Sweat the Details. Sweet the Profits.
Marketers these days have to worry about big, important issues -- branding, click-through rates, Web site "stickiness," you name it. But as we all know, marketing success ultimately hinges on how you handle the little details. In other words, how you execute. So let's jump from the strategic to the tactical level and take a look at an extremely narrow, seemingly trivial subject.
Why? Because I want to try to demonstrate that whether you're writing a letter, e-mail, ad or Web site, a whole lot of thought can and should go into the nittiest of gritties.
So let's talk about bullets.
DEFINITION: A bullet is a dot or other symbol, followed by a short sentence or phrase. They are used to communicate information very quickly.
+ This is an example of a bullet.
"Big deal. So what about it?" you might ask.
The answer is, even a humble list of bullets can be transformed into an extraordinarily powerful selling tool if you handle it the right way. And many marketers don't.
Let me give you an example. Let's pretend that the publisher of a new Contact Management software product is writing a lead-generation letter to prospects. She is trying to get the reader to request a free brochure titled, "Unlocking the Power of Contact Management Software."
Here is how the bullet list, positioned in the middle of the letter, might be written the WRONG way:
"Call right now for your free brochure. It explains a number of important features our new product has to offer:
+ Increases your productivity
+ Tracks all activities within every account
+ Allows you to manage the sales process
+ Keeps you in touch with valued customers
+ Fully Web-integrated
+ Works on the PC, Mac and PalmPilot platforms."
What's wrong with this copy? The set-up lines, leading into the bullets, are flat and unmotivating. And the bullets themselves are dead. There is no SELLING going on. Who is going to request the free brochure when the benefits are so darned bloodless?
Now, let's rewrite the passage and add a little OOMPH:
"Why is it so important for you to request this 'must read' free brochure? Because it provides proven, practical ideas for quickly and dramatically increasing sales -- ideas you just can't find anyplace else. For example, we'll show you . . .
+ How to turn the business cards in your drawer into a winning sales campaign. It's worth requesting your free brochure for this section alone! (Page 2.)
+ Five ways to get a flood of great new leads coming down the pipeline! (Page 4.)
+ Three techniques for closing sales in half the time! (Page 5.)
+ How to launch a money-making, non-spamming, e-mail sales campaign with just three clicks of your mouse. (Page 6.)
+ The four biggest mistakes salespeople make and how you can avoid them! (Page 8.)
+ How five real-life salespeople used our software to increase their income by 35% -- and how you can too! (Page 11.)
And that's just for starters!"
See what I mean? A little thought, a little energy, and things come to life. The takeaway message this month: If you pay attention to the details and try to make every single part of your letter, ad, Web site or e-mail truly motivating, you can dramatically increase response rates.
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mail letters and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for software marketers, visit his Web site at http://www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.