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Rieck's Response Letter is a publication of Direct Creative
Contact: Dean Rieck
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Quote of the Month
"The most common trouble with advertising is that it tries too hard to impress people." -James Randolph Adams
I'm a guest blogger for The Copywriting Maven.
Roberta Rosenburg, President & CEO of MGP Direct, and queen of cranky commentary, is sharing blogging duties with me this week. You can read my article 12 Things Every Copywriter Should Know About Design at The Copywriting Maven blog.
Watch an inspiring David Ogilvy video!
I recently found a video of the legendary David Ogilvy speaking to a group of advertisers about the advantages of direct response, which he called his secret weapon. Watch David Ogilvy on the Power of Direct Response Advertising in my growing Video Diversions collection.
DM News has changed formats.
I've been writing my Creative Checklist column for DM News for nine years. Sadly, that has come to an end. The publisher has changed to a glossier, more corporate format with no regular columnists. I'll be writing occasional op-eds or other items, but the column is history.
Visit the Direct Creative Blog.
If you haven't dropped by, please do. Click on Direct Creative Blog to see what I've been talking about. I plan to post two or three times a week and will be covering just about everything related to direct response copywriting and design.
Get a competitive edge in just 15 minutes!
Successful people always know about the latest business books. Seems like they read a book or two a week. But how do they find the time? Here's a little secret ... they don't. More than likely they're reading or listening to Executive Book Summaries. I particularly like their audio book summaries because you can master the concepts of a book in your car during a commute or during lunch sitting at your desk.
I discovered a long time ago that most business books can be boiled down to just a few pages. The rest is either fluff or examples or other filler. The meat of a subject is all you need. And I think Soundview does a nice job of delivering that. Hey, 15 minutes to digest a leading book? You can't beat that. Click here for more information.
Use directive language.
Direct response advertising isn't a place for subtlety. When you want people to do something, you have to tell them. This means using directive language or what grammarians would call the imperative mode. The word "imperative" comes from the Latin "imperare," meaning to command. A few examples:
To get people to open your envelopes, you can say, "Look inside!" or "Open immediately!" On order forms, you can say, "Complete and mail this order form today!" On Web sites and in e-mail, you can say, "Click here now!" to encourage clicks on a link. However you say it, say it clearly, directly, and specifically. If you don't tell people what to do, many won't do anything.
Get a vanity number for your radio ads.
Until the day when technology allows radio listeners to respond in some other way, you must rely on people calling a phone number. And since people are often doing something else, like driving a car, they can't always write down your number. A vanity number aids memory and boosts response.
Use radio to drive Web traffic!
While we're on the subject of radio, did you know it is a highly effective medium for getting people to your Web site? If you run your ads at the right times, it can be a great way to make a simple offer, often an inquiry, and drive people to a landing page. A memorable domain name helps in the same way a vanity number helps with phone response.
Want more sales? Tell a story.
Stories are far more engaging than sales pitches. They create interest and make any subject easier to understand. Remember the famous Wall Street Journal letter about two young men, one of which became rich by reading the Journal and the other didn't? That story has generated billions in revenue.
Make your photos face inward. Please!
This is more than a pet peeve. It's also good design. In any layout where you have photos with people, make sure the people face toward the body copy, not away from it. This leads the eye of your reader toward what you want them to read. Seriously. It makes a difference.
Repurpose print ads for direct mail.
This is a technique I love. You run an ad in a paper or magazine. Then you mail the ad with a letter telling the prospect, "I thought this might interest you." The ad can carry a lot of the details, taking some pressure off the letter. And it adds a dose of credibility if the ad is from a well-known or local publication.
10 "Secret" Formulas for Creative Success
What is your formula for creating effective sales messages? If you're like many people, you'll say, "AIDA," an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. It's a classic, the most quoted formula in advertising and marketing.
However, just as a skilled craftsman expands his or her creative abilities by collecting and mastering a variety of tools, a savvy marketer can expand his or her creative abilities by collecting and mastering a variety of formulas. Here are some less famous, but highly inspirational formulas to add to your collection:
ACCA Awareness, Comprehension, Conviction, Action. This is similar to AIDA, but "Comprehension" stresses the importance of clarity, which is vital for any persuasive message. Also, "Conviction" is much stronger than "Desire." It suggests certainty.
Attention-Interest-Description-Persuasion-Proof-Close This is another AIDA variation by Robert Collier. Intended for sales letters, it outlines what he thought was the correct sales sequence.
AAPPA The eminent Victor O. Schwab suggested this common-sense, clear formula. Get Attention. Show people an Advantage. Prove it. Persuade people to grasp this advantage. Ask for action.
AIU This is my own formula for envelopes. It stands for Attention, Interest, Urgency. Something about an envelope must get your attention, whether it's teaser copy, graphics, or just blank paper. This should lead to interest in the contents and an urgency to open the envelope immediately.
PPPP This is a formula by Henry Hoke, Sr. It stands for Picture, Promise, Prove, Push. In many ways, it's easier to implement than AIDA because it shows you four basic tasks you must perform to make a sale. Picture: Get attention early and create a desire. Promise: Make a meaningful promise and describe what the item will do. Prove: Demonstrate the value and support your promise with testimonials. Push: Ask for the order.
Star-Chain-Hook This is Frank Dignan's charming and surprisingly fresh way to approach an advertising message. Hitch your wagon to a Star with an attention-getting opening that is positive and upbeat. Create a Chain of convincing facts, benefits, and reasons to transform attention into interest and interest into desire. Then, Hook them with a powerful call to action, making it easy to respond.
ABC Checklist William Steinhardt's formula is more detailed than most and very practical. Attain Attention, Bang out Benefits, Create verbal pictures, Describe success incidents, Endorse with testimonials, Feature special details, Gild with values, Honor claims with guarantees, Inject action in reader, Jell with a postscript.
The String of Pearls This is a particular method of writing copy. The idea is that you assemble details and string them together in a long line, one after another. Each "pearl" is complete in some way, but when you string them together, their persuasive power becomes overwhelming.
The Cluster of Diamonds Similar to the String of Pearls, this formula suggests assembling a group of details under an umbrella concept. For example, an ad might have the headline "7 Reasons Why You'll Save Money With XYZ." The copy would then list these 7 reasons. Each detail is a "diamond" in a particular setting.
The Fan Dancer The analogy here is perfect, though a bit racy. The idea is to tantalize with specific details that do not actually convey information. For example, let's say you're selling a book on reducing taxes. Part of your copy might read: "The one secret way to pay zero taxes and get away with it page 32. How the IRS uses your mailing label against you page 122. Three clever ways to turn a vacation into a business tax deduction even if you don't own a business page 158." As with the forgotten art of fan dancing, you reveal little and leave your audience wanting more.
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Dean Rieck is an internationally respected copywriter, designer, and consultant who has created direct mail and ads for over 200 clients.
Copyright 2007 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.