Direct Creative - Copy & Design for Direct Marketing
Copywriter Dean RieckAugust 2009

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Note: Occasional errors in this newsletter exist to bring joy to readers who find them and point them out. Please don't spoil their fun by demanding perfection from me.

Embarassd by tipos and grammer misstaks?

If you're like me, you try to write clean copy. But it's hard to proof your own writing and you're bound to let errors slip through.

The old spell check and grammar check features of Word and other writing programs are lousy and have been for years. They're not very smart and often create more mistakes than they fix.

But I've just discovered a program called Whitesmoke that solves this problem. It's an all-in-one automatic proofing program that checks spelling, grammar, style, typos, punctuation, and more. And it works with just about any program where you can type text, including Word, Outlook, and Excel.

Pretty amazing. Click here to check it out.

Quote of the Month

"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts the moment you get up and doesn't stop until you get into the office." - Robert Frost

On the Blog

Visit my blog to get copywriting and design tips for direct marketing success. Here are some of the most recent posts:

INCOME TIP: The resume writing business is booming!

With the down economy, lots of people are looking for work or wanting to get more secure jobs. And that means lots of people need resumes.

If you're a writer, this could be your chance to create a nice side income writing resumes for job hunters. How do you do it? AWAI has published The Pro Resume Writer Program that shows how you could earn up to $150 an hour in this niche market.

Response Booster: Make sure direct mail widgets are justified

Many writers and consultants like to add extras to direct mail packages because, let's face it, they make for bigger, more impressive (and more profitable) projects.

It's true that add-ons can boost response, but in this economic climate, you have to be careful. Profit margins are slim. You should be able to justify the extra cost. Make sure that any extra - lift letter, buck slip, sticker, membership card, flyer, or even brochure - has a clear, tactical purpose. If you can, test the package with and without it to evaluate its cost-effectiveness.

If a widget doesn't boost net profits, drop it.

New copywriting blog on the way!

There are quite a few blogs that talk about copywriting. However, most offer general advice or opinion. So I've taken it upon myself to create a blog that offers copywriting advice for people who write copy professionally, whether they're a full-time employee, freelancer, business owner, creative director, or whoever.

The tips will be VERY specific: The correct way to write a P.S. Steps for creating a leave behind brochure. How to deal with bosses who know nothing about writing. Easy online tools to double your productivity. When you should use vanity phone numbers in your copy, and when you shouldn't. Whether you should write "different from" or "different than." An easy formula for organizing your work flow to save time and write better copy.

Stay tuned. I'll announce this new blog to all my subscribers the moment it launches. Just a few more tweaks and it's ready to go.

Yogi Berra's Tips on Direct Marketing

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra is a fifteen-time All Star. He won the American League Most Valuable Player award three times, played in 14 World Series, and set a number of baseball records, any one of which would assure a lifetime of fame and fortune for most people.

But what is Yogi best known for? His slips of the tongue. Which is understandable, if you go around saying things like "It's deja vu all over again!" and "I'm as red as a sheet."
On the surface, his off-kilter pronouncements are just amusing mistakes. But look a little deeper, and you will find profound lessons. Here are a few of my favorite Yogi-isms and my admittedly liberal interpretations for direct marketers:

"We made too many wrong mistakes." Do you think Edison invented the modern light bulb on the first try? He endured failure after failure before arriving at the solution. But his mistake s were "right" mistakes. Each taught him something and brought him closer to his goal. If you're not making lots of mistakes, you're not learning anything.

"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore." People aren't logical about the way they perceive money and value. That means you have to test not just prices, but price presentations. Which is best, $24 per year or $2 per issue? How about $7.50 per month or 25 cents per day? I recently had success presenting a $149.95 a month Internet service as "less than 1/2 cents per minute."  

"Slump? I ain't in no slump ... I just ain't hitting." Sometimes things just don't go the way you plan. A test flops. Sales fall. And you just can't explain it. Usually it's temporary. The point is, don't panic and change your entire marketing strategy based on short-term results. And never, ever discard a control until you have something that tests better.  

"Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel." When you get right down to it, an envelope is nothing more than a container for printed matter. It carries your message to the destination and then gets ripped open. So while it can be a four-color masterpiece, it doesn't have to be. Many times a plain old #10 is all you need.   

"We're lost but we're making good time." Never confuse activity with progress. You need to map out a measurable strategy before launching any marketing campaign. And you need to execute your strategy carefully and methodically. If all you're doing is slapping together one ad after another, you'll get nowhere fast.

"If you can't imitate him, don't copy him." There's no substitute for experience, expertise, or talent. If you don't know what you're doing, you won't solve any problems by producing carbon copies of your competitors' promotions.
"Ninety percent of the game is half mental." I'm forever amazed at how little thought people put into the creative process. Personally, I spend at least half of any given project on gathering information and brainstorming. When you think things through first, copy and design are a lot easier and usually far more successful.

"I wish I had an answer to that because I'm tired of answering that question." Your customers know the difference between BS and information. So don't try to shovel a pile of one to cover up for a lack of the other. Give details. Answer questions and objections. Provide a means for customers to easily find out more (a website is g ood for this.) People often make buying decisions based on a single feature.

"You can observe a lot by watching." Look at the numbers. Do surveys. Run focus groups. Talk to your phone operators. Your customers will tell you everything you need to know if you just open your eyes and ears.

"It ain't over till it's over." You can guess and estimate and reason and calculate, but you really don't know anything until you run a test. If there's one thing that's for sure in this business, it's that nothing is for sure.    

Of course, Yogi also said, "I really didn't say everything I said." Maybe. But who cares? Coming from anyone else, quotes like "Pair up in threes" or "I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four," would seem stupid. Coming from Yogi, it's genius.

Why People Buy Things They Don't Need

Apart from food, water, heat, and shelter, the things people buy are discretionary. In other words, people don't need most of what they buy. So why do people buy things they don't need?

That's the subject of a fascinating book by Pamela Danziger, called Why People Buy Things They Don't Need. She reveals that to justify purchases, people must give themselves "permission" to buy. And she show you exactly how to use this little psychological trick to brand, advertise, and position any product you choose to market. She even provides details on how to apply this formula to 28 types of products.

Click here to read more about it.

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

Copyright 2009 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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