Getting to “yes”: 4 keys for instant credibility

marketing rule of authoritypart 2 of a 2-part article

In the first part of this article, I told you an incredible story about the Rule of Authority, how titles, clothing, and trappings can help you get to “Yes.”

Now I’d like to suggest that you go one more step.

Instead of just giving the “appearance” of authority, why not establish actual authority?

I’m talking about credibility. Real credibility. And what does it take to establish credibility? According to a mountain of psychological research, there are four basic elements:

The first two are most important, but they all play a part.

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Notice on spam IRS email now circulating

I have received many calls and messages informing me that an email is circulating with my web address on it. The email appears to be from the IRS.

This email is fraudulent and dangerous. Do not click on the link in the email. The link leads to a site that will attempt to install a virus on your computer.

Please note: The IRS never sends email. They communicate by mail and phone only.

Obviously, the email has nothing to do with me. I am not sending it and I cannot stop it. It appears that the spammer has simply linked to a graphic on my blog. I renamed the graphic to break the link and prevent the email from robbing my site of bandwidth. And now that the link is broken, my website is visible in the email.

I have reported this to my ISP, however they are unable to stop the email from being sent since it is coming from an unknown person at an unknown location.

I suggest that you delete the fraudulent email then empty your deleted email folder. If you are unsure if you’ve been infected, run a scan of your computer with whatever security software you use.

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5 secrets for reading faster (without a speed reading course)

If you’re a copywriter, consultant, business owner, or anyone involved in marketing, you’re also a reader.

In fact, if you’re like me, you probably spend a good portion of your day reading reports, email, creative briefs, proposals, and all manner of materials. So if you can read faster, you can be more productive.

The question is, can you really read at lightning speed and still comprehend and retain what you’re reading? This is a hotly debated question. Some swear they can read and remember a whole book in 5 minutes while others say speed reading is a bunch of baloney.

I think Woody Allen settled the matter when he said, “I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It involves Russia.”

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2 immutable rules for finding a professional copywriter

how to find a copywriterIt’s not easy to find a good copywriter, especially someone who has real expertise and experience with direct mail or direct marketing.

I can’t even begin to count the number of calls and emails I’ve received from people who have said they’ve been looking for a while and can’t find many people who seem professional and credible.

That may seem surprising. A decade or two ago, there were few copywriters out there. Today there are thousands. You’d think you could throw a rock out your window and hit 5 pro copywriters without aiming.

But the truth is, the number of truly good copywriters hasn’t increased significantly.

Why? Because it’s like any other field. It’s just not as easy as it looks. Finding a reliable copywriter is like finding a great brain surgeon.

So at the risk of appearing self-serving, I’d like to share a short guide to finding and working with a professional direct marketing copywriter. I wrote this years ago, but it’s just as relevant today. I’m told by many people that it’s been quite helpful.

And for the record, I’m not always the best copywriter for everyone. In fact, I turn down far more clients than I take on. I may not have the right expertise. I may be too expensive. And these days, I am often too busy.

But if you’re looking, follow these two rules to find the writer who’s right for you.

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Merry Christmas from the Legal Department

Santa Clause bustedIn my line of work, I have to deal with lawyers quite a bit. And I suppose they’re necessary.

But they’re really an uptight bunch. And sometimes they just go too far.

Take this message from the legal department of one of my clients, for example …


Whereas, on or about the penultimate night to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general dearth of Daily Living Activities by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to, noxious vermin.

A variety of hosiery, e.g., stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed in a workmanlike manner by and about the chimney upon the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a.k.a. St. Nicholas a.k.a. Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive at sometime thereafter.

The minor residents of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were experiencing involuntary nocturnal hallucinations, wherein visions of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear.

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Are you a word nerd? Take the test.

word nerdWhile skimming a recent issue of Advertising Age, I ran across an article called If you’re creating ads, odds are you’re talking to yourself.

And it presents yet more evidence that ad writers and other advertising professionals are disconnected from the people they’re creating ads for.

I’ve been discussing this since 1997 when I wrote about how ad writers don’t relate to ads in the same way as ordinary people.

The Ad Age article talks about research on behavior-based segmentation performed by Xyte Technologies. They tested people in marketing and advertising (including people in creative, media, and research) and found that they’re “word nerds.” They like playing with words and rely on intuition (rather than data) to craft message.

Trouble is, only 18.5% of the general population fall into that category. Ads that appeal to word nerds don’t do so well with the other 81.5% of the population, most of whom are highly practical people and respond to tangible benefits.

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How to sell products with direct mail inserts

direct mail insert sampleThere’s a certain pecking order in the world of direct mail projects.

At the top are bulky magalogs and thick direct mail envelope packages with all the bells and whistles.

At the bottom are the lowly workhorses, such as postcards and inserts.

The direct mail insert shown here in the photo comes from a box of plants I ordered from Spring Hill Nursery.

Technically, it’s called a fulfillment insert, meaning it’s an advertisement inserted into the package you receive when you order something by mail.

It’s not the sort of thing anyone wins awards for. In fact, some copywriters and designers look down their nose at humble inserts like this. For them, it’s sort of like the hillbilly member of the family you never talk about and hope won’t show up at weddings or funerals to embarrass you.

That attitude is unfortunate, because direct mail inserts can generate tons of extra income for both advertisers and the companies that offer to include the inserts in their mail or packaging.

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How to explain what you do for a living

When I go to parties, people always ask what I do for a living. When I tell them “direct marketing,” they nod, but I know they’re clueless.

People don’t really know the difference between the various flavors of advertising and marketing. And book definitions don’t help. So I’ve adopted a more pragmatic way of explaining my line of work and how it differs from other specialties.

Feel free to steal this and use it for yourself. I did.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You walk up to her and say, “I’m great in bed.” That’s Direct Marketing.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You ask your friend to walk up to her and say, “See that guy over there? He’s great in bed.” That’s Advertising

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You get her phone number from someone. The next day you call and say, “I’m great in bed.” That’s Telemarketing.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You comb your hair, straighten your tie, then ask if she’d like drink. You chat and joke with her throughout the evening, offer her a ride home, walk her to her door, then say, “By the way, I’m great in bed.” That’s Public Relations.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. She walks up to you and says, “I know you. You’re the one who’s great in bed.” That’s Brand Recognition.

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The 25 most popular articles of 2009

Is it the end of the year already? Seems like it was Spring, then I blinked, and now the year is nearly over.

It’s always interesting and instructive to look back over a year’s worth of blog data to see what people are reading. This year, the most popular article by far was the one on website eye tracking. I’m not sure if it was the content of the article or that big blue eye photo that caught people’s attention.

The most controversial proved to be the post on the Dunning-Druger Effect, which sparked some debate about whether it’s real or I’m just an arrogant ass.

So here, in order, are the 25 most popular articles of 2009 based on Google statistics. They were not all posted this year, but they all attracted a great deal of interest.

  1. Eye tracking study reveals 12 website tactics
  2. What if a corporation created the STOP sign?
  3. The power of color in direct marketing
  4. 21 great headlines from trashy tabloids
  5. Cheap direct mail ideas can work wonders
  6. The Dunning-Kruger Effect and the secret for coping with the incompetents around you
  7. How to write the “classic direct mail package”
  8. Why slogans don’t sell
  9. 7 stupid ways to screw up your direct mail
  10. Speedwriting: 12 tips for writing faster
  11. Design and legibility: 10 basic principles of reading
  12. 5 simple SEO tips to boost your search traffic
  13. 3 predictions for the future of direct marketing
  14. Kaboom! The selling magic of Billy Mays
  15. Design and legibility: 7 tips for high ad readership
  16. Soup, sand, and rancid cheese: The craziest direct mail test in history
  17. 30 Timeless Direct Marketing Principles
  18. What does “freelance” really mean?
  19. Good direct mail design: let form follow function
  20. Snap Pack Facts: An interview with Ted Grigg
  21. Wacky Waiving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man
  22. Service pricing: Hourly rate or fixed fee?
  23. The direct mail envelope quandary: plain or bold
  24. How to use “official” envelopes for direct mail
  25. FTC cracks down on endorsements and testimonials
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Tweets and blogs and stuff

Things have been busy here at Direct Creative recently.

Not only am I getting swamped with work, I’ve been doing a few things to give you more ways to follow the tips I provide, connect with me, and learn about how to write good copy. I’m also looking for a few good copywriters.

So in no particular order, here they are:

Pro Copy Tips blog – If you haven’t visited yet, drop everything and go there now. The new blog is dedicated exclusively to copywriting and freelancing for “smart” copywriters. Here are some recent posts:

31 sales letter openers to kick start your sales pitch
Double your reading speed with this odd little trick
Blab and blather your way to great copywriting ideas
7 ways to drive a copywriter stark raving mad
Secret Google search hacks and tools for copywriters

I’m also in the middle of a series of articles on how to create a website to generate business for freelance copywriting.

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