Commit the seven “deadly sins” of direct marketing at your peril! news

Good copy and presentation is easy to recognize after the fact – it got results. What comes a little harder is recognizing what will work – and what is doomed to fail – before your direct mail package drops in the mail. These fundamental flaws can undermine any direct marketing campaign.

1. Not making your point crystal clear
Often, advertisers get wrapped up in the creativity they think is needed to catch attention. Others are reluctant to sell for fear of being like a “pushy” salesperson in print. Both cases can obscure the real point of the communication, and lose the qualified reader’s interest. Aim instead to make it instantly clear who will benefit from reading the message and why. Take it a step further and specify who should not read it. This can make your intended audience identify more strongly with your offering.

2. Not keeping your reader engaged throughout
Every section of your copy must build on whatever came before and propel the reader to the next part. For readers who skim and dip, each focal point must reinforce why your offering is important to them. Callouts, captions, headings, and illustrations catch particular attention. Use them to build your case.

3. Leaving important parts of the story untold                                                                                              To sell your product or service, you must give your marketing piece everything it needs to do the job. After all, your marketing is really a substitute for sending a salesperson to see every prospect. You wouldn’t tell that salesperson to stop after two minutes – you would expect them to cover every point necessary to make the case. Make sure to be just as thorough in print.

4. Not including appropriate images of people
Images of people attract our attention, and we can’t help identifying with them. The better you know your prospect, the better you can select the right images to help them see themselves as they want to be – enjoying the benefits of your offering. Consider segmenting your list and print run, or using VDP tools to swap in the most appropriate images for each audience segment.

5. Not backing up every claim you make with proof
Your readers are full of doubt, cynicism and skepticism. If they go so far as to read your piece, they will ask themselves: “Is this for real? Why should I believe this?” They want to protect themselves, naturally. The antidote to this is proof, in the form of testimonials, success stories, facts and figures that support your claims.

6. Failing to remove risk
Your prospects want to avoid making mistakes, so if they are not completely confident in your offer or you, they will simply not buy. A good return policy is the norm, and in direct sales a generous guarantee is very helpful in setting the buyer’s mind at ease and removing an important barrier to sales.

7. Failing to end with clear directions for action
All your effort (and expense) is wasted if you manage to lead a prospect through your marketing process and then fail to clearly state what the next action is. Give clear directions on how to respond and make clear what will happen next. Rephrase and restate the call to action on each component.