Note: Denny Hatch personally replies to all correspondence.
Readers respond to “When a Marketer Breaks All the Rules” published June 1, 2006, which described a mailing piece that featured a car and test drive, but was really offering digital printing.
Beyond your excellent points that this piece—for a generous and presumably effective offer—misses the mark with misguided creative and poor copy, the logic even within the piece itself is inconsistent. People shopping for “high performance,” in a car aren’t usually too concerned about price. So the word “affordable” in the headline is a bad choice, because most people don’t associate that with something that for most people is a luxury. More generally, I’m amazed at how bad a lot of advertising and direct mail is that comes from traditional and digital printing firms. I smell a market opportunity.
I strongly support benefit versus feature selling. Reflecting this, we suggest moving from USP to URB ... Unique Reason to Buy.
Denny, I agree with your points, mostly. And I find your system of arriving at a USP intriguing. However, I want to add another element to “why people buy.” I would also add: “fear.” I have more than 10 years’ experience in writing copy for insurance products, particularly direct mail; none of the 3 reasons you provide truly captures the main reason people buy some forms of insurance, and that is fear. It could be fear of the unknown, fear of being unprotected; fear of loss; fear of ____. I say this because not all people take that next step and compare insurance coverage (which would then lead to your 3 points: price, service, exclusivity.)Therefore, I don’t believe you can reduce all direct mail copy to those 3 reasons.
Thanx for writing. The Price-Service-Exclusivity trio refers to the reason for buying AFTER they have made the buying decision. Seattle guru Bob Hacker came up with 6 key copy drivers--the emotional hot buttons that cause people to act: Fear, Greed, Guilt, Anger, Exclusivity, Salvation. Florida guru Axel Andersson added to this: flattery. He did a study of direct mail control and found that 42 percent used flattery. I added one more after 9/11—patriotism. If you can make the wings of the eagle flutter, it helps to make a sale.