As DM Consultant Ruth Stevens says, “Brand advertising copy seeks to change what you think. Direct marketing copy seeks to change what you do.” Below are my top ten tips for getting people to change what they do.
1. Resonate: Make your copy resonate with the reader. Everyone has an internal dialogue. Good copy taps into that dialogue and engages the reader as if a real living and breathing person were there talking to you.
2. Testimonials: Having others say good things about you, your products or your services is so much more believable than your own self praise. Famed Direct Marketer Jay Abraham said if he had only one tool to use in direct copy, it would be the testimonial.
3. Action Words: Use action words. This seems obvious, but I’m shocked at how often I see mealy-mouthed copy, which only telegraphs to me that the writer isn’t a hard core believer in the product or service he/she is writing about.
4. Guarantees: Use them wherever and whenever possible. In this world where people are rightfully suspicious, a guarantee helps convince people to take a chance on you.
5. Authenticity: Don’t be too slick. Let your personality come through. People like authenticity. This is probably why the old Carvel ice cream commercials and those bedding spots are successful — they come off as being authentic, as opposed to Madison Avenue slick.
6. Upside Fantasy versus Fear: Greed sells, fear sells, pride sells. Lots of things sell. You have to decide which “motivation” is the right one to key on for your product or service. Usually it’s a combination of a few.
7. Ask Questions? Absolutely. People are programmed to answer questions. It’s a great involvement technique.
8. Work Your Headline: What’s the job of a headline? It’s to get you to read the first line of copy. The job of the first line of copy is to get you to read the second line, and so forth.
9. Make Every Word Count: Reading is hard work. Every word should add value to the reader. This doesn’t necessarily mean that short copy wins over long copy. You could have seven pages of very hard-working words that culminate in the reader being sold, whereas half that many words would not have done the job. The copy should be as long as it needs to be to get the job done right.
10. Don’t Be Tricky: Plays on words, double entendres and the types of techniques I learned on Madison Avenue don’t typically work in DM copy. Remember, the product is king, not the creative execution. You want to sell product, not win awards from industry trade groups. If you sell enough products, your industry trade group will honor and venerate you eventually.