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“The 12 Most Common Direct Mail Mistakes and How to Avoid Them”
Mistake No. 6: Superficial copy.
Nothing kills the selling power of a business-to-business mailing faster than lack of content.
The equivalent in industrial literature is what I call the “art director’s brochure.” You’ve seen them: showcase pieces destined to win awards for graphic excellence. Brochures so gorgeous that everybody falls in love with them—until they wake up and realize that people send for information, not pretty pictures. Which is why typewritten, unillustrated sales brochures can often pull double the response of expensive, four-color work.
In the same way, direct mail is not meant to be pretty. Its goal is not to be remembered or create an image or make an impact, but to generate a response now.
One of the quickest ways to kill that response is to be superficial. To talk in vague generalities, rather than specifics. To ramble without authority on a subject, rather than show customers that you understand their problems, their industries, and their needs.
What causes superficial copy? The fault lays with lazy copywriters who don’t bother to do their homework (or ignorant copywriters who don’t know any better).
To write strong copy—specific, factual copy—you must dig for facts. You must study the product, the prospect, and the marketing problem. There is no way around this. Without facts, you cannot write good copy. But with the facts at their fingertips, even mediocre copywriters can do a decent job.
Don Hauptman, author of the famous mail-order ad, “Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat!,” says that when he writes a direct-mail package, more than 50% of the work involved is in the reading, research, and preparation. Less than half his time is spent writing, rewriting, editing, and revising.
Recently a client hired me to write an ad on a software package. After reading the background material and typing it into my word processor, I had 19 single-spaced pages of notes.
How much research is enough? Follow Bly’s Rule, which says you should collect at least twice as much information as you need—preferably three times as much. Then you have the luxury of selecting only the best facts, instead of trying desperately to find enough information to fill up the page.
NOTE FROM CINDY: Despite the attention currently paid to other forms of marketing, direct mailings still occupy a well-deserved place in thoughtful, comprehensive marketing campaigns. The flexibility, affordability, and user-friendliness of direct mail make it an excellent option for any company that wishes to create a cohesive and effective marketing program.
Please visit his website, www.lefcourt.com, to learn more about him.