Rieck's Response Letter from Direct Creative at www.DirectCreative.com
June 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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Occasional errors in this newsletter exist to bring joy to those readers who find them and point them out. Please don't spoil their fun by demanding perfection from me.


"Ninety percent of good advertising is resisting the temptation to be a dumb ass." -Dean Rieck


Fight content theft.

The other day Google alerted me to some new links pointing to my Web site. I clicked on one and was surprised to find an entire site filled with my articles. I wasn't too upset because links are always a good thing, but I didn't give permission to the site owner to use my content.

Usually content theft involves stealing the work of others to lure people to a site filled with affiliate links. Strangely, this site had nothing for sale. It was simply filled with my articles. But theft is theft.

If you're a writer, your words are your stock in trade. You must protect them and maintain control of them whenever possible. The Internet makes it easy to steal content, but don't let that stop you from fighting back. Here are 10 ways to fight content theft.

Relax actively.

I've told you this before, but it's worth repeating. The more hectic your schedule, the more important it is to find time to get away from your work and relax. And the best way to relax is to do something that engages your mind and body.

For me, it's working in my garden at this time of year. Or maybe putting in a few miles along local bike trails. For you it could be anything as long as it's physically and mentally active: walking, golfing, yoga, whatever. A fresh mind and body gives you a more positive outlook and helps you be more productive during working hours.

Stuff I recommend:

The Freelance Copywriter's $64,000 Direct Mail Self-Promotion Package - This is an amazing e-book that shows you how a copywriter wrote a letter and landed $64,000 of work. It's illustrated, well-written, and highly specific. Once I started reading it, I couldn't stop. It's worth every penny.

Copywriting Jobs - Here's my job board that lists positions for copywriters all over the country. Also some design and PR type jobs too.

Carbonite Online Backup - This is a super easy online backup service that's dirt cheap. This may be the best product or service I've used in the last ten years. Please try their free 15-day trial. They don't even ask for a credit card! I've had some computer issues lately and Carbonite saved my neck every time.


Sell solutions, not products.

I hate to break it to you, but no one cares about your products or services. What they care about are their own needs and wants.

Bob doesn't want a drill, he wants a hole. Mary doesn't want a dress, she wants to look thin at the party this Friday. Alice doesn't want an investment newsletter, she wants a pile of money that will let her retire at 45. Ted doesn't want a recipe book, he wants new ways to impress his friends at dinner parties and generate the compliments he thrives on.

But ... no one wants you to know these are the things they really want. So don't be too blunt about these inner desires.


There's been lots of good stuff on my blog lately (if I do say so myself). So in case you missed some of it, here are the highlights:

Freelance success begins with mindset.
Attitude is important for success in any field. This is hard for some people to accept, particularly those with the wrong attitude. But it's true nevertheless. Here's a short piece I wrote about freelance mindset.

Be bossy in your copy!
Bossing people around doesn't sound very polite, but it's a requirement if you want people to do something specific, such as respond to your direct mail piece or ad. Here are my thoughts on command language.

Add oomph to your offer.
Direct marketing is all about offers. So if you want a powerful way to improve response to any direct advertisement, the offer is a good place to start. I recently wrote a detailed article about this for Target Marketing called "Energize Your Offer." I summarize my thoughts here, plus there's a link to the full article.

E-mail marketing tips from the pros.
Recently, I attended a webinar on e-mail marketing sponsored by Target Marketing. There were no big surprises. The experts discussed a few tactical principles that generally help improve effectiveness. Here's a summary with some of my own thoughts thrown in.

Curious about my sordid past?
I did an interview recently on the Web Shop's Best Practices Blog. I talked about the odd path I took to arrive at the direct marketing work I do today. Plus I discussed freelancing and the copywriting business. You can find out more here, if you dare.


Power Up Direct Mail with Inserts & Involvement Devices

One of the primary advantages of using direct mail is your ability to "divide and conquer." Your letter delivers a personal message and makes an offer. Your brochure demonstrates features and dramatizes benefits. Your order form calls for action and eases response.

Each piece performs a specific function and, because each is dedicated to that function, does a better job than a mailer attempting to do everything simultaneously. With that in mind, consider what else you might want to accomplish in your direct mail package. Then consider testing an appropriate insert or involvement device that can boost response enough to offset the additional cost.

Here are just a handful of ideas:

  • Encourage involvement with a quiz or checklist. Is your offer relevant to your prospect? You can prove that it is by including a simple quiz: "Do you qualify for our 80% discount on life insurance? Take this quiz and find out." Or a checklist: "Here are 25 ways our investment course can turn you into a millionaire in 10 years."
  • Make your offer tangible with a check or coupon. If you're offering $25.00 off, enclose a coupon or simulated check worth $25.00 and instructions for returning it with an order. If you can, offer a real check that provides an instant reward or even activates a service when cashed. A check can be personalized and show through an envelope window.
  • Dramatize your offer with stamps or stickers. If you have several offers, configurations, or options, you can print each on a stamp and ask the recipient to affix one to the order form. If you have a simple offer you want to highlight, you can print it on a sticker which must be lifted and transferred to the order form. Stamps and stickers are highly involving and make it clear that some action is required.
  • Answer objections or highlight a benefit with a lift letter. The lift letter is the dean of all inserts. It is usually a short message signed by someone of higher-authority than the letter signer. It presents a second point of view, meets objections, adds credibility, highlights benefits, etc. Often it's folded with "Read this only if you've decided not to order..." or words to that effect on the outside.
  • Increase credibility with a testimonial insert. Testimonials often work best when you present them together in a stand-alone piece, which increases the "bandwagon effect." You can also have a benefit headline to introduce them, such as "Over 3 million satisfied customers agree, a Wahoo Widget lasts so long, it's the last widget you'll ever have to buy."
  • Prove your superiority with a sample. Let's say you're selling a coat or jacket to outdoor enthusiasts which you claim will withstand all manner of torture. It's waterproof, fireproof, rip-proof, stain proof. Enclose a one-inch square of the fabric attached to a small card with instructions for testing the fabric. That way, your prospect can see it is everything you say it is.
  • Emphasize exclusivity with a membership card. People like to belong. If you can structure your offer as joining a club or organization, you can send a membership card printed on plastic or heavy paper. You can even personalize it, provide contact information, and list benefits. This transforms a mere transaction into something more beneficial and relevant to prospects.
  • Reinforce your guarantee with a merchandise return label. It's one thing to say a dissatisfied customer can return a product. It's another to actually provide a prepaid return label in advance. It shows how confident you are in your product and lowers perceived risk. One way to do this is to combine a label with a lift note explaining the label and how there's no risk or obligation for responding.
  • Announce last-minute news with a buckslip. You don't have to redo a whole package just because one small thing changes. Enclose a brightly-colored slip touting a new feature, a premium, deadline, or special offer. Of course, there doesn't have to be a change to use this technique. You can use it anytime to highlight something or test an offer or premium.

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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.