Entries from October 2009 ↓

Direct Mail – The Copywriter’s Secret Weapon

paper plane

Direct mail is a very effective sales weapon, if you get it right.

There are 3 elements to direct response advertising that make it so successful:

  • Appeals to a specifically targeted audience
  • Written to inspire an action or response
  • It can be measured to assess it effectiveness

Target your audience

Some methods of marketing involve sending out generic advertising to the general populous. This may achieve a wide distribution but much of the information will be wasted.


Because your sales pitch won’t be targeted at your ideal market.

The beauty of direct mail is that it is targeted to a specific audience. Your mailing list is the single most important aspect of your whole campaign. In fact, in order of importance, your direct mail campaign top 4 elements are:

  1. List – you can either buy this in or use your own which would have been built over time from past customers, newsletter sign ups etc.
  2. Offer – this will depend on what the desired response to your mailing is. It could be a free report, free shipping, BOGOF etc.
  3. Format – email, letter, gift, radio ad, TV ad etc.
  4. Copy – this must be customer orientated with a strong call to action

Get them to take action

The whole reason behind your direct mail campaign is to get a desired response from your prospects.

Whether that is to buy, sign up or make an appointment, your mailing should be designed to get the reader to make that response immediately.

Therefore you need to make it as easy as possible for them – provide a free phone number, enclose an SAE for their completed order form, give them a web address etc.

Always provide them with everything they need.

How did you do?

The only way to discover how effective your campaign has been is by measuring it.

If you are doing an electronic campaign your analytics will show you how successful your marketing drive was. But if you are sending a physical mailing you will need other methods of monitoring it.

Try a 0800 number specific to each campaign. If you are driving traffic to your website provide an offer code that has to be keyed in so you can track your website visitors. If you have sent SAEs mark the envelope with a code so their source can easily be identified.

If you make sure your direct response advertising covers all the elements shown above you should be well on your way to a successful marketing campaign.

Sally Ormond

Freelance Copywriter

The Heads and Tails of Copywriting


Hands up all of you, who have been writing so long about your product, service or company that you’ve completely exhausted your sales copy repertoire.

It happens. Sometimes, try as you might, you find it impossible to come up with a fresh angle from which to sell your product. Even professional freelance copywriters can suffer from this especially when they work with clients over long periods of time.

So how do you overcome this particular nuisance?

Flip it on its head

Frequently a 180 degree rethink is all that it takes. Look at your offer from an angle other than the one you are used to.

Still scratching your head?

Perhaps an example will help. Your company makes washing powder, normally you market it by showing a glamorous model walking down the street with a huge smile on her face in a brilliantly clean white trouser suit – showing your product not only cleans brilliantly but it can also enhance your confidence and attractiveness. A bit of an extreme example but it illustrates this point.

Now look at it from a different view point – this time your viewer sees a shabbily dressed woman in stained clothes, her hair is a mess and she appears very introvert and practically invisible to anyone who walks passed her. The message – drab whites lead to a drab life…

So if you usually market a product from a pleasure angle, try and think how to sell it from the other side of the fence and visa versa. This should help you discover a whole new way of marketing your product, service or company.

Give it a try.

Copywriting Basics – What Do Your Customers Want?

Research – research – research.

That is the only way to discover what your customers really want.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But how would you go about conducting your research?

If you have the budget for it, you could turn to a market research agency that could come up with all sorts of data for you on customer habits and buying behaviours. But there is one drawback with this method – it can be very expensive and beyond the marketing budget of many companies.

The answer is right under your nosenose

Often the most obvious source of excellent market research is over looked – your customers.

Who else is better qualified to tell you what your customers want?

Ask them in person, by email or over the phone. Set up a free survey online (e.g. like www.surveymonkey.com) or maybe enter them into a prize draw for completing the survey. By going to them direct you can find out:

  • What they like about your product?
  • What they don’t like?
  • What benefits/features were most important?
  • How do they use the product?
  • What improvements would they make?
  • Would they buy again? If not, why not?
  • Do they have any suggestions to improve it?
  • Would they recommend it to a friend? If not, why not?

There is a wealth of information just waiting to be tapped.

You can always try the salesman

Another way of gathering important information is by actually asking the people tasked with selling the product.

Your salesman is on the front line every day making him the ideal person to speak to. Through him you’ll be able to discover:

  • What closed the sale?
  • What features/benefits do clients find the most attractive?
  • What are the biggest obstacles to buying?
  • What do customers say about the competition?
  • When they don’t buy, why don’t they buy?

Sitting in your office with your eyes raised to the ceiling trying to guess what your customers want will never work.

If your copywriting is to be compelling and persuasive you have to know what makes your customers tick – otherwise you’ll be heading for a disaster.

Sally Ormond

Freelance Copywriter

Know Your USP


When embarking on a piece of copywriting, identifying your USP is essential.

The unique selling point could be something along the lines of:

  • Guaranteed next day delivery
  • A promise of a boost to intelligence
  • A guarantee that the product will make you look younger

Get the picture? Your USP has to be something that makes your product or service stand out from the crowd and is of value to your customer.

Once you’ve found it, flaunt it

What do you do with your USP once you’ve found it?

Stick it in your headline! This will be your most important selling benefit for your customer. It’s hot news so get it in your headline to hook your reader

What else does your product do?

Once you’ve identified your USP don’t just stop there. Your product will have plenty of other features and benefits you’ll want to use in your copy. But make sure you use the right information in the right places.

The most important stuff goes in the most prominent areas.

How do you do that? How do you make sure you get the important stuff in first?

Here’s a colourful method to help you:

RED IS FOR HOT – information unique to you:

  • USPs
  • Guarantees
  • Freebies

ORANGE IS WARM – benefits that are great but also offered by your competitors:

  • Saves money
  • Saves time
  • Makes you more attractive/younger

GREEN IS TEPID – basic features which are expected but unlikely to stir great interest:

  • Colour options
  • Texture options
  • Size options

Get it wrong and lead with the tepid information – you’ll lose your reader in an instant.

Always start with the red, follow up with the orange and end with the green. But don’t forget to finish off with a huge red call to action.

Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting

Freelance Copywriter

Where Does Copywriting Begin?


A strange question?

When do you think it begins?

  • When you start writing?
  • When you get your assignment?

Would you be surprised to learn that the majority of copywriting is done before a word is written?

Getting the ground work done

If you pick up an assignment, read it through and then start writing – you have missed the point. And not just slightly missed it, you’ve overshot the runway by a mile and ended up in the river.

The real work of copywriting begins by getting to know the product or service you are selling. Think about:

  • What is it?
  • What does it do? – especially for the customer
  • How does it differ from other similar products/services?
  • What makes it so desirable?

But that’s not all…

Getting to understand the product or service is the first step – then you have to get to know your customers. After all how can you possibly sell something to someone without knowing what they are looking for?

Think about:

  • Who they are?
  • What do they want?
  • What are they looking for in life?
  • What will make them buy?

Real copywriting is about understanding your product and customer – who, what, why, how – by spending time to find out these factors, you will have a wealth of ideas to draw on for your copy.

Be warned…

Going into a copywriting assignment without this knowledge will probably end in disaster – how can you create a compelling sales message to attract customers without it?

Sally Ormond  – freelance copywriter