Whether you’re using online or offline media channels to drive your direct marketing, copy significantly impacts your results. Direct is about getting prospects to read your message and respond right now. While you strive to build and support your brand using high-impact formats and images, you also must deliver copy that touches the heart and head of your prospects. Here’s a checklist of 13 essential points to help you create high-performance copy.
Be specific. Words are the writer’s paintbrush. Your words should paint a picture that is vivid in detail. Instead of “How many times are you going to fix your accounting software problems?” Try: “You shouldn’t have to spend five minutes trying to determine your accounts receivable from your accounting software when you can do it in 13 seconds.”
Relieve their pain. It’s basic human nature for people to seek pleasure after experiencing pain. Pain drives change. Your goal as the direct marketer is to position your offer and product as their salvation. To accomplish this, look beyond the functional benefits of your product or service, and address specific consumer needs, wants and desires. Instead of: “With TiVo, you can record, play and pause live television programs.” Try: “TiVo lets you watch your favorite television programs on your time.”
Write in the active tense. Respond now. Discover today. Go online. See for yourself. Direct is about motivating immediate behavior. Avoid headlines that are classic brand builders, such as, “It’s the ultimate driving machine.” Make sure all your copy drives the reader to action. Try: “Find out for yourself why BMW is the ultimate driving machine.” Your goal is to get just one more reader to click, visit or call. If a passive voice worked in direct, we’d all be brand marketers.
Engage their emotions. Anger, greed, fear, hope, dreams, safety, security, wisdom, exclusivity—emotion and the drama around it are what make good movies, and great copy, too. Don’t be afraid to hit your reader hard—in the heart, because you can be sure he’s heard all the other marketing hype in your category for years. Here’s one of my favorites from e-marketing visionary Seth Godin, written in a webinar invite letter: “I hate wasting time, and therefore, I hate conferences and trade shows. So that’s why I’m writing you today.” One of the best-performing teasers my firm created was directed at high-risk investors in the late 1990s for a venture capital fund. It read, “90% of your portfolio should be horrified at how the other 10% is invested.”