Your constant challenge as a direct mail copywriter is to effectively communicate with target markets in their language. Many writers specialize in one or two niche areas. It doesn’t matter.
Even seasoned writers sometimes drop the ball and make easily avoidable mistakes. Today we’ll discuss 3 common mistakes I’ve seen in direct mail copywriting. More prevalent online but still see some real blunders in offline copy. Put these DM copywriting tips in your repertoire and use them. You’ll see magic in your response rates and conversions… Response Killer #1: Leading with your product, or business, and not with what the reader wants or is concerned about.
We’ve all heard it before, and you’ll hear it again right now…the reader wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” Overused? Maybe. Tired? No! You and even your product is not important to the prospect. They really and truly only want to know how they’ll benefit.
It’s sounds completely selfish and it is. But it’s an undisputed reality. So don’t fight it. Avoid writing copy that discusses who your company is, your corporate history and philosophy, or your goals and objectives. Successful direct mail always focuses on the prospect. What she wants.
What her pains or difficulties in life are. Your copy should address her problems and how you’ll solve them as quickly as possible. And what’s the best way to do this? Simple… Do your due diligence.
Talk to people in your target market. Go where they go and learn about their problems. Read their publications, attend the same functions, in short…get into their world and find out what makes them tick.
It’s the only way to know. And when you know your target market, your copy will speak their language and speak directly to them. Your response will directly reflect the quality of your homework. You’ll also be head and shoulders above many ad agency writers who never leave their desks. Response Killer #2: Failing to use copy that’s proven to dramatically increase response. Some industry people may think these words are passé, overused, or no longer effective.
And they’re wrong. These response-boosters are used simply because they still work! Words like…free, no obligation, no salesperson will call you, limited time only, new, or ground-breaking. If you use any of these words just make sure you’re telling the truth about it. People aren’t dumb. If you use, limited time only, and the prospect doesn’t buy the first time but later receives a follow-up mailing from you for the same limited time only offer…shame on you. Consumes can have long memories and love to prove themselves right and you wrong.
If you’re offering anything at no cost, tell them it’s free. Tests have shown that using “free” pulls a better response than not using it. For example, a free brochure or a free sample. If there’s no further obligation on their part, be sure to tell them. You’ll see a better response. The phrase, no salesman will call, has proven to have a dramatic effect on response rates.
And it’s simple. People hate getting calls from salespeople. There’s also a telemarketing stigma attached to any salesperson calling. Just make darn sure no salesperson will call them! People love products that have the aura of “new” attached to it. A new product with new ingredients or discoveries. Ground-breaking discoveries have a way of capturing the attention of consumers.
There’s an element of excitement and hope that goes along with something that’s ground-breaking. But that’s with the consumer markets. You’ll need to be careful with using new with business markets and especially technology or scientific related markets. Technical people are just as interested in new discoveries. But there’s an element of cautiousness or skepticism that goes along with ‘new’. So tread carefully if you’re writing for these markets.
Response Killer #3: Misuse of features versus benefits. Of course this is probably a rule known by anyone with an inkling about copywriting. But this copy device calls for knowing exactly who your target market is and understanding what’s important to them. Direct mail to non-business consumers calls for telling them the benefits they’ll receive when they buy your product or service.
What’s in it for them. But B2B marketing can be quite different. Technical and scientific markets want to know features perhaps more so than benefits.
Both can be discussed but a greater weight would fall on features. They want to know the “specs” depending on what your product is. They want hard information about tech data so they can make the most intelligent decisions about whether or not they need, or can even use, your product. They do not want promises. They want to know what it does, what it will do for them as soon as they start using it. Hard data and not benefits.
Your job as a copywriter is to find out what your prospects want to know and what they need. And then talk to them in their language about how to get it. Copyright (c) 2007 Quick Turn Marketing International, Ltd.
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