Rieck's Response Letter from Direct Creative at www.DirectCreative.com
February 2008
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Rieck's Response Letter is a publication of Direct Creative

Contact: Dean Rieck
Phone: 614-882-8823
E-mail: Dean@DirectCreative.com

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Quote of the Month

"When executing advertising, it's best to think of yourself as an uninvited guest in the living room of a prospect who has the magical power to make you disappear instantly." -John O'Toole


Read my interview with Bob Bly.
I've posted my long-awaited discussion with Bob Bly on the Direct Creative Blog. Not only does Bob talk about direct mail and the direction of the direct marketing industry, he also reveals some secrets about online marketing. Coming soon: a chat with Roberta Rosenberg from The Copywriting Maven. If you don't subscribe to my blog, you're missing a lot of great stuff.

The Direct Marketing Links page is taking shape.
I try to make my Web site more than a brochure on my services. So I'm always looking for helpful content to post. One of the most recent additions is a Direct Marketing Links page. This is new and has a long way to go, but I have a pretty good set of links for associations and publications you might be interested in.

I'm now a regular columnist at Copyblogger!
It seems Brian Clark at the highly successful Copyblogger blog likes my articles, so he's asked me to be a regular contributor. Recent articles include The 5-Step POWER Copywriting Method and 11 Top Secret Recipes for the Aspiring Copywriting Chef.

Response Booster

Always include a guarantee.

A guarantee helps to lower the perceived risk your prospects feel when considering your offer. And it almost always boosts your response. What does a basic guarantee include? A promise of satisfaction and a statement of what you will do should the customer be dissatisfied. Here's a classic guarantee from the 1902 Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog:

We accept your order and your money, guaranteeing the goods to reach you in due time and in perfect condition, and if they are not perfectly satisfactory to you when received, you can return them to us at our expense of freight or express charges both ways and we will immediately return your money.

Quick Tips

Choose your words carefully.
I'm sure you've heard about the new round of tax rebates coming your way. But there was an interesting article recently in the New York Times about whether they should be called "rebates" or "bonuses." According to research quoted in this article, calling it a rebate will prompt people to save the money while calling it a bonus will prompt people to spend the money. It's further proof that your choice of words will affect how people act. Read the article here.

Don't assume you have someone's full attention online.
This tip relates to the Quote of the Month above. According to eMarketer, multitaskers dole out attention to media. "More than two out of 10 radio listeners surveyed in December 2007, for instance, went online while the radio was on." This doesn't come as any surprise. Or it shouldn't. No matter what media you're working in, you should always assume that there are many distractions interfering with your message. It's an argument for being clear rather than clever.

Use the problem / solution formula for radio or TV scripts.
If you're a freelancer or in-house copywriter, you probably don't get too many radio or TV assignments. But when they come along, keep your script simple. Don't try to create entertaining slice-of-life dramas or funny banter. You will probably have only 30 to 60 seconds for a radio ad and 60 to 120 seconds for a TV ad. Get to the point quickly and follow a basic problem / solution formula. Set up the problem ... provide the solution ... and ask for the order. See A 12-Step Radio Ad Formula for Generating Inquiries and A Simple Formula for DRTV Success.

To maximize clickthroughs, focus on one action item.
According to research conducted by MarketingSherpa, fewer action items give better results in e-marketing. "Without question, fewer action items bring better results. One-action emails received 55.9% clickthroughs, soundly beating two-action emails, while newsletters with three, four or five action items were all under 5%." This is why most of the sales pages you see online are designed with only one option: to click and order. And it shows why short e-mails with few links drive more traffic.

Designing direct mail? Get in touch with your ugly side.
As many of you know, I design a lot of my clients' direct mail and ads. I didn't go to school for design; I taught myself. So my stuff isn't exactly "pretty." But that's turned out to be an advantage because pretty design is often a recipe for failure in direct response advertising. "Ugly" design, or I should say, non-pretty design, doesn't get in the way of the copy. So it's generally more reader-friendly and effective. Plain envelopes, simple letters, straightforward brochures and inserts, ads that look like articles ... they won't win you awards. But they can win you more sales. Take a look at some of my samples to see what I mean.


Going Beyond Testimonials to Build Confidence

Last month we looked at how to build confidence with testimonials. This month we look at more confidence boosting techniques.

Testimonials are a great way to support and prove your claims. They also engage the "bandwagon" effect. The more people doing it, the more acceptable it is.

However, testimonials aren't the only way to accomplish this. Once you understand that there's nothing magical about testimonials, per se, and that the key is to show "other people doing it," you can find endless proofs to build confidence.

Here are some of the most effective:

  • Use "indirect testimonials." List businesses using your products or services. Or you can list the states or countries in which you do business, the industries you serve, the percentage of Fortune 500 companies you work with, the types of professionals who trust you, and so on.
  • Show pictures of people using your product or service. This is usually better than a still life of your gadget sitting idle in a photo studio. An action picture can simultaneously show the product, show the kind of people who use it, and show benefits. Seeing is believing.
  • Relay case histories of some of your best customers or clients. Studies show that tangible case histories can be more effective than impressive statistics. Show how someone solved a problem or derived a big benefit. Before and after descriptions are particularly effective.
  • Mention how long your company has been around. This is a subtle indication of popularity. What is impressive here is relative to your business. If you're a software company, being in business ten years makes you an old timer. If you're a bank, ten years makes you an infant.
  • Tout the number of products sold. It always helps to keep good records. Dig through your sales reports and see what figures you can come up with. You might have to estimate, but make it reasonable and believable. And be sure you have data to support your claim.
  • Display the number of customers or clients you serve. McDonald's built an empire by displaying on their signs a running count of the number of burgers they have served. They are now in the billions.
  • Warn customers about limited product due to demand. This shows popularity plus scarcity, another powerful human motivator. However, be careful. If you cry wolf, people will eventually stop believing you.
  • Announce the speed of your sales due to demand. This combines popularity with urgency. If you're the fastest selling, say it. If you're not, maybe you're the most consistent.
  • Say how long your product or service has been a bestseller. This says popularity, quality, and consistency. This can often be more effective than just saying how long you've been around.
  • Cite information on your market leadership. Being first or tops in your market is unbeatable, as long as you make it relevant.
  • Reveal the seasonal demand of your product or service. Not only does this show public acceptance, it also overcomes inertia and can encourage early orders. A good example is the rush to buy the latest fad toy during the holidays.
  • Show important or well-known people using your product or service. This invokes the "halo" effect, connecting the good feeling people have for the celebrity to your wares. Just make sure you have the required permissions.
  • Display a seal of approval by a rating organization. Approval from Good Housekeeping or an industry group puts an official stamp on public approval. However, I don't approve of making up an organization to fake the rating.
  • Cite favorable reviews. Third-party information is always powerful. Some products, such as software, are routinely reviewed. However, television commentators and experts writing for publications often review products and services. If you have something unique or interesting, make sure they know about it.
  • Cite mentions in the media. Newsworthy products and services are more trusted. If you get a favorable mention, you can quote it. Otherwise, you can list media coverage. This is an argument for a good public relations effort.
  • Associate your product or service with respected magazines. "As seen in XYZ Magazine." List the magazines you advertise in to show public approval of your product or service.
  • Associate your product or service with respected media. "As seen on TV." Television is considered very credible. If you appear there, you have instant credibility. List the networks your advertisements have appeared on.

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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.

Phone: 614-882-8823
E-mail: Dean@DirectCreative.com
Web: www.DirectCreative.com

Copyright 2008 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.