How many of you out there have heard of Copyblogger? This is one of my all-time favorite blogs, and one I count as a must-read when I’m bleary eyed waiting for my morning caffeine fix to hit my bloodstream. If you design your own printed offline marketing materials and you’re looking for techniques to help you reach your customers and get right to the heart of the matter, I strongly suggest you stop by and take a look!

One of the best posts I’ve seen there had to do with using your blog to make money. Does a blog like this one exist to oh, say, sell a product? Or is it there to educate your buying public? Build a rapport between the two? Offer a chance to share opinions and vent about things that individuals outside of the industry “just don’t get”? Before you start a blog you need to figure out what it is you want to do with it to make sure that each time you sit down and write a blog, you’re blogging for all the “write” reasons.

The same rule applies when you’re writing copy for your offline marketing materials.

The first step in creating the print for your offline marketing materials is to figure out who you’re trying to reach and why. Are you trying to sell baby clothes to parents with newborns? Convince local business leaders to attend your next charity event? Announce an upcoming sale to your existing customers? Build your “street cred” with members of your industry? You should always have the who, what, when, where and yes, the why of your message firmly in your head before you sit down and put pen to paper (or boot up your word processing program of choice, whichever you prefer).

Next, think about who your audience is. There’s a reason many companies outsource their copywriting projects, and I can sum it up in one word: Jargon. When you’re used to talking with subject matter experts in your office, it can be easy to forget who you’re talking to out in the real world. If your target customer base understands the jargon you can sit there and use it all day long, but if you’re reaching out to appeal to a group of regular consumers that just aren’t that familiar with the field you’re going to need to tone it down a little. Avoid industry-specific words when you can, and make sure you explain them if you can’t.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how well you say it if your target audience can’t understand what you’re saying!

Finally, remember that in the real world you have exactly 3 seconds to catch your customer’s eye, so make sure your headline is up to the job. (Not sure how? Tune in tomorrow for a quick blurb on writing headlines.) And keep your content interesting, relevant and to the point. A good hook isn’t going to do you much good if they don’t finish reading what you have to say!

Graphic design, a bold color scheme and well designed and professionally printed offline marketing materials are only half the battle. Add in well written copy and you’ll walk away the victor every time.

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What’s the first thing you do when you pull a pile of mail out of your mailbox in the morning? Flip through it to see if there’s anything that warrants your attention, right? And when there’s nothing you want, you toss it straight in the trash. When you’re developing your direct mail marketing campaign you know you have less than a second to capture their interest, so you make your graphics eye catching and you make sure you write headlines that sell.

Why would you do anything different with your email marketing?

It’s amazing how many people create these amazing emails filled with scads of great features and tons of extra value, only to drop the ball when the time comes to write their subject lines. They write such inspiring statements as “Whole new great values for you!” (like you don’t get 100 of those in your inbox every day) and then wonder why their business is going nowhere fast. I can tell you exactly why. It’s because they didn’t take the time to write subject lines that sell, and their customers deleted their email long before they ever set eyes on it.

Your subject line should hit your customers’ hot spots. You know which ones I’m talking about. The ones that they use to justify why they’re spending money on your products and services. So if you were selling, say, nutritional supplements designed to help you lose weight faster, you might post a subject line that says “All Natural Supplements Speed Metabolism 300%”.

How's your hook?

Boom! It’s all natural, which appeals to the part of them that’s been listening to how bad chemical supplements are for you on the news. It speeds metabolism, so it immediately targets the part of them that’s insecure about how hard it is to lose weight. You’ve just told them what you’re selling and why they should buy it in less than 6 words, and when they see that email in their inbox they’re goin to take the time to at least give it a quick perusal.

Make the rest of your email as good as your hook and you’ll be good to go. 

Graphic done by Jeff Bucchino, “The Wizard of Draws”, www.wizardofdraws.com

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