Regardless of how you slice it, the most important aspect of any successful mail order business is its advertising. In fact, mail order success is wholly dependent and even predicated upon good advertising.
First of all, you’ve got to have a dynamic and spectacular ad that attracts the eye, and grabs the interest of the people you’re trying to sell to… Thus, unless your ad really “jumps out” at the people, your sales will not live up to your expectations and hopes… And, unless your ad “grabs the interest” of your potential buyers, you still won’t make the kind of money you have in mind…
The eye-catching appeal of your ad must start with the headline. Use the headline to quickly create a vision within the mind of the people seeing it – a vision of all their problems being solved, and attainment of the kind of happiness they seek. If your headline fails to catch the attention of your prospect, then your money and efforts are wasted.
In writing your advertisement, you must put yourself in the shoes of your reader – quickly interest him in your offer, show him how he can get what he wants, and then cause him to send for your solution to his problems immediately. Your copy must exude enthusiasm, excitement, and a positive attitude.
Even so, you can and must remember to be honest. Don’t exaggerate or make claims you can’t back up. Never make promises you can’t or don’t expect to keep. To do so will definitely get you in trouble with the Federal Trade & Fair Practices people.
Use a hard-sell approach! Say what you feel and believe about your product. Use common, ordinary, everyday “correct” English.
Stress the benefits of your product or service. Explain to your reader how owning a copy of your book, or availing himself of your service will make his life richer, happier and more abundant. Don’t get involved in listing the money you’ve spent developing the product, researching the information you’re selling, or whatever qualifications you might have for being able to offer it – Stress the “sizzle” and the value to be gained from ownership.
Be sure to involve the reader as often as possible through the use of the word “you”. Write your copy just as if you were speaking to, and attempting to sell just one person. Don’t let your ad sound as if you were on a soapbox addressing a huge stadium full of people. Talk to just one person at a time. Do not try to be clever, brilliant or humorous in your advertising – keep your copy simple, to the point, and on target towards interesting the prospect in buying your product or service because of the benefits he’s going to receive.
Keep it simple and make everything clear for him. At all costs, you don’t want to confuse him. Tell the reader exactly what he’ll be getting for his money, how he’ll benefit from it, and precisely how to go about ordering it.
Don’t try to become too friendly with him. In other words avoid becoming too folksy or the use of slang expressions.
In writing an ad, think of yourself as a door-to-door sales person – you have to quickly get the attention of the prospect, quickly interest him or her in the product you’re selling, cause him or her to want to enjoy the benefits of the product, and then close the sale by getting his or her money.
Copywriting, whether it be for a display ad, a classified ad, a sales letter or a brochure is all a learned skill. It’s a skill that anyone can master with just a little bit of practice and professional guidance.
Thus, your first move is to study your competition and recognize what they are doing to sell their wares. Practice rewriting their ads from a different point of view or from a different sales angle. Keep a file of ads you’ve clipped from various publications as a file of ad-writing ideas. Don’t ever copy anyone else’s work, but do use the creativeness of other people to stimulate your own creativeness.
Some of the “known facts” about advertising and ad-writing in particular tell us that you cannot ask for more than $3 in a short classified type ad – Generally speaking, a $5 item will take at least a 1-inch display ad – If you’re trying to sell a $10 item, you’ll need at least at quarter, maybe even a half page of copy – and $15 to $20 items require a full page. If you should be selling a really big ticket item costing $50 or more, you’ll need a 4-page sales letter, a brochure, separate order coupon, and a return reply envelope.
If you’re sending out offers via direct mail, you’ll do best by dropping your mail in the post office on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday so that your mail does not arrive on a Monday Morning – the first day of a new week. Again, unless you’re promoting a big ticket item, the expensiveness or colour of your paper does not have any great effect on the responses you’ll get, but – the quality of your printing definitely will have, so be sure to keep this in mind.
One final point to bear in mind – the summer months when people are most apt to be away on vacation are usually not good months for direct mail.