Talk To Yourself

When writing copy, read it back to yourself. Is it compelling? Would it keep your interest had you not written it nor never heard of the product or company?
If your copy doesn’t move you, it’s quite likely that passivity will be self evident. Many direct copywriters I’ve spoken to say they know or believe the writer’s true feelings come out and are perceived by the reader, consciously or otherwise. LC

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When You See Preview Pane, Think Johnson Box

Frank Johnson was a brilliant direct marketer who did legendary work for Time Life. Though he never took credit for it and even denied it, people credit him with first using the succinct copy block and offer at the top of a sales letter, which is thus known as a “Johnson Box”.
Giving the reader a Johnson Box allows her to immediately get key points and decide whether to read on, act right then and there, or do nothing.
The Johnson Box lives online. It lives neatly nestled in many people’s preview pane. Some research shows more people are using preview panes, and some even read the entire email within the preview pane and never open the email to full screen. Long live the Johnson Box. LC

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Online Marketing Is Mostly Direct Marketing

Why is online marketing so much like direct marketing? Because it is so trackable. That’s why it helps to think like a DM’er in this online marketing game. The disciplines of catalogers help in e-commerce, while list management & brokerage insights help you understand email marketing, and search engine marketing, and so on. So think like a DM’er. It’s good for you. :) LC

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Read Ayn Rand

It seems everyone I know in DM reads Ayn Rand, and some call themselves “Objectivists.”
Ayn Rand and DMers are of the belief that everyone works from their own self-interest all the time. Even people who donate to charity are operating from a place of self-interest.
Ayn Rand thought consciously working from one’s own self-interest is a good and natural thing. In fact, it is something to celebrate and calibrate oneself to. She pointed out the difference between being an egoist versus being an egotist, which are often confused with each other. Read her pieces on selfishness. LC

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Tell A Story

You can’t argue with a story. I got this piece of wisdom from direct marketing copywriter extraordinaire David Garfinkel.
Sure, you can start out with an outright offer, or present your benefits/features litany right from the get-go. But if you want to get past that left-brained sentinel that stands watch and go directly into the subconscious, tell a story. LC

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Use Triggered Email

Use triggered email to keep returns to a minimum. I got this piece of wisdom from ebook publisher, author and marketer Jim Edwards, who keeps delivering value with handy pieces of information related to the topic of the ebook customers previously bought from him. LC

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“I’ll think about it,” means no.

Way more often than not, someone who delays a decision on pulling the trigger to buy from your solicitation is ultimately not going to buy. Whether they say it to your face, or to your sales letter or website, the momentum of “yes” dissipates into oblivion.
To make sure they pull the trigger whilst they’re in your spell, make your offer so good that it will really hurt to so no to it. Make it easier to say “yes” than to say, “Let me think about it.” LC

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Search Engines are Like Mailing Lists

When you buy a keyword at a search engine, you’re buying into reaching an audience of people who have expressed interest in that keyword. This is like the List Management business.
When you rent a list, you also buy into a pile of people who have something in common. It could be a trade magazine, or a list of people who’ve bought from a sporting goods catalog like L.L. Bean. In both cases, you’ve accessed people who have raised their hands and expressed interest.
So buying keywords is essentially the dynamic list business. Just like its postal counterpart, most people won’t respond to you. But in those relative few who do lies your opportunity.
In order to optimize the small number who responds to you, and to also qualify those responders, dogged testing is needed. My observation is that testing at the search engines is easier, simpler, and much faster than testing in the physical world. Clickthroughs loosely equal the amount of people who’ll open your envelope. You can think of your keyword buy as your outer envelope copy, except you’ll have a tighter read on how many people do click through versus how many open envelopes.
Not all clickthroughs are created equal. Some keywords will bring you much traffic and little or no money, while others hopefully will bring you money and maybe less traffic.
The key is to track which keywords pay off for you at the back end. Test, test, test. LC

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Talk to Yourself

When you fashion an offer, ask yourself if you yourself would respond to it. Would you click on your own link in an ad? No? Then change the copy and/or offer.
Your target audience isn’t so different from you. David Ogilvy said once, “The reader of your ad isn’t an idiot, she’s your wife.” Ask your wife or husband if your ad makes sense, even if it’s a B2B trade ad.
The late DM legend and author of “Breakthrough Advertising”, Eugene Schwartz, once said that your copy should be in dialog with your audience. In other words, don’t talk at your readers, talk to them. LC

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