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    Sunday
    Sep042011

    Direct Response Copywriting and The Yellow Pages

    THUNK! The Yellow Pages just arrived at my home. The big book has been on a diet and is definitely thinner and smaller thanks to Google and other interlopers.

    For this direct response copywriter, The Yellow Pages presents an interesting look into the current state of small business advertising.

    Some notes and thoughts.

    • You can tell which sectors 'get' direct response marketing: air conditioning; car dealers; bail bondsmen; dentists (most); garage door people; insurance agents.
    • You can tell which sectors don't get it: accounting; legal; drug addiction; computer repair; contractors.
    • There are some great USPs: ‘One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating.’ ‘Money for Scrap Metal.’
    • Some dismal USPs: ‘Better Call Bob.’ ‘Knowledge, Skill, Experience, and Results.’ ‘We Make the Law Work for You!’ ‘Your friendly scrap metal recycler.’
    • Some companies take the step of making their ad white so they set black type on a white background. Some companies go for 'au naturel' yellow or use black and funky colors as the background. The latter two options reduce readability by about 30%. Crazy.
    • I’m glad I don’t have to design the book. Or proof it.
    • The AT&T ‘house’ ads that fill in the spaces they couldn’t fill are dull and generic—just what you’d expect from behemoth.
    • Every ad could do with a bit more white space—and, dare I say it, a bit less copy: more benefits over a bazillion mostly meaningless bullets.
    • A client, a cosmetic dentist, doesn't use The Yellow Pages and he very closely measures response.

    The Yellow Pages is all about the NOW and the biggest lesson we can learn is the CTA. It’s always to call—rarely to visit a website. If I were designing and writing a Yellow Pages ad, I’d find out what works and use that model. 

    A lot of companies would increase their response by writing and designing ads that followed more of a direct response model.

    *

    I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment for clients around the world. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting CopyOr contact me here for a direct response copywriting quote.

    Friday
    Sep022011

    Why bother with direct response copywriting? Why bother hiring a direct response copywriter?

    It's only a very general estimate but I believe that 96% of print and web copy is fluff. There's a bit less fluff copy on TV and radio.

    How do I define 'fluff' copy?

    FLUFF COPY IS COPY NOT WRITTEN TO

    PRODUCE A MEASURABLE RESPONSE.

    I'm not saying that fluff copy is bad, or grammatically poor, or poorly written. Quite the contrary. I read fluff copy that's elegant and crisp. But it's explanatory. The only result I can sense is for the reader to think, "OH! How nice! That company/product/service is GREAT!"

    Some examples of fluff.

    Agency in Philadelphia.

    If you can tell me what the "Primacy of a Brand" represents then I'm all ears.

    Tourist organization in Charlotte.

    YAWN--so what?

    Business consultant in Seattle.

    Looks great. Reads well. But there's not even a call to action.

    Our brothers and sisters in the world of branding, who worship fluff and give each other prizes for the best fluff, are generally terrified of direct response. Why?

    Here's the official answer: they fear that consumers will equate a product or service with an infomercial or junk mail culture.

    The real reason is quite different: branding agencies want to charge massive fees for pretty ads and 'award-winning creative' WITHOUT the pressure of having to show actual results and ROI.

    Look...if the company hiring the agency is happy with that type of relationship, so be it.

    Which begs the questions:

    • Why bother with direct response copywriting?
    • Why bother hiring a direct response copywriter?

    There's an easy answer to both questions: RESULTS.

    If you want to benefit from techniques PROVEN to maximize response, then you need to hire a direct response copywriter.

    A serious direct response copywriter will:

    • Write response driven copy to...GET A RESPONSE!
    • Provide some strategic direction...if necessary.
    • Write successfully across different media and platforms.
    • Provide complementary content to steer readers toward transactional pages.
    • Rewrite if the response is poor.
    • Make sure you have all the vital direct marketing elements in place (offer, guarantee, etc.).
    • Constantly strive for better results.
    • Have only one goal...help the client increase revenue.
    • Write derisory blogs about fluff!

    You Don't Have to Be Obnoxious

    Here's the truth about direct response copywriting--the truth the merchants of branding don't want you to know...you CAN maintain your brand integrity AND use direct response copywriting techniques. The perfect example is GoDaddy.com: their TV ads drive you to their website.

    The website has an offer. There's some direct response copy on the site and the goal of this copy is to UPSELL. The $12.99 sale becomes a $100 sale in just a few quick clicks. The company is successful enough to spend millions on advertising and sponsor a race car. And it's not obnoxious.

    I Love All of You in Branding. Really!

    One of the core characteristics of my brothers and sisters in direct response: a desire to bash all of you in branding and 'image' advertising. It's a type of reverse snobbery, perhaps, and I won't indulge myself. If you're an agency type and you're afraid of direct response copywriters and their lust for response, don't be. As a direct response copywriter, I want to help you create tangible results for your clients--results your clients will love. And when you show your client a positive ROI, they will continue to hire you.

    If you're in marketing and you're new to direct marketing, the choice is extremely simple:

    Do you want a copywriter who will help you get tangible results (aka MONEY)?

    OR

    Do you want a copywriter who will produce 'fluff' that will make everyone look good and perhaps win a couple of awards?

    Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why advertising agencies, marketing gurus, and consultants shun direct marketing and populate their websites and brochures with 'fluff' and 'brancentric' gibberish in lieu of direct response copy--copy written to generate leads and revenue. Leave a comment below!

    *

    I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment for clients around the world. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting CopyOr contact me here for a direct response copywriting quote.

    Monday
    Aug152011

    Copywriter on Content. Part 6. Content and Sales Tactics.

    One of my clients emphatically states: EVERY WEB PAGE IS A SALES PAGE. And I agree. Even the pages that don't look like sales pages…these MUST be sales pages.

    Here’s where the marriage between content and sales strategy is so vital. People buy for two reasons.

    1. Solve a problem.
    2. Emotional reasons backed by logic.

    These two are often related.

    Try to organize all your content around one of these two—depending on your marketing strategy. For example, if you solve a problem like tires being too expensive, show plenty of case studies where you help people save money on tires. And then you can show people buying other tires—tires that are more expensive but ‘make sense’ to the buyer based on logic.

    And spread this content around…in the blog…social media…your email or printed newsletter. And, of course, the case studies on your website.

    Here’s where a direct response copywriter becomes important. A direct response copywriter wakes up in the morning thinking, ‘sell…sell…sell…’ So, when you hire a direct response copywriter to create content, the content will be oriented around sales—either direct or generating a lead.

    That’s because every page is a sales page…at least in my world.

    Even when writing content, I'm using a standard copywriting technique like AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action). And there's always a call to action, always a next step. The Holy Grail of content is not awards or nice comments...but ACTION!

    *
    I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment for clients around the world. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting CopyOr contact me here for a direct response copywriting quote.
    Thursday
    Aug042011

    Copywriter on Content. Part 5. Selling Happiness.

    What do people really want? In his excellent book, 2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success, Denny Hatch writes about motivators and lists two pages of them. Two of the most important are happiness and ease. Hatch breaks these down into 100 motivators and I won't go into all of them here and there's no need for most businesses to worry about precise motivators--leave this up to us direct response copywriters.
    However, if you make a big effort to base your content on happiness and ease, you'll be way ahead of most of the competition.
    Six steps to selling happiness through content.
    1. Find out what makes your clients and customers really happy. Then show how you deliver.
    2. Ease is always huge. Make everyone's life a lot easier.
    3. Tell stories about just how happy clients and customers have become since making the decision to do business with you.
    4. Show happy people in photos and videos (this may seem obvious but there's a lot of morosity on websites).
    5. Make sure testimonials are teeming with happiness.
    6. Your special report and free content should be organized around making people so happy they have to buy what you have to offer.

    Also...try to organize your content so the happiness is digestible.

     

    • Captions under photos.
    • Pull quotes.
    • Subheads.
    • Bullets.
    • Copy doodles.

     

    Let's take a look at some websites and pages that really sell happiness with their content.

    I'm not a huge flash fan and there's a lot of flash on this site but it's selling happiness throughout. Think it's hard for a dentist to sell happiness? Think again by clicking here. And I think Jim McLean, the golf instructor, is really good at showing results on his site.

    Take a look at your site and your content. If you think you're selling happiness really well, leave a comment with a link.

    *

    I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment for clients around the world. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting CopyOr contact me here for a direct response copywriting quote.

    Saturday
    Jul302011

    Copywriter on Content. Part 4. The Case Study.

    The case study is one of the most underutilized tactics in the battle for new business. It's extremely rare to see case studies on websites yet the case study provides proof that everything you say on your website is true. I have testimonials on my site and the next step: case studies.

    A case study is a hybrid: part journalism, part copywriting. If you're going to write case studies, or hire a copywriter to organize them for you, start with the problems/desires your clients express. In most B2B settings, case studies are relatively straightforward.

    1. State the problem.
    2. Show how you solved the problem.
    3. Detail the end result.

    In some B2C settings, the case study is a little trickier. You have to disguise it as people enjoying themselves. For example--golfers having a wonderful time on a superb golf course. Here's where your blog comes in. If you're a golf course, you can't really have a case studies page or section. However, in your blog you can write about a group from out of town that enjoyed the golf course. If you provide an outings section, you can have case studies. If you hold weddings, you can have a 'Bridal Album' that shows photos of wonderful weddings held at your club.

    A case study can be a straight description of the 'case' or it can be an interview with a satisfied client. You can also use audio and video.

    If you think about it, an infomercial or a short direct response TV commercial is a type of case study. You see the problem, then the product provides the solution.

    Sometimes, a client will not want to be named and that's understandable. In lieu, you can say, 'we worked with an accounting firm to increase their business.'

    Case studies require some effort and time but they provide the absolute best way to provide proof that your services and products work.

    Specificity is also important. "We helped this client increase revenue by 45% in 96 days" is a lot better than "We helped this company do better with their marketing."

    If you've seen some case studies you think are especially brilliant leave a link in the comment box.

    *

    I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment for clients around the world. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting CopyOr contact me here for a direct response copywriting quote.