traditional Media such as TV, magazines, radio and magazines and New Media which includes the internet, emails, search engine marketing, viral campaigns and link building strategies.But no matter what product or service you offer, you must do a decent amount of research to determine how best to spend your advertising budget. This includes researching the target market and understanding what type of medium will work best to reach the largest amount of customers using the most effective method.But as this blog is part of a direct marketing series, I am only going to concentrate on effective media buying from the most popular direct marketing channels which tend to fall under the ‘traditional media’ umbrella. But due to the importance of the internet marketing nowadays, I’ll have to dedicate a separate blog to this essential marketing medium down the track.Direct MailI would have to say that direct mail is the most important DM medium. The reason why it’s so good, is that unlike other forms of marketing channels, you don’t have another medium carrying your message for you. With direct mail, you have total control over the branding and communication of your message.Direct Mail is the perfect blend of both advertising and sales. It allows you to present your product and service in a non-competing landscape, communicate directly with your target market while making an attractive offer, which helps to close the sale, all in one convenient envelope or package.The key aspects to remember before you spend too much on your direct mail campaign are as follows:
Match your existing customer profile as closely as possible before you rent a list. These include psychometric, geographic and demographic factors. If you don’t have any customers, then you need to undertake some basic marketing research.
Always rent your marketing lists before purchasing them outright. This allows you to test and measure the effectiveness of the list before roll-out. There is also no harm in asking for a discount when trialling a list. Many list rental companies may even waiver the set-up fee as a once-off.
Make sure you only select the most important criteria for testing the campaign. Don’t just test for the sake of testing, but look at key factors which provide the most effective means of getting a sale from your target market.Magazines and NewspapersHere are some general guidelines for choosing and buying the right magazine for your business:
Overall, I believe that frequency is a key driver in generating direct sales. Expect a good discount if you ran multiple ads in a publication.For newspapers, you need to consider the ad size and section of the newspaper. For example, an obvious choice of a travel product would be to go into the travel section. Although I have had previous success advertising a travel product in the business section of The Age, as there is no other competition to consider in this space.
You should test to establish the best publication. A scenario has been outlined for a Travel Insurance product in the attached spreadsheet so you can follow the calculations used to ascertain how much profit you can obtain from a publication: Measuring the Profit Index. You can even use this as a negotiating tool when buying advertising space in similar publications based on past results.
Measure the success by the response generated from the magazine circulation, not by the people reached. I feel that a publications reach can be somewhat over inflated, but circulation is exact.
Competitors who consistently appear in the same publications give a good indication that the publication is working for them. You can learn from your competitor’s experience.
Think about getting some bonus space to run a phone number or call to action message within the same publication to help lift response rates.
Consider audience lifestyle and the reading habits. For example, you don’t want to put a coupon into a magazine that people are going to keep – it just ruins it!Inserts vs On-page AdvertisingOnce you’ve chosen the media, this opens up the door for you to consider the different executions for your product or service. It would be worth your while to test stitched inserts vs loose inserts vs on-page advertising. Just remember the following key points beforehand:
Inserts are intrusive. You have to be fairly tactile and you would expect the reader to do something with them. i.e. coupons are generally used on inserts.
Loose inserts automatically fall out of magazines and can get thrown straight into the bin. But magazines automatically fall open at stitched inserts. So you have to make it stand out!
Inserts are more expensive, but they generally convert better than on-page advertising. This is because the pass-on value is higher, plus people can hold onto an insert longer than the publication.
For on-page advertising, you may wish to test right vs left page, or multiple vs single page advertising. It is important to measure the cost per call, and the cost per sale to help improve advertising efficiencies.TelevisionTelevision can definitely work for direct response marketing. Here are a few tips to get you started:
The key point is to be flexible with placement and to have the opportunity to test at different times.
Prime time viewing is great for branding and awareness and off-peak is better for direct response. Although if you can negotiate off-peak rates for prime time then I’d definitely test it.
Often fringe spots pull in a greater response than prime time, as consumers are generally engrossed in a high rating program.
Sometimes you will be able to negotiate your TV advertising on a per inquiry basis. This means that you only pay on a response basis.
By introducing top and tail commercial breaks. This means you run an awareness ad at the beginning of the break followed by a response generator towards the end of the end of the same break.
TV advertorials are considered an inexpensive way to provide a detailed message with call to action.
A well known personality endorsing your product or service will add credibility, as long as your personality is relevant to the product/service you’re trying to sell.Household DropsMany small businesses still include household mailbox drops as part of their overall marketing activity. Unfortunately you can’t judge how many people are going to put stuff in the mailbox on a day-to-day basis, which makes it very difficult to plan effectively. But here are a few tips to consider before you head down this path:
Planning your distribution is essential. Generally household drops result in lower response rates, which is why targeting the correct audience is absolutely imperative.
Don’t let your branding slide with this medium. Ensure your brand image is maintained and your product/service is positioned correctly.
You could even use radio or press as pointers to alert your target audience to the household drop to help boost response.Leveraging the MediaNow that you have an idea of some of the planning considerations and what type of deals you could negotiate for traditional media, I’d like to wrap up with some over-arching guidelines on how to leverage all media from the outset.Knowledge is Power: Your buying power and negotiating skills will increase once you start testing the market and dealing with account managers. You know what works for your business. The media doesn’t! So ensure you are hard-nosed when negotiating with all media. If you have trouble negotiating, then here are some pointers to get you started:
What we’re doing is working already, why should I go with you?
We’ll test for free. If it works then we’ll commit to a longer term campaign.
Advise the media that you have ‘distress’ funds available for testing.
Try to secure a royalty deal and only pay for the number of inquiries.
Get the media competing with each other for the best deal, while keeping the majority of your budget fluid all year.Contingency Planning For All EventsEvery small business marketing campaign should have a back-up plan for when the unexpected arises out of nowhere. If, for example, Australia Post decides to go on strike for three months, then you may have to utilise telemarketing to help achieve your sales targets. In turn, you will have to revise your marketing budget and revenue forecasts to cater for the additional expense of telemarketing.Planning also involves considerations when response rates exceed your expectations. This can be overcome if you incorporate some of the following practices:
Be flexible with your media buying. Buy on a short-term basis and increase media frequency if the ROI is good.
Make your campaign time limited.
Set limits for your customers. E.g. Offer limited to the first 200 callers.
Keep your database clean and up-to-date and avoid costly dead mail. Your database should be no more than 6 months old.
Plan your budget to increase activity if required. Sometimes it’s better to get extra brochures printed in the event your direct mail campaign takes off!