Rieck's Response Letter from Direct Creative at www.DirectCreative.com
August 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.


"You can always rely on Madison Avenue to do the right thing to sell a product ... once they've exhausted every other possibility." -Dean Rieck


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. This may be the best freelance promotion book I've ever read.

Pricing Your Writing Services - If all you do is slap a price on your services, you're making a big mistake. And you're losing money. This is the definitive guide on how to set your freelance prices for maximum profit and minimum hassle. There are tips for choosing hourly or fixed rates, writing estimates clients love, handling objections to land more jobs, and more.

Stop wishing and start earning! - Here's a roll-up-your-sleeves book with every secret, insight, strategy and tactic copywriter Ed Gandia used to go from zero to six figures in just a couple years. Ed lays it all out in 1-2-3 fashion and gives you a complete, low-risk plan to transition from your current job to a profitable copywriting business.


New freelance Web site launches!
Some copywriting buddies of mine just unveiled The Wealthy Freelancer. This is a unique resource, because while there are plenty of freelance sites out there, there are few that offer sound and practical advice for the professional-level freelancer. I've just contributed my first article called 5 Easy Ways to Get Clients Fast.

Good stuff on my blog:
What? You're not reading my blog? Shame on you. You're missing some good stuff.
All about testimonials on Copyblogger
I'm doing a 4-part series on testimonials for Copyblogger. Here are the installments so far:


Always start with a creative strategy.

Writing or designing without a purpose is like driving without a destination; you don't know where you'll end up.

Random creativity might be acceptable in mass market advertising, but in direct response it's foolish. Every direct marketing effort has a specific goal, so every direct response advertisement must follow a strategy to keep it driving toward that goal.

At the start of every project, ask yourself: What do I want this ad to accomplish? Who is my ideal customer? What is the big benefit? What support can I present to convince my ideal customer to believe in the big benefit? What is the tone, personality, or voice of my message?

The answers to these and similar questions form your creative strategy. Then and only then should you begin writing or designing.


Bob Stone was a legend in direct marketing. His book, Successful Direct Marketing Methods, is a "must have" for any direct marketing library.

Sadly, Bob passed away last year. But his inspiration and teaching live on.

He identified 30 Timeless Direct Marketing Principles which he said were some of the few "for sure" things in direct marketing. Here are my favorites:

1. All customers are not created equal. Give or take a few percentage points, 80 percent of repeat business for goods and services will come from 20 percent of your customer base.

2. The most important order you ever get from a customer is the second order. Why? Because a two-time buyer is at least twice as likely to buy again as a one-time buyer.

3. Maximizing direct mail success depends first upon the lists you use, second upon the offers you make, and third upon the copy and graphics you create.

9. "Yes/No" offers consistently produce more orders than offers that don't request "No" responses.

10. The "take rate" for negative option offers will always outpull positive option offers at least two to one.

13. Time limit offers, particularly those which give a specific date, outpull offers with no time limit practically every time.

14. Free gift offers, particularly where the gift appeals to self-interest, outpull discount offers consistently.

16. You will collect far more money in a fund-raising effort if you ask for a specific amount from a purchaser. Likewise, you will collect more money if the appeal is tied to a specific project.

17. People buy benefits, not features.

18. The longer you can keep someone reading your copy, the better your chances of success.

Read all 30 Timeless Direct Marketing Principles here.


11 Powerful Emotions That Raise Funds

To some extent, all marketing is based on emotion. Whether you're buying a car, a mutual fund, or a can of cheese spread, emotions play a part in the decision-making process. However, nothing relies on emotion quite so much as fundraising. How people "feel" about your cause will determine how they respond to your appeals.

While we humans are capable of an infinite variety of emotions, there are a few basic ones that work well in fundraising appeal letters. Here are 11 of them:

  • Altruism - Whether people are truly altruistic or have self-serving motives for giving is often debated. The best approach is to assume altruistic motives and appeal to other motives subtly. Assume the best of people and you usually get it.
  • Anger - Some highly emotional issues can cause feelings of outrage. This is a powerful motivator, but a tricky one. If you decide to be angry in your letter, maintain your anger throughout. Don't drop out of character and slip into fuzzy wuzzy language on page 2. Your appeal should be along the lines of "This is outrageous and we have to stop it!"
  • Beliefs - Whether religious, political, or social, strongly held beliefs drive the actions of many people. Find out what your prospects and regular donors believe in and make sure your message is consistent with those beliefs.
  • Compassion - You can generate sympathy by painting a word picture of someone who needs help. Share details about that person's life and ordeals. But be careful. If the problem is distasteful and you present it too graphically, you might make your reader turn away. There's a fine line between sympathy and revulsion.
  • Ego-gratification - Gratifying one's ego is not the same as being egotistic. It's a sense of well being, a feeling that inner perceptions and outer realities are in sync. Since most people like to think highly of themselves, it's best that you speak to them in an appropriately flattering tone. People tend to want to live up to the perceptions of others.
  • Fear - Fear usually takes the form of self-preservation, donating to cancer research to save your own life in the years ahead, for example. This is a powerful motivator. It's dangerous, though, because you can easily offend by suggesting self-serving motives.
  • Guilt - Discomfort and guilt are your emotional allies in any appeal. To spark your prospect's desire to give, you must create a certain level of discomfort about the problem you are presenting. And the thought of not helping should cause a feeling of guilt within your reader. You can also cause guilt by giving something, like address labels or cards. It's hard to use these items without reciprocating the gesture with a few dollars.
  • Idealism - If you have a cause with a big idea, you can frame your message around the "I want to change the world" appeal. Of course, many causes can be positioned as world-changing. The trick is to keep it believable. Even the most idealistic donors are very practical with their checkbooks.
  • Immortality - As children, we feel we're going to live forever. As adults, we know we won't, but we feel an overwhelming urge to try. Engraved plaques in a concert hall, published names in a newspaper, additions to hospitals, and other such tangible records of accomplishment are all symbols that allow a certain kind of immortality.
  • Joy - It's too easy to focus on the more negative and selfish motivations for giving. However, for many people, giving creates a powerful sense of joy - the joy of sharing, of belonging, of being needed. Find the "Joy Factor" in your cause and test an appeal based on it. Many times, you'll find it wins.
  • Recognition - Everyone needs a pat on the back now and then. A simple "thank you" is good enough for some. For others, a certificate or some form of public notice is more appropriate. Some people give solely to be congratulated. So, congratulate them.
Find the right emotion for your appeal and you will find generous supporters for your cause. What emotion is at the heart of your organization?

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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.