Tomarkin/Greenawalt’s Peggy Greenawalt on Copy Strategy
Facing spiraling postal costs and impatient prospects, many direct mailers are rushing to cut the letter down and, sometimes, altogether. Fortunately, Peggy Greenawalt keeps a cool head.
Part of that has to do with her 25 years of direct marketing experience, and the rest is explained by her in-depth involvement with the three bigs in direct mail: creative strategy, copy and design. Greenawalt began her career as a copywriter at Wunderman, and now she’s president and creative director of the direct marketing agency Tomarkin/Greenawalt in Hartsdale, N.Y., where she mostly works with publishers like Hearst, Time-Life, Condé Nast and Rodale Press.
Here, she weighs in on the long copy vs. short copy debate.
Ethan Boldt: Some say that because attention spans are shrinking, the letter should, too. And you?
Peggy Greenawalt: If superb copywriters can’t make four pages fascinating enough to read, how on earth can we hope that there is a future for magazines, books, this publication or, for that matter, civilization?
EB: You’ve mentioned that magalogs and bookalogs are doing great right now. That long copy is working. Why?
PG: In the case of publishing, they are the closest selling vehicle to the magazines and books that we hope the public will want to buy from us. But, for many products, they give us plenty of opportunity to build romance, intrigue and excitement. [They’re] an opportunity to add value with a freemium. And, just maybe, our readers actually do like to read a well-written story.
EB: Can you give a couple of examples for those clients in which long copy made for successful packages/tests?
PG: I am sorry to report that the magazine industry has become addicted to voucher/statement of benefit packages. Not new news. Not much copy to test there. In my opinion, these tricky “Hmm, did I order this?” packages, along with giveaway low prices and agents, actually steal value from our products at a time when we need to add value to compete.