Part I: Psychology of the Mailer
Denny Hatch, direct marketing consultant and author of the Business Common Sense e-newsletter, listed 28 copy drivers in his book "2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success." He agrees that Hacker's six, plus Andersson's "flattery," are the top seven. "Since 9/11, patriotism might be added to the list, making eight," he e-mailed to me recently.
One of the leading experts on copy drivers, Lewis adds a few other crucial motivators. "As far back as the late 1970s, my books listed as the principal motivators exclusivity, greed, fear, guilt and need for approval ... plus two 'soft' motivators: convenience and pleasure. Then and now, greed is the safest weapon and the one that in head-to-head tests tends to win," he relates. Changing up these copy drivers make for smart, inexpensive tests, says Johnson. "If you normally lead with greed, maybe you would test fear or exclusivity as a copy platform," he suggests. Martel mentions two other effective copy tests: "You could use scarcity or a gift to try and stimulate reciprocity."
Manheimer says copywriters still must be keenly aware of their audiences before wielding these motivators. "It depends on what you're selling, the lists you're mailing to and the approach you've chosen—or has been chosen for you. I mean, revenge is a pretty powerful emotion, but it's not the first place I'd go to if I were selling a Christmas cookbook," he states.
Put These Drivers in the Right Seats
The "driver's seat" is clearly the letter, say experts. Hacker's famous quote is, "If your letter isn't dripping with one or more of the above, tear it up and try again." But should copy drivers be confined to the letter, or do they belong in other elements as well? And should they begin on the outer husk? Hatch says copy drivers work "anywhere and everywhere." Manheimer offers a useful paradigm, "Usually, you want to start on the outer, repeat in the letter, touch on it in the brochure and hammer away again at it on the order card. This is not a subtle business, for the most part. You want to bang them over the head."