Here are the most common direct marketing mistakes that cripple or destroy your comparing review or your advertising. Are you guilty of any of the following?
1. Avoid exaggerated claims.
They will destroy your credibility. Superlatives are counterproductive. To claim that your service or product is the best in the world is automatically ignored by the reader and casts doubt on your entire presentation. On the other hand, when you are specific and use actual testimonials, you gain credibility. Let others verify your facts and greatness, and let details and specifics reinforce your claims.
2. Avoid complicated words.
Simple words are powerful words. Jon Caples once said, “The headline of an ad for an automobile repair kit was, ‘How to repair cars.’ The headline was changed to, ‘How to fix cars.’ The second headline pulled 20% more replies.”
Sophisticated, upscale prospects understand short words just as well as long words, but everyone else understands short words much better. To increase your response, always substitute short words for long ones.
3. Avoid using pictures without captions.
The portion most read in any letter, brochure or response device is the caption. You have almost-guaranteed readership, so use it.
4. Avoid the use of humor.
It’s rare to find a successful humorous direct marketing program. Humor differs from one person to another. Plus, it detracts from the most serious matter at hand: making a buying decision for a serious product or service.
5. Avoid always going the cheapest route.
There are proven techniques that can boost your return, but often these cost slightly more money. An obvious example is the pre-cancelled stamp—it costs no more than any other postage, but will outpull a preprinted indicia or meter by 10% to 15%. However, many mailers do not want to pay the extra $1.00/M to $2.00/M at the letter shop to apply the stamp. The increase in response can more than offset this cost.
This also applies to using colored paper instead of white. These and other techniques may slightly boost the cost of the package, but will dramatically increase the response to your mailing.
6. Avoid the straight jacket of a short letter.
Never listen to, “I never read long letters.” Although your readership falls off rapidly after the first 50 words, if they have read that far, they will probably read the next 250.
Your copy must be dramatic to capture interest. But realize that you need to have copy that is long enough to tell your story. No copy is too long if it holds the reader’s interest and motivates him to respond. However, one page is too long if it doesn’t motivate response.
You need to be ruthless in taking out unnecessary repetition, tortured grammatical construction, unnecessary redundancy, passive words and useless information that does not contribute to the sale.
You must be able to create excitement, explain the benefits, overcome objections and close the sale adequately.
7. Avoid feeling like you have to tell your message through the use of a brochure.
It’s becoming common now not to use a brochure. Tests often show that a brochure depresses results, especially if it’s four-color and feature-oriented. A letter accompanying a brochure will always increase response. A letter without a brochure, however, will usually produce a better response. Do your own test—see if what marketers have learned is correct.
8. Avoid trying to create just a sales letter.
Positioning in this age of skepticism is critical. It is necessary to position yourself as one who’s an expert in your particular product line or service industry.
Your mailing package and ad should be informational. Use persuasive sales language, backed up by specific, concrete information that explains the benefits to the reader. This will help create credibility and boost your return.
Avoid these pitfalls in advertising and you’ll be able to increase your response and make your marketing even more profitable.