11 Keys to Effective Direct-Marketing Copy

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.

Sell, don't tell

Your reader doesn't have the time to peruse the history of your company. If you feel compelled to tell your company’s story, couch it in terms of a reader benefit.

Make your copy conversational

A good rule of thumb is to write your copy like you'd say it, then go back and take out the cuss words.

Get to the point fast

To keep your reader’s attention, specify what your mailing is about at the very beginning of the letter. Preferably in the first five lines.

Always close your letter with a postscript

Starchy old IBM once ruled out postscripts as signs of a disorganized writer. Yet most people will read the PS before they read anything else in a letter. It is best to restate your proposition in the PS, just as you do at the beginning of your letter (see above).

Long copy sells

If you want an order, testing has shown conclusively that a letter of four pages— or longer—almost always will out-pull a shorter letter.

Short copy piques curiosity

If you want inquiries, however, keep your copy short—in a one-page, one-side letter, or even on one panel of a double postcard. Not enough length to tell your product’s whole story? Good—that prompts your reader to ask for more information.

Forget perfect grammar

It is more persuasive to write like the reader thinks than to write the way that earned you an “A” in eighth-grade English. When a bumptious young aide corrected Winston Churchill’s copy because it ended many sentences with prepositions, Churchill fired off a note that said, “This is the kind of interference up with which I will not put!”

Use active words

You can boost response simply by using specific action-oriented copy. It's better to say, "Dial this toll-free number" instead of "Call this toll-free number."

AIDA will never lead you astray

Attract Attention. Stimulate Interest. Create Desire. Incite Action. Do this on every direct mail component.

Tweak your copy mercilessly

Stephen King, who should know, once said, "There is no such thing as writing. There is only rewriting."

See also:

Advertising Copy Home Page

Marketing Tactics Home Page

Marketing Home Page

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