On the whole, direct mail letters have become shorter as the years pass and audiences favor information they can absorb quickly. While graphics have taken on more prominence in direct mail, copy is still the main tool marketers use to impart product features and benefits, as well as to close the sale. Letter leads are just as critical to the success of a direct mail package today as they ever have been. To ensure your opening sales pitch is in top form, consider the following suggestions from three top copywriters:
* Cut out any extraneous words and phrases, and make sure you use short, action words, says freelancer copywriter Kevin Van Groesbeck, who specializes in nonprofit direct mail.
* Pay more attention to verbs and nouns, and focus less on adjectives, says Herschell Gordon Lewis, a freelance copywriter, consultant and author of several books on direct marketing. Verbs and nouns move the action along, he explains, but adjectives often are poorly chosen and cloud good copy.
* Gain immediate audience involvement by using your lead to ask a question, offers Rosalie Sacks Levine, a freelance copywriter.
* Be careful about putting too much offer and product information in the lead. Van Groesbeck finds that strong leads elicit immediate interest in the prospect, motivating her to continue reading to learn about the product features and benefits.
* Levine and Lewis both recommend tailoring the lead to reflect the audience’s background and personal interests, which helps create the rapport necessary to draw recipients into the rest of the letter. The key, says Levine, is to do this without it being obvious that you know a little about them via a data file.