Direct Mail Strategy: Boost Readership, Jump-start Response
Are you a writer, approving manager, agency client or business owner who writes and/or approves direct mail copy? Then read on.
This column provides copywriting best practices based on experience; testing; and the wisdom of copywriting greats like Bob Stone, Herschell Gordon Lewis and Denny Hatch. Although the focus of this column is normally on direct mail, 99.9 percent of what you’re about to read also applies to copy for e-mail and other media used to generate response. Yep! The same basic principles really do apply.
• Develop a copy platform that supports your business goal, whether that’s generating leads, sales, traffic, referrals or customer loyalty.
• Understand the brand personality and copy voice, then sustain it by using similar words and writing style.
• Know your audience inside and out—whether it’s prospects, first-time triers, multibuyers or advocates.
• Write (and design) for the scanner. Customers, prospects, donors and members rarely read every word you write.
• Put important benefits in copy hot spots, such as the outer envelope teaser, Johnson box, P.S., e-mail subject and from lines, headlines, sidebars, and bulleted copy.
• Focus on benefits, not features. A feature describes; a benefit answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”
• Add a P.S.; 30 percent of your readers will read it first.
• One size doesn’t fit all. The same feature may well have different benefits for different audiences.
• Use the word “you” twice as often as “I” or “we” to increase reader involvement and create rapport.
• Sentences should be 1.5 lines or less for scanning. Compelling copy is paced with a mix of long and short sentences.
• Paragraphs should be short—six lines or less for direct mail, five lines or less for e-mail.
• Remember the average person reads at an elementary school level.