It's Time to Get Real - Real Honest! (917 words)
• Presenting a guarantee and honoring it is more important than ever. I want to see guarantees written in plain English, as if someone is sitting and talking to you. Lands' End has the right idea: "We'll knock ourselves out for you." That works.
• Do away with small print. Put your disclaimers up front. I'm especially resentful when I get a discount coupon from a store, only to discover after pulling out my magnifying glass to read the small print that it's only good for the soiled clearance items! Try a big-print, wide-open disclaimer, and have some fun with it.
• Don't always try to sell something. You can build a relationship based on trust and meeting customers' needs by delivering information without the expectation of an immediate reward. Ways to do this include newsletters, online forums, or a holiday card or gift to acknowledge the customer.
• Highlight third-person testimonials. The things people say about your product or service often are much better than the most brilliant copy. We developed a campaign for an auto insurance company that beat the control by having a current customer speak directly with prospects. For example:
Dear Mr. Smith,
You don't know me. I don't work for XYZ Company. But when they asked me if I would write about my experience with their auto insurance program I said "Definitely!"
Then the letter outlined the customer's unique, true and very positive experiences with the company.
Direct marketers can refocus on credibility and honesty. Most of us are honest, anyway. Now we should prove it. It's a creative challenge, and we love those.
LOIS K. GELLER is president of Mason & Geller Direct Marketing, a full-service direct response agency in NYC. She is the author of "RESPONSE! The Complete Guide to Profitable Direct Marketing" and "Customers for Keeps," published this year. Have direct marketing questions? Visit www.masongeller.com or