Feb 04, 2010
12 Steps to Direct Mail Success – Step 5: Write Good Copy
We’ve all heard the adage that “content is king.” It’s true. Whatever type of mailer you choose, writing good copy is your first step to creating an emotional connection with your customer or prospect – an emotional connection that is essential if your prospects are going to buy what you’re selling.
The “copy,” or text, of your mailer is how you explain to your customers or prospects 1) what you are offering; 2) the benefits of what you’re offering; and 3) how to get what you’re offering. As advertising great Leo Burnett said, “Say to people, ‘Here’s what we’ve got. Here’s what it will do for you. Here’s how to get it.’”
3 Rules of Good Copy
1. Speak to your mail recipients. Marketing great David Ogilvy famously quipped, “I don’t know the rules of grammar. . . If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.” Good copywriters typically don’t fuss over sentence structure or punctuation. They do fuss over whether their copy resonates with the people reading it.
After you’ve written the first draft of your mailer copy, read it out loud. Think about how it will sound when your recipient opens the mailer and reads it. Even better, find someone who fits the profile of your target customer or prospect and ask them for their opinion. Do they feel like the copy speaks to them? Does it sound like something they would say?
2. Imagine your recipients asking, “What’s in it for me?” It’s an incredibly common, and incredibly dangerous mistake that many marketers make: talking about all of the wonderful features of their product or service and ignoring how those features are relevant to the customer or prospect. Remember, your prospects don’t care what your product or service can do; they care what it can do for them.
To ensure that you’re always speaking the language of “benefits” rather than “features” think about how your product or service helps your prospects solve their problems or achieve their dreams, then write to that. If you are an accountant, for example, instead of advertising free e-file services, talk about how you make filing taxes easy with free electronic filing.
3. Keep it brief, but not too brief. Clearly, the length of your copy will depend on the type of mailer you chose (Step 4: Choose Your Mailer). But even if you chose a mailer format that allows for more copy (say, a letter or a flyer), be succinct. Most of us see, read, or hear about 3,000 marketing messages every day, so we’ve grown accustomed to tuning them out. Your copy should grab readers’ attention then get to the point quickly.
That said, you want to write enough to adequately explain the benefits your product or service offers – at least to entice the reader to visit your store, pick up the phone, or click on to your website for more information. If your copy is on the long side, break it up into chunks with sub-headlines that make it easy for readers to scan and get the gist of your message (then, they can read between the sub-heads for more detail). Use formatting – underlining, italics, and bolding – to draw readers’ attention to certain parts of your copy.