Year after year people make the same mistakes in direct-response copy and advertising. You can avoid the most common and costly blunders by following the following proven tips...
1. WRITE IN DIRECT RESPONSE LANGUAGE:
Use short paragraphs and short words. This article has 68% short words-five letters or less. Strive for at least 65%-75%. Never go under 50% unless you are writing to Ph.D's.
Make your sentences and paragraphs flow like a breeze.
Ignore good grammar when you have a good reason.
Keep the bucket brigade going: Start paragraphs with And, But, So you see, However...
Use the freshest concepts and the most colorful language you can without disturbing the flow.
Use hot words: free, profit, new, now, secret, easy, save, guarantee, today... and the hottest word of all: YOU!
Use bullets... lots of them.
2. WRITE LOTS OF HEADLINES.
Always think up dozens of alternative headlines. Put your strongest benefits in them and test your best alternatives. When writing headlines for web sites make sure they include key search words and phrases along with the benefits.
3. DROP THE WARM-UPS...
You'll destroy your entire letter/ad by starting off, "As a homeowner, you know how maintenance costs are climbing every day...". Take your first draft and try cutting out the first two to three paragraphs... you'll usually find the real "meat" starts to appear in your copy after you have started to "warm-up" to the writing.
4. STAND OUT.
Separate yourself from the competition as clearly as you can. Discover, isolate, and dramatize all the reasons for doing business with you...today..., instead of your competitor. Build your entire package or ad around these reasons (benefits).
5. SELL BENEFITS, NOT FEATURES.
Readers don't buy products or features of products. They buy the benefits-of-use of the product or features. Be humble enough to realize that a buyer will not give you one red cent for any product or feature until you convert the features into benefits-of-use.
6. LEARN TO GIVE.
Most advertisers and charities think of direct response strictly as a device to "get". Unfortunately, most readers also want to get. So, to succeed, you must adopt a "give" attitude... beyond what you offer in the product or service. Give them something immediately in your ad, your letter, your web page. Give them news, business tips, interesting stories, resources, freebies, special deals.
7. USE TESTIMONIALS.
They're proof that you're as good as you say you are, and that you'll do what you say will do. Like...
"I increased profits by $100,000 last year using your services..." Joe Smith, President, Smith Corporation
The more specific the testimonial the more power it has. Give full attributions whenever possible. Testimonials give you believability and credibility. You can't do successful direct-response without these two essential factors.
8. OFFER A MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE.
Whatever you are selling, make sure you offer a money-back guarantee. It's a critical factor in getting someone to send in their monty to someone they don't know or maybe never heard of.
9. CREDIT CARDS, TOLL FREE NUMBERS.
Credit card purchases and toll-free "800" numbers can increase your response by as much as 50%. If you're on the web make sure you opt for secure on-line transmission (SSL) of credit card orders... or allow other means for your customer to provide their credit information to you.
10. ASK FOR ACTION.
It's amazing how often otherwise good copy never gets around to asking for the order. If you don't ask for action... you won't get any.
11. BUDGET YOUR TIME.
Devote about one third of your writing time to the lead elements, headline, subheads, teasers, opening paragraphs.
12. KEEP CURRENT.
Direct-response is more scientific than other types of advertising. Like any fast-moving science, it has it's discoveries daily.