Cold Email Templates: Who Do You Trust and Why?

From CEOs to inside sellers with no experience: Each week, I meet sellers using the exact same cold email templates … sourced on Google. They all report the same results. Nearly zero response. No meetings. Here’s why: Because they’re sending the exact same templates everyone else is.

From CEOs to inside sellers with no experience: Each week, I meet sellers using the exact same cold email templates … sourced on Google. They all report the same results.

Nearly zero response. No meetings.

Here’s why: Because they’re sending the exact same templates everyone else is.

Have a look at your own inbox. Do you see the same email template patterns over-and-over? For example, how many times per week do you get the “eaten by an alligator” or “chased by a wild hippo” follow-up message?

Do your emails start with, “Whenever I reach out to someone I have to have a reason. That reason needs to be timely and helpful based on research that I have done on your industry and potential risk exposure.”

How about, “My name is ____. Whenever I reach out to someone I make sure to have a reason in order to not waste your time.”

Or, “I read your comments in _________ [magazine] regarding [initiative/trend/issue].”

Or this follow-up template:

We’ve tried to reach you a couple times to introduce you to ________, but haven’t heard back which tells me something:

1) You’re all set and I should stop bothering you.

2) You’re still interested but haven’t had the time to get back to me yet (scheduling link listed below).

3) Maybe this is out of your wheel house, if so, is there some one you’d recommend connecting with?

4) You’ve fallen and can’t get up and in that case let me know and I’ll call someone to help you ….

Of course, you can replace No. 4 with herds of hippos, rhinos or alligators.

Like thousands of other sellers you’ve found your way to the same cold email templates. And like everyone else you send them, looking for customers to meet with.

But your direct competitors use the same templates. In fact, those you don’t compete with (directly) but do compete for inbox space use the same templates too.

That’s a problem.

Because recipients easily spot your messages and mark it as spam. Inboxes are becoming saturated with virtually identical messages.

The Problematic Source of Cold Email Templates

Why would you expect to find a better-than-average way to start conversations, using cold email templates, via Google? (everyone’s top go-to source for short-cuts!)

Why would you trust what you found? I suppose because of Google’s perceived clout to aggregate “only the best” answers to questions.

However, consider today’s most popular (ineffective) email templates come from dubious sources. Yes, Google aggregates them. But consider the end source.

  • Cold email gurus and wannabe gurus
  • Lead generation experts and agencies
  • Email software companies
  • LinkedIn and LinkedIn gurus

At face value this seems fine and logical. A handful of online gurus, guru wannabes and consultants claim expertise in cold emailing. Most offer free templates and webinars. In return for free wisdom they hope to earn your participation in an online class or hiring them to consult … to write emails for you.

Fair enough. But why would these experts provide good advice for free? Answer: They don’t.

Likewise, lead generation experts and agencies often give away B2B and B2C cold email templates designed to start conversations with prospects. But why would these businesses give away “what works” for free? They have no incentive to. In fact, they’re under incentive not to.

Answer: They don’t give away useful information either.

Instead, they trade what doesn’t work (perhaps worked years ago) for your email address.

The biggest source of templates, hands down, seems to be software providers like HubSpot and outreach.io. There are many, these are just 2 very fine companies.

Point is: Software tool providers want your email address too. In return they hope to sell you email management sending & analysis tools. As bait they offer tips-and-tricks … better ways to use their tools set.

If you’re a customer they’ll also provide recommendations on how to best use their solution. After all, you’re a paying customer.

Why don’t these tips pay off?

Answer: Building trust and credibility using LinkedIn and email is a skill. It’s not template-able.

Why We Trust Those Who Aren’t Experts

I’m not attacking gurus and legitimate software providers. I’m questioning their authority as experts in communications techniques. None of them officially claim this domain expertise, bye the way.

Software companies operate businesses providing a suite of email management tools. Fair enough. But they are not providers of sales and marketing copywriting services, nor do they claim to be communications educators. Instead, they tend to work with gurus to curate (and add legitimacy to) experts, consultants and gurus publishing free templates. All as a service to customers and a lead generation tool for themselves.

But what if these free tips don’t work? (hint: they don’t) And why would they to begin with … when considering the source? (hint: most folks don’t consider)

Everyone likes short-cuts, after all. Templates are short-cuts to success. Or are they?

Vote for SOW Reform to Stop Agency ‘Manslaughter’

Even as digital marketing was born — websites, search, email — were often described, rightly so, as “direct marketing on steroids.” But Google didn’t invent analytics.

SOW reform
Credit: Clipart Panda

The 1991-92 recession was a boon to database marketing. Fed up with ad spending that wasn’t producing results, many brands — advertisers — turned to databases and data-based marketing to deepen their understanding of customers, and learn how to attract new customers who looked just like them.

The economic growth of the 1990s only solidified database marketing’s reputation, with its ability to produce and refine predictive models, enable better A/B and multivariate testing, and bolster acquisition, retention and loyalty business objectives. These were the days when direct marketing agencies, many acquired by the ad holding companies in the 1980s, were — at last — the rising stars of holding company stables.

Even as digital marketing was born — websites, search, email — were often described, rightly so, as “direct marketing on steroids.” Google didn’t invent analytics.

Yet how many of the traditional direct marketing methods of data stewardship, testing, research, response analysis and data-derived strategy were really ever adopted by the earliest digital darlings — with their appetite for speed, scale and Super Bowl ads? Living on VC riches, the first wave of dot.com e-business held some spectacular fails.

Enter social, Big Data and “walled gardens.” The second wave of digital disruption has indeed been successful as it basks in the spotlight — with scale, testing and ROI analysis discernible (or seeking to be) on each new wave of innovation (not always successful). Digital has been growing its share of marketing spend without interruption, at a quickening pace — displacing or discounting print, direct mail and broadcast. Ad tech, marketing tech and data are indeed today’s advertising stars.

But for how long?

In this brave new ecosystem, are brands performing much better in their business results, overall?

Michael Farmer, author of “Madison Avenue Manslaughter,” who spoke at a recent Marketing Idea eXchange event in New York, says they are not — and their ad agency partners, alongside CMOs, are paying a dear price for this lack of achievement. This domino effect screams “help!”:

“What’s going on with advertisers? Since 1980, advertisers have been governed by ‘increased shareholder value,’ which means executives must deliver results or find another job. CMOs jumped on the digital / social bandwagon and migrated media spend. At the same time, they significantly increased digital / social SOW workloads for their agencies, reasoning that digital / social work was either cheap or free compared to TV / print / radio. Lurking in the background, though, were the non-consuming Millennials, who became the largest demographic group; e-commerce (i.e., Amazon); and the financial melt-down of 2008. The net result: brand growth ceased, and digital / social spend did not provide a solution. CMOs lost credibility, and their job security declined to 3-4 years.”

So where do we go from here? How well do we advertise and sell to Millennials, Plurals and the diversity of America today? Well many brands have turned to consulting companies who have the C-suite relationships, hardly bastions of creative genius, but perhaps more understanding of how to make all this technology, process and content connect best to customers.

Can agencies get back to performance? Farmer believes scope of work reform is one place to start for agencies: they must say “no” to transactional tasking, and “yes” to strategic ideation — and insist on being compensated for it. Even if this means firing clients who balk at paying up. The race to the bottom has served no one.

“What’s going on with Scopes of Work? Digital / social marketing altered Scopes of Work significantly. A 1993 “traditional” SOW requiring 50 creatives contained about 400 executions – 8 per creative per year. By 2013, the count would increase to 600 executions, 12 per creative per year. By 2018, the integrated SOW could contain as many as 15,000 deliverables – involving email marketing, Facebook posts, and a variety of little social executions that would see a typical creative cranking out 300 deliverables per year, or one per day, with little strategic content. Predictably, few clients think that they need high-cost agencies to do this kind of work, so the SOWs are migrating elsewhere, particularly to in-house agencies and to low-cost countries like India. High-priced Chief Creative Officers have no obvious role in this high-volume world, so agencies may begin cutting them out.” 

Perhaps, maybe a little direct marketing discipline needs to be discovered (or rediscovered) by brand chiefs here — who learn to become unafraid of data, data insights, data testing, data quality, data stewardship, all working in tandem with creative storytellers to produce the “big idea.” Creative storytellers working alone — without data — may produce some gems, but without achieving business objectives, these ideas are simply creative but unproductive.

Accountability in ad spend should never be out of style. It’s time for agencies to regain the strategic mantle, or indeed rest in peace.

Parting tip: Do you want to see some agency and client work that is producing business outcomes. Become an International ECHO Awards judge. Currently the Data & Marketing Association has an open call to recruit agency, ad tech, consultant, and brand professionals for judging this year’s competition (online and in New York). If you love data-driven marketing and the business results that can be achieved, then the ECHO judging experience can give you a phenomenal idea store of what’s working now, and likely tomorrow. Consider the 2018 judging application here.

‘Tis the Season … for Term Letters in Healthcare

Nothing says “happy holidays” like a year-end coverage termination notice. It’s particularly awkward this time of year, because it overlaps open enrollment for commercial, Medicare Advantage and Exchange members. In this column, we’ll look at five seasonal drivers within healthcare, and how marketers can prepare for term letters, open enrollment and more.

Nothing says “happy holidays” like a year-end termination notice. It’s not unusual for healthcare organizations engaged in contract negotiations to send term letters to patients in mid-November. The notices fulfill contractual and regulatory obligations to provide advance notice to patients while also ratcheting up the pressure to reach agreement before a January 1 effective date.

This would cause headaches for marketing and communication professionals under the best of circumstances, but it’s particularly awkward this time of year because it overlaps open enrollment for commercial, Medicare Advantage and Exchange members. This is just one of the external factors that creates seasonality in healthcare communications.

In this column, we’ll look at five seasonal drivers within healthcare and how marketers can prepare.

1. Termination Letters

Term letters are usually sent 45 days in advance of a contract’s renewal or end-date. While these can occur at any time, a common scenario is a termination letter sent by a health plan about six weeks before the end of a calendar year. The letter goes to patients of physicians/medical groups or hospitals covered under the contract in question.

In some cases, you may not know the term letters have gone out until you begin to receive frantic calls from patients wondering if scheduled appointments or procedures will be covered. This puts you in a terribly reactive situation.

Proactively, marketers should schedule quarterly meetings with their organization’s contracting department to discuss commercial, exchange and governmental agreements that are coming up for renewal. Your contracting team is likely to focus on the financial framework of the agreement, while your concern should be on how to manage the fear and uncertainty a potential disruption has on individual patients.

Coordination with your customer service team, as well as impacted physician practices, are also critical because they will be on the front line of inquiries. You will need to understand your state’s Continuity of Care guidelines, the terminating plan’s grace period (if any), and work cross functionally to help guide patients to in-network facilities or providers if the agreement ends.

This is a labor-intensive, detail-oriented process because of the number of potentially impacted people, and emotionally draining for the patient’s family. Communicate your awareness of the situation, provide updates often and be prepared for significant push-back and one-on-one problem solving.

2. Open Enrollment

Although open enrollment for major employers, general business, Medicare/Medicare Advantage and Exchange business differ, the main season occurs in the fall and early winter. Some organizations invest all their awareness efforts during this time, when in fact this is when you should be converting prospects based on the awareness, goodwill and brand desirability you’ve cultivated all year long.

The foundation for a successful open enrollment season is based, in part, on decisions made by upstream parties during the spring and summer. As 2018 approaches, be sure to build in strategies to reach large employers, brokers, physicians and health plans.

Copywriting for the Most of Awareness Levels

A fundamental of copywriting is to write to the awareness levels of your prospects. But all too often, the awareness level of prospects is overlooked. … and it’s perhaps the most important aspect of writing a promotion.

Branding
“Branding,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by Limelight Leads

A fundamental of copywriting is to write to the awareness levels of your prospects. But all too often, the awareness level of prospects is often overlooked. … and it’s perhaps the most important aspect of writing a promotion.

A few weeks ago, I shared a few reasons Why Direct Mail Control Packages Fatigue. And in my last blog, I wrote about Copywriting for the Least of Awareness Levels.

So today, it’s about copywriting for the most aware of your prospects so you can meet them where they are with your copy and offer.

I’ve written about imagining a 1 to 7 scale where a 1 represents that your prospect is completely unaware of any aspect of your product or service, so indirect headlines and leads tend to work best. Conversely, a 7 means your prospect is completely aware where you would use direct headlines and leads. I’ve used information from a class that I teach copywriters for AWAI, along with concepts from a classic direct marketing book, Breaththrough Advertising, by Eugene M. Schwartz. If you missed my last post, read it here for descriptions of Levels 1 to 3.

Levels 5 to 7 are the most aware prospects. Level 4 is where you don’t know whether prospects are aware or not. You should test both direct, and indirect headlines and leads to find out the side of the awareness scale that defines your prospect.

Level Five

Here you’ve crossed the place from unaware (Levels 1-3) to a gradual increase in awareness where your approach can be more direct. If you’ve observed in your own testing, or what a competitor is doing, that success is happening with direct headlines and leads, then enlarge on what’s working.

  • A problem/solution headline or lead will ease you into the awareness side of the scale. This is for prospects who realize they have a problem, and that a solution exists, but they don’t know your product provides the solution.
  • Be mindful that your prospect may become confused if competitors are making claims that aren’t consistent with yours. When that happens, they become skeptical.

Level Six

You’re getting close to that point where your prospects know it all about your product or service. Maybe they’ve bought your product, or a competitor’s product. But there’s still room to introduce something new. Think of it as an opportunity to renew, or restore, a positioning or message.

  • Promise something new that hasn’t been promoted previously.
  • The believability of prior promises could start to become questioned, but if the desire of your market is still there, find a new way to satisfy it (but don’t repeat past claims).
  • Devise a new way to show how your product works.

Level Seven

This level is where your prospects are highly aware of your category of product, and perhaps your brand. They know your product and what it can do for them. They may even be tired of your promises. They’re done with hearing from you and they may not even believe you anymore. So this is where you can use the most direct type of lead.

  • Begin with your offer or an invitation.
  • Find a new credibility element: testimonial or research.
  • Elaborate on something new about your product or service.
  • Better: look for a new feature to refresh your promise.

When you align your message with the worldview of your prospective customer using this awareness scale, your stand a much better opportunity to succeed.

Gary Hennerberg’s latest book is “Crack the Customer Mind Code: Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” is available on Amazon. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways and other copywriting and consulting tips, go to Hennerberg.com.

Copywriting for the Least of Awareness Levels

Meeting your prospective customer where they are may be a cliché to many. However, too often, marketers and copywriters still don’t take into account the prospect’s state of awareness about the product or service being offered. As a result, headlines and leads completely miss the mark and fail.

Meeting your prospective customer where they are may be a cliché to many. However, too often, marketers and copywriters still don’t take into account the prospect’s state of awareness about the product or service being offered. As a result, headlines and leads completely miss the mark and fail.

In my last blog post, I shared a few reasons “Why Direct Mail Control Packages Fatigue.”

One reason that messaging — whether for direct mail or any other channel— fatigues is because you lose track of your prospective customer’s state of awareness of their problem, your solution, and where you meet them with your copy and offer.

Imagine a scale of 1 to 7 where a 1 represents that your prospect is completely unaware of any aspect of your product or service. Conversely, a 7 means your prospect is completely aware. If your prospect is completely unaware of any aspect of your product or service, but your message is written at a level of 7, then you have a disconnect. By the way, age or generation seldom has anything to do with an awareness scale.

Of course, you must have good insights about your prospective customers to know where on the scale you want to land. So let’s dive into the first three levels on this scale and begin with ideas about how to reach those with the least awareness of your product or service. . For inspiration, I’ve used information from a class that I teach copywriters for AWAI, along with concepts from a classic direct marketing book, “Breaththrough Advertising,” by Eugene M. Schwartz.

Level One

If you’re at level one, it’s probably because you’re either among the first in the market for a new product or service, or your product or service is only occasionally or rarely considered by any given consumer. Consider this approach:

  • Be simple and direct.
  • Offer context about what you’re offering to solve—even a brief statement that shows you understand the problem the readers is facing.
  • Name the need or the claim in your headline.
  • Bring in your product information and prove that it works.
  • Use a story

Level Two

Here, you expand on what you would do in level one. A declaration headline and lead can be effective:

  • Be bold or even startling.
  • Be concise, engaging, and specific.
  • You’ll need to offer proof of your declaration or testimonials.
  • A newsworthy prediction might work.

Level Three

At this level, your prospects have likely heard the claims. Their desire may be building, so you might shift your approach from what the product does to how it works. Consider using, or adapting the concept of sharing a secret:

  • Promise a secret new way to satisfy a long-time desire.
  • Share an intriguing secret from a credible source.
  • The prospect needs to clearly see how he or she will benefit.
  • If you use a secret, tease it in the headline, then drop clues as your message unfolds.

In my next blog post, I’ll offer ideas about how to reach the most aware levels—levels 5-7—on this awareness scale.

Gary Hennerberg’s latest book is “Crack the Customer Mind Code: Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” is available on Amazon. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways and other copywriting and consulting tips, go to Hennerberg.com.

Using Sex for a Sales Breakthrough

How does a marketer who sells a utilitarian, and arguably boring product, breakthrough in a multi-million dollar category? At least one secret sauce ingredient to their success: sex.

How does a marketer who sells a utilitarian, and arguably boring product, breakthrough in a multi-million dollar category? At least one secret sauce ingredient to their success: sex.

The original Dollar Shave Club viral video.
The original Dollar Shave Club viral video.

I first wrote about the Dollar Shave Club in 2012 when they released a video that went viral (with over 24 million views now).DSC introduced how to save a boatload on razor blades and related personal products. And in the interest of transparency, I became a customer myself a couple of years ago (look at my picture for the evidence that I use a lot of razor blades).

So, while the concept of a continuity program where you’re shipped razor blades once a month for anywhere from $1.00 to $9.00 monthly (depending on the razor blade you want) may be boring, it’s their cheeky marketing messages that make this product so much fun and appealing.

Dollar Shave Club's version of content marketing.
Dollar Shave Club’s version of content marketing.

Their blog posts are light, humorous and often touch on the topic of sex. For example, a recent email came with the subject line “Six Reasons Science Says Sex is Good For Your Health.” Who wouldn’t open that one?

I suspect that particular email had a high open rate because it included the word “sex” in the subject line, and it was used in a way that probably wasn’t offensive to most people.

Consider the primal human brain and the all-important amygdala. The amygdala is the primal “fight or flight” part of the brain that flags us to fear, hunt food and reproduce. Because the brain is primal, this explains why messages of safety, never being hungry, along with beauty and virility, can usually be effective. These all touch upon the mass desire of our hopes, dreams, fears and desires.

And it’s getting to these core mass desires that brings prospects and customers back around to razor blades. It’s ordinarily a boring product, but one brought to the forefront of the mind with DSC’s advice about grooming, health and style, with a peppering of sex thrown in here and there, all using highly provocative and clickable headlines. DSC successfully uses content to cross-sell other personal products like shaving cream, skin care, One Wipe Charlies (or “butt wipes” as they call them), and more.

Obviously the marketing of Dollar Shave Club has broken-through and disrupted old-guard consumer product marketers. Unilever acquired them last year for $1 billion.

So what are the lessons here? My takeaways are this:

  1. You can make a utilitarian, perhaps even boring, product sexy.
  2. Light-hearted content marketing works (note I didn’t say “humor,” which often doesn’t work).
  3. You can make light of products with descriptions that don’t dance around nicety, and gets right to what people think (e.g., “butt wipes”).
  4. You can attract the attention of the brain’s amygdala by introducing sex (and safety and eating).
  5. Subject lines and headlines now, more than before, make or break a marketer’s success.
  6. Videos, where the neuroscience of why people share kick in and lead to it going viral, can build a business quickly.

So, adapting the DSC subject line of “Six Reasons Science Says Sex is Good For Your Health,” I didn’t have a list of, for example, “Six Reasons Marketers Say Sex is Good for the Bottom Line” as I had considered.

But the reality is this: the headline of this blog used the word “sex,” and you clicked the link, and if you’re still reading this far. The point about using sex to sell has, arguably, been made.

Gary Hennerberg’s latest book is “Crack the Customer Mind Code: Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” is available on Amazon. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways and other copywriting and consulting tips, go to Hennerberg.com.

4 Old-School Direct Mail Tactics That Still Work

Some direct mail techniques have been around for decades. Here are four tried-and-true tactics and why they still drive response.

Here at Target Marketing, we talk a lot about how direct mail is coming back, thanks, in part to new technologies and print techniques that make it more personalized, relevant, and valuable to the customer than ever before.

I’m a big believer in all of these developments. I’m convinced that they are critical to engaging newer, younger audiences in really interesting ways.

But at the same time, I have to marvel at how some formats that have been around for decades, and were once much more commonplace, still show up in the mail I review for Who’s Mailing What! every day.

Here are four tried-and-true tactics that I’ve seen recently, and why they still work.

1. Yes-No-Maybe Reply Stickers
UPMC direct mailThis involvement device was a common practice for many publishers selling subscriptions to magazines and newsletters back in the day. Developed by John Francis Tighe, it’s pretty simple: you give the prospect 3 options on the reply form, with a sticker for each.

This direct mail piece for UPMC, a healthcare system, shows “YES” and “NO” showing through the extra envelope window. The “MAYBE” sticker on the letter is visible only by opening the envelope.

This practice lets you easily segment people who need a little more convincing.

2.The Outer Quiz
Harvard Heart Letter direct mailAsking questions – or getting a prospect to think of a true or false response – gets them to stop and consider the content or the features of the product or service and how they can benefit.

Whether it appears on an inside page, or as here, on the outer for Harvard Health Letter, it helps initially qualify the prospect. In this case, the reader is confronted with some information that may be true. Because it involves health, it’s a good way to push them inside to get some answers. This works for money issues as well.

3. The Interoffice Envelope
Southern Missions direct mailThis envelope design was introduced in the 1980s by Greg Dziuba for Book-of-the-Month’s Fortune Book Club. It often appeared in B-to-B efforts, as it grabs the target customer’s attention and makes a strong connection with customers working in an office environment.

Some fundraising appeals by Sacred Heart Southern Missions, a social ministry, have used this Kraft “Inter-Department Delivery” envelope for over 10 years. The last “deliver to” name here is “Fr. Jack”, with an “URGENT” notation in the comment column.

In the letter inside, Father Jack Kurps relates how a memo in a routing envelope revealed to him a dire need for replenishing funds his organization needs to aid the poor. The tactic, and the message, work together to put the reader in the shoes of that priest.

4. The Photo Lab Envelope
Dissolve direct mailJust as office memos generally travel electronically now, so do pictures. But when you have them printed on higher-quality equipment at a drug store, you still get them in a special envelope.

Dissolve, a stock footage agency, mailed photos from its collections in this envelope. They’re styled like vacation snapshots on heavier stock paper, which adds some heft to the direct mail package.

You can call any or all of these approaches “gimmicks.” But the fact that they persist shows that they still work at getting attention, and ultimately, driving response. They’re worth a test, at least.

How Much Repetition Is Too Much?

Recently, I had a conversation with a client and an agency about sales copy. It was the agency staff’s contention there was too much repetition. I disagreed. Which got me to thinking: When is too much repetition, well, too much?

Recently, I had a conversation with a client and an agency about sales copy. It was the agency staff’s contention there was too much repetition. I disagreed. Which got me to thinking: When is too much repetition, well, too much?

When I refer to repetition, I don’t mean repeating a sentence word-for-word, but rather, rephrasing or reframing an idea in another way.

A strong idea or point deserves repeating. Why? People scan. Attention spans are short. And it’s repetition of an idea or unique selling proposition that reduces the chance that the casual reader will miss what’s most important. Skillful repetition of your idea builds long-term memory.

So why do some marketers think repetition is bad?

I think it’s because, all too often, marketers and their creative teams start to believe they are their own prospective customer and, thus, evaluate everything they read through that lens.

In addition, the marketer or copywriter has read the message multiple times, so it’s familiar — too familiar — to them. It’s not being read with a fresh set of eyes. So when they see an idea repeated, even when craftily reworded, it’s perceived as repetitious, and therefore it’s deemed bad, weakening the sales message.

In the not-so-long-ago days of the most successful of direct mail packages, where I had a hand in their creation, a strong idea would be:

  1. Teased on an outer envelope.
  2. Brought to life in a letter’s headline and lead (and probably repeated elsewhere, especially in a long-form letter).
  3. Stated in a brochure, lift note or other enclosure.
  4. And it sure as heck had better have been repeated on the order device …
  5. … and perhaps even snuck, yet again, into the guarantee.

Repetition starts the path to short-term memory which, as a minimum, is needed to clinch the sale. But well-crafted repetition — or reinforcement of an idea, positioning, or unique selling proposition — leads to forming coveted long-term memory. Long-term memory can succeed in converting a prospect into a paying customer. Better yet, with long-term memory of your idea or USP firmly in place, you increase the likelihood for repeat purchases in the future.

My advice: Don’t be afraid to repeat, or rephrase, a thought.

  • When using email, link thoughts from the subject line to the email copy, once opened.
  • For landing pages, use sidebars or other call-outs.
  • Video content can pass quickly — all the more reason to emphasize important points with repetition (and videos on landing pages should emphasize what the page says).

People scan. Their eyes dart around on a webpage or printed piece. Attention spans are short.

Don’t assume that one passing mention of an important selling message or concept is going to be quickly absorbed by the casual reader. It won’t. Repetition may feel too strong to the marketing team, but chances are your prospective customer is going to remember your message.

Gary Hennerberg’s latest book is “Crack the Customer Mind Code: Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” is available on Amazon. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways and other copywriting and consulting tips, go to Hennerberg.com.

How to Get Memorial Day Email Marketing Right

Memorial Day means different things to different people, but some of the email marketing I haven’t been seeing in my inbox bothers me a little.

Memorial Day means different things to different people, but some of the email marketing I haven’t been seeing in my inbox bothers me a little.

It’s a 3-day weekend, and the unofficial start of summer. There’s plenty of sales to promote with red, white, and blue highlights. Lots of beach towels, barbeque grills, food. And yet …

Last year I had to scramble to find examples of email that recognizes that Memorial Day was originally about honoring the sacrifices of soldiers who died serving our country.

This year was no different. The best emails were truly few and far between.

Publix emailMany used a patriotic image to get attention, like the one in this email from Publix, the supermarket chain. It says some nice things, but that’s about it.

It misses an opportunity to further engage shoppers.

Vinesse emailBut Vinesse, one of the country’s largest wine clubs, hit all the right notes a few weeks ago. This promotion centers on a special offer for Purple Heart Red Wine from C. Mondavi & Family, a Napa Valley brand. Proceeds go to the Purple Heart Foundation, a group which help veterans recover from wartime injury and trauma.

Here’s a key connection for me: Peter Modavi, Sr. served in World War II. And the two winemakers are more recent veterans. The email explains this, and with the strong visual, inspires a bit of patriotism.

American Red Cross emailI also liked this one effort from the American Red Cross that went out yesterday. It acknowledges that Memorial Day “also heralds a much more solemn occasion”: remembering our soldiers.

The letter goes into all of the ways that the Red Cross’s services have an impact. Picture like the ones here show a lot of what it does for military service members around the world, as well as veterans, and families.

And, the email links to a video showing its work, and ask people to share it. The only ask for a donation is in the P.S.

So, you can either acknowledge the holiday’s true meaning in a big way, a respectful way, or not. Maybe the best thing to do is to just pick one, and move forward.

As for me, I’ve got a cemetery to visit, and a promise to keep.

Direct Mail: It’s All in the Letter

Recently, direct mail letters have gotten a bad reputation, but a good letter can really generate sales. How do you know if you have a good letter or not? We will break it down for you here.

direct mail letter

Recently, direct mail letters have gotten a bad reputation, but a good letter can really generate sales. How do you know if you have a good letter or not? We will break it down for you here.

First of all, your letters need to be personalized. Gone are the generic letter days. You not only personalize with a name, but also personalize your offer to the needs of each person. You want your letter to look and feel personal, but let’s dig deeper into the letter structure.

7 Things to Make a Great Direct Mail Letter

1. First Sentence: Your first sentence can make or break your direct mail letter. This is where you generate interest or lose it. You need to hook them and pull them into reading more.

2. Offer: The offer for your product or service needs to be attractive. Any time you can offer something for free, you will get attention. If that is not an option, discounts work well, too.

3. Story: The best letters tell a story. People relate to and enjoy reading stories. How can you create a story for your product or service? You create a moment with your story so that it has a beginning, middle and end. You include emotions — not just facts. Create characters your customers and prospects will care about.

4. Flattery: Flattery will get you everything! Tell the reader how special they are. Include the use of the word “you” a lot to describe how smart and truly wonderful they are.

5. Questions: Use these with caution. You want to make sure that you are correct in your assumption of the answers before you decide to use the questions. The question should always qualify your prospect or customer.

6. Problem: Solve a problem with your product or service. This goes back to the story portion, too. When you are able to solve a problem, you will get the sale.

7. Benefits: Benefits are extremely important. What are your readers going to get? Why does it matter to them? Make sure these get incorporated into your story.

Make your next direct mail letter powerful to increase your results. Now, even the best written letter only works if your envelope gets opened. If you are going to use teaser copy on the envelope, make sure that it is VERY compelling. It should promise a reward of some kind for opening the envelope or make them so curious they have to open the envelope. If you are trying for the personal approach, use only your return address, no logo and a stamp. You can use the barcode clear zone to make it look as though the post office sprayed it and still get the automation discounts.

What really matters is what works for you. So test your copy, your offer and even your envelopes one at a time. What works best for you may be very different from what has worked for others. Tracking your results is the key to creating better direct mail results in the future. If you don’t test, you will not know how much better your results could have been. Don’t get complacent always reach for better results. Have you had a really successful letter? What did you do?