Beat Your Control
If you’re drawing a blank, look to your offer and testimonials for ideas. For example, how about using a testimonial or a clip from a testimonial as the outside teaser copy on the front or back of the envelope? Would a photo of your offer be more compelling than the teaser copy shown on the current control?
Your next question: What makes the inside components intriguing and compelling? Again, don’t limit yourself to copy or design. Think about four-color versus two-color printing, the size and shape of each component, personalization—what makes one component stand out more than another? What can you do better or differently to drive more “eye traffic” to benefit copy and response options?
If the mailing is a solo piece, keep in mind you can’t control which component (letter, brochure, response device, lift letter, sample, etc.) gets seen and read first. You also don’t know which one gets retained for a delayed response. For this reason, check to see if the control repeats the offer and response options (mail, phone, fax, e-mail, Web site) on each piece. If not, consider adding them.
As you review the format, copy and creative, make a checklist of all the offer elements. Prioritize them. Are the top two or three benefits communicated effectively in teasers, headlines, subheads, photo captions and bullets? Or, has an opportunity been missed?
As a newly hired senior writer at Fingerhut, I was fascinated by the company’s free trial offer. I’d never seen anything like it. A Fingerhut customer didn’t buy a product, he or she tried it, sending money only after a satisfactory free trial. While the free trial was mentioned in the control letter, brochure and on the reply card, it was not the focus of any of the mailing components.
So, when given the assignment to try to beat the control, I wrote a letter to menswear shoppers dedicated to the free 14-day wear test. The letter stood out because it was on yellow paper, not white like the control. Signed by the owner, the letter explained Fingerhut really did want customers to do more than just try on their selections. Customers were encouraged to wear the shirts, slacks, suits, even shoes for two weeks before deciding whether or not to buy them. This simple one-page note significantly outperformed the control and gave me my first taste of what it was like to create a winner. However, it wasn’t rocket science. I simply capitalized on a missed opportunity.