3 Great Direct Mail Copy Drivers (Besides the Top 7)

I’ve been thinking about emotions more than usual lately. Maybe it’s the type of direct mail I’ve been reading lately that sparked it. Swedish direct marketing entrepreneur Axel Andersson and Seattle direct marketer Bob Hacker identified the seven key copy drivers that persuade people to buy a product or service, or to join a cause.

I’ve been thinking about emotions more than usual lately. Maybe it’s the type of direct mail I’ve been reading lately that sparked it.

Or maybe it was all of the great discussion around Carolyn Goodman’s webinar that my colleague Thorin McGee wrote about the other day. In case you missed it, she talked about the emotional buy-in of some voters during the current election season.

Swedish direct marketing entrepreneur Axel Andersson and Seattle direct marketer Bob Hacker identified the seven key copy drivers that persuade people to buy a product or service, or to join a cause. They are:

guilt, flattery, anger, exclusivity, fear, greed and salvation.

For years, I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of which of these appear in the long-term controls I track for Who’s Mailing What! Flattery and greed are the two most commonly used. They figure prominently in Denny Hatch’s The Secrets of Emotional, Hot-Button Copywriting, a report that focuses on the seven great ones

But there are other drivers that also deserve a moment in the sun. In another book, Hatch identified twenty-one additional motivators that can also lead to action. Here are three of them, with examples of how I’ve seen them used in the mail.

1. Love
Danbury_01

I’m surprised that I don’t see more mail that really taps into one of the most basic of human emotions. But some marketers, like Danbury Mint, are good at it. This mailing for a “Midnight Spell Necklace” spells it out on the front of the outer: “this holiday season Romance Her Heart with a gift from yours.”

The brochure inside tells of a Polynesian legend that says a black pearl was meant to be a sign of “eternal love”. In the necklace, the pearls “add mystique and glamor to the woman who wears them.”

2. Better Health/Physical Well-Being
CROH_01

This can take many forms, depending on the audience. Maybe it’s a gym, a weight loss program, fitness equipment, or or a diet supplement. In this case, it’s content delivered by a newsletter, Consumer Reports On Health, in a magalog.

“Healthy or Not Healthy?” the headline asks, then teases “21 myth-busting facts to help you feel younger, stronger, healthier.” Fascinations (i.e., fascinating facts), phrased as questions, dangle just enough information to get the reader to turn to the pages inside for the answers.

3. Patriotism
BVA_01

Conveying a sense of national pride has strong appeal across the political spectrum. For example, it’s long been a staple for some non-profits to talk about helping those who have sacrificed so much for the security and liberty of their fellow Americans.

From a recent letter for the Blinded Veterans Association: “They put their lives on the line for our freedom and they deserve more.” “We invest a lot in military personnel,” it continues, “it’s time we all stepped up.” One note of caution: it’s important to maintain a proper tone of respect and good taste to avoid sending an inappropriate message.

There are other copy drivers worth considering, but regardless of what ones you use, either alone or in some combination, make sure that they support the rest of the elements of the mailpiece. To quote Bob Hacker, “If your letter isn’t dripping with one or more of these, tear it up and start over.”

3 thoughts on “3 Great Direct Mail Copy Drivers (Besides the Top 7)”

  1. Great article, Paul! As we get more data, even a small business can realize a single driver is inadequate for a single list. targeted emails are now possible for even a list as small as 100. Knowing when to use each one will make response pop.

  2. I think it’s incredible that you’re actually writing about some very old knowledge as if it’s a new discovery.

    I’ve been in the marketing and advertising business for more than 35 years, and I’m having a hard time understanding why emotions are suddenly being noticed as the best way to appeal to people. We who have been doing direct mail and advertising since the early 70s have known this very keenly. Where did this knowledge get lost? I’m reminded of the vast amounts of knowledge lost during the Dark Ages.

    A better question might be how or why did this knowledge that emotion drives every single decision in every single person’s life get lost? It’s been true since the first humans inhabited the earth. Minds are not changed by facts, It’s about perceptions. Perceptions are reality to everyone. Minds are changed by changing perceptions. Perceptions derived from emotions, which creates motivation or barriers to the decision-making process. I defy anyone to show me one instance when a decision was made for intellectual reasons. Don’t waste your time trying to think of one. There aren’t any.

    I do know that there are lots and lots of people selling online and elsewhere who constantly confuse the word marketing with sales. And it’s not about semantics. Words have meanings. It”s simply ignorance of the process. Marketing is the research and planning that enables advertising, which then creates sales. Said another way, advertising is the means of implementing a marketing plan. Marketing is not the same thing as sales or selling. And a strategy can only be developed from the tactics that are effective on prospects and customers. Forget about strategies and concentrate on tactics. If that’s done well, the strategy will become apparent.

    How long will it take for these would-be marketers to understand how this process from product creation to the end-user is not only marketing, but an array of processes of learning about one’s prospect and selling to them?

    I was bowled over a while back when some very off-track self-designated guru said he recommended “customer centric marketing”. I would ask what other kind marketing and sales is there? The only purpose of a business is to get and keep customers.

    Please think about this and work on a better understanding for you own good and self-interest. I love to have people with no knowledge of the process as competitors, because I can always win in the marketplace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *