Smile—and Flash Your pURLy Sites
October 1, 2007

Direct marketers have worked for decades to personalize their contacts with customers. Back in the 1940s, for example, after a human typed “Dear Eric” on the first line of a sheet of paper, the remainder of the sales pitch would be typed automatically by a player piano roll that was hooked up to a typewriter. By the 1970s, people saw their names on contest letters from Reader’s Digest and thought they might be winners. With new technology comes new ways to personalize pitches, and the personalized URL—or pURL—is a new tool that will bring great benefits to marketers who know how to use it correctly.

Create Direct Mail Design that Sells
September 26, 2007

If you visit Little Italy in New York City and stroll down Mulberry Street at dinner time, a dozen maitre d’s accost you, each one hawking their specials, wines and cannoli. Ultimately, the restaurant that enticed me had a quaint sign and a gentleman in a bow tie and apron, flanked by an easy-to-read menu. With no distracting gimmicks or hassles, I walked right in. In direct mail design, a similar “what you see is what you get” principle induces reader response. These three tips from direct mail design experts offer insight into how to appeal to your readers and create response-driven designs. 1. Be honest

An Exercise in E-mail Design
September 26, 2007

If you have an e-mail design in place and want to improve results, here is a short exercise that may tell you very quickly what is and what isn’t working for your campaigns. 1. Print out your past e-mail campaigns to actual size. 2. Measure two inches from the top of the e-mail body and draw a line. This is the preview pane area and what the typical recipient might see prior to opening your e-mail. 3. Draw a “fold” line that demarcates the visible area of your e-mail when opened. 4. Overlay the clickthrough rate for each link. 5. Color code all

Insert Media Buying Guide: Thinking Outside of the Mailbox
September 1, 2007

Given the howls of agony coming from direct marketers feeling the sharp stab of the recent postage rate hike—not to mention the confusion over the new shape-based pricing system—now is a good time to look at a classic form of direct response marketing overlooked by many: inserts. There are several different types of inserts—including statement stuffers, package inserts and catalog bind-ins—but for now, let’s focus on newspaper FSIs. FSI is short for “free-standing insert,” which are those colorful brochures that fall out of newspapers. They offer a cornucopia of stuff—everything from grocery specials to sales on electronics, gardening and remodeling products and services, low-cost check reprint

13 Questions for Better Creative
August 22, 2007

Copywriters who have been around the direct marketing block more than a few times bring with them honed insight into what details in a campaign can make the difference between floppy, flat and firing-on-all-cylinders performance. To leverage this knowledge, it behooves marketers to answer, to the best of their ability, the questions these creative professionals send their way. The following are 13 questions you should be trying to answer—even if your copywriter doesn’t do the asking—compiled from freelance copywriters Pat Friesen, of Pat Friesen & Co.; Mark Everett Johnson, of Mark Everett Johnson Inc.; and Malcolm Decker, of Malcolm Decker Associates Inc. 1. What are the

Keep the Glass Half Full for Seniors
July 25, 2007

It’s been in the steady rotation of childhood teachings since the beginning of time: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And it’s no coincidence that you most likely heard such a reproach from your grandmother. As it turns out, in terms of direct mail copy tenets that best reach the senior market, she had it right all along. “A lot of marketers start out by telling all the negative things that can happen if you don’t use ‘my product or my service.’ With the older market, you will get much further … by being positive and

Headline Bait to Grab Prospects Hook, Line and Sinker
July 25, 2007

While general advertisers are more apt to cast a wide net and see what, if anything, they come up with, direct marketers prefer to use the right bait to catch the desired fish. That’s why the pros, the ones who succeed more often than not, spend significant time studying the fish: what they like to eat, when they like to eat and any other data they can gather to get a bite. And just as a fisherman can’t hook a shark with corn niblets, a mailer certainly can’t make a sale with the wrong headline. In any direct marketing effort, the headline is the

10 Tips to Up Your Outer Potential
July 25, 2007

In his session, 34 Market-Tested Strategies for Revitalizing DM Performance, presented at last month’s DM Days New York Conference & Expo, Russell Kern—founder and CEO of The Kern Organization—revealed a few of his favorite copy and design secrets to help you get your package past the first line of defense. Consider the following tips as you contemplate your outer envelope strategy. • Use a near-perfect handwriting font. • Call out or show multimedia interactive devices—CDs, DVDs, etc. • Inform prospects they’re pre-approved. • Show the prospect that the package is from someone important and that he should not discard it. • Create involvement using

Five Strategies to Turbocharge Your Postscript
July 18, 2007

It always floors me how many so-called “experts” leave money on the table by forgetting to use a postscript (or P.S.) in their letters—or paste a drab blob of drivel at the end of a rock ‘em, sock ‘em pitch. A hard-hitting P.S. is your last, best chance to ring the KA-CHING bell! Sales equals money, which equals more work for the copywriter, raises for the marketing manager, happy senior execs and owners ... well, you get the picture. Online and off, testing the P.S. is easy and darned near free. Here are five strategies that work: 1. Add a bonus offer, restate your

Creative: When You Only Need a Tweak
June 27, 2007

When you have a control package that’s performing near or on budget, you may not want to risk testing a completely different approach. You should, however, test “tweaks” to the control package that have the potential to generate small increases in response/profitability. Theoretically, a series of successful tweaks will add up to a major improvement in your program. There is, however, a danger in tweaking. It results from misunderstanding the difference between a tweak and a substantive (and possibly damaging) change to the control package. Here’s an example from the world of publishing. The control package is comprised of a promotional outer envelope; a four-page, 8½˝