What your customers really want to know is “What can you do for me?” They are looking for reliable assistance in making smarter buying decisions and finding solutions to their problems. Experts (aka gurus) are generous, genuine and germane in what they offer. They demonstrate their authority in all they say and do. It’s a strategy, not a copy tactic.
Headlines are the one copy element almost every ad, email, brochure, blog post, whitepaper, landing page, self-mailer, postcard and Web page have in common. An irresistible headline is the lure that hooks your reader.
Most of you reading this probably aren't copywriters. Instead you're the people who provide input to writers; the professionals tasked with creating marketing messages that generate clicks, calls or trips to a store or an event. So, while you're most likely not a writer, you play a major role in the writing process because of one or more of the following:
Creative testing may sound like an oxymoron, but it's not when you're a direct marketing writer or designer. Testing creative elements, such as headlines, subject lines and format, is an effective strategy for improving results—both B-to-B and B-to-C. And the res
Opening envelopes and unzipping direct mail snap packs provides cross-channel marketers with the chance to lurk-and-learn from their direct mail marketing colleagues. I speak from experience. Lurking, learning and confirming is what I've been doing for more than a year as I saved a stack of mail pieces I received from P.O. Box 1857 in Alpharetta, Ga. Sometimes I received two or three pieces a month from this address. You probably did, too, if you're an AT&T customer. P.O. Box 1857 is the home address for AT&T Customer Care. Here's what I learned
Are you using violators to capture your scanner's attention and quickly transform him or her into a reader-responder? If not, why not? A violator is a powerful creative element that can be used across channels to violate natural eye flow and pull a scanner into reading your messages. I first learned about a violator's disturbing power as a catalog and direct mail writer. I was taught to use violators to call out value pricing, free trial offers and discount deadlines. While violators may not be aesthetically pleasing to fans of fine art and white space, it's their uncomfortably disruptive quality that makes them effective in driving response.
When was the last time you sent your customer/prospect/member/donor/fan a message via email, direct mail or another channel? Have you gone silent because you don't think you have a reason to write? Too often, marketers only communicate with customers and prospects when they have something to sell. While that's a solid business objective, there are many other reasons to communicate that can help build your brand, strengthen customer loyalty and open new doors for two-way engagement across channels.
Openers can be onerous. Which may be why registrations for last week's webinar, "Copy Starters: 48+ Ideas for Letter and Email Openers" were some of the highest ever for Target Marketing. The hour-long session was based on a column I wrote for Target Marketing magazine in March 2012 that still attracts online readers. Couldn't attend? Here's a short recap of some of the most frequently asked questions and high points of the discussion.
Just because it's short doesn't mean writing effective teaser copy is easy. Creating teaser copy is part science, as well as part art. Good teasers make the difference between success and failure for emails, direct mail, even Twitter and blog posts. Long before I wrote outer envelope teasers for direct mail, I was an avid fan of those tantalizing blurbs on magazine covers like Glamour and <Seventeen, as well as my mother's Good Housekeeping and Ladies' Home Journal.I still love analyzing the words magazine editors so carefully choose for their front covers in an effort to entice me to buy and read their magazines.
Direct response writers are more than wordsmiths. First, we're psychologists who understand what motivates our audience to act. We're also general contractors responsible for building strong messages that encourage people to respond and making it easy for them to do it. Fortunately, we have a variety of tools to help. In addition to words and the images they conjure up, we also have numbers to help us attract the attention of scanners and transform them into readers. These folks aren't necessarily accountants, engineers or data analysts. They are simply people who are drawn to 1,000,000 vs. one million.
When you're writing to generate response, it all starts with finding ways to engage your reader in your copy and content. Reader engagement hinges on using the right words to build rapport. This kind of copy rings true with the targeted audience because it makes an immediate connection. But how do you know which are the right words to use? One technique is to say the same thing in different ways. Many different ways. You never know which will hit your readers' hot buttons and snag their attention. I know from experience this technique works across channels—from direct mail letters and self-mailers to emails, whitepapers, blog posts and website copy. Twitter, with its 140 characters, may be the one exception, because you don't have the opportunity to repeat yourself.
Do you know the No. 1 question I get asked when leading writing workshops? It's these five words: "How long should copy be?" The answer is simple. Copy and content need to be as long as they need to be to do their job: Make a sale. Generate a lead. Provide sought-after information. Establish credibility. As direct response writers know, the only way to know for certain whether longer or shorter "copy works better in a specific situation is to test, track and analyze results. But sometimes it's not feasible to test, so here's my suggestion: Use common sense.
Recently, I experienced an identity crisis. While I've built my career as a copywriter, I now had a client asking me if I also was a content developer. Hmmm. I hadn't thought about it. And frankly, I didn't know. What I did know was that on any given day, you'd find me writing emails, direct mail, space ads, whitepapers, e-newsletters, landing pages, website pages and ads, blog posts, package inserts, and a whole lot more.
The simplest, most effective way to diffuse buying objections is with a simple, straightforward guarantee. Having an unconditional promise of 100 percent customer satisfaction can be the difference between making a first-time sale to a customer who becomes a very loyal (and profitable) customer … or not. A no-risk guarantee entices fence-sitters to jump off the fence and comparison-shoppers to choose you over the competition. It's a key element of your offer as part of what you're willing to give in exchange for response.
Offers are the secret weapon of direct marketers for generating response. An offer is not just a discount, free shipping or free gift. It's a package of elements that work together to encourage action, differentiate you from the competition, build your brand, answer buying objections and encourage fence-sitters to jump off the fence.