Flipping through my mail the other day, I came upon this direct mail postcard from a local contractor. Before my marketing consultant brain kicked in to instant-critique mode, I thought I’d share the piece with several women in my brain trust. I sent a jpeg of the card out with a simple message: “I’m curious what you think of this postcard – no technical jargon, just your first reactions.”
I’ll translate their responses below into a list of what to avoid in copywriting, but I thought you should see what ACTUALLY goes through a woman’s mind when reading a direct mail piece like this.
[Click on the images to enlarge for easier reading]
Think that’s harsh? Then you ain’t seen nothin’. Remember: With four times the connections between hemispheres of the brain, a woman’s human operating system is directly linked to her BS meter. Hype, bluster, and poor messaging don’t even begin to make it through the purchasing process filter.
Here’s what you can learn from this direct mail example:
1. Hire a copywriter.
You have about 4 seconds to plant your brand into her right brain. Poor grammar, bad spelling, and run-on sentences get you immediately kicked to the curb. Mixed messaging (“best contractor” vs. “need to keep my employees busy”) will also short-circuit the entire sales process.
The tone is also critical. Overuse of exclamation marks, sensitive language like “come-on,” and pushy phrases such as “Don’t call unless you’re ready to go” are all no-no’s. You’re trying to persuade her to do business with her, not bully her into it!
2. Back up your claims with proof.
How can you say you’re the best contractor in the area without facts to back it up? If you don’t have proof, don’t say it. And don’t expect that women are going to go to your website to look for awards or testimonials, because they don’t have the time.
3. Without a pay-off, your guarantee is worthless.
Saying that you guarantee lowest price means nothing unless, once again, you can back it up. Receipts and pay stubs won’t be enough here. You guarantee it or what – you’ll do the job for FREE? Guarantees without a customer payoff are just empty promises that send the BS meter into the red.
Will this contractor get 5 jobs out of this direct mail piece? I’m doubtful. My guess is he’ll try sending this piece out next month, and the month after that, pouring good marketing money down the drain.
I’ve sent the contractor an email offering to help re-write the copy and get him those 5 jobs he’s desperately seeking – we’ll see if he takes me up on it.
What other things do you see on this direct mail piece that raise red flags for you?