Donna Baier Stein

Pat Friesen is a direct response copywriter, content developer, copy coach and creative strategist. She is also the author of "The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook," published by Direct Marketing IQ. Reach her at (913) 341-1211.

In 40 rapid minutes, Pat Friesen discussed the keys to getting more calls, clicks and visits from your copy in last week's Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk 2012 virtual show session, "Using Words to Generate Response ... Direct Mail, Email, Online and More." Here are some questions that Friesen wasn't able to answer during the session, but subsequently answered in friendly, frank Friesen-like fashion! They may be the same kinds of creative challenges you're wrestling with, so take a look.

Whether you write, approve or read and respond to letters and emails, I think you'll agree the first sentence of copy is critical for grabbing your attention. It sets the bait for hooking scanners who become readers who then turn into responders. The opening sentence can be both a hot spot and a rough spot. It's a hot spot for the reader because it's one of the first places the eye looks for the answer to the question, "What's in it for me?"

By Donna Baier Stein Ever hear of a man named Henry George? Einstein, Tolstoy and Churchill were big supporters of his. He wrote a book called "Progress and Poverty." He ran for mayor of New York City in 1886 and outpolled Teddy Roosevelt. George probably is best known for his single tax theory and, if I understand it correctly, the thought that people and companies should earn money based on the value of what they contribute, rather than on our current supply-and-demand system. It's tricky to assign value, of course. Should Britney Spears earn so much more than a really good grade

By Donna Baier Stein The "willing suspension of disbelief," a phrase first coined by Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is a state of mind that, more than two centuries later, must be engendered in every reader or scanner of our direct mail copy. Note that Coleridge didn't say readers have to believe. They simply have to lay aside their skepticism temporarily. It's during that "suspension of disbelief" that the copywriter gets to convince the reader that the product, service or cause being sold is real ... that the benefits it offers are valuable ... and that responding positively to the

By Donna Baier Stein Last time out, I discussed point of view (POV among writerly types) and how it's used to best effect in direct mail copywriting. First person (I) establishes trust and creates a personal interaction. Second person (you) makes it easy to focus on benefits to the reader. Two other points of view are third person (he/she/it) and mixed, probably the most common POV you'll find in direct mail copy. It's pretty much impossible to make an effective call to action using third person. But it can be used to set the stage for your offer and ask. Remember

By Donna Baier Stein Speaking of conscious ... I'm embarrassed to admit I made a very unconscious faux pas in my January column, attributing the Art & Antiquities teaser copy ("I'm sorry to inform you," the curator said. "But this is a fake ...") to Pat Farley rather than the real writer, Josh Manheimer. While Pat did write copy for Art & Antiquities, Josh came up with that particular winner. And if you visit his Web site at, you'll notice how intimate Josh's letters sound ... as though they really are written—as direct marketing veteran Guy Yolton used to stress—by one person

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