Part I: Psychology of the Mailer
One of the big (40 percent) parts of the package—the offer—relies on such psychology to convince prospects, often quickly and forcefully, to take it. That doesn't necessitate an overhaul of the package, which is good news to budget-conscious mailers. Indeed, it can mean a shift in copy rather than design. Accordingly, Grant Johnson, president/CEO of Johnson Direct in Brookfield, Wis. and author of "Fairytale Marketing," mentions that design tests are far more expensive than copy platform tests, and that the latter is the perfect kind of test to run in a down economy.
Copy king Herschell Gordon Lewis, author of recently released "Creative Rules for the 21st Century—the Richest Resource of Copywriting Secrets for Today's Market" and president of Lewis Enterprises in Pompano Beach, Fla., agrees, but for a slightly different reason. "In a struggling economy, attention to design can be counterproductive. Design, used as a recognizable major element, cancels both immediacy and verisimilitude ... and immediacy and verisimilitude are key factors in mounting an effective 'tough times' campaign," he shares.
Of course, applying psychology of the mailer to today's economic times is not always appropriate. "There is no cookie cutter approach to this stuff," states Josh Manheimer, copywriter and president of J.C. Manheimer & Co. in Norwich, Vt. "We live in rocky economic times right now, and if you're selling, say, Consumer Reports magazine, it would be foolhardy not to try and connect with the reader by acknowledging the hardships we all face these days. However, if you're working on the launch for Yacht & Hound, and your prospects have not been affected by the financial crisis, nor are even aware there is one, then why go there?"
Driving Your Copy Home
In that above answer, Manheimer indicates that copy must go somewhere in the prospect's brain, and to get all the way "home," straight to the head, heart or even the gut, the primary copy drivers must be utilized. Acclaimed direct marketing entrepreneur Axel Andersson, who compiled the original list of Who's Mailing What! Grand Controls (mailings circulating in the mailstream for three years or more), said most successful packages appealed to greed or flattery. Direct marketing guru Bob Hacker has mentioned six copy drivers: fear, guilt, anger, greed, exclusivity and salvation.