A Little Guy With a Lot of Lift
Lift notes have come a long way from the days of "In case you've decided to say 'no' to this offer ..." Now they can be a vital part of the overall puzzle that forms a winning direct mail package. Notice I said "can be." That's because, like any other component in the package, to be effective, it must be done well.
Here are a few ways I've used lift notes to perform various tasks.
Flatter the Prospect
One of the best selling techniques you can use, whether you're selling a diamond ring or a magazine subscription, is to make the customer feel that he or she is someone special. In direct mail, flattery gets you everywhere.
I explain to prospects why they have been sent the mailing. I tell them they were specifically targeted because they are smart. Or sophisticated. Or hip. Or whatever trait goes with what the magazine is all about.
A Rolling Stone prospect, for example, would be savvy. A Scientific American reader would be curious. An Atlantic Monthly reader would be intelligent.
Then I go on to tell him or her that, unlike other people, he or she "gets" what the magazine is all about, and that the magazine is truly just for him or her, and those of similar ilk.
I finish the letter with a call to action.
Ease the Prospect's Mind
Another good approach is to use the lift note as a vehicle for hammering home the guarantee. I like 100-percent money-back guarantees. But most guarantees are the money-back-on-all-unmailed-issues variety.
Regardless, the idea, of course, is to create a comfort level and a sense that the prospect has an "out" if he or she gets cold feet after subscribing.
The ultimate comfort-level creator is the famed merchandise return label, which many book publishers use. It's a label prospects can cut off the bottom of the lift letter and use to send back the book they've agreed to preview for 30 days, if they don't like it. This merchandise return label can appear anywhere in the package, even on its own buckslip. But I like to tack it onto the lift note, and tie it in to the whole comfort-level theme.
Give the Prospect More Information
Ever write a four-page letter and a big brochure, and then realize you've left out an important benefit? Never fear!
You can always stick it in the lift note. Other times, you may have so many selling points to state that cramming them all into the letter and brochure creates overload and dilutes the overall sales message. That's when the lift note can act as the sidecar to the motorcycle.
Allay Their Fears
I love testimonials. And I like to put them in the lift notefive, six, even seven of them. To me, testimonials are like a group of friendly folks standing on the other side of a deep ravine, beckoning us to cross the rickety rope bridge they've just crossed. There's nothing like real people speaking real words of real praise for a product.
I give each testimonial a different typeface, weight and sizeso each one has its own look and personality, like they were real people. Sort of creepy, but it works.
Restate a Benefit
Ever do this? You're on the phone making plans for meeting someone somewhere, or picking them up at a certain time. You've already stated the details once. Both you and your friend have agreed to the plan of action. And then, before you hang up, you repeat the details one more time!
It's crazy, but I find myself doing it all the time. And if I don't, my friend on the other end of the phone will!
You can use the lift note in much the same way. Repeat things you've said time after time throughout the package. It might be a free issue. Or a free gift. Or a special offer, such as two years for the price of one. Or a 100-percent money-back guarantee. Or a benefit like, "We're everything you need to look younger and live longer."
A lift note like this is a great safety net just in case it's the only part of the package the prospect reads. It just might be all he or she needs to leapfrog straight to the order card.
A Small Note
Let's talk about size. Some lift notes are small: 6" x 8" folded to 6" x 4". Others are bigger: 7" x 10" folded to 7" x 5". I use both, depending on the overall size of the package and the task I'm asking the lift note to perform. Lift notes can even get smaller if they're used in, say, a renewal effortwhich I think is a great idea.
By the way, I always write my lift notes last. To me, it's the logical order of things, since I assume the lift note is the last component read. Of course, if it's written right, it really won't matter when the lift note is read. But I still write them last.
Do Lift Notes Really Lift Response?
Several years ago, one of my bigger clients tried to cut the cost of the packages it mailed by eliminating the lift notes. I thought it was a bad idea. I don't know how much money the client saved. And I don't even know if response rates dropped significantly. But I do know that it wasn't too long before the client welcomed back lift notes with open arms.
Another magazine you may have heard of, Texas Monthly, has a #10 envelope control package that consists entirely of an outer envelope, an order card, a BRE and, yes, a lift note. And the publisher tested its way to including the lift noteamazing!
To me, the decision whether or not to include a lift note in a package is a no-brainer. It can be the component that convinces a hesitant prospect to respond, reinforces the decision of a prospect already inclined to respond, or directs the skeptical prospect to the other components in the package he or she may not otherwise have taken the time to read.
That's a lot of responsibility for a little guy. But the lift note can handle it. Try it and see.
Ken Schneider is an award-winning direct mail writer/designer specializing in magazine, book and newsletter promotions. With more than 35 circulation direct marketing awards, he has been honored more than any other individual or direct mail organization. Schneider splits his time between Houston, TX, and Aspen, CO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.