I share a lot on this blog, my report, my ezine, and my talks about marketing strategy.
I probably talk more about strategy than anything else because its super important.
Without knowing what you want to achieve or how you’re going to achieve it, chances are you won’t.
But just as important as it is to know the macro-strategy that drives your marketing efforts, it’s also important to know how those efforts work to contribute to your macro-strategy’s success.
That’s why we’re looking at what makes for a great marketing piece in this post.
Your typical business card is not a great marketing piece. It does not – at least on its own – contribute to a great strategy.
(If you’ve read the report I offer here on the website, you’ll know just what I mean.)
A great marketing piece comprises elements that all work together harmoniously to get its recipients (or at least the largest possible percentage of its recipients) to take the action it prescribes. You could say that the elements of a great marketing piece have a micro-strategy of their own to advance.
Here’s what they are and what role they play in that micro-strategy:
The Headline and Sub-Headline
The headline is intended to capture the attention of the reader and immediately communicate, “Hey! You need to pay attention to this because it talks about something you care about!
Sometimes the right headline can stand on its own, able to both get attention and communicate benefit. For those times that it can’t, we use a sub-headline to pick up the slack, handling whichever side of the responsibility the headline couldn’t.
The Opening Greeting and Closing Salutation
The greeting and salutation turn words on a page into an experience more like you’re to bring spoken to. It addresses the reader as an individual. If the piece is being sent to a prospect whose name is unknown to us, it may read “Dear Friend” but if we do know who we’re sending to, addressing that person by his or her first name is even better.
Persuasive Body Copy
Persuasion is a subject that’s too important to think I could do it any justice in a short paragraph. All the same, this is where the selling happens. This is where you work to convince the reader to take the action you want him to take.
Testimonials or Case Studies
You know what is really persuasive? The opinions or results of others who don’t have a stake in our decision. Even more so if those opinions or results reflect those of someone whose been at this very crossroads before. And still more if those opinions or results are those of people like us.
Section Headers, Graphics, Pictures and Captions
While each of these elements should be designed to persuade, they serve an equally valuable purpose in concert. They are designed to aid the reader who is a natural scanner (one who prefers skimming through long messages for the good stuff), creating an “alternate readership path” that still leads to the desired action.
Urgent Call(s) to Action
Never assume that even when a reader is persuaded by your marketing piece that he will take action if his own accord just because its the logical next step. You need to have clear, specific instructions of what must happen next and why it needs to be done now.
It’s really best to limit this to either a primary reason for response – but do no more than two. What this means is, if you’re trying to generate leads with this piece, the best approach is to only talk about the lead generation offer. You may also primarily try to sell something and make a free lead generation offer as a primary reason for response.
In primarily attempting to sell something, a great marketing piece will eliminate perceived risk on the potential buyer’s part with a great guarantee. In offering something for free in exchange for contact info and permission to keep in touch, it may suffice to remind them of your commitment to their privacy, and that any unsatisfied with what you send can be removed from your recipients’list at any time.
A special note about risk reversal -
Certainly the biggest apprehension I hear on this topic is that this leaves you vulnerable to getting screwed over.
Yes, it does. And that’s why it works so incredibly well.
When your prospects think that they’re the only ones risking anything in your proposition, they meet it naturally defensively.
However, you can take solace knowing that over a century of experience in direct response marketing has revealed that people are, by a huge margin, generally good – and that it is but a small fraction of your target audience that may simply take advantage of your kindness.
You will get MANY, many more leads and sales by reversing the risk – and therefore greater opportunities to earn business – than you’d ever see without doing so.
Are you using these 7 elements in your copy? Which element do you think is most important? Leave me your comments and questions below!
P.S. Here’s a bonus element… the P.S.!
The P.S. is another excuse to make one more compelling argument in your attempt to get the reader to take action.
But here’s a tip: use it to get the “scanners” to get back into your copy – the more they read into it, the better persuaded they can be!