7 deadly sins and how to improve results
How to make your direct marketing creative foolproof. Start by avoiding these seven deadly sins. The easiest way to improve your ads, emails and mailings is not to consider what makes for good creative work, but why most work stinks. Until you banish the bad, how can you hope to do well?
Why do many people call direct mail “junk”? Because most are.
But sending sloppy junk to people is really a form of personal insult. It says you don’t care.
Here’s where people go wrong – and how you can make your messages work much, much better.
1. Not taking it seriously
Direct mail is not exciting or “sexy” like TV, so people treat it like a poor relation to advertising.
But how many of the TV spots you saw in the last 24 hours do you recall? How many made you do something?
Yet it is very hard to ignore something that comes through your door with your name on it.
If it’s good it is remembered for weeks and people will think more favorably of your brand. (For one client a single postcard improved brand perceptions by 10%).
And if it’s persuasive it makes people act.
2. Failure to test
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.
One small change in a mailing, website or ad can literally double response.
Most advertisers have no real idea how well their advertising works. Few even measure. Wise direct marketers can test on small money before they spend big money. Not to do so is folly.
3. Not aiming at the right people.
The database is the heart of direct marketing. Even a brilliant mailing will fail if sent to the wrong people. Even a dull one can do well to the right ones. Getting the right names – and checking them – is crucial.
4. Trying to be clever
People have better things to do than look for entertainment in their direct mail. Relevance is what matters.
5. Being too brief
People imagine brevity helps. But you do not want everybody to read and reply: only those likely to be interested. They will read a lot. Give them every good reason to respond, and overcome all reasonable objections – or you will lose sales.
6. Omitting essentials
For your message to work, you need at least five elements. It must gain attention, usually by offering news of a benefit for the reader.
It must then get the reader interested, which is done by elaborating on the opening. Never gain attention with one promise and then start talking about something different.
But interest alone is not enough. People buy for emotional reasons. You must stimulate desire by enthusing about the benefits. You must paint word pictures; show how the prospects will get what they want – or avoid what they don’t
People are skeptical, so you must next convince. Here many marketers are too lazy. You must use customer testimonials, test results, newspaper comment, statistics, examples… and clear, worthwhile guarantees.
But all that effort is wasted if you do not get action.
Remind them why they should act; restate the benefits; give a time after which they won’t get what you offer. You are also wise to offer an incentive.
7. Not having a letter
Direct mail is a personal medium. Sending it out without a letter is like having a store without a salesman.
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