Rieck's Response Letter from Direct Creative at www.DirectCreative.com
September 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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Appeal to emotion first, logic second.

Most hardcore direct marketing types are number-crunching, logical people. It's easy for this type of person to fall into a cold, left brain, bullet-pointed, 714 reasons why type of sales pitch.

However, people make decisions in their right brain, based on emotion. Then they justify that decision with logic. What does this mean for you? To set up a sale, you should appeal to emotion first. Then, to close and confirm a sale, use logic.

For example, consider upscale automobile ads. Often, they feature a photo of the car, spotless and gleaming, parked in the driveway of a luxurious home. The copy may detail some engineering features, but it's that photo that does the selling. That image makes you want the car. The feature details simply help you confirm that your wanting is justified.


What can you learn from political advertising?

Well, silly season is here. And once again political candidates are deluging us with direct mail and TV ads.

If you're like me, the whole process disgusts you. But if you can stop rolling your eyes for a minute, you can learn a few things about effective persuasion. The most obvious lesson relates to this month's Response Booster: Appeal to emotion first.

Forget about how you wish things to be. The way things are is that people make decisions emotionally then search for reasons to support those decisions. This is why candidates focus on symbolic language, slogans, and rousing stump speeches, and generally avoid policy details.

It's also why the mail and TV ads you see are light on facts and heavy on image and emotion. For example, fear is one of the big motivators in most elections. Fear of terrorists. Fear of higher taxes. Fear of Social Security going bankrupt.

There are always those who blame the candidates for "going negative" and relying too much on emotion. But it's not their fault. Candidates who drone on and on about details lose elections. They lose because that's really not what people want to hear. That's not how people make decisions. What people want is an emotional connection to a candidate. They'll fill in the facts later to justify their decision.

The human brain is not a calculator or computer. It evolved as a survival organ that makes decisions based on instinct, emotion, and snap judgments of other people. That may not always result in the best presidents, but it can help us do a better job of persuasion if we accept, or even embrace, this reality.

Besides, if people were logical, you and I would be out of business.


8 Proven Headlines to Boost Ad Response

Along with direct mail, print is one of the mainstays of direct marketing. And today, it's more powerful than ever. A proliferation of highly-targeted publications makes it easy to find receptive prospects for your wares. And because ads are relatively easy to produce, print is an ideal medium for testing. Better still, once you find publications where your offer works, you automatically have mailing lists available to rent.

Since the headline is responsible for about 80% of your response, it is vital to write one that works. Here are eight kinds of headlines that have been proven over and over again in millions of print ads.

Say it simply and directly. No cleverness. No jokes. No wordplay. Just get right to the point and say what you have to say. This works particularly well with strong offers, solutions to clear problems, recognized brand names, and product or service types the reader is familiar with.
  • Pure silk blouses ... 30% off
  • The Ultimate Tax Shelter
  • Free Money. The first one million Americans who respond to this incredible offer will receive Kiplinger's CA-Simply Money for FREE.
State the big benefit. This helps select your ideal audience and relays your main selling point. If you're offering a discount, say it. If you're offering something free, scream it.
  • Now! Moonlight Your Way to a Million Dollars.
  • Create your own cards, posters and banners in minutes!
  • Get a FREE vase when you buy a dozen roses.
Announce exciting news. Casting your headline in a way that suggests news, rather than just advertising, can have the same powerful appeal of a feature story in the morning paper. Key "news" words: New, Discover, Introducing, Announcing, Now, At last, Finally.
  • At Last, American Scientists Have Created the Perfect Alternative to a Mined Diamond!
  • Introducing the newest idea in cross-training. From NordicTrack (of course).
  • Now program your VCR by simply speaking to the revolutionary VCR VOICE programmer
Appeal to the "how to" instinct. We all have an instinct to improve ourselves or our lives. The secret here is to focus on a need or want of the reader and promise to fulfill that need or want quickly and easily.
  • How to stop smoking in 30 days ... or your money back
  • How You Can Profit From the 3 Greatest Service Businesses of the Decade!
  • How to do Central America on $17 a day. (Land Rover)
Pose a provocative question. Asking a question directly involves your reader. However, your question cannot be random or clever. It must relate directly and clearly to the major benefit of the product. It must also prod the reader to answer "yes," or at least "I'm not sure, but I want to know more."
  • Do You Make These Six Common Mistakes On Your Taxes?
  • Gotten a speeding ticket lately? Read this.
  • How do I know which mutual funds may be right for me?
Bark a command. Many ads fall flat because they fail to tell the reader what to do. This headline type allows you to be direct, relay a benefit, and take a commanding posture simultaneously. It's not conversational, it's dictatorial, but in an acceptable way that readers have come to expect in clear writing.
  • Be today's complete drafter. (correspondence course)
  • Find anyone, anywhere, anyway you want! (CD-ROM phone books)
  • Draw the shades, bolt the door ... and enter a world of mystery, suspense and terror. (book club)
Offer useful information. People swim in a sea of facts, but data is not what they're really looking for. They want order and predictability in their lives, to feel a sense of power over the world. Therefore, people seek out the secrets, tips, hints, laws, rules, and systems that promise to help them gain control and make sense of things.
  • Free new report on 67 emerging growth stocks
  • Free brochure shows you how to end your money worries for good.
Relay an honest, enthusiastic testimonial. A testimonial headline can do two things for you. First, it presents your reader with a third party endorsement of your product or service. Second, it capitalizes on the fact that people like to know what other people say, and they pay more attention to anything inside quotation marks.
  • "Quite Simply, the Finest Children's Software Ever Released."
  • "This diet program worked for me. It can work for you, too!"
  • "It's the first book on personal finance that really made sense to me."

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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.