Since the dawn of marketing, direct response materials have been a go-to method to engender interest and action in a target audience. But when faced with the prospect of writing direct response letters or sales pages, business owners tend to be intimidated by these lengthier marketing pieces. This is a shame, because they can be extremely effective when written well and with an eye towards the heart of your target audience.
Whether it’s print or electronic, donation letters or landing pages, direct response materials require five basic elements in order to entice the reader to take action. (Of course, I’m assuming that a skilled copywriter is a given.)
Know your audience. As with any marketing materials, you must know the needs and concerns of your audience. This is the foundation of your sales letter or landing page; without it, the rest of the material has nothing to stand on. Does your audience want to help inner city kids? Do they want to start their own small business? What’s the difference in what will speak to these two groups?
Tell a story. Human beings are naturally drawn to stories. Think about it; from human interest news items to the tales your grandmother tells about your great-grandfather, we can’t help but sit and take it all in. Couching your sales letter or landing page in a story is a sure-fire, organic way to grab and keep attention. (Please, true stories only.)
Make it personal. Emotionally-driven copy is key to these types of materials. You must show real life relatable circumstances that will spark a chord in the reader. Tugging on heart strings, when done with dignity and integrity, is an incredibly effective strategy.
Describe a need. Now that you’ve gotten their attention and their heart strings are singing, humbly describe the core purpose of the letter or sales page. If you need donations, now is the time to describe why. If you’re selling a product that can help the reader, then describe their need here. Then they know you understand their position.
Ask for a response – politely. Respect goes a very long way, especially if your copywriter has taken the time to really craft your material as I’ve described above. Leave the hard sell for another time. If your reader has been drawn into a powerful, relatable story and now clearly recognizes the need presented to them, then they should feel a compelling desire to respond.
When your direct response letter or sales page incorporates all of these elements and is crafted with skill, creativity and intelligence, the end result is an incredibly powerful sales tool. I wrote this donation letter recently for an organization through which I volunteer. I think it’s a great example of a personal, relatable story told with integrity.
So don’t be intimidated; if you take the time to follow my guidelines above and write skillfully, your direct response materials should bring you…well, the response you worked hard to create!