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There have to be at least a gazillion rules & quotes for writing effective direct mail copy. And, unlike other forms of advertising, these rules are proven to be effective through measured response. There’s nothing new here. These rules have been around since Mr. Sears first gave a postal carrier a hernia by sending nine pound catalogs through the mail.
Here are my five favorites.
1. Sell benefits, not features.
Your reader doesn’t care how many teeth are on your machine’s gears. He only cares that your machine will grind his rocks into cement cost effectively. Show him how your machine can do that.
2. Be conversational.
One of my early mentors said it this way. “Write it like you’d say it, then go back and take out all of the cuss words”. Damned good advice, if you ask me.
3. Always include a postscript.
Research shows that the letter is the first thing the reader looks at in the package, after the outside envelope. And, a majority of people will read the PS before they read anything else. So, always include a PS. In addition, it’s best to state your proposition in the PS, just as you do at the beginning of the letter.
4. Long copy sells better than short copy.
I’m not talking about lead generation here. I’m talking about selling. I’m talking about picking your prospect up by the ankles and shaking him until all of the money falls out of his pockets. That takes a few words. And testing has shown that a four page letter…or even longer…will almost always out pull a two page letter when going for the sale. This is a fact. It’s not just my opinion.
5. Copy is never finished.
I think it was Stephen King who said, “There is no such thing as writing. There is only rewriting”. Type your project into the word processor. Edit it at least once on screen. Then, print it out. Edit it at least once on paper. Then, set it aside for a day or two and go through the whole process all over again. I’ve been writing for direct mail for a quarter of a century and this is the only way I know of to turn words into power communication that sells.
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