While some creative ideas never stop working in direct mail, new rules in copywriting are required to prosper now and in the future—including learning how to update controls, generate successful tests and, perhaps most important, respond to increasingly discerning prospects.
Someone who recently came up with 30 such ideas—for Inside Direct Mail’s first webinar, “30 Direct Mail Creative Ideas for 2008” (go to http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/story/story.bsp?var=story&sid=81761 and pay a discounted fee to listen), on December 6, 2007—is famed copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis, president of Lewis Enterprises in Pompano Beach, Fla.
Lewis has dozens of successful efforts in the mailstream, such as the long-standing Omaha Steaks and Red Cooper controls, and is a member of the DMA Hall of Fame. He recently penned “Creative Rules for the 21st Century—the Richest Resource of Copywriting Secrets for Today’s Market,” offered by webinar sponsor AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc.).
Here are four tips he provided during an exciting hour of copywriting genius:
#1. Specifics outpull generalizations. It’s why, Lewis explains, the phrase “lifetime guarantee” produces a lower response than “guaranteed for 20 years.”
#2. Maximize your prospect’s image. Instead of writing, “for the experienced tourist,” Lewis suggests, “for the sophisticated traveler.” Words matter, a lot, and there is a significant difference between “experienced” and “sophisticated,” and “tourist” and “traveler.” Most prospects prefer to see themselves in the latter descriptive words.
#3. Questions are automatically reader-involving, because they are less threatening and help develop rapport with the prospect. Lewis says the diplomat doesn’t declare, “You’re drunk.” Rather, he poses it as a question: “Are you drunk?” The words are identical, but the psychological impact is entirely different.
Here are two more examples from Lewis: “Why I am sending you this message:” vs. “Why am I sending you this message?” And “You won’t stand by and let it happen” vs. “Will you stand by and let it happen?”