Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.


Power Direct Marketing: The Book

Getting Started with Creative by the Numbers:
A List of 99 Creative Ideas

21. In direct mail the opening paragraph in a letter should not exceed 11 words.

In space, the headline should follow that same general rule: keep it to 11 words. It will get read, because it is easier to read. (There is a second opinion on headlines. Some feel they can go to 17 words without losing readership. Maybe! My suggestion is still short.)

22. Use the product or the company in the headline.

The headline that carries the name of the product or company, or both, can more directly target your audience. Tell your readership what you want them to know.

Five times as many people will read the headlines as will read the ad. Get your name up front.

23. Revise the headline. Then revise it again.

Don’t stop with your first headline or your 10th or 50th. Keep rewriting. Keep revising, improving.

A suggestion from David Ogilvy: Start out with a sheet of paper numbered from 1 to 100, and don’t stop revising your headlines until you hit 100. The longer you work at it the more effective your headlines will be.

24. Here are some words that work well in headlines and for teaser copy:

  • Compare
  • More
  • Easy
  • Price
  • Introduce
  • New
  • Now
  • Save
  • And, that ever popular—FREE

25. Don’t stop with your first copy draft.

We’re talking hard work. But the experts don’t always follow the same rules:

An ad is not an intellectual exercise,
and the longer you take to write it,
the further away you get from the person you’re talking to.
Reva Korda, Creative Head
Ogilvy & Mather

The person hasn’t been born yet
who can sit down and dash off
a great piece of direct mail copy.
It is hard work. There are no shortcuts.
Almost without exception,
the success of any direct mail letter
is in direct ratio
to the time spent on its preparation.
Bob Stone, Chairman of the Board
Stone & Adler

Two points of view from 2 experts. You choose. Put the top 25 direct marketing writers in a room and take a vote. (I’ve got my money on the Bob Stone point of view.)

26. Write better with M A D E.

M = Message Give a message to your audience.

A = Action Have a reason for taking action now.

D = Details Provide enough details so your audience can make a buying decision.

E = Evidence Prove that what you have to offer will meet the needs of your marketplace. Provide the evidence.

27. Dazzle them with a string of pearls.

Your headline is the place to hook the reader with one dominant benefit. But once they are reading, pile on all the secondary benefits to increase the reader’s appetite for your product.

Take the reader from one strong benefit to another, all the way through your clincher copy. Put the strongest benefits at the beginning, but keep one big one for last. Especially if it’s unexpected or unusual.

28. Get to your main point. Your Big Benefits. Quickly.

This is an important point to remember for copywriters, copy chiefs, and creative directors. It’s not uncommon to take too long to get to the main point and benefits.

You’ll find that often you can cut 1, 2, or 3 paragraphs from the very beginning of the letter and make the letter move to the point more quickly—and therefore be more effective.

29. Get the reader to the FIRST SENTENCE.

Joe Sugarman of JS&A products, one of the world’s most successful copywriters, says,

The purpose of every element in an ad —
headline, subhead, or illustration —
is to get your reader to read the first sentence.

Your opening statement has to be dramatic. Use non-intimidating first sentences of 3, 4, or 5 words. Sugarman calls it "greased shoot" copy—pull ‘em in on the first sentence and they’ll slide down to the last.


30. Always include a letter to personalize your copy.

One of direct mail’s biggest advantages over mass media is its ability to make personal one-to-one contact with your prospect. So don’t blow it by leaving out the most personal part of your package—the letter.

It doesn’t have to be too long or fancy, but you should have some kind of letter. You can even include one in your catalog and self mailers by printing a simulated letter or memo.

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