Today we are very excited to feature a blog interview with Lori Fletcher, a professional copywriter that is also a strategic partner of Ballantine’s creative services. Let’s dive right in!
1. Quick bio — who are you and what do you do?
I am a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant specializing in marketing strategy and direct response advertising. I started in an ad agency right out of college, and wrote everything from radio ads to television commercials to brochures to billboards. I even wrote the bon mots inside the Dove chocolate wrappers! I then moved into publishing and began to specialize in direct response advertising. I eventually went freelance, and am proud to have spent 20 years helping my many clients find success through direct mail. As for what I do on a day-to-day basis, I work closely with clients to brainstorm new ways for them to meet their goals. Sometimes they just need a simple postcard or email blast. Other times they need an entirely new branding campaign. I love both the creative and strategic aspects of advertising, and still find it challenging and exciting when I tackle a new project, whether big or small.
2. Why is copywriting so important to the success of a direct mail campaign?
As my boss told me on my first day on the job, you have to imagine that everyone that that receives your direct mail package is looking to throw it in the trash without even opening it. You have 5 seconds to make them stop and reconsider. What you do with those 5 seconds of attention sets the stage for the success or failure of the entire campaign. And with the surge in digital direct response advertising (email blasts, banner ads, etc.), you have even less than 5 seconds before your recipient hits Delete. You need a killer headline/offer/teaser/idea that will make the recipient open the package/click open the email and read on. Great copywriting will capture their interest and bring you that much closer to closing the deal.
3. Are there any copywriting “secrets” you can share with us?
Secret #1: The call-to-action is the most important sentence in the piece.
Make it clear and decisive. It might be the only thing the recipient reads, so you need to tell them what to do NOW. If they set the piece down to look over later, you’ve most likely lost the sale.
SECRET #2: Don’t be afraid to name names.
Empower your client to call out their competition by name, and the recipient reading the piece will actually stop and think about the comparison for a minute. That’s the first step in convincing them to give your client’s product or service a try.
SECRET #3: Clever doesn’t always close the sale.
If your reader doesn’t understand the details of the offer, then they are less likely to take it. Clever copy is a great way to break the ice, but make sure the features and benefits are clear, easy-to-scan, and convincing.
4. What are some common copywriting pitfalls?
PITFALL #1: You assume the audience already understands the product.
Maybe, maybe not. Briefly refresh their memory first, and then cut to the offer. If you leap to the offer too early, they may not have enough details to make a decision and just say no.
PITFALL #2: You assume the audience knows nothing about the product.
Maybe, maybe not. Educate them enough to start the conversation, but don’t take them to the PhD level. Boring!
PITFALL #3: You bury the price.
If the reader has to work too hard to find the price, they won’t trust you. Trumpet the benefits. Directly state the offer. Spell out the price. A well-informed customer is a satisfied customer.
5. If you could give marketers just ONE copywriting tip, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to have a conversation. It’s easy to liberally sprinkle exclamation points into your headlines and shout at the consumer. But conversational writing is an art that can be most effective. A great letter that is chatty, personal, warm, and insightful can change minds and win hearts. Start a new client relationship off on the right foot with some meaningful give-and-take. They’ll find it refreshing to be treated so respectfully!