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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

How To Get Copy and Headlines Written

I've got a confession to make...

I used to be an Information Technology consultant.

That means I have a keen interest in marketing and business growth for IT companies.

In fact my first attempt at writing proper copy was for a small IT consultancy I worked for.

Did it work?

Well people did see me after they received one of my letters.

But then I found that I'd a lot more to learn. For a start I thought my target market was the finance directors.

It wasn't...

But also I'd learnt (from books and sales people who got lots of sales) sage advice like:

  • Make sure you use headed notepaper so your logo is big and bold
  • Only use one page to write your letter
  • Explain what your product is in as much detail as you can on one side of A4
  • Keep the postage costs down with the franking machine
  • Print your labels with nice clear type


Personally I'm surprised that anyone was intrigued enough to find out more when they received my letter.

Because as I'm quite sure you know my letters were the worst you could imagine.

  • Prospects weren't interested in my company at all - could we do anything for them was more important. Logos? Who cares
  • Keeping your sales pitch down to one side of A4 is like having your salesman take a stopwatch into a meeting and walking out when 5 minutes has past. Whether he's made the sale or not.
  • Putting too much detail, without explaining the benefits is going to bore your prospect silly
  • A franking mark screams out "BUSINESS POST" or "JUNK MAIL" - either of which is treated in a very cavalier manner and often the bin is used to get rid of the offending item
  • Again using labels shows this is not a personal letter. So it's Business or Junk. Throw away now.

That just shows how little successful salespeople may know about writing copy. But it also shows that if you don't know how to do direct mail it aint going to work. Hence the reason why so many people cry "Direct Mail Doesn't Work".

Well it does...

It just takes some real knowledge from people who've been burnt finding out about it, using it and chasing to the source the people who already know how to do it. And paying through the nose to find out.

Whatever you do avoid computer programs that generate copy for sales letters, brochures, ads or yellow pages.


Because a computer program doesn't know your particular circumstances. It doesn't know the emotions that your prospects should feel as they read your copy.

Similarly don't' use a Headline program to generate your headlines. Use a swipe file of really great headlines and create your own.

Like I said I used to be in IT and they created a program called "The Last One" which was meant to replace all the programmers in the world. Because henceforth programming would be so simple anyone could do it. Have you heard of "The Last One?"

Probably not.

And the reason?

It took too simplistic a view. Just as automated copy writing and headline generating programs do.

So my advice is to steer well clear of anything that comes out of a program. At least for the moment! Write your own copy. Or let someone else with blood pumping through their veins do it.

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