"What's in it for me?" In this world of overfilled email in-boxes and extra helpings of spam, this question is the silent-but-constant standard for the decision to read it or delete it (or, in the case of articles/blogs, to read it or look elsewhere).

Interesting case: I was hired by a client last week to create new headlines for several articles and blog posts he'd written for his web design & development business.

One for one, the articles were super-informative for a small businessperson.

But one for one, the headlines were ... flat. Ineffective. No way anyone would bother clicking on one to read the article.

And, again, one for one, the problem with each was exactly the same: There wasn't so much as a hint of benefit to the reader in any of them. ("You want me to give some precious time to your article? Well, how will I benefit?") So, no benefit = delete.

Example: For an article about website security, my client's headline was "Do you have control of your website?" That might pique one's interest as to why they might want to have control of their site. But there's no benefit implied.

I offered 16 alternatives, including:

  • "How Taking Control of Your Website Can Prevent Loss"
  • "Avoid Frustration: Take Control of Your Website"
  • "How Taking Control of Your Website Reduces Risk"
  • "Don’t Get Screwed: Take Control of Your Website"
  • "Safeguard Your Business: Take Control of Your Website"

See the difference?

Sure, we're not talking Shakespeare here but each one gives the business owner the idea that there is something he/she could benefit from knowing. Each signals a benefit.

If you don't write a blog, you can still use this idea to strengthen your email subject lines so more people will read your messages. I am sure you can figure out other ways to use this advice.

Or, if you want, call me 323-646-2469 or email me and let's discuss your marketing goals. 

(Originally published on LinkedIn 3/17/15)
In 1979, Robin Williams won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording for his album, Reality... What a Concept.

Robin Williams was an expert at bending and shaping reality on stage, changing his voice and mannerisms with remarkable speed. Though this short article isn't really about Robin Williams, I just have to give the man his due: he was a genius in his field.
Creating effective, winning direct marketing copy has everything to do with reality and concepts. 

What does that mean? It means knowing the product or service completely (i.e., the more you know about it, the more real it is to you, thus "reality").
It also means knowing the prospect as well as you can, through whatever sort of research necessary. What are their attitudes or emotions about the problem that your product or service solves?

With this product and prospect knowledge, you can you easily generate concepts to describe the benefits of the product/service in ways that get the reader engaged, interested ... wanting the product or service. If you don't have a firm reality on the product/service and the prospect, your concepts are likely to be off-target—not "real" to the reader.

If that still doesn't quite make sense, look at it this way: Think about a movie you have not seen, a book you have not read or a kind of food you've never eaten. How real are these things to you? Without that reality, how can you possibly succeed in getting someone else interested in the product or service?

You would have to rely on hype and empty promises. It wouldn't work.

The Most Reality Possible

I recently wrote a marketing video script for a company that makes a line of soft-sided coolers. They provided me some info about the product and their prospect base but they also wisely sent me one of the coolers to use. This made all the difference: to have the actual item, see how it's constructed, to use it and abuse it a bit. I found things about the actual product that I liked. I got interested and excited about it myself.

I went online to where I could find out more about people who use these kinds of products. What do they say about them? What do they use them for? What do they love about them? Hate about them? 

Though I was not initially a prospect for such a product, after a while researching it, I was thinking and writing just like a die-hard soft-sided cooler devotee. 

The company loved the script I wrote for them and hired me to write several more.

When I write a marketing piece about a book or information product, I read it through several times until I know the contents as well as the person who wrote it. I get excited about it. I collect information from my client or elsewhere about their customer avatar, so I know the right emotion to emphasize.

Then I apply time-tested direct response copywriting techniques to create copy that will connect with the reader and create want for the product.

But enough about me. What are your marketing challenges? And could you inject more reality into your campaign? Let me know if I can assist you: 323-646-2469 or email me.

(Originally published on LinkedIn 3/2/15)