• successful correspondence

    Brown envelopes get opened!

    They have long been associated with ‘bungs’ and payoffs, referred to with a smirk. Filled with cash to avoid a paper trail.

    But brown envelopes were also used frequently for official mail – stern warnings and timely reminders from the Inland Revenue, utility bills, circulars, and the original junk …read more

    Source: PKP Communicators WordPress.com

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  • Who wrote that letter for you, then?

    By phillipkp

    Standard letters. They undermine customer relationships, undo the best PR, lose customers, conflict with a company’s marketing efforts.

    I have no objection to the use of standard letters, only to the letters themselves. Because they are seldom written by copywriters. In fact, they frequently read like the scribblings of backroom workers …read more

    Source: PKP Communicators WordPress.com

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  • elements of direct mail

    7 Key Elements of Direct Mail

    1. The List comes first
    • Who is your target market?
    • Must be relevant to your product or service
    • Is the Database up to date, accurate, fully named?

    2. Make the envelope look right
    • Use a stamp not a franking machine
    • Make it look like personal correspondence
    • Don’t put sales messages for the sake of something to say

    3. Create an offer that’s hard to resist
    • You must MAKE AN OFFER
    • Address the question, What’s in it for me?
    • Make a ‘soft offer’, i.e. one that requires minimal commitment. If you require a ‘Yes/No’ response it’s a Hard Offer.

    4. Aim to create ACTION
    • Always have a response device
    • Write the response device first
    • Give a compelling reason to reply

    5. Stop expecting only a 1% return
    • With the right ingredients you CAN get double digit response
    • Avoid trying to convert non-users
    • Focus on getting users to switch to you

    6. Testing can make all the difference
    • How will you know what works? By testing
    • How will you know what works BEST? By testing
    • Use a rolling test programme to stay ahead of the game

    7. Monitor your results
    • Things change. So keep your eye on all results
    • Change only one key element at a time and note the effect

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  • Let me tell you a story …

    Make a point, tell a story; tell a story, make a point. That’s an easy enough mantra to follow in speeches and presentations, but what kind of story should you tell?

    The three factors that work in story telling are:
    1. They illustrate the point and are easy to understand and remember
    2. We are all conditioned, from childhood, to like stories
    3. They can connect with your listeners’ backgrounds

    The first two are fairly obvious, but the third one often surprises people when I raise it during my training courses. Backgrounds?

    Let’s take an extreme example, just to make the point. Suppose you are pitching to the owner of a small business. Did you stop to consider why he started that business? One such small business owner told me, only the other day, “I started this business because no one would give me a job.”

    Another (geeky) micro business owner told me his technical expertise is such that he is always in demand, and he doesn’t have to market himself.

    For people like them, you may want to avoid stories about gregarious situations and talk, instead, about self sufficiency and the virtues of independence. Talk about the injustice of bureaucracy and the triumph of the ‘small’ over the ‘large’.

    At the same time, be aware of your own background story, and avoid pleading your own position. Remember, the main purpose of the story is to advance your business case, not to entertain or to beat the drum of self interest.

    Think about how movies can touch your own emotions. That’s the power of story telling.Go ye and do likewise.

    Phillip

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  • Who would you trust to sharpen your presentation skills?

    Is presentation skills training a waste of time and money?

    Sadly, most of the time it is. Presentation Skills courses have attracted some opprobrium because they can be ‘same old, same old’ – routine trudges through PowerPoint slides and cliché-ridden accounts of platform skills. And soon afterwards people return to what they were doing before. (Hand on heart, have you changed the way you present, after being on such a course?)

    It doesn’t have to be that way.

    Presentations should never be linear descriptions of a business offering, with slides in attendance, however slickly put together. They should be about reaching the hearts of your hearers and bringing about a change in their thinking, attitudes or behaviour.

    Not everyone knows how to bring that about. But the best speakers do.

    Let me ask you this: if you were looking for some tennis coaching, would you prefer to engage Roger Federer or someone who qualified through a tennis academy? I would choose Federer in a heartbeat, for two reasons:

    1. Roger knows everything that a tennis coach can tell you
    2. In addition, he knows what it takes to win

    Any number of coaches can teach you technique. A champion can give you something extra. Technique is something you need to practise, anyway, if you want to be good. What you get from a champion is insight into what it takes to be ‘special’.

    Business presentations should be designed to achieve results. They should also project that certain ‘specialness’ which lies at the heart of your business proposition. If you’d like to know more about that, give me a call.

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  • What exactly is Database Marketing?

    Small businesses don’t always have a Marketing Plan. And when someone suggests Database Marketing, they often ask:”What the heck is Database Marketing?” or, if they know what it is, “Isn’t Database Marketing only for the big boys?”

    The answer is No. You do not need an expensive system to set up a Database. You can use a simple spreadsheet to record the essential information about your customers.

    These are the details your system should record:

    Recency: date of last purchase

    Frequency: how many purchases made

    Money: total spend with you so far

    Average order: Money divided by Frequency

    Trend: are the Frequency and Average rising or falling?

    Your marketing should focus on Recency, Frequency and Money – the RFM factors, as they are called in Direct Marketing.

    Those who bought from you recently, and often, are the ones most likely to buy from you again, because they have accepted you as a preferred supplier, and do not need much reminding of the benefits of doing business with you.

    And those who buy frequently could quite readily be persuaded to shorten the gap between purchases or to order something new between their regular purchases.

    The total money spent with you will also determine how important they are to your business, and how profitable.

    Obviously, Recency, Frequency and Money will have different values in different businesses.

    For example, the gaps for buying computers will usually be much greater than for consumables like stationery. You should monitor all gaps and learn what is normal for each type of product, not only among your own customers, but in the industry.

    It adds important information to your Database – information that can guide your Marketing decisions.

    The other factor to consider is creativity – copywriting and design. Start with an email to phillip@speakingandpresentationskills.com“>phillip@speakingandpresentationskills.com or call 0845 165 9240 . The initial consultation is free.

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  • The 5th level of competence

    I was talking to a Sales consultant recently, and he was asking me about my special skills. It’s a conversation I have had before, when I was exploring the skills of a friend or colleague. Now the boot was on the other foot.

    At some point I said, “I don’t know what I know.”

    I explained that I could articulate the subject matter of my training courses, as I have done on my website and in promotional literature or ads promoting specific courses, but that would not really explain my special skills. It’s a common problem, and one that you must have encountered yourself.

    Think about situations when you have been training or helping someone to solve a problem within your area of expertise. Under pressure, you come out with insights that derive from a deep understanding of your subject – wisdom that you’d find hard to explain or call to mind out of context.

    You could call that the fifth level of competence. It’s what distinguishes the true expert from the specialist.

    The other four levels are well known:
    1. unconscious incompetence, when the person is unaware of a deficiency in knowledge or skill
    2. conscious incompetence, when the person realises that deficiency, perhaps when trying to apply it
    3. conscious competence, when the person can apply the skill at will, recognising the level of competence and noticing how it improves with practice
    4. unconscious competence, when the skill or competence becomes automatic and second nature, like driving a car

    Some people progress further. Their knowledge of their subject moves to a higher level, so that they understand the principles underlying it, and can enable others to cope with any problems within it. Unconscious competence is about being able to carry out the skills themselves. The fifth level is about becoming expert and developing ‘wisdom’.

    Think about medical consultants, or lawyers who can find unexpected interpretations of the law. They, too, would find it hard to tell you what they know, but it’s much more than the stuff you’ll find in text books.

    When it comes to communication in business – speaking, leadership, presentations, sales letters and such like, I don’t know what I know. But I know I’m at the fifth level of competence. That’s my ‘specialness’.

    Phillip

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  • One answer to the long or short copy debate

    Should your sales letter be long or short? Is it true that the more you tell the more you sell? Or are people too busy to bother with long letters?

    The answer may surprise you. It arises out of a significant shift in our reading habits, a shift that makes the appearance of a letter (or blog, article or brochure) a significant element.

    I realised it myself this week, when I found myself reading a number of blogs in a hurry.

    I read them because they were discussions on topics that interested me, and had attracted quite a few comments from well-informed people. However, I struggled with them.

    The reason I found them hard going was this: the paragraphs were too long.

    And there were too many paragraphs.

    In Ecademy blogs, for example, the text is set in 10 point (I think), with a line length of about 110 characters. That’s hard to skim read, and you have to move your head as you read each line. Too much work.

    Easy on the eye

    In contrast, some online sales letters from the USA run to many pages, but the paragraphs usually consist of single sentences and are almost NEVER more than four lines long. The line length is short too.

    Some paragraphs are one-liners like this.

    They also have subheads like the one above, to segment the subject matter and break up the grey text.

    Why that works

    We all suffer from Attention Deficit. It may not be a Disorder (yet!) but it gets in the way when we are at work.

    Every day, we are all assailed by huge numbers of messages and calls for our attention: radio, TV, emails, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, posters, tannoy announcements, traffic, phone calls, conversations, meetings …

    We cannot cope with more than one thing at a time, so we have developed the ability to switch off. In fact, it’s a reflex that kicks in very quickly.

    So what’s the answer?

    The answer is to deliver your information in small bites. Like this blog. Make it attractive to the eye and it will be easy for the reader take in each new idea or piece of information. It will increase your chances of being read all the way down the page. And page after page.

    Phillip

    phillip@pkpcommunicators.com

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  • The language of lies

    In marketing by mail and email, there is an unfortunate tendency to use language to deceive, confusing manipulation with persuasion. Those who do so use weasel words (terms that imply or suggest more than the reality), and even lie outright. My email inbox regularly receives examples of verbal deceit.

    There is one chap who sends me emails with things like “Facebook message” in the subject line. The email itself has nothing to do with Facebook. It’s just a crude device to get me to open the email.

    To my mind it falls in the same ditch as the person who says, “Sex! Now that I have your attention …” Astonishingly, there are still some folks who use that cringingly awful “Hook”, either in writing or in speech.

    I promised myself that the next time I heard a speaker open with that I would rise and leave the room in a marked manner. And I shall.

    Another devious device is to offer something free, and then renege on it. Here’s one I received last week:

    Im (sic) giving this away Totally FREE!

    But when you click on the link, this is what you get:

    ==============================
    Regular Price $197
    Today only $37/mon
    ADD TO CART

    TODAY’S PAYMENT: $44.40
    Includes the first month of service

    ===============================
    It goes from FREE to $37 PER MONTH! and on to $44.40 (per month) without missing a beat.

    Let me now turn to weasel words. They are terms we use to imply something more than the reality. The intention is to deceive.

    One of the most common examples these days is “You have been approved”. It implies a selection that never took place, other than inclusion from the database. It even suggests that you have applied in the first place.

    A close relation is the long-standing “Three Stage” copy approach favoured by Reader’s Digest, which states, “You have come through two stages of selection and are now in the final of the Prize Draw.”

    The first two stages actually consist of selecting names from the database (known to be interested in the product being offered) and the allocation (automatically by computer) of six numbers in the Draw. There’s nothing illegal or even immoral about this approach, but I think you can see how the wording implies more than what actually takes place.

    Another favourite involves a sealed envelope that you have to tear open to see if you are a lucky winner. The weasel words in this case will be, “Find a Lucky Six for a chance to Scoop the Jackpot”.

    Once again the implication is that there is an element of chance, whereas every sealed envelope contains a six. The key word is “Find”. For a genuine element of chance there would be the word “If”, as in “See if you have a lucky six.”

    A poor copywriter will either lie or come close to deceit. The skilled copywriter will raise hopes without being untruthful. Direct Marketing is salesmanship in print, so it must use the stratagems of a professional sales person, and (usually) follow the AIDA sequence (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) of persuasion.

    Deceit is not the best basis for starting a customer relationship, so my advice is this: Always tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating!

    Phillip

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