Every word on a direct mail piece should count and have meaning. Customers have a very short attention span, so you have to grab them within the first few seconds, and hold them long enough to get your message across. That is why you must select your words carefully. The duty of any professional writer is to eliminate clichés, and use language that surprises and interests the reader. In Direct Mail terms, this means avoiding words that are overused. If a person encounters particular words or groups of words enough times, they will become a cliche and have no meaning to them.
The two general rules for improving your direct mail copy are:
Be Specific: If you write something down, ask yourself “who, what, where, when, why” as in “Who said that, why is that good, where is this going to work, why should you pay attention”.
Be Selective: If you write a word down, and it does not fit, get rid of it. There is no point making assertions that you are the best unless you can be specific. Any words that are on a page that don’t appeal and increase awareness of your product are just taking up space.
Here are some words to avoid, and some suggested replacements;
Premier, Premium, Best, Greatest, Top Quality – These words are empty. They do nothing for the reader and only really make the owner of the company feel better. If you say that you are the best, who are you measuring yourself against? Why are you the best? These words can easily be replaced by easy to understand technical terms that explain why people should buy your product. If you are selling food, it might be that you source only local ingredients or that your product is 100% organic. If you are a plumber or carpenter, it might be that you offer a “lifetime guarantee” or that your tradesmen are “on time or your money back”. Even explaining the make up of your product is better than these words.
Cheap, Cheapest, Affordable, Lowest Price, Bargain, Best Price – If you are going to compete on price for a specific product, then you should list your products and your prices. If you are going to say that your product has the lowest price, why not just list the price? What is cheap, or affordable, or a bargain to one person, will be expensive to another. You are not conveying any message other than you are willing to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and you are saying nothing about the product or your service that appeals to the customer. This is NOT the same as saying you will not be beaten on price. This is about listing the virtues of particular products.
Efficient, Outcome, Sexy, Resonate, Killer, Win-Win, Time Poor and other BizSpeak – Again these are words that are empty and have become overused. If you are selling something, these words a) probably mean something different to everyone and b)probably conjure connotations of long and boring meetings. Even the prefixes of e- and i- as in iPhone and eGrocery say nothing of the products on sale. Again, why not speak about how your product will benefit the customer. If it is going to save them time and money, show them how. For instance if you are selling something that is “energy efficient” why not explain how or why with something like “Door Closes Automatically To Save Power”. People can connect the dots.
Experts say, Leading Businesses, Any weak signal of authority – This is hugely common in pharma and cosmetic products. Again, claiming that some ethereal group of people believe it to be better does not build any emotional connection with potential customers. Either your product or service has been approved and endorsed by a group of people, and so you can use their seal of approval, or it hasn’t. If more people prefer your product, then turn it into a challenge “You will choose this product again, or your money back”. If experts think your product is great, then get one of them to endorse it. If you can’t find someone, then try and be as specific as possible.