In Ted Grigg’s excellent direct marketing blog, he lists 13 powerful words in direct response advertising. This includes many of the words you would expect, such as “you,” “easy,” “free,” “guarantee,” and so on.
These are all hardworking words, to be sure. And on more than one occasion, I’ve said that “free” is nearly as powerful as words get in the selling business, eclipsed only by “you.”
But there’s one word that is conspicuously absent on the list. Can you guess what it is? It’s the word that will always get your attention. It’s the sweetest word in the language, the one that you love to hear and has an almost magical effect on you every time you see it or hear it. But it’s not in the dictionary.
If you guessed “your name,” kudos to you. For me, it’s “Dean.” For you it may be “Bob” or “Mary” or whatever. Dale Carnegie had this figured out back in 1936 when he wrote How to Win Friends & Influence People. He wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
In direct response advertising, this translates to the tactic of personalization. I use this in direct mail wheever possible because I’ve seen how it can boost response rates. The difference between a headline that reads “Here’s how to make money from home sitting at your computer” and one that reads “Dean, here’s now to make money from home sitting at your computer” is vast. The first is about an idea but the second is about ME. And nothing is more interesting to me than me.
I might dust off my copy of How to Win Friends & Influence People for future posts. There’s a lot you can learn from that book that is directly applicable to selling and to direct mail and other forms of direct response advertising. We’re in the people business, after all.