Ugly direct mail works and here’s why

ugly direct mailEveryone likes pretty things. In nearly every situation, people prefer pretty over ugly.

Pretty people tend to earn more. Pretty houses are worth more. Pretty almost always beats ugly, except when it comes to direct mail.

In the world of direct mail marketing, ugly has a big advantage.

To the right is an example of what most people would call an “ugly” direct mail piece. It’s a simple solicitation about refinancing my house. And I’ve received it three or more times now.

The envelope is a standard white Monarch with a canceled stamp and what appears to be a handwritten address.

The letter inside is a short handwritten note with a business card stapled to the top. The letter is personalized with my name.

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How to “spurf up” great customer testimonials

gather customer testimonialsCustomer testimonials boost the selling power of nearly any direct marketing effort.

However, only about 1 out of 10 clients I’ve worked with makes an effort to consistently collect testimonials and keep them on file.

Why? Probably because it’s a hassle. Also, most businesses don’t have a reliable system for collecting testimonials. They just cross their fingers and wait for the random “thank you” message to drift in.

Well, that’s just not good enough. So I’m going to give you a simple way to gather solid testimonials from your customers.

But first …

A word about good customer testimonials

Testimonials work best when they are believable, specific, and enthusiastic. How do you achieve this ideal? You use real testimonials from real people.

Now I know that some marketers believe that you should write your own testimonials. But that’s a slippery slope.

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B2B vs. consumer marketing: 5 key differences

b2b marketingWhen business-to-business marketers call my office, they always ask the same thing: “Do you have B2B experience?”

They ask it like they’re looking for a white-haired wizard with a pointy black hat and a big gnarly cane, some spell-weaving Merlin who understands the strange and ancient ways of the “business buyer.”

I reply in two parts. First, I assure them. “Yes, I’ve worked successfully with a tremendous number of business marketers.”

Second, I shock them. “But you know, there really isn’t that much difference between B2B and consumer marketing, at least from the standpoint of creating offers, writing copy, and designing ads and direct mail.”

“No difference?” they sputter, “But … but … but ….”

Having had my fun, I then smooth their ruffled feathers and explain what seems to be shameless heresy.

You see, I admit that there are certainly vital differences between B2B and consumer marketing, but in my experience, the differences too often overshadow the similarities. And this can lead to some truly bad selling messages.

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15 copywriting formulas that sell like gangbusters

copywriting formulasIt seems like people in direct marketing are crazy about formulas.

I suppose that’s because we are focused on what works, rather than what’s cool or pretty. And a good formula gets us to where we want to go a lot faster.

In the world of copywriting, there are plenty of arcane formulas. Some are useful. Some are absurd. But all of them are interesting.

I’ve collected copywriting formulas over the years and would like to share 15 of the very best.

The first you’ll recognize because it’s the most famous. But I’m guessing many of the others are new to you. I’ve even thrown in one of my own for good measure.

I’ll admit that I don’t put a lot of faith in rigid formulas, since they are often of little use in actually writing copy. But they are quite good at analyzing copy after it is written.

So here are 15 of my favorite copywriting formulas:

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Is it time for a BIG direct mail piece?

large format direct mailAh, the good old days.

Just a few years ago, I could count on receiving a mailbox-full of direct mail nearly every day, including the crown jewel of direct marketing, the BIG direct mail piece.

Thick #10′s, fat 6×9′s, and beefy 9×12′s once stood atop the mountain of attention-grabbing communication.

But then came hard days for the publishing industry, higher postal and printing costs, the rise of electronic media, and a faltering economy that dried up the stream of direct mail.

Today, the mail delivers anemic postcards, cheap fliers, and the occasional #10 envelope with a short letter inside. And it’s made many wonder if direct mail has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Industry pundits have been sounding the death knell for direct mail. Though, those pundits have generally been young and directly involved with social media, email, and other electronic media. They’ve had no love for, or experience with, traditional media and shed no tears for its assumed extinction.

But as I’ve been saying for some time, the reports of direct mail’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

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