A Taxing Direct Mail Problem
I live in the Ross Valley, an area about ten miles north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Recently, I received a ballot sent to all Ross Valley residents, that allowed us to vote (by mail only) on a new flood-control tax measure.
I took one look at the ballot and instantly smelled BIG trouble. You see, in order for your vote to count, you had to sign the front of the ballot. However, the directions, which stressed the importance of the signature, were printed on the reverse side, on the bottom, and in tiny type.
My thoughts, at the moment, ran something like this: "Whoever put this together didn't know what they were doing. Nobody's going to sign this thing. The copywriter should have put the directions on the front. The line where you have to sign should have said, 'You must sign here for your vote to count!' and there should have been a red arrow pointing to the signature line labeled, 'IMPORTANT! You must sign your ballot here!'"
That's all I thought about the matter until the headlines started to appear in our local paper, the Marin Independent Journal. It turns out that 20 percent of voters (1,600 out of 8,000 people) failed to sign their ballots and the flood-control tax passed by just 65 votes. Needless to say, as per the American way, suits have been filed and the matter is in the courts.
So what's the moral to the story?
Simply that, when you're copywriting a direct response vehicle, be it an email, lead-generation letter, ad ... or an election ballot, the details matter big-time!
For example, suppose you're copywriting or evaluating copy for a flyer/brochure that's going into an envelope along with a lead-generation letter. What are some of the details a copywriter should pay attention to? Here are just a few of the things I ask myself along the way: