Getting Started with Creative by the Numbers:
A List of 99 Creative Ideas
91. Rare indeed is the copywriter who is equally effective in direct marketing graphics and design. However, every copywriter should make a rough layout as a means of communicating with the art director.
The copywriters rough should be just thatrough, very rough. Some copywriters prefer to write out headlines on the rough. Others simply give an indication to the art director of what are the most important headlines and elements and then suggest photography.
By reviewing the elements identified in the copywriters rough, the art director will immediately understand which selling points the copywriter feels should receive the greatest emphasis.
92. "I cant save this copy!" Quoted from an art director. In direct response, graphics is a support tool. Superior art, photography, and illustrations cannot save poor copy. But it can make it much, much better.
Get your art director working with you early in your project. Let them know what you are planning, thinking.
Get their ideas in the beginning . . . it will pay dividends when it comes time to finalize the layout and the design.
Creative By the Numbers: Wrap-Up
93. Be brief.
The writer of Genesis told the story of the creation of the world in 442 words. The Lords Prayer in the New Testament of the Bible is 68 words. Abraham Lincoln used 267 words for the Gettysburg Address. (By the way, an even 200 of the 267 words are 5-letter words or less . . . nearly 75% of the total!)
And the United States government produced a report on cabbage that totaled 29,911 words.
Enough said. Some powerful statements are brief. Some perfectly awful reading is far too long. Copy is not short or longit is interesting or uninteresting.
Can 29,911 words on cabbage be interesting to anybody?
94. Here are some ways to add some FLASH to your direct mail:
- Use live commemorative stamps.
- Use exciting colorsuch as a fire-engine red envelope.
- Use a color, glassine window cover to "hide" a secret message.
- Affix an "official" seal to the envelope.
- Use graphics on both sides of your outgoing envelope.
- Tip a folded note to the outside of your envelope.
- Use an entirely different formatmake your mail look like a newspaper.
- Use a mix of photography and drawingson your envelope and in your brochureeven as part of an "illustrated". letter
95. Tossing pebbles one by one into a pond gives a ripple effect. Much different than if you dumped a one-ton boulder all at once!
Add some drama and SPLASH to your promotion:
- Combine all the printing techniques you can dream into one mail packagepersonalization . . . rub-offs . . . scratch n sniff . . . embossing . . . stamp sheet . . . and more
- Mail in a paper sack, burlap bag, tube, box, or puffy envelope
- Rather than in the more conventional style, use a double-flap, bangtail, outgoing-mailing envelope
- Use an envelope that "falls-apart" . . . with die-cuts, perforations, printing on the inside of the envelope
- Run a short-time sweeps or other contest that closes in just 6 weeks
96. Time moves quickly past the eyes of your prospect. You have only 23 seconds to get attention with your direct mail. About 4 seconds with your ad in a newspaper. And 1317 seconds on a telemarketing call.
If you do not grab your audience fast, they will pass equally fast past you, to something else.
All of which means you had better be good! Your messagethe teaser copy on your mail, the headline in your ad, the opening of your telephone callhas to do the job in a big hurry.
97. Here is a 12-point checklist for writing and designing coupons, response forms, reply cards and envelopes, and order forms. Or, how to lead your customers to give YOU the business:
- Tell me exactly what you want me to do.
- Make it easy for me to respond.
- Make me an offer I cant refuse.
- Use bold graphicsshow the productshow the offer.
- Use clear, crisp, concise, and positive copy.
- Get me involved . . . use action devices.
- Give me room to write!
- Include your company name/logo/address/phone number inside the coupon, on the reply card, and on the order form.
- Give me a guarantee.
- Have a limited time offer.
- Include two (or more) response forms/order cards/coupons.
- Always A.F.T.O.ask for the order!
98. POWER DIRECT MARKETING is a people business.
People make things happen. And although this is a decade where both quality and service are "expected," we must always remember it is people who create quality and provide service.
Here is a list of 28 things to know about people:
- People procrastinate over making any "thinking" decision. If it is going to take brain power, you are going to have to write stronger and say it better, if you are to gain immediate action. You must give your audience a reason (or several) to respond now.
- People are skeptical of anything new. New people. New products. New services. A new offer. Your new idea or way to do something. Know that people are many times happy with just where they are today. If you want them to make a decision in your favor, present your message with a most believable offer.
- People follow leaderscompanies and products who are leading. Or, those who are "considered" leaders. Please note, if you can position yourself, your company, your product, your offer as a leader, you will be way ahead of the gameand your competition.
- People prefer the comfort of unity: "Two-Getherness." Meaning that people like to be with other people like them. Thats why they group with others similar.
It happens all around the world. Schools are where there are families with kids. Restaurants are located where people need or want to be fed. Churches go up where people of that faith live. Know this about audiences: They group "Two-Gether."
- People are sometimes flat-out lazy! Yes, all of us are lazy some of the time. But there appears to be a breed of folk who practice lazy as a habit. Know that when you reach out to your marketplace. And, make it easy to do business with youso you can catch this lazy bunch, too.
- People glance at, more than thoroughly read, what you present to them. Even when they asked you to send them something, much of the time your message is not readit is "looked" at instead. Know this fact. Then make your writing as easy to read as your audience wishes.
- People say: "I dont understand this message." Well, of course they dont understand it . . . they didnt read it! What this says is that you must go to extremes to make your message readable, so that when it is read, it will be totally understandable.
- People say: "I didnt ask you to send me this message." Possibly true. What is equally true is that if you dont get your message to your audience, they will then complain they didnt hear from you. Do make certain your message goes to the right people every time . . . and you are much less likely to hear any complaints.
- People say: "And besides, Ive had a rotten day and feel really crummy." Everybody has a bad day now and then. Which of course has nothing to do with anything. It is an excuse, not a reason, for not replying to your offer. But people will say just that. So, what do you do? Make your message a happy one!
- People like grooves and formulas and niches. Lists of things that are important work well in POWER DIRECT MARKETING. The 5 easy steps. The 4-point plan. Ten things to know. Give people a listdirections to followand there is a good chance youve got them!
- People like the feeling of power and control. They want to make their own decisions. They want to feel that they are important. And, of course, they are! People are your prospects and your customers. Know that people are important.
- People respond best to limited time offers (which is most interesting, as LTOs take all power and control away!). Offers with limits most often gain more response than those without. Limited time offers urge people to take action now, before the opportunity slips by.
- People do worry over decisions and changes. They do "What if" thinking. "What if I make this change and its wrong?" or "What if I make a decision in that direction and it doesnt work?" People worry. Take the worry away with a case-history story or two. To allow people to become comfortable with you.
- People avoid risks and threats. There are only a very few leading-edge people out there. Not many who will make a move to something new before it is proven. Be aware of that and be persistent with your message.
People dont like to be threatened. You can convince, you can prove it, you can persuade, you can even sell. But do not threaten.
- People give incomplete attention to your message; a message which would help them in decision making and risk avoidance. Simply, this means people dont listen, either! Now we know they are not reading what you are writing, and they are not listening to what you are saying. No wonder they dont get it! Be aware of this about your marketplace and be preparedin fact planto repeat your message over and over, again and again. Until they get it.
- People ask lots of questions. First they ask questions about your offer. We know an offer is over and above features and benefits, and your audience wants to know all about it. Be prepared with answers. Think ahead to what questions are most importantand provide the answers.
- People ask questions about benefits. The WAM Theory: What About Me? What am I going to gain from buying this product or service from you? What are the benefits to me, my family or friends, my staff at the office, my company?
This is not a selfish act, it is an honest response to your presentation. So, what do you do? Talk about what they will earn, save, make, enjoy, learn. Talk benefits.
- People ask questions about a Guarantee of Satisfaction. There are two parts to every guarantee: First is that the product will work, do what it is suppose to do, or the service will be supplied. That much of the guarantee is "assumed."
The second part of the guarantee is the personal part: "What if I buy, and you provide, but Im still not happy? What will you do to make me happy?" A Guarantee of Satisfaction is mandatory in POWER DIRECT MARKETING.
- People ask questions about facts and figures to prove your statements. They want to believe you . . . they really do. Show your marketplace that you have the proof at your finger tips. Hide nothing. Prove your presentation with facts and figures.
- People generalize from what they consider "acceptable fragments." They draw conclusions based on incomplete information. Partly because they have not read nor listened to your message. Partly because they want to believe youno matter what you say. You must realize that many times people make a decision they regret later. And it will be YOUR responsibility. Know this about people.
- People are suspect of perfection. If something is "perfect," people look immediately for the imperfection. Research has taught us that people are most comfortable with an 85% level of knowledge; this is where things are most believable.
This does not mean people dont want the best. It does mean you dont have to be perfect to be successful in POWER DIRECT MARKETING.
- People prefer a little less information; not so much knowledge. Why? Because there is so much to know, many people have decided to be selective. And because they want to make their own decisions. They want to seek out what is important to them and then ask for the details. So they can come to their own conclusions; so they can feel that they are in charge of the situation. You must be prepared for a dialogue with your customers and prospects at the level they wish to communicate.
- People do want to trust you . . . they really do! People want to believe. Which puts the burden of proof and believability on you. Testimonials and references will help you build trust. Other people saying good things about you. You must perform up to standards. Sometimes you set themalways your customer does. You must know what your audience expects.
- People want the heart and warmth and emotion and feel-good of the sales process. They want the touch. Reach out and touch your marketplace. Let them know you care. Be personal. Communicate. And do it often. Hold their hand. Be their teddy bear. Be their security blanket. Touch your customers.
- Peoples responses to any message are in direct proportion to their personal identification with you, your product and service, your company. If you are known in your marketplace, you will gain more new business and keep more current business than if you are not. Be active. Be seen. Let your audience know who you are.
- People then ask questions about the next step. "Okay, I agree. What happens next? What do you do? What do I need to do?" People want to know the process. You must make certain they do.
- People ask questions about timing. They want to know how long this process is going to take. They say: "If I make this decision today, how long will it be before something happens?" Tell your audience all about the timing.
- And always, people still want to be sought after, talked with, they want you to A.F.T.O.ask for the order. Yes, most people do not like to be sold, but they sure do like to buy! You must make 100% certain with POWER DIRECT MARKETING that they know you want them to buy from you. Always A.F.T.O.
These are 28 things to know about people. Important things to know as you prepare creative for successful POWER DIRECT MARKETING.
99. The last thing you do creatively is check to see if the components of your mailing package reinforce each other. Do the letter, brochure, lift letter, and order form complement each other? Do they work together?
In your space advertisement, do the headlines and graphics work together? Are the benefits easily grasped and understood? Is the coupon and/or tip-in BRC and 800 number prominent?
With your catalog, can the customer find all the vital information necessary to place an order? Do the graphics support the sales-oriented copy?
Does your message come across clearly to your audience, to give you the best opportunity to get the maximum results? Does it get your prospect involved sufficiently to take action, and to do so now? Did you A.F.T.O.? ASK FOR THE ORDER?
Remember, "Its not creative unless it sells." Which means the creative process, both the copy and the art, must "walk" your customer or prospect through the process toward a sale. Toward measurable results.
Toward POWER DIRECT MARKETING.