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Direct Mail Gone Wrong (or How to Lose Customers Fast)


Ryan Parton, president, RP Copywriting

If you’re going to execute a direct mail campaign, give your customers some credit.

Before Christmas, I received an addressed direct mail piece from the auto dealership from which I’d purchased my vehicle several years prior. It made me shake my head with disappointment.

The letter appeared to be a printed version of an internal email from the dealership manager to a salesperson. In it, the manager told the salesperson (“Chad”) that he had a buyer for my specific model of vehicle and that the salesperson should therefore contact me to offer great trade-in value plus some other incentives.

Toward the bottom of the “email,” the manager suggested Chad simply print out the email and mail it to me. The direct mail piece purported to be that printout, with a handwritten sticky note from Chad himself asking me to call him.

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Will direct mail work for your small business?

Darcy Lefebvre is a marketing consultant with RP Copywriting

Darcy Lefebvre is a marketing consultant with RP Copywriting

Darcy Lefebvre, RP Copywriting

Surrounded with ever-evolving online communication tools and technology, direct mail seems to have been left in the dust. That being said, there’s still room for direct mail in most small business marketing plans – if it’s done right!


The benefits of direct mail

The most obvious advantage of direct mail is that your message physically gets directed to a real person. Your brand is in their hands! People are much more likely to open and read a letter that comes to their mailbox than peruse an email in their inbox.

Direct mail also gives you an excuse to check back with a potential client so that those “cold calls” aren’t quite so chilly. Other benefits include being able to easily measure your campaign’s rate of success and target your market quite specifically.

Try Canada Post’s Precision Targeter to select demographics, property types and specific delivery areas.


How to create a direct mail campaign that works

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6 steps to your best writing ever

People often compliment me on my writing. Sure, it’s mostly my wife and my mother-in-law, but still. The point is, great writing – however loosely you define that term – doesn’t flow from the keystrokes of enlightened scribes like so many lavender-scented rainbows from the backsides of flying unicorns.

Unlike unicorns, great writing isn’t magical; it’s actually quite ugly to watch. It’s type, delete, type type, delete, type, smash fist into keyboard, delete, type, sigh, go for more coffee. You can, however, ensure your writing is the best it can possibly be by following these six steps:

  1. Research – You can’t write what you don’t know. Before writing a single letter, find out as much as you can about your subject. Typically, the research phase makes up the majority of time our team spends on a copywriting project.
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4 Tips for Writing Money-Making Direct Mail 

Writing for direct mail isn’t the same as blogging, or writing the great Canadian novel.  Direct mail has a specific purpose – usually convincing the reader to hand over his or her hard-earned cash for your product or service – and there are proven techniques for making it work.

It would be impossible to explain all the intricacies of writing a winning direct mail piece, but here are a few tips to help steer you in the right direction:

  1. correspondenceBegin your writing on the envelope. A brief “teaser” on the envelope can go a long way toward persuading the reader to open it.  Because remember, zero per cent of all mailings that don’t get opened result in sales.
  2. Write about the reader, not about your company or product.  Sure, you do have to mention what it is you’re selling at some point, but do it in a way that emphasizes benefits rather thanfeatures.  For example, you’re not selling a shoe with an air-cushion sole; you’re selling relief from aching feet.
  3. Offer something for free.  “Order now and get my free report!”  “Let’s meet for coffee – on us!”  “Call now for a free trial!”
  4. Include a postscript (P.S.) where you re-state your offer.  Studies have shown that when people read letters, they read the salutation first and the postscript second.  So state your main benefit, your call to action and, if possible, some sort of guarantee.

To learn more about how you can use direct mail to turbo-charge your marketing, or if you’d like help with any of your marketing materials, click here to request a free consultation.

By the way, if you found this useful or interesting (or both), you may also want to read “How to Boost Your Profits With Direct Mail.”

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How to write a press release that gets published

MR_manKnowing how to write a press release is one of the best marketing skills a small-business owner can possess.

That’s because press releases (also called media releases or news releases) are one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business. They give you a chance at exposure in a variety of publications for a fraction of the cost of paid advertising.

The downside? Very few people know how to write a press release that will actually be used. Most media outlets, including local newspapers, receive hundreds of press releases every week. Most are awful.

Here are 10 tips to make your press release jump to the top of the pile:

1. Have something to say
If your press release doesn’t have a newsworthy angle, no editor will be interested. That your company carries 500 varieties of widgets isn’t news. That you’ve just developed 100 new varieties might be. That you developed them using a rare mineral unearthed by last month’s devastating volcano eruption definitely is.

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How to write sales copy that appeals to goldfish

Ryan Parton, RP Copywriting

According to a recent study, our attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds to just eight over the last 15 years. Goldfish, by comparison, are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds.

That’s right – your digital lifestyle has left you less focused than a goldfish.

So what’s a copywriter to do? Given that most people take the time to read only the first 30 to 40 words on a page, you need to work smarter to grab your reader’s attention and sustain it. (He says, grudgingly acknowledging that most of you have already stopped reading this.)

Let’s not panic – writing killer copy that gets noticed is totally doable. You just need to remember the Three E’s of Copywriting and four other little letters: AIDA.


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How to write engaging sales copy – 4 tips

customers ahead signRyan Parton, RP Copywriting

A copywriting legend of yore – was it Ogilvy or was it Caples? – once said he could write a thousand word ad and virtually guarantee you’d read every word. How? By writing on the topic “All About (insert your name here).”

If the topic of your own promotional writing is something that everyone finds just as irresistible, then you need no help engaging readers. But if you’re like the rest of us, here are four tips to start you in the right direction:

Show some levity – no one likes reading content that’s dry, monotonous or written with all the joviality of a corrections officer whose daughter you just brought home three hours late from prom. Tossing in some light humour can convey personality and humanize your writing. And as it turns out, humans like doing business with other humans.

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