Direct Marketing is now
a dominate discipline in marketing and selling.
Why? Because it works! It
carries a message, answers questions and gets orders.
And it works because it
is personal. Direct Response Marketing works because it is "conversation
in writing". It works because, no matter what you have heard, read or believe...
most people look forward to personal communication. They like being treated
as a person - as an individual.
So, if Direct Response Marketing
is so powerful, how can we as marketers use it effectively? To keep the business
we have...to find new business?
As with most disciplines,
the "Truths of Direct Marketing" are common sense. Here is a list
of a few "Truths", to make your Direct Response Marketing work for
60 - 30 - 10
A full 60% of your Direct
Marketing success is making certain your message gets to the person who can
buy what you have to sell. It's very easy for the wrong person to say "no".
An offer will be 30% of
your Direct Marketing success.
What is an offer? It is
a reason for your prospect to do business with you. It is the urge to action.
It is an incentive to get your audience to raise their hand. To indicate a willingness
to talk with you. It is a reason to respond.
The 10% remaining is creative.
Not unimportant...certainly less important. And although it is the fun part
of marketing - without a clearly identified audience and a sound offer - your
creative has little chance of giving you a winner.
Now, once you've clearly
identified your marketplace and put together an offer of interest - how DO you
get your Direct Marketing message read, heard, seen, understood and acted upon?
A few more "Truthful
Write your message for a
13 year old reading level.
Yes!, for the junior high
school kids on your block. If they do not understand your message - your marketplace
will not understand your message.
Television news, the morning
newspaper and by far the majority of our conversation is at a 13 year old reading
Exceptions? Sure. The Wall
Street Journal is written at a 17 year reading level.
Keep your opening paragraph
to 11 words or less.
Yes, I did say paragraph!
Why? Because, by opening
quickly you slip your reader into your full message. Make your letter, your
brochure, the print advertisement - everything you write - easy to read. A quick
Your opening paragraph should
contain 11 words or less. All your sentences should average 14 words or less.
When sentences are long,
the reader loses the thought, mis-understands the message, stops reading. Translation;
you get less response!
The best way to write short:
use a period. Yes, every so often insert the "dot". It works. And
it will help you get read.
1, 2, 3, 4 & 5
Use words of 5 letters or
less. About 70% of all your words should be 5 letter words, or less.
Why? Because they are easy
to read - easy to understand. Your message will be quickly absorbed.
The 500 most common words
in English have 13,000 meanings. No wonder we have trouble with basic communication.
One answer is to go short. It pays with results.
Another way to think about
sentence length is with syllables A max of 25 per sentence is best.
Since no one wants to count
syllables...use short words and short sentences. It is easier - and it works
to get your message across.
Keep ALL paragraphs to a
maximum of 7 lines. Never more than 7...and sometimes just 1 or 2. i.e., short
Again, why? Because a large
block of copy looks tough, even if it is not. The tactic of short makes your
message look more inviting.
Think of it this way; how
many lawyer briefs, medical papers or government documents look inviting?
A postscript (P.S.) is mandatory
in every direct mail letter. Because 4 of 5 of your readers will read the P.S.
first...before they read anything else in your letter.
So, my theory is, if 1 P.S.
is good - why not 2! I am serious. When you have 2 key thoughts that need repeating
or emphasis - there is no better way than with a P.S. and a P.P.S.
Indent every paragraph 5
This "Truth" is
really physiology - not marketing. Our eyes pull us "in" when we see
indents. They pull us to a point - and while we're there, we read. It works.
Indent all paragraphs.
On the other side of the
paragraph - the right side - use the ragged right design. Do not justify margins!
Do not proportionally space your sentences. Ragged right increases readership.
Yes, this is 0, a zero.
Here are a pair of "Do Not Truths".
First, do not use hyphens.
Divided words are next to impossible to read...they are worse than watching
a ping pong match. Just don't split your words. Do not use hyphens.
Next, do not abbreviate.
There is no reason for you to "assume" anyone has any idea what your
abbreviations mean. Are there exceptions? Yes (see P.S. above). Don't do it
25 & 33
This is another pair of
"Do Not Truths". First 25.
WHEN YOU PUT ENTIRE BLOCKS
OF COPY IN ALL CAPS YOU REDUCE YOUR READERSHIP BY 25%. SO DON'T DO IT!
Reverse type is worse. When
you reverse out of a dark background your readership is cut by 33%. So don't
do that, either.
Sure, a little ALL CAPS
and a little reverse is fine. Lots of it is not fine.
Type size is important for
readability. The absolute minimum is 9 point. And 12 is much better!
Why is this important? Because
most of us wear glasses. Because we cannot see! So, make your type large enough
to be readable.
And one more thing about
type; ALWAYS use serif typefaces for paragraph copy. ALWAYS!
Serif type is the style
with "feet". The type used for most of the articles in this magazine.
Serif type is for things you hold in your hand. Direct mail, a magazine, brochure,
newspaper. Use serif type to increase the understanding of your message.
Whenever you go to a second
page in a letter - split the last sentence in half.
Begin it at the bottom of
the first page...end it at the top of the next page. Why? To pulllll the reader
with you. "Make" them turn the page. Keep them reading.
The same tactic works in
anything printed with columns. Such as brochures, reply forms, print ads...anything.
Split the last sentence...the last paragraph in 2. And move the reader to the
Be specific. The number
481 is much more specific - and much more believable! - than saying "almost
Odd numbers get more attention
than even. Use 3 - 5 - 7 - 9 and you are more likely to be noticed. A list of
11 is better than a list of 10. 99 or 101 ideas is better than an even 100.
One more thing on numbers;
use the number - not the word. As I have done in this article. The number 3
or 7 is easier to see, read and understand than the word three or seven.
40 - 57
The number of printed characters
on a line should not exceed 57.
Keeping the number in the
40 range is better.
Printed characters are letters,
numbers, symbols and punctuation used in your message. Empty spaces between
are not counted.
The reason newspapers and
magazines have columns is to make their message more readable. Bingo!...another
"Truth". Do the same in your direct mail, literature and brochures,
space ads...everything printed.
Offers with a date work
to get more action - more response. Try a Limited Time Offer.
Good for only 30 days...or
better yet, "This offer good only until August 31" gets action. Test
making your offer a Limited Time Offer. It can increase your response.
3 - D
When using direct mail,
try a 3-dimensional package. It is guaranteed to get attention...guaranteed
to be opened.
Anything lumpy, in a puffy
bag, odd color, size, shape - things "different" get attention. Look
different - be different.
And a second 2
The first 2 talked about
P.S. and P.P.S. This 2 is about communication.
It takes 2 to have good
communication. The same for all your Direct Response Marketing.
For your message to be effective
for you, write in a dialogue style. A conversation style. More like you talk.
Because those you are writing to will be more likely to respond.
1:1 marketing = 2. And 2
means it takes 2 to have Direct Marketing success. You and your customer...you
and your prospect.
There are many more "Truth
in Numbers" for Direct Marketing. This list will get you going to make
your mail, your print, your collateral materials - all your written communication
- just that much better.