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A Message From Denny…

They other day I got this great email from Denny Hatch. His Business Common Sense Newsletter is just one of the many I read on a regular basis. This issue is great - To good for me not to pass on to all of you. Usually If there is something worth noting in things that I read I share them with you by incorporating them into a personal experence... but this is perfect on its own. Here's what Denny wrote...

When a Marketer Breaks All the Rules Where, oh where, is the USP?

Thirty years ago I attended a luncheon of the Direct Mail Writers Guild in New York. The speaker was Dorothy Kerr, circulation direct of U.S. News & World Report. Her talk changed our lives, Peggy's and mine. Dottie said: The way to be successful in direct mail is to watch your mail and see who's mailing what. Look for those pieces that keep coming in over and over. These are the controls--the mailings that are working and making big profits for the mailer. Then steal smart. "To make mailings without studying other people's mail," said the great direct marketing guru, Axel Andersson, "is like expecting a brain surgeon to operate without ever having studied brains." On Monday I received a self-mailer from Vermillion, a firm I had never heard of. In 40 years of studying direct mail--literally tens of thousands of envelope efforts, postcards, catalogs and self-mailers--I have never seen a piece that breaks so many rules. Whoever created it is not a student of direct mail or marketing psychology. After reading this, you may want to take a look at what your organization is sending out. Takeaway Points to Consider:
  • Turn features into benefits. Inexperienced copywriters--and often product managers who should know better--do not understand the difference between a feature and a benefit. A feature is a fact about the product or service you are selling. A benefit is what that feature will do for YOU--make you rich or desirable or happy or enable you to sleep at night.
  • One marketing technique is to make a list of all the features of the product or service being sold. Then turn those features into benefits.
  • People buy for three reasons and three reasons only: Price and/or Service and/or Exclusivity. If all things are equal and your price is lowest, you will get the order. If your service is terrific, your sales people warm and knowledgeable, your guarantee of satisfaction ironclad, then people will buy. Or if you are the only game in town (e.g., Rolls-Royce, Segway, Picasso), you will make the sale.
  • The key to direct marketing success is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP)--the one thing that makes a product or service stand out and be different from the competition. It might be price. It might be service. It might be exclusivity. It might be something else. One way to determine the USP is to list all the benefits of the product or service and then rank them in importance. The top benefit becomes your USP.
  • Cleverness and humor have no place in direct marketing. If the reader says "My, isn't this clever" or "Oh, how funny!," the thread of the argument is lost and so is the sale.