Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing December 2017 Newsletter.
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#1 Most Important Technique for Writing Copy
By Craig Simpson, Owner of Simpson Direct
Gary Halbert was a tremendous inspiration to aspiring copywriters from the
mid-1980s until his death in 2007. His regularly published columns with
his secrets of great copywriting, The Gary Halbert Letter,
were eagerly pored over by newcomers and seasoned professionals alike.
Halbert’s style was a bit flamboyant, and sometimes salty, but he
understood how to get to people’s hearts and move them to action.
In one of his famous newsletters he revealed what he called “the most
powerful and important technique of all when it comes to writing copy.”
The basis of this technique was his belief that you’d never write great
copy by going into your own imagination and trying to come up with
something that would work.
In order to really be successful, you had to find out as much as you could
about your prospects – who they are and what they want. From that intimate
knowledge you could gear your copy to be in alignment with the interests,
needs, and values of the people you were trying to sell. He summed up the
concept in the following haiku-like instruction:
More Answers Will Be Found
Through Movement Than
Will Ever Be Found Through
Halbert said that deliberately trying to be clever and creative, to “dream
up” an ad that would work, was a very “dumb” way to approach writing. You
couldn’t possibly make up something in your head that would work.
Really great copywriters were willing to “become intimately involved” with
the people they were trying to sell. They were willing to talk with them,
meet with them, discover the secrets of their hearts and minds. From that
knowledge great copy would flow – not necessarily copy that sounded
clever, but powerful copy that spoke directly to prospects and motivated
them to order the product.
To help copywriters accomplish this, Halbert suggested five steps to take
that progressively led to closer interaction with prospects and the
discovery of what it would take to sell them. Some of these are pretty
extreme, and some are maybe a bit outdated, but they are also highly
And if you’re a business owner who is trying your hand at copywriting for
the first time, this would be an ideal program to follow. So let’s look at
Halbert’s technique for writing better copy as summed up in these five
Step #1: Get a Printout of the Names and
Addresses, and then Read it!
Reading Halbert’s description of how he looks at an address list, and all
the information he can glean from it, you feel like you’re watching a
genius at work.
First he looks at the composition of the people on the list. Are there
more men or women? Do the names indicate that the people generally favor
one ethnic group over another? Are they Latino? Asian? Do they sound
Muslim, Jewish, or Christian? Are they the type of people who use their
full names, or do they tend to use initials? Do they have titles, like
Doctor, or Professor?
Now look at the addresses. What part of the country do they favor? Do they
live in big cities or in rural areas? Do they live in apartments,
multi-family dwellings, or one-family homes?
What kind of neighborhoods do they live in? If you know the area well
yourself, you can tell by the names of the cities and towns. If you don’t
know the area, you can research the demographics of different ZIP codes.
That will tell you if people tend to be wealthier or poorer.
Can you believe all the gold you got just by looking at mailing labels?
That’s just the beginning.
Step #2: Look At The Mail You Receive From Your
If your company receives mail from people, it is very instructive to look
at it. Don’t read it (that comes later). For now, just look at it.
Now this may not work for you if most of your interaction with customers
is over the phone (people no longer have to pay for long-distance calls
like they did in the 1980s) or by email.
Still, even a small amount of actual letters or order forms may be
instructive, although they will probably represent a limited sample of
your customer base.
You can tell if letters come from a computer printer, a typewriter, or if
they’re handwritten. Do they have the spidery handwriting of an elderly
person, or is the writing firm and robust? Are letters written on
expensive stationery, or are they written on a sheet torn off a yellow
pad? Is the return address label a freebie from Easter Seals?
If people mail in orders, do they pay with cash, money orders, stamps, or
checks? If it’s a check, is it written from a joint account or a
single-owner account? And is it a plain check or is it illustrated with
kittens or American flags?
You’re beginning to get a clearer picture of who your best customers are.
You’ll learn more if you go on to Step #3.
Step #3: Now Start Reading Your Mail And Start
Taking Telephone Calls From Your Business Customers
Now, actually read those letters, and find out what people are writing
about. Are they complaining? Making requests? This will show you what’s
important to them and give you clues as to what features of your product
and service to stress in your sales pieces.
You’ll learn even more if you talk to customers when they call in with
orders, complaints, or questions. Turn it around and start asking them
questions. Why did they buy the product? What did they like or not like?
Why are they returning it? What would make the product better?
Then try to upsell them and learn what works best. Is a discount
effective? Is it better to offer them buy two-get one free? This will
teach you just how to position your offer in your sales pieces.
You’ve learned a lot of valuable information. Only the really dedicated
will dare to try Step #4.
Step #4: Start Making Telephone Calls To Your
If you’re willing to reach out to your customers and call them yourself,
you can really get some great information.
What Halbert suggests is to send a letter to 100 of your best customers,
with a dollar bill attached to the top of your first page. In the letter
tell the customer you put the dollar bill on the letter to get his
attention because you have something important to tell him – and tell him
the important information in the letter (maybe it’s about a new product or
change to your service).
Then, several days later call him, and remind him of the letter. He will
remember it and now you can start a conversation. Ask the right questions,
and you can learn more about how to sell to your customers than a thousand
creative types who are writing from their imaginations.
Now, only the most sincere will move on to Step #5, and I don’t
necessarily recommend you follow it, but here it is.
Step #5: Go Out To Where Your Customers Live And Knock On Their Front
Doors And Ask If You Can Come In And Talk To Them
This is pretty extreme, and it’s unlikely many will do this. But sitting
at someone’s kitchen table will certainly show you first-hand how your
customers live, and it will give you the opportunity to find out what they
want, and how to tell them what they want to hear so they make the
decision to buy.
Halbert’s main point in taking all these steps is this: “When it comes to
writing great copy, it is not so much a matter of knowing how to write as
it is of knowing what to write.” You won’t know what to write, until you
know who you’re writing to, what they really want, and what sells them the
Learn everything you can about your customer, and the writing will take
care of itself.
Craig Simpson has managed thousands of direct mail
campaigns and grossed hundreds of millions in revenue for his clients. Simpson
is the owner of Simpson Direct Inc. and a respected speaker/presenter on the
topic of direct mail. He blogs at
You Can Innovate With Direct Mail
By Andrew Fegley, Entrepreneur.com
The sweet spot of digital technology plus direct-mail effectiveness is out
there, just waiting for you to find it.
Direct mail is a marketing
mainstay, not purely by virtue of its having been around forever, but
because it consistently delivers better response rates than any other
And, while a new generation of marketers may not realize it yet, the
integration of direct mail into the digital world creates an environment
in which mail is poised to be more powerful, performance-intensive -- and
cost effective -- than ever.
Direct mail may seem like digital's less sexy cousin, the slow burn to
digital's instant gratification. Well, the reality is that direct mail
does in fact require a commitment of time, creativity and effort; but it
pays all that back in increasingly impossible-to-ignore ways.
And, while digital is easier to implement and cheaper per impression,
there's a reason that digital retargeting has come to be referred to as a
channel where marketers "spray and pray." This of course refers to the
practice of spraying a message across a large, unknown universe of
prospects and customers, and praying that some of them care enough to take
action against that message.
Digital vs. Direct mail -- not even a contest
With digital retargeting response rates averaging around 0.7 percent, I'd
call that pretty cost inefficient. A direct mail postcard, on the other
hand, will net about a 4.25 percent-to-5.0 percent response rate. It can
do this for four key reasons that every marketer will understand and
1. The ability to smartly use data is the best
it's ever been -- and only getting better. Advances in
data-gathering, combined with the ability to segment and model with more
precision than ever before, enables heavy-duty micro-targeting with direct
Rather than relying on volume to deliver results (and picking up the
attendant cost), marketers can target just those prospects most likely to
make a purchase. Imagine, for instance, identifying anonymous visitors to
your website who also have specific attributes that you see across your
loyal customer base.
Our company, for example, is helping a high-end housewares retailer use
this type of data to identify prospects who have recently applied for a
home renovation permit. Imagine the possibilities! Advances like ID
resolution, combined with the application of third party data, are among
the sophisticated data methodologies that are available to marketers
2. Customization is less complicated than ever.
With the advent of dynamic printing, combined with a plethora of
campaign-management tools, customization is available at levels that
weren't imaginable before. Direct mail is a particularly ripe channel for
personalized messages and imagery due to its variety of formats, and
physical connection to the recipient.
3. Direct mail amplifies the performance of other
channels. Multi-channel campaigns have become table stakes for
most brands, as consumers move fluidly across digital and non-digital
channels. And, when direct mail is part of that mix, it not only serves as
a workhorse in its own right, it stacks up incrementally at every other
Our clients are experimenting with every combination of direct mail,
email, social media and even addressable TV -- and they're finding that
each channel becomes more efficient and effective when direct mail is
priming the pump. In fact, The Little Book of Bigger Returns
found that when direct mail was used as part of an integrated campaign, it
boosted those brands' ROI by 20 percent, and helped improve the lift of
online campaigns by a whopping 62 percent.
We've done numerous tests related specifically to the timing of mail after
a prospect visits a website, and have found that the more quickly a
prospect receives that physical reminder of the product, the higher is his
or her conversion rate. In a test for a Fortune 100 retailer, we found
that mailing prospects who had visited the retailer's site within the
previous seven days produced an open rate six times that of visitors from
the past three weeks, and a click through rate nine times the rate of
visitors over that same period.
I'm not the only one who has figured all of this out. According to
2017 Media Usage Survey results, direct mail isn't just holding
steady, it's growing. Thirty-one percent of marketers surveyed reported
increasing their use of direct mail this year, with another 33 percent
keeping it at 2016 rates. And based on spend and volume analysis, major
brands such as Nordstrom, Starbucks and General Motors are among the top
mailers in the country.
So, if you're a long-term mailer, I encourage you to keep it up.
If you're newer to the game, don't let fears about cost or complexity keep
you on the sidelines. The sweet spot of digital technology plus direct
mail effectiveness is out there, just waiting for you to find it.
Last-Minute Marketing Tips to Get Ready for the Holidays
By Liz Papagni,
Thanksgiving has passed, and so
has Black Friday, too. Here's some last minute ideas to improve your
If you’re looking forward to a busy holiday season, then you’ve probably
been planning your marketing efforts for a while now. There may be a few
things you’ve forgotten, though. That’s why we pulled together this list
of last-minute marketing tips so you can be sure you’ve covered all your
bases as the shopping season is in high-gear.
1. Focus on Your Customer
The holiday season brings with it anxiety about the sales numbers you’ll
hit. This might prompt you to create marketing materials that go for the
hard sales push, but that’s not going to win you any new buyers. Your
focus should instead be on the buyer. What are his needs this holiday
season? What are the pain points?
Keep in mind that buyers at this time of year are often shopping outside
their comfort zones. Grandparents are searching for items their teenaged
grandchildren would like. Husbands and boyfriends are roaming the aisles
and searching ecommerce sites for something special for their significant
others. They’ll have questions, and it’s your job to answer those
Take a look at your website, your social media posts, and your blogs. Are
they focused on the customer or on your bottom line? Take some time to fix
it up quickly. You still have some time.
2. Segment Those Buyers
During this time of year, you probably have several different email
campaigns ready to fly at the touch of a button. Are you sending every one
of those emails to every one of your contacts? If so, you’re cruising for
some holiday burnout. Nothing slows your sales like a mass unsubscribe.
Instead, take the time to segment your buyers according to their personas
so they receive emails that seem personalized to their wants and pain
points. Baby Boomers don’t want to open emails that have obviously
targeted Millennials, and Millennials won’t be moved by marketing geared
toward older crowds. Beyond that, you don’t want to send out marketing
content to those who have recently purchased the very product you’re
You can’t possibly have the time to treat each and every buyer like an old
friend, but segmenting your email lists will definitely give your buyers
the feeling that you know them and their needs.
3. Check for Mobile Responsiveness
It’s almost 2018. If you don’t have a mobile responsive website, you’re
already behind the rest of the world. But mobile responsiveness goes
beyond even your website, your company’s biggest marketing tool.
What about those emails you just segmented? Is the email client you’re
using mobile responsive, too? Nothing frustrates consumers more than
opening an interesting email, only to have it jumble into an incoherent
mess on their phone screen. How can they see the offer, much less buy it?
Double check all of your marketing materials now—the website, your landing
pages, your email messages, and yes, even your social media marketing
images and videos. Test them for use on a mobile device, because 54% of
emails are now opened on mobile devices, 80% of social media time is spent
on a mobile device, and mobile browsing has now overtaken desktop and
laptop browsing with 51.3% to 48.7%.
Have you discovered that you’re not as ready for your holiday marketing
campaigns as you thought? There’s still time—but only a little bit (and
keep this article for next year so you can prepare fro the 2018 Holiday
season with more time).
Win Brooklyn Nets Tickets!
Enjoy a great day of Basketball!
We are giving away two tickets to see the Brooklyn Nets.
All you have to do to win is be the first telephone caller (please don’t
hit reply or send an email). Voice mail messages count so it's fine to
leave a message. Call Michael Borkan at (631) 667-5500 x 11.
Tuesday December 12, 2017.
Nets vs. Wizards 7:30 PM.
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The #1 Most Important Technique for Writing Copy
How You Can Innovate With Direct Mail
3 Last-Minute Marketing Tops to Get Ready for the Holidays
Mike Borkan's Apps & Links - Apps & Web sites you probably
View Samples of Our Work
Direct Mail Humor!
Talon welcomes the following new clients this month to our growing roster
Mike's Favorite Apps & Links:
Some interesting things to check out...
- Easily Create online Presentations, animations, animated HTML5 banners,
infographics and other
rich visual content free in your browser.
Copyblogger.com - This site is a wealth of information useful to any
marketer or content creator. If you’re not reading it, you’re missing out
on a tool that should be in the arsenal of anyone who writes marketing
- This site makes it surprisingly easy to create a high-quality website,
blog or online store. Over 40 million people use Weebly to bring their
unique ideas to life.
Moviepass.com - Get access to unlimited movies in theaters nationwide
for a monthly fee. Any theater, any movie, any day.
Theapplaunchpad.com - Create gorgeous customized images for your App
Store & Google Play page in minutes.
Pexels.com - The best free stock photos in one place.
Did you know Talon offers the following services?
Click on the links below to see samples.
Direct Mail Humor!
Click on image below to enlarge.
Do you need help marketing to your clients? Talon can
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