Happy Thanksgiving!

You'll find new posts on The Copy Grove's Directions blog starting December 2, 2008. Until then, please check the Previous Post archives on the right for posts you may have missed. Or visit some of the interesting blogs listed in the right column. And have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!


Today's Guest Contributor: Joe Niewierski with 10 Direct Mail Tips For Results!

Today's guest contributor is Joe Niewierski of Postcard Mania, here with this article to help you create winning direct mail.

10 Tips To Get Results in Direct Mail

Don't want your direct mail to end up in the trash with the rest of the unread mail? These 10 tips will help you get the results you want ...

1. A clear, bold headline. On the envelope or front of the mailer there should be one central message. The best way to achieve that is with a bold, clear headline that's not cluttered up with other text. A good guideline is to have the headline fill up at least 15% of the front of the mailer.

2. A graphic that supports the message. The graphic should be easy to understand and add to the message the headline is trying to convey. For instance, if you are trying to get people to list their home you would want to show a home with a SOLD sign clearly visible out front. That graphic reinforces the message more than a simple picture of a home.

3. Color that pops. Make the headline and other text stand out by using a color that stands out from the background color. When you look at the card, ask yourself, "What do I see first?" If your answer isn't the headline, you might want to tweak the colors.

4. Subheads that lead into text. If you have a couple of paragraphs of text with no lead in, there's nothing to entice people to actually read the copy. A subhead will give people a place to start reading. If you have only a 100 words or so you may be able to get away with it, but if the text gets any longer than that the average reader will want to have some guideposts along the way.

5. Benefits, benefits, benefits. One of the biggest errors people make in advertising is stating features, rather than benefits. For example, never assume recipients know what benefit can be derived from a lower interest rate on their mortgage. Let them know how their monthly payments will go down.

6. The offer. An offer is always a good idea and should represent a specific reason to call now, such as "Limited supply" or "Interest rates are climbing."

7. Your company name and logo. Although this needs to be on the mailer, it shouldn't overshadow the offer. Customers care most about what you can do for them.

8. Call to action. Tell prospects exactly what you want them to do. "Call today for more information" or "See us online" are two of the most common desired actions.

9. Contact information. Provide your name, phone number, and Web address directly following the call to action. Whatever you ask prospects to do, give them the means to do it easily.

10. Return address. A return address ensures you'll get returned mail from the post office and sends a message that you're an established professional. People feel better knowing the company they're dealing with has an actual location.

About the author: Joe Niewierski, the VP of Marketing & Promotion at PostcardMania, became a published writer after graduating with a BA in Advertising from the University of South Florida. Using a powerful, yet simple, extremely cost effective way of communicating with customers has earned PostcardMania Inc Magazine's recognition as the nation's fastest growing direct mail postcard marketing firm with a $22,000,000 revenue run rate for year 2007. Today, PostcardMania employs 160+ people and prints 4 million and mails 2 million postcards representing over 350 business, finance and industrial clients each week. Visit www.postcardmania.com.


The new "small" postcard?

"Front" (display side)

"Back" (addressing side)

Dimensions: 5 7/16"w  x 4 3/16" h - a little smaller than usual. As effective? Have you seen any of these in your mailbox? Let me know. Drop me a comment!


Tools You Can Use

=FREE vector images
Some free or inexpensive Vector images are available 
here. One of my designers told me that he saw an image on this site that he just bought elsewhere - and if he had downloaded it here, he would have saved. Sign up for a free account and save!

=A FREE way to send REALY BIG electronic files:
File too big to go through your server efficiently? Need to send a file fast, without having to disk it and spend the money on an overnight delivery or messenger service? Check this out! We've sent many files to clients via this site's FREE service. Try it - you might like it.


Twin Ads

Ever been tempted to steal a concept? Worried your creative director, the client or the authorities will find you out? Here's a guy who's keeping track ...


Meh Day

Copywriters, take note:

Apparently, the apathetic expression "Meh" has officially become a word! It has gained a place in the Collins English Dictionary. The term grew in popularity after being used in a 2001 episode of The Simpsons. (The image on the LEFT is my Simpsons avatar - how I'd look if I were on The Simpsons show. You can make your own avatar at The Simpson's web site.) 

So if you want to spruce up your copy, sprinkle a few "mehs" here and there. Use in place of the word boring.

(Wondering: is the plural of "meh" indeed "mehs" and is "mehs" an acceptable word? Can adjectives be plural? Hmmm, like "There are too many blues in that layout." I think not - "Too many shades of blue" would be the way to say that. Ah well ...) 

Onto things more exciting.


Great Email Subject Line

Or Big Brother is Watching?

The subject line for this email from Friends of the US Chamber was, "We Saw Who You Voted For Last Week." OF COURSE that email got opened! The body text of the email read ...

We Saw Who You Voted For Last Week...

Just kidding. Don't worry - your ballot was secret and your vote was private.
But imagine if there was no secret ballot. What would it be like if you had to cast your vote with everybody looking?

Not just strangers - but your boss and your co-workers?

Sound un-democratic?

That's because it is. Unfortunately, the Big Labor Unions and liberals in Congress are teaming up to push a bill that would kill the secret ballot in union organizing elections.

Some news reports say this will be one of the first bills introduced when Congress reconvenes in January.

With no secret ballot, small businesses could find themselves overrun by union organizers before they even knew a campaign was underway. Not to mention, corrupt union bosses can see how American workers vote, leaving them open to intimidation and coercion.

American workers deserve better - and right now, we need to be working to fix the economy first, not fighting over controversial bills like this.

Do you think Congress should fix the economy first ... or push this bill to kill the secret ballot in union elections?

Please vote in our quick poll below:

For more information about this critical issue, visit the Workforce Freedom Initiative's Web site at www.uschamber.com.

© Friends of the US Chamber, 1615 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20062
Point made, and made well!


Follow-Up: USA Today's online survey tied to Sweeps

Back in October, I blogged about an interactive survey that USA Today was doing, to measure effectiveness of advertisements that companies place in the paper. The survey is done online and is tied to a monthly giveaway/sweepstakes. Well, yesterday I received my first survey link in my email inbox, pictured above. I received it in the morning and had until midnight that day to do the online survey (not shown above is the link to the survey, which was a few lines down in the email). They even sent me a reminder email in the middle of the day.
In the evening, after dinner, I read the paper and then I decided to go online to take the survey. I left the paper on the dining room table, but I went to the computer in my office, nevertheless. The link from the email brought me directly to the survey, without having to "log in" or remember any password from when I initially registered for the survey, which was nice. The survey asked standard "market research" type questions about a Sprint ad that ran in the Nov. 13th USA Today, promoting Sprint's "Simply Everything Plan."
The ad itself had caught my attention because I am a Sprint customer. I quickly glanced over the full page ad and decided the new Simply Everything Plan from Sprint for $99 a month wasn't any better than my current Sprint plan, based on my current usage, and I didn't plan to use my cell phone more (in fact, I try to use it less), so I turned the page and kept reading. Unfortunately, the survey questions didn't ask if I passed up the ad's offer due to the fact that I was already a Sprint customer.
Well, I look forward to the next survey. Next time, I'll give you more insight into the kind of questions asked.


Beat The Control

“Beat the control.” Those three little words can make or break businesses and careers. In the world of direct marketing, where results mean everything, many agencies, account executives, copywriters and designers live and die by those three little words.

For those who may not be so familiar with direct marketing lingo, “beat the control” is short for, “create an ad, mailing or TV spot that generates more sales or leads than the best performing ad, mailing or TV spot that ran before it for the same product.” You know the direct mail package that keeps turning up in your mailbox year after year, unchanged – or the TV spot that seems to be airing forever? We call those controls. They have the best response rates. They’re the benchmark, the hurdle against which other direct marketing materials are tested. They’re the winners.

So how do you unseat a winner? In over two decades of experience as a creative resource on both the agency side and as a freelancer, I’ve been called upon many a time to “beat the control.” Here are 5 little secrets I’ve used to create new winners.

1) Don’t miss a trick. Study the current control. Really examine it. Deconstruct it. Analyze its style, format and content. Is it straightforward or colloquial? How does it use graphic images and color? (Lots of photos, no photos, conservative or wild colors?) Why do you think it appeals to its target audience? Jot down your initial impressions. “Gut reactions” are usually spot-on and can tell you a lot.

2) Study previous controls. What did the current control beat? Study the contenders. You’ll be able to see what elements, if any, have remained constant from control to control, and you’ll want to use those elements in your new effort. Note: If there were no previous controls, then the existing ad, mailer or TV spot has yet to be tested and is therefore not a “real” control, but you still have to beat it, so skip to step 3

3) Look over your shoulder. What’s the competitor doing? The competitor has controls. They can provide you with a springboard for new ideas. See what’s working for someone else, and you’ll see what appeals to your prospective customer on someone else’s dollar. How do you know if a competitor’s ads are working? Here’s a clue: It’s been airing or mailing for a long time. Companies don’t generally like to throw good money after bad and will can a poor performing ad at their earliest convenience.

4) Mix and match. Take two winners, put them together, make a third. Learn to combine formats and copy approaches. Use what works for others to create a thing of your own. In practice, this step is more art than science. You can’t just smash things together because they “work” and assume you’ll have another winner. You may have created a Frankenstein instead of a Tiger Woods. Be selective. Start by taking two catchy phrases from the control and putting them together to create a powerful letter lead or a brochure headline. The idea is to take what works and work with it, not against it.

5) Know when to take a chance. Truth be told, no one can give you all the steps to create a control. You have to gamble a bit. Not gamble as in scratch-off lottery ticket or Russian roulette, but more like investing in a 401(k) plan. Diversify. Be conservative and aggressive. Combine “tried and true” techniques, elements of copy or design that have already been proven to work in the marketplace with your target audience (in other words, be conservative) with something new and different (the aggressive part). Give yourself permission to say, “I don’t know for sure if this will work; it’s never been done before.” Then add, “But I have every reason to believe it can work. Here’s why …”

Cynthia Maniglia is a member of the Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association (PDMA) and this article of hers appeared in the PDMA's newsletter last year. This article also appeared in the Detroit Direct Marketing Association’s newsletter.


The Art Linklover Show

Bloggers Say The Darnedest Things ...
"... you rank up there with the best that Billy Mays has to offer. The problem is .... you come off looking dated and sad .... You and Aqua Velva. Please. I beg of you, stop now."
- Ranting about Just For Men on Make The Logo Bigger.

"If you have comments enabled, recent posts, a blogroll of links and an RSS feed you might be 58% bloggy by some people’s reckoning."
- Direct Online Marketing blog, regarding a sliding scale of "blogginess." (How bloggy are you, btw?)
"The word exposure reminds me of the word naked so I thought of the term Naked Marketing."
- Uncle Naked Head on how he named his blog, Naked Marketing Blog.


PostcardMania Shares Tips

PostcardMania's Founder and CEO Joy Gendusa calls the postcard a "humble device" that "may be your best choice for reaching customers this year."
According to Joy, "When the economy is a bit shaky, you should increase promotion to keep your name in the minds of customers, but you also have to keep down your costs. To get maximum return for your marketing dollar, you can mail postcards up to 4 1/4 by 6 inches for between 17.5¢ and 19.5¢ each first class (the cheapest letter rate is 19¢ - 24¢). If you find the right company, you'll likely be able to have 5,000 postcards printed for less than $400."
Joy recommends UV coating (laminated), full-color and 4 1/4-by-6 in. postcards. "This ensures you get the highest-quality look and the biggest post card you can for the lowest mailing rate. The UV coating is essential for a very high gloss finish to make your product look good."
Want more postcard tips? Visit PostcardMania's site where they have a full list of educational articles filled with tips on marketing with postcards. And be sure to visit Joy's blog, "Ask Joy" - to learn even more.

A good company to know about: PostcardMania is a full service postcard direct mail marketing company which includes graphic design, printing, mailing list acquisition and mailing services with free marketing advice. PostcardMania employs over 150 people, has seen positive expansion every year since its inception with its 2007 revenue at nearly $19 million. They have won many awards for their creativity and marketing farsightedness, such as the MarCom International Awards, the Stevie Awards, the Inc 500 List, the Creativity Annual Awards and the Webmaster awards — all of which the underlying theme contributing to their accomplishments is helping companies all over the nation expand. They print 4 million and mail 2 million postcards representing over 33,000 clients in more than 350 industries each week. Visit www.postcardmania.com today.

Thanks for stopping by