Four Evergreen Copywriting Tips
January 23, 2008

While some creative ideas never stop working in direct mail, new rules in copywriting are required to prosper now and in the future—including learning how to update controls, generate successful tests and, perhaps most important, respond to increasingly discerning prospects. Someone who recently came up with 30 such ideas—for Inside Direct Mail’s first webinar, “30 Direct Mail Creative Ideas for 2008” (go to and pay a discounted fee to listen), on December 6, 2007—is famed copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis, president of Lewis Enterprises in Pompano Beach, Fla. Lewis has dozens of successful efforts in the mailstream, such as the long-standing Omaha

Six Tips for Stock Image Success
January 9, 2008

After decades of use, the 1970s inspirational office poster that says, “Hang in There, Baby!” and shows a very serious little kitty hanging by its paws is a completely exhausted image. We’ve seen the poster re-imagined with different cats on tree branches, jungle gyms, building ledges—you name it. With the advent of stock photography and illustration Web sites, marketers need to keep the above example in mind and be wary of making trite or obvious choices in their campaigns. Steve Penn, CEO and executive creative director of Minneapolis-based direct response firm Penn Garritano, also recommends the following best practices for marketers to successfully incorporate

Learning to Write
January 1, 2008

When I ran this magazine, I told the editors we were experts talking to experts. They not only had to understand everything they wrote, but they also had to be able to explain it to their grandmothers. “This is the real world,” I admonished them. “We cannot fake it.”

Advanced Financial Services’ Dana Fortin on What’s Working in the Mail
December 12, 2007

Financial services depend on direct mail to get new customers and keep existing ones, but few lean as heavily on their direct mail program as does Advanced Financial Services (AFS), a residential mortgage lender based in Middletown, R.I. It not only mails between 40 million and 50 million pieces a year, but 96 percent to 97 percent of its leads come through this channel—and that’s been the case since the company was launched in 1983. Considered a pioneer in alternative financing, AFS generates nearly all of its business through the mail. Also unique is its sales process, as AFS doesn’t use any outbound telemarketing. Such

Seven Tips for Insert Media Success
November 28, 2007

As marketers continue to adjust to the May 2007 U.S. Postal Service rate hike, more companies are attracted to the world of insert media, says Doug Guyer, president of new business development for Berwyn, Pa.–based International Direct Response. Low costs and circulation in the millions make inserts a viable supplement for almost any marketing program. The seven tips below will help jump-start your insert media strategy. 1. Make a strong offer. Focus on the offer and call to action before branding initiatives. “Insert media can have some brand marketing benefits, but it is best looked at as a direct response marketing vehicle,” says Ben

Three Direct Mail Creative Ideas
November 14, 2007

Today’s high-clutter environment requires high-performance direct mail to generate results. Help your packages do more by considering the following three creative ideas: * Every high-performance piece of direct mail should follow the three R’s of convincing copywriting: Respect your audience and engage them with intelligence; reveal value or facts and information they may not know; reward their efforts for engaging your communications. * Use design to your advantage. To get the most out of your copy, always keep major heads and subheads in a clean space that’s easy to read. In a long brochure, use captions to highlight the meaning of photography and

Five Must-know Facts About E-mail and Direct Mail
November 7, 2007

Direct mail and e-mail have much in common. As part of the direct response media arsenal, they try to do many of the same things with their efforts. They seek to attract attention, stimulate desire, build credibility, generate involvement and, ultimately, ask for action, says Lee Marc Stein, a Philadelphia–based direct marketing consultant, copywriter and author of “Street Smart Direct Marketing.” How they get there, however, is another matter altogether. “While they require the same understanding of direct marketing principles, there are differences in creative tactics—and e-mail requires even more emphasis on the offer than direct mail,” explains Stein. Maybe you’re about to

How Storytelling Boosts Response Rates
October 24, 2007

For centuries, the world’s greatest teachers and leaders have used fables, allegories and other types of stories to successfully communicate with people and motivate them to take action. So have some of the top-performing direct mail packages, including those from The Wall Street Journal, Time-Life, Rodale Inc., Covenant House, Greenpeace, Nightingale-Conant and National Wildlife Federation. Stories engage people because they are entertaining, allow the listener to empathize with the characters, draw on emotion and lead the listener to a conclusion. And in present times, when consumers tend to be more entertainment-oriented than ever, stories might be just what your direct mail package needs to

Copywriter Bob Bly on Direct Mail Creative
October 17, 2007

Prospects can be a fickle bunch. While a few will respond to the same kind of mailing again and again, many others have to be targeted in new and innovative ways. When trying to come up with such ways, who better to speak to than famed copywriter Bob Bly? Author of “The Copywriter’s Handbook, Third Edition: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells” (Henry Holt) and “The White Paper Marketing Handbook” (Thomson), and freelance copywriter for such clients as Boardroom, TCI, Agora Publishing, IBM and Lucent Technologies, Bly knows how visual language, testing the right creative and even good guessing can bring out

Four Secrets To Copywriting That Sells
October 10, 2007

Anyone who has worked with me over the past 25 years knows my mantra has always been: “Benefits, benefits, benefits.” Benefit headlines … benefit copy … benefit subheads … benefit captions … anything to hammer home the customer benefits. Benefits still are a vital key, but today, copywriting needs much more than just benefits. To sell the most, copywriting needs to connect at a much deeper and more dramatic level than ever before. Here are six ways to do exactly that. 1. Take advantage of the “Yahoogle” effect. Thanks to mega search engines like Yahoo! and Google, tons of information on just about any