Secrets to Direct-Mail Copywriting

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but it is your copy — the words that make up your sales pitch — that will have the biggest impact on your direct-mail marketing success. That’s why the biggest corporations spend a great deal of money on copywriters to compose their direct-mail pieces. You don’t have to break the bank, however, to have great persuasive copy on your marketing materials. Simply abide by the following secrets to direct-mail copywriting and you’ll be well on your way to creating high-conversion direct-mail campaigns.

Features and benefits

The first step to writing effective copy is to list the features and benefits of your product or service. The features are the easy part: Simply answer what your product does. Each feature should have at least one or more benefits associated with it. Approach this from your prospects’ perspectives: How do the features of your product benefit them? When you’re writing the copy, make sure you include these benefits. For instance, you could say “Super Bright Light bulbs last twice as long as ordinary bulbs (feature), saving you the hassle of constantly changing bulbs and cutting your light bulb spending in half (benefit).” The features don’t have to come before the benefits, either. Consider this: “Cut your energy bills in half (benefit) with the long-lasting Super Bright bulbs (feature).”

Great headlines

Your headlines should be big, bold and easy-to-read. Each section of your direct mailers should be set off by sub-headlines. This is especially true of the sales letter. Headlines should separate the key points and should be written in such a way that your prospects can read only the headlines and be sold on your product. Keep them short and detailed, and don’t be afraid to spell it out. “Save $140 Annually with Super Bright Bulbs” is a good main headline that grabs attention. Subsequent headlines should include features and benefits to further emphasize the point. Studies show that most of your prospects will not read all of your text, but they will read the headlines, so you have to sell them at a glance.

Be concise, and use bullets and white space

Use bullet points to emphasize key features and benefits. Your prospects are much more likely to read short, bulleted points than they are to wade through a sea of text. Make sure your entire marketing piece has plenty of white space, or space that is devoid of text. In many cases, a few simple lines will sell a product or service while too much text is overkill and diminishes the chance you’ll achieve the desired response. Be concise with your copy: Get to the point and show your prospects how your product solves their problems.

Your copy should have a conversational tone, as if you were writing to a good friend. Personalize the copy by using individual prospects’ names and address them accordingly. For instance, instead of saying, “Our clients get the best treatment,” you could say, “You get the best treatment.” Also, you should use personal pronouns like “I” instead of “we.” These are your valued customers, after all, and you want to make them feel welcome and invited to do business with you. Most of all, you want to make them feel important and respected; this combination can pack a more powerful punch than any offer in the world.

Present a call to action

You’re sending your direct mail because you want a response — whether it’s returning a business reply card, visiting a website or making a purchase — so make sure your call to action is prominent and directly after your pitch. In short, let your prospects know what you have, let them know why they need it, and then tell them how to get it. This is the best way to persuade your prospects to take the next step in the purchasing process.

If your direct-mail piece includes a sales letter, try adding a P.S. to remind your prospects of some of the great benefits your product offers or about one of the bonus materials they’ll get for completing your call to action. This is one of the most-read portions of sales letters and, in fact, sometimes it’s all your prospects will read. Keep that in mind. If you can grab their attention in the P.S., maybe they’ll be enticed to read on and you’ll make a conversion after all. Of course, when your copy is complete you’ll need another P.S. — PsPrint — to print and mail your persuasive promotional pieces.

Proofread

Even the best copy can be spoiled by overlooking simple spelling and grammatical errors. Before you send it to the press, make sure you carefully proofread each word — not just for errors, but also to ensure the copy is persuasive and motivational. Ask friends, family and coworkers to take a look at your copy, and employ spell checking software. Finally, try reading your copy backwards: If the message is still clear and motivational, you’ve got it right.

Whether you’re writing a sales letter, brochure, flyer, or postcard, make sure that each and every word has a purpose. Get right to the point. One simple trick is to remove the first paragraph from your first draft and see if the copy improves. Often, it will. Keep it short and sweet, think like a consumer, solve problems, and define a call to action. By following these secrets to direct-mail copywriting, you’ll engage your prospects and realize a higher conversion rate immediately.

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