Writing for Response


Copy Writing Techniques

Tell your customers “Thank You”, “Happy Birthday”, “We are having a sale”, “We have something new”. Customer correspondence also needs to include a reason for your customer to respond to you.

• Write to your audience and understand your company personality, use familar words and a comfortable writing style.
• Use a P.S. in your letters; 30 percent of your readers will read it first.
• Read copy out loud to ensure it’s conversational.
• If it’s important, say it more than once, but state it differently.
• Add benefit captions under photos. Readers are drawn to images, then they look below to learn more.
• Write copy that’s long enough to tell your story effectively. Studies show interested readers trust longer copy, even if they don’t read every word.

Here are some techniques to make your next mailing more profitable:

  1. Talk about the reader’s needs. Too many mailings are writer-oriented. They don't talk about the reader’s problems and needs. The reader is more concerned with what’s on his mind than with what is on yours.

    Use the word “you” twice as often as “I” or “we” to increase reader involvement and create rapport. Focus on benefits, not features. A feature describes; a benefit answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”
  2. Get to the point. Clear, understandable, to-the-point headlines work better than jokes that may not be understood. Up to fifty percent of your readers won’t get it. Catch your reader’s eye by putting the most powerful words at the beginning of sentences, paragraphs, headlines and bulleted copy. Use strong verbs.
  3. Start off strong. The average reader scans a mailing piece for just five seconds before deciding whether to read it or throw it away. If your opening doesn’t grab your reader within those five seconds, you’ve lost him.
    It pays to put your strongest sales argument right up front. Don’t “warm up” with unnecessary or secondary sales arguments. Don’t hold back the most important point for the “big finish.” If you do, most readers will never get to it.

    Every word you write will only be read rarely. Write for the scanner. Sentences should be 1.5 lines or less to be read quickly.
  4. State the offer up front. Make an offer. Entice buyers with a specific offer. Always spell out prices that expire by a certain date. Toss in a bonus. These encourage action more than a mailing only bearing the equivalent of “Hi! We’re here!”
    You can increase response by stating the offer in the opening as well as at the end. Many people will only glance at the lead paragraph and then throw it away. You can get some of these people to respond by putting the offer up front. Repeat the offer twice more - once in the body and again in the last paragraph.
  5. Get personal. An addressed mailing piece, unlike an ad or TV commercial, is a personal communication. And that’s how it should sound - like one person talking to another. Formal, wordy writing alienates the reader; friendly conversational writing wins him over.
    You can’t fool the reader into thinking direct mail is personal mail. But, if you write warmly, sincerely, and naturally, the reader will react as if you had sent a personally written letter...even though he knows you haven’t. Personal pronouns help make writing sound like natural conversation. So use contractions and an occasional colloquial or slang expression wisely. Mailings can “come alive,” when they deal with flesh-and-blood people and not just sales talk, statistics, and product specifications.
  6. Narrow the focus. The most powerful reason for turning to direct mail is that it lets you target your message to select groups of special-interest readers.
    Aim your mailing at a narrow audience and highlight the solutions your product offers for its specific problems. The same product may offer different benefits to different groups of users.
  7. Know how much to tell. In a mailing to generate inquiries by an audience already familiar with the product, the design can focus on the specific advantage of the product over all others. In mailing to an audience about a unique product or service, the reader will need to be educated.
    Here are some guidelines for determining how much information to include in your mailings:
    If you are offering a product through mail order (office supplies, machine parts, books, courses), give the full story.
    If you are offering free literature, describe the highlights of what the reader will learn from the brochure or key benefits of the product it describes. Your communication should whet the reader’s appetite for the information you are offering.
    If you are selling a familiar concept, stress its one or two strongest advantages over similar products or services. If your concept is unique, you need to educate the reader - let him know what it’s all about.
    If you want a large number of leads, keep it short. If you want fewer but more qualified leads, give more information - complete technical details, prices, specifications.
  8. What works. What gimmicks work? Which ones don’t? Here’s a partial list of popular direct-mail techniques.
    • Three dimensions. A solid object enclosed with the mailing can boost response dramatically, because people almost always open an envelope that feels bulky. But even a very inexpensive enclosure can increase mailing costs dramatically. Be sure the object you’re mailing has stopping power and is relevant to the sales pitch.
    • Product sample. When mailable, these add considerably to the selling power of direct mail. But beware: if the product is too intriguing or fun to play with, it may distract your audience from your sales message.
    • Personalized letters. Personalization can increase response if it looks authentic..
    • Premium. If you offer a free gift (a book, calendar, key ring, coffee mug, pen set), you will be flooded with responses. But most of them simply want your “freebie” and have little interest in your product. Premiums should only be offered in mailings aimed at lists of highly qualified buyers.
    • Teaser copy. With the right message, teaser copy, also known as “special call outs”, - printed only on the outer envelope - can arouse curiosity and get more people to open your mailing. On the other hand, the danger of teaser copy is that it alerts readers with the message, “Here is junk mail. Save time by throwing it away.” And many people do just that. If you’re unsure of your teaser, leave the envelope blank. A bad teaser can do more to reduce response than a great teaser can to increase it.
  9. Don’t forget instructions. Remember to end with a ‘call to action’ that tells the reader exactly what to do. Make it simple to respond whether in person, by phone, mail, e-mail or on a landing page. Remember your job is to generate either immediate or delayed response, be effective not perfect.
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