Simple Formulas

4 ingredients of mail that sell

1. Attention

If you know what your customers want, it's not hard to get their attention. Just think about the biggest benefit your product or service can provide and dramatize it.

A gardener or landscaper, for instance, can get attention by mailing a bag of seeds. A fabric store can cut up scrap remnants and send them to potential customers as samples. Set your imagination free. Imagine a company that converts paper files to digital-they could send file folders overflowing with papers.

Words, too, can be powerful attention-grabbers. There's nothing wrong with a big, bold headline that says something as simple as "January Sale." Or as provocative as "Save Your Back." Both sell snowblowers, but from different points of view.

Just be careful not to get too clever. A professional writer may know how to begin with "Think small." Your beginning, however, will be much more successful if you get right to the point: "How much time do you lose to computer crashes every week?"

2. Interest

Now that you've got a customer's attention, don't disappoint. Hold their interest with important, relevant details about what you're selling.

If you've used the "January Sale" or "Save Your Back" headline, show a picture of the snow blower. Or at least write a very clear, bold statement that you are talking about a snow blower.

Short, simple sentences keep a reader's interest best. As does believable, everyday language. Readers, for instance, tend to tune out clichTs like "We are committed to providing the ultimate in quality and service." Instead try saying, "We have hundreds of satisfied customers. If you're not happy with our service, we'll give you your money back." It proves quality and service.

3. Desire

This is where you really excite the customer for what you're selling. It's giving your customer an opportunity to imagine what it's like to own and use your product.

You can build desire with a beautiful picture of a new ski jacket. You can use a detailed description of how the microfibers adjust to your body temperature, keeping you warm on the lift and cool on the slopes. Or you could use both.

The key to building desire is to focus on benefits, not features. A feature tells you what the product has, like a "hyper-fast Internet connection." Benefits, on the other hand, tell you how that feature improves your life. A hyper-fast Internet connection lets you "listen to music on the Internet without jarring pauses, and lets you get more work done in less time."

4. Action

Now that you've got people's attention, interest and desire, don't forget to ask for the order. It's not enough to say, "Buy now." Give a compelling reason to visit your store or call your company immediately.

For instance, "We only have 25 of these amazing ski jackets in stock. First come, first served" compels action. So does "This offer expires November 23." Professional mailers have noticed that they get more responses when they put an expiration date on the offer.

You can even apply this urgency to a service business: "If you would like us to prepare your tax return, please call our office for an appointment before February 15."

Just be clear. And be direct.

When AIDA is a formula, not an opera

When asked what he thought was the greatest slogan he'd ever seen, an advertising industry luminary is reputed to have responded, "Farm-Fresh Eggs Sold Here."

Cutting through the serenity of a backcountry road, the sign demands your attention. If your favorite breakfasts come in sunny-side-up and scrambled varieties, "farm-fresh eggs" provokes your interest and fills you with desire. Meanwhile, the words "sold here" command you to stop the car and take action. To buy.

In five short words, farm-fresh eggs sold here captures the four-part formula for letters, flyers and brochures that sell.

1) Attention
2) Interest
3) Desire
4) Action


Zairmail is an Authorized Affiliate Merchant with the U.S. Postal Service

Simple Formulas is a series of publications offered by the United States Postal Service and sponsored by Zairmail. Zairmail is an authorized online affiliate of the United States Postal Service.



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