Business Writing Sample #6: Client Newsletter

By Mike Johnson
Jan. 1996 ACCUTIPS
(Client newsletter for direct marketing resource center AccuData America)

"Radio Copy Techniques Tune In Direct Mail Buyers"

"If you can't clearly communicate your entire story in 60 seconds, you'll lose 50% of your audience," advises Phil Schaefer, Director of Sales and Marketing for The LEAD$ource, a direct mail marketing company based in Raleigh, NC.

After writing ad copy for two years in the rigid 15, 30, and 60 second environment of radio, Phil has channeled radio's time urgency into his direct mail sales letters.

"People don't read anymore; they scan. If your best offer doesn't grab them and pull them into your message, you've lost them."

In radio spots, where every second is gold, good copywriters still manage to mention a company's name three times, address/phone number two times and the hot offer at least twice. Although direct mail usually focuses on space, the ultimate currency is time - the prospect's time. A 60-second attention span of reading only allows 200-250 words, about five paragraphs on a single page.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

"In real estate, it's location-location-location. In direct mail it's offer-offer-offer," says Phil. "You need to start your message boldly -- sell the benefits right up front. Keep your headline to seven words or less. Make your message concise -- understandable. You've got to keep people moving crisply to that final decision point of buying."

Phil regularly sends his clients a "from the desk of" letter every 6-8 weeks to "caress the potential for a possible buy." A paragraph from one of Phil's own sales letters liberally uses one magic word that still commands attention -- FREE.

"Marketing assistance is always just a phone call away. Begin with a FREE search for what you're looking for. A FREE count tells you how many records are available per your selection data criteria. A FREE quote means you'll know exactly how much everything will cost BEFORE investing a penny."

"I try to set the tone of relax, don't worry. Get them thinking FREE, FREE, FREE. Give them the impression you're giving a lot up front. Offering free advice and free consultation makes them comfortable in asking me questions. After supplying them with information and costs, it then flows naturally into me asking for the sale."

To grab readers' attention, his direct mail letters often lead with a $50 coupon redeemable on the first order. Or he'll ask readers questions that push them into deeper involvement with the text, such as, "where would you like to be one year from now, five years from now?"

Another of his sales letters offers the following valuable mailing list advice: "New homeowners and new business owners are a great source for new business because they are in the process of establishing new buying patterns and loyalties. In their first year, new homeowners will outspend established homeowners by ten times or more for products and services they need."

"By starting with a strong benefit at the top, you entice the reader to read more," concludes Phil. "If they walk away with a little tidbit they can use in their business, hopefully they'll remember where they got it."


Quadrupling Your Response Rate

"I preach the gospel of multiple contacts," advises Phil Schaefer. He tells his clients to make at least three contacts -- even if it's the same mail piece. "In the first mailing, you're doing well to get a to 2% response, but send that second mailing and you can suddenly double that. A third mailing often doubles that again."

Phil claims that following up with multiple mailings drives the prospect closer to the sale. Failing to follow up is a common mistake he sees.

"They may have pushed the prospect 90% of the way and then suddenly left him."

He cites an accountant client of his who conducted a one-time, 500-piece mailing to a hot, "new-in-business" list and was disappointed with a standard -- but low in his mind -- 1% return. "How are you following up?" Phil asked the client. "Following up?" mumbled the client blankly.

Phil convinced him to do another mailing with a telephone follow up. The response rate jumped to 4%. "He picked up 16 to 20 new clients and that was wonderful to the CPA."

Other Ideas For Increasing Results

* Use a minimum of 2,000 mailers-- 5,000 works even better when testing a list.
* Stay in touch with customers every 6 to 8 weeks.
* Plan on at least three contacts to land a new customer.
* Become the prospect's information source and you'll become his purchase source.

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