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Direct Mail 03: The Message

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In the previous two segments of this series we mentioned methods of contacting potential customers by classified and print ads and also the stationary used in direct mail contact including the use of postcards. In this article we give some hints on what is called copywriting or the art of selling your stuff.

You will need to think about what you write in your advertising and in your print and classified ads. There are many books on copywriting available in libraries and at very low prices on the internet (,,, etc.).

For your direct mail or mail order business you will need copy for your ads, your web pages, and your direct mail bundle or package.

Here are some hints to help you in your writing, but there may come the time that you don’t want to perform this function because you are too busy counting your money (but don’t bet on it). That may be the time to hire a professional copywriter.

Classified Ads

Classified ads are sold by the word. Usually there is a minimum charge for perhaps 15 or 25 words. If you get the thought in your head I must use only 15 words you are in self-defeating mode. You have placed an unnecessary restriction on yourself.

A few more words can often improve the response to your ad and it cost only a fraction more than the 15 words or 25 words ad. If your ad fails to get your point across, you are dead in the water.

You need a headline for your ad. This is true of a small classified ad and a full-page ad. The headline MUST give a BENEFIT to the potential buyer.

A benefit is something like Get Rich Fast without Going Broke First!

The following is not a benefit: The Slam-Po 3 comes in red, green, and purple. That describes a property (the color) of the product but not a benefit.

A classified ad gives little room for more than one or two benefits. The fact that your contact information takes up a good part of the ad doesn’t help. That’s why many operators just give a telephone number or website as the contact information.

That is also why many operators also use postal mailbox addresses. Box 32A, Slamdunk, AR 12345 is shorter than

The “A” in Box 32A or PO 32A or PO Box 32A is a “key” that reveals to the operator the publication the ad appeared in. Any of the above designation will cause the mail to be delivered to Post Office Box 32 because that is the way the United States Postal Service operates.

Certain words “pull” in ads better than others. Here they are:

Absolutely, Amazing, Approved, Attractive, Authentic,
Bargain, Beautiful, Better, Big, Colorful, Colossal,
Complete, Confidential, Crammed, Delivered, Direct,
Discount, Easily, Endorsed, Enormous, Excellent, Exciting,
Exclusive, Expert, Famous, Fascinating, Fortune, Free, Full,
Genuine, Gift, Gigantic, Greatest, Guaranteed, Helpful,
Highest, Huge, Immediately, Improved, Informative,
Instructive, Interesting, Largest, Latest, Lavishly,
Liberal, Lifetime, Limited, Lowest, Magic, Mammoth,
Miracle, New, Noted, Odd, Outstanding, Personalized, Popular,
Powerful, Practical, Professional, Profitable, Profusely,
Proven, Quality, Quickly, Rare, Reduced, Refundable,
Remarkable, Reliable, Revealing, Revolutionary, Scarce,
Secrets, Security, Selected, Sensational, Simplified,
Sizable, Special, Startling, Strange, Strong, Sturdy,
Successful, Superior, Surprise, Terrific, Tested,
Tremendous, Unconditional, Unique, Unlimited, Unparalleled,
Unsurpassed, Unusual, Useful, Valuable, Wealth, Weird, and Wonderful.

Read the classified ads and gather a collection of the best ads and print ads you can find. They will greatly help you write your ads.

Mail order operators know they must key and test ads to optimize performance (response). If you do not do this and are successful, you are just lucky. You need to minimize luck and maximize the performance of your ads.

Print Ads

Print ads give you room to expand. A full page ad allows you to completely describe your product or service and provide an order form. You can even include a pic or two of your product.

See the topics below to help you write your copy.

The Powerful Mail Order Package or Internet Page

If your classified ad leads your prospective customer to your direct mail package or to your website, you are in business. There is a high rate of return on solicited information. That is, if the ad reader asks for more information you’ve got it made in the shade. That is IF YOUR COPY SELLS.

Go to a few web sites that are trying to sell you something. Here is an ad found on the Google Search Results when I put in the words get rich book:

Make Money Guaranteed
Don’t spend big money on Scams
I found 3 proven home money makers

This ad was a sponsored link on the right side of the search results. The sponsor paid to have his ad come up when the words get rich book were placed in the Google search box. If you clicked on the link you came to a pitch page that has a headline and a list of benefits.

If you provided enough information including your telephone number, you could get a free copy of a popular book plus access to the main sales pitch.

I didn’t give my telephone number so I didn’t get the free book (which I’ve read a hundred times) nor did I get to the sales page.

The reason I was not given access to the free book and even the sales page is because the site filters the respondents to the ad. It cuts out those without telephones and those not willing to share telephone information.

It also filters out some potential customers, but that is a chance the site owner is willing to take. More and more site owners are doing this type of filtering.

In mail order you can filter by asking for a couple of bucks shipping and handling for more information. An alternative is to ask for a couple of stamps or a SASE.

Look at the pitch for a free book at Before you get to the main page the writer tries to capture your email address but he let’s you go to his free-book page even if you give him no information.

The free-book page has a headline, benefits, and testimonies of happy readers. To get the book free, you just click.

The book is called The Ultimate SuperTip. It’s a .PDF file that you can save to your desk top that will hopefully entice you into his money-making system.

Giving something away for free is a great way to convince customers to read your material.

Remember these things in your sales copy:

Write to your friend, Charlie

What I mean here is act like you have known the recipient from the time you were both in kindergarten. Be casual in your approach. You are bringing new, exciting information to Charlie who is your good friend.

Now, don’t start your letter Dear, Charlie, because that will get you nowhere fast. Try something like Dear Future Money Maker:

Use Testimonials

A testimonial stating that your product or service is just wonderful is a gold mine. Collect these testimonials when they come to you. Ask for permission to use them. Edit them into idiomatic English with decent grammar but don’t hide the message nor the tone in which it was given. When I say idiomatic English I mean the way people actually talk.

Let’s say that you get a testimonial that reads:

I got yur kit stuff and I did wat ya said and I made $270.00 the first day selling stuff to my relations and friends.

Do a few repairs on this testimonial:

I got your sales kit, did what you said, and earned $270.00 my first day selling to my relations and friends.

Testimonials are like spice. Don’t over do it and, if possible, make sure that each one states a different benefit.

Never ever fake testimonials.

Use Common Words and Phrases, Vary Sentence Length, Stick to the Point, Dump Verbiage

Stay away from flowery language, big words that most people don’t know, and “cute” wording. Remember, you are talking to your friend, Charlie, across the fence.

Avoid long, complex sentences. But do vary the length of your sentences.

Sometimes you need adjectives and adverbs. An adjective modifies a noun. An adverb modifies an adjective or another adverb. Drop non-effective modifiers. They slow down the reader and don’t cut to the quick. If you wonder if a modifier is needed just remove them from the sentence and decide which is most effective. For example:

The big mean brown dog jumped over the white picket fence.

The angry dog jumped the picket fence.

Which sentence did you like best?

A Long Letter Is Often Better Than A Short One

If you read the sales pitch on an Internet site it goes on and on and on. Direct mail pieces often have a very long letter to describe all the advantages and benefits of the product or service and to remove objections to buying that the reader might have in his or her mind.

You have plenty of room on a web page or in a direct mail piece, so why skimp? Just don’t’ start repeating yourself. When you have said what needs to be said you don’t have to embellish it.

Let your sales copy sit a while and then come back to it. Let your spouse read it and your good friend. See what they think. Okay, ask your old English teacher to take a look at it. Edit and polish until it is near perfect in your opinion.

Remember that you want to generate excitement and the urge to buy.

You want the potential customer to feel awful if he fails to buy. You want him to think that he will be “missing out” and not enjoying the benefits of your product or service.

Use Color

Color is free on the Internet. It cost extra in direct mail packages including letters and brochures. A touch of color can go a long way. You probably have seen little notes in blue ink in sales letters.

A full-color or 4-color brochure can be very effective in describing your product or service. A short letter, the brochure, an order form, and a return envelope can be very effective. Printers will often help you create a brochure because they want your print business.

What? After all of that you have no product or service to sale? Well, what can you do to find or create a product or service? That will be in the next segment.

John T Jones, Ph.D. - EzineArticles Expert Author

John T. Jones, Ph.D. ([email protected], a retired VP of R&D for Lenox China, is author of detective & western novels, nonfiction (business, scientific, engineering, humor), poetry, etc. Former editor of Ceramic Industry Magazine. He is Executive Representative of IWS sellers of Tyler Hicks wealth-success books and kits. He also sells TopFlight flagpoles. He calls himself “Taylor Jones, the hack writer.”

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  • Posted On December 22, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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