Marketing is a key concern for most business, particularly its bottom-line function, converting prospects into paying customers. Among the many methods used to reach prospective clients, direct mail campaigns are still productive for marketers, despite the rise of digital promotions.

Entrepreneur recently shared excerpts from Robert W Bly’s book on the subject, How to Create Profitable Direct Mail Campaigns in a Digital World. The material reinforces the importance of structure in direct marketing, exploring the crucial role of persuasive copy in the marketing and promotions process.

Follow a Proven Promotional Structure for Marketing Success

Marketing is multi-dimensional, but at its core, promotion is all about persuading consumers. If you’re unable to influence buyers’ perception and persuade them you’re a solution to their needs, you may not survive long in competitive commercial markets. On the other hand, following a persuasive structure when creating your promotional copy for direct mail, can result in productive campaigns.

According to expert Robert Bly, marketers have embraced a number of blueprints for creating persuasive copy over the years, including a well-known formula designated AIDA. The marketing approach, AIDA, stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. The simple sequence roughly describes the steps required to convert prospects into actual customers.

Mr. Bly teaches his own AIDA variation, known as the “marketing sequence,” at copywriting seminars, instructing writers on the finer points of persuasive marketing copy. His version of the structure follows a five-point sequence, shared below.

Step One: Get Your Prospects’ Attention

Direct mail success relies on your ability to capture readers’ attention. It’s easy for recipients to throw your direct mail materials in the trash, so falling short on step one can mean “game over” for your promotional piece. Instead of ditching your marketing mail, you want the reader to immediately engage, pausing to peruse the content.

There are a number of ways to make your direct mail stand out among other promotional materials, including these eye-grabbing suggestions for engaging direct mail readers:

  • Sprout Funding logoInclude a provocative statement
  • Spark curiosity with an intriguing question
  • Present surprising or interesting statistics
  • Include an object in your mailing envelope
  • Add a glossy coating to your envelope and contents
  • Utilize pop-up graphics

Step Two: Identify What is Needed  

The most sought-after products and services solve problems and address needs for consumers and businesses. Your second step crafting a meaningful direct mail campaign is identifying a problem or need for which you can provide a solution. And it isn’t always enough to put your finger on it; you must also focus readers’ attention on the issue, before serving up your goods or services as the most effective solutions.

Step Three: Present Your Product as a Solution

After you’ve captured a direct mail recipient’s attention and turned his or her attention to a particular need, the next phase of your presentation is positioning your product as the best possible solution to the problem you identified in step two.

Mr. Bly suggests the transition can be relatively succinct, setting up the next portion of the mailer, in which you offer more specifics about what your product can do for the reader, supported by examples of its past effectiveness.

Step Four: Offer Proof Your Product Delivers

Skepticism generally prevails when a sales pitch lands, so your direct mail must support your claims. For compelling copy, answer the question, “Why should I believe you?” with two types of proof.

The first kind of proof reinforces your credibility. Before becoming customers, prospects want assurance you’re a reputable entity that they can trust. Bly points to a prominently displayed medical school diploma as an example of proof found in a doctor’s office. In the same way a diploma reassures patients in person, a health care direct mail piece signed by an M.D. carries more cachet than one without, resulting in a higher response rate for the doctor-endorsed direct mail health offer.

The second type of proof speaks directly to the effectiveness of your product. The copy needs to convince the prospect your product delivers. A few of the ways to build confidence in your product include:

  • Case Histories
  • Testimonials
  • Customer Reviews
  • Graphs Charting Product Performance
  • Product Test Data

Step Five: Ask for Action

The closing step in direct marketing is a call to action. Typically, the action requested is an inquiry or an order. According to Bly, asking for action in a direct mailing usually follows an offer you’ve made, telling the reader what he or she gets for responding to the mailing, and the actions required to make it happen.

If you’re hoping to generate leads with your direct mail package, the requested action might be returning the enclosed reply card, in order to receive a free catalog. In the case of an online promotion, the reader may be asked to click, in order to activate the offer.

Your intuitive selling skills may be sufficient when crafting direct marketing promotions, but following a persuasive formula ensures you don’t overlook a step or shortchange the effort in a particular area. Robert W. Bly’s five-step marketing sequence provides one such proven formula for turning prospects into customers.

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