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Direct Marketing: Leverage This Writing Niche to Make More Money

 

How to Leverage Direct Marketing and Make More Money

Direct marketing is the subject that brings us together today, which is somewhat ironic. Because I’ll be honest: I do not tend to cut to the chase.

In the spirit of learning about direct marketing, however, let me be very DIRECT about what we’re talking about here: Direct marketing is a specific type of marketing in which people sell … get this … to people.

Directly.

This may not seem surprising or mind-blowing, but actually, it is. Follow me here. Instead of needing large businesses to intercede or coming up with huge advertising budgets in exchange for giant marketing campaigns, direct marketing allows a small company to talk directly to people … and make sales.

That’s a very awesome thing.

For years, the only options for selling an item were by mail, telephone, or face-to-face. Which is fine if you want to sell your turnips at a farmers market or are a large company that can afford to have a catalogue made. For everyone in between, though, life was tough. We could spend the rest of this post playing the world’s tiniest violin, but instead, I want to focus on a more salient point: The digital revolution has solved this problem.

By that I mean, the internet has enabled anyone with a garage, $50 and some free time to start a business. This magical combination of mundane assets means anyone can sell to anyone now, without needing middlemen or tons of capital.

This isn’t to say direct marketing is a product of the digital age. No, no. It was here long before the interwebz. What I am saying is that this creates a wealth of opportunity for you, because it means everyone and their cool old grandfather who knits hats on a circular loom now needs your copywriting skills.

Yay! So many people selling things and not going through retailers! Selling directly! Woo! There’s money to be made here!

That’s what these templates are for. If you need more help figuring out what direct marketing is, Google has your back. Right now, though, I’m here to offer three amazing, simple, everyday templates for blog posts, email newsletters, and ad copy. They’re simple. They’re beautiful. You will love them. You will marry them.

You … should get started. With direct marketing.

… keep up.

The Authoritative Direct Marketing Blog Post Template

Blogging. It’s a thing.

You know it’s a thing. You’ve written some posts. You offer this service.

But possibly you’re not quite certain you’re doing it as well as you could be.

I mean, let’s be honest. You’re not certain. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this post, right? Yet you’re reading it. So you need this template.

You need it bad.

This is going in a weird direction, so let me just cut me off and say: Blog posts, like people and their businesses, come in all shapes and sizes. That’s great and all, but it can be very confusing to new copywriters trying to nail down a specific approach. We’re going to cut through all that noise in this post and give you a template that works for pretty much any blog post.

This template assumes you’re writing a basic blog post on a relatively simple topic and are restricting the content to between 400 and 800 words. For longer posts, you and the client may work out a more explicit format, but this template still works … just stretch out each section or add more content areas.

Okay, ready for your mind to blow? Here you go:

The Only Template for Authoritative Blog Posts You’ll Ever Need

Title:

Subtitle:

Question, Funny Story, Sad Story, Opinionated Mini-Rant

Introduction to Subject

Subheading

Content Subtopic 1

Subheading

Content Subtopic 1

Subheading

Content Subtopic 1

Conclusion

Call to Action

This is a pretty basic format, but it works. Let’s talk each of these through.

How to Use Your Authoritative Blog Post Template for Your Direct Marketing Services

The title and subtitle should be based on the topic and angle the client gives you (if they do not outright give you both) and engagement factor (what sounds interesting?).

If you, like me, suck at headlines, I suggest an online headline analyzer. My favorite, which is currently free and requires no email address, is Sharethrough. It helps you identify strengths and weaknesses in your blog headline ideas and ramp them up so that Google likes them better and people are more likely to click on them.

For instance, I might write a totally lame and boring headline such as How to Write Great Marketing Copy (which is honestly all I’m usually capable of on my own). After futzing with the headline analyzer, though, I can usually come up with something way better, such as:

Write Unique Marketing Copy and Earn Mad Money with One Simple Trick

See the difference that makes? Then in the subheading, I would explain quickly what the post is all about. For instance, I might say: Create blog posts, email newsletters, and online ad copy that actually earn clicks and money, just by using this one word.

Filling Your Authoritative Blog Post Template with Expert Content

Then the post might be about the word “attention,” which has been scientifically proven to grab people’s attention. (I know, right? We’re so easy to dupe. Curse you, caveman brain!)

Much like the three-point essay you learned to write in 7th grade, a standard blog post has between 2 and 5 headings with content under each, plus an introduction and conclusion. If you’re selling something – and you usually are for clients – you put your call to action in under the conclusion. E.g. “Want to learn more about how to grab your prospects’ attention?” or “If you’re looking for a no-miss way to land more clients, we can help.”

More Pro Tips on Using Your Direct Marketing Blog Template

Pretty simple, right? A few more direct marketing tips for making the most of this blog template:

  • Try to use at least one link. Ideal is between two and four external links and one or two internal links – especially important to remember if you’re linking to a specific product or service.
  • Always use a hook in the introduction. An insightful question, a great story or a funny joke work well. When all else fails, a head-on accusation usually works pretty well, like “I know you haven’t been honest with your food diary.” You have to be careful with this, but it sure grabs attention.
  • You can use stories in other parts of the blog, but don’t use more than one anecdote per post. In my opinion, one is enough; more is obnoxious. We only care so much about your life experiences; we care more about our own.
  • Don’t veer wildly off course, though a little detour can have a comedic effect. “Where was I? Oh, yeah” is a great conversational technique to keep people engaged.
  • Where possible, write in the first person – “I” or “we” – from the client’s point of view. This makes for such better content, especially if your goal is entertainment and engagement. If you’re the more serious type, you may want to stick to third person.

That’s it! It will take practice for all these tips to become routine, but you can do it.

Learn More About Blogging, Templates and Direct Marketing

On a final note, it’s important to remember that if you look online, you can find endless information about blog structure, keyword research, SEO, metadata and so much more for blogging.

If your clients want you to provide this service and you’re interested, feel free. I, however, don’t. While I’m conversant in all basic approaches to blogging, my clients pay me primarily for the humor and information in my copy, not for the niggling details, so this is not something you have to be super informed about. It’s really up to you.

(Like this information? It’s from my marketing course, which also includes a dozen videos and worksheets to help you deepen your understanding of copywriting in general and direct marketing in particular. You can find out more by heading to the link and reading up on all the awesome shiz you’ll be able to do if you take it. If you just want to stay in the loop and get access to the Free Resource Library, go ahead and click that pretty picture below.)

Click here to subscribe

The Only Email Newsletter Template You’ll Ever Need

Guess what my favorite type of copywriting is?

If you said email, you’re right!

However, while it is an exceptionally good way to build an audience and convert prospects into buyers, it is an extremely misunderstood medium. We tend to sort of throw our messages out there, hoping someone will open them up and be all, “OMG I can’t believe I never knew how much I needed this! I’ll take ONE THOUSAND MILLION STAT!”

But that’s not the way the world works. If you want to connect with your reader, you need to do it in a specific way.

But what way, Sarah??? you’re wondering. I have no idea hooooowwww!

Yes, well, calm the hell down. That’s why I’m here with an email newsletter template you absolutely cannot mess up, even if you’re trying.

Here it is.

A Direct Marketing Email Newsletter Template You’ll Love

Email #

Subject Line:

Salutation,

Fun fact or anecdote.

Research, facts, main argument, product offering.

Bottom line.

Call to action.

Signoff,

Client’s Name

P.S./*

Some people look at this template and think, Well, that’s simple enough. Others look at it and are like … Oh crap, what does it all mean??

I say, no matter which reaction pops into your head, don’t worry about it. With a little practice, my format will start to flow naturally from your fingertips, with great results for your business and bank account. So deep breath, and let’s dig in.

First and foremost, I always start with the Email #. If you’re writing a single email, this obviously isn’t necessary. But most direct marketing email campaigns are called campaigns because there’s a larger plan in the works. I typically write five emails or more in a single go, sometimes as many as 10, 20 or even 30. I’m fast, so don’t expect this to be you right out of the gate – or for clients to trust you enough to give you that many at once. However, eventually you’ll land these big projects, and you’ll want to have a system for keeping track of those emails. Making it a habit to put that number up top can really help.

Writing Quality Email Newsletter Subject Lines

Then the subject line. These are super important, because the good stuff is inside the email, and you need people to open it in order to see it. Your product and service offerings, deals, coupons and calls to action (which we will address in a minute) are all in here, so you’ve got to get people to click, and that starts with writing subject lines that prompt enough curiosity to do so. There are tons of resources out there about writing good subject lines. Here are a few:

Obviously, you can do your own research as well, and as you become more conversant in writing subject lines, it will begin to come more naturally. Basically, since subject lines are not searchable by Google, it matters less that they have all the right keywords and more than they’re catchy and clickable. Just know that even if you have a more serious voice, you’ll want to get a little playful with these.

For example, a common subject line is The Big Secret. Think “The Secret to Marketing.” It gets the point across, but it’s SO boring, and I kinda don’t believe that your email contains a secret I haven’t seen anywhere else. Plus I’m busy; my inbox is full. When I see this, I don’t really want to click.

However, if you switch it up a bit, you can make a click a LOT more likely. Par example:

  • The One Simple Trick Top-Tier Marketers Know and YOU Don’t
  • The Secret Marketing Trick that Will Kill at Conferences All Over the World
  • How to Market Your Business and Make Him FINALLY Fall in Love with You (Okay, Only One of Those, But STILL)

Know that subject lines don’t have to be that short anymore. If you head to your Gmail inbox (and most others), you’ll see that there’s a lot of room for a subject line. USE IT. Have fun. Go bananas. I do, and it works.

Don’t Use a Boring Salutation, Yo

Next up: the salutation. Now, oftentimes, a simple “Hi [Name]” is totally fine. However, especially when you’re writing longer campaigns, you’ll want to switch it up. Emails that start the same way every time are far likelier to be disregarded … do you want to read the same thing over and over? Probably not. So start incorporating more salutations into your repertoire.

Here you can see a few examples:

  • Ciao
  • Hello
  • Hi there
  • Howdy
  • Greetings
  • Buongioro
  • Bonjour
  • Ahoy
  • What’s up
  • How are you?
  • Holla
  • Well, hi there
  • Shalom
  • Why, hello
  • Mornin’
  • Well, hello
  • Good morning
  • Afternoon
  • ‘Sup
  • Heyo

You can see that some of these are simply different combinations of simple words such as “why,” “well,” “hi,” “hello,” “morning” and “there.” Others are just “hello” in other languages. Easy. Maybe even obvious. But it keeps things interesting, and it works.

Always include [Name], by the way. This tells the client where to put the custom variables in the autoresponder. This is important because the name variable will drag the name from the contact list and drop it into the field, personalizing the email to the recipient. Don’t leave it out. (There are also variables for date, time, last name and more, but you typically won’t need to worry about these. I don’t.)

Give Your Email Newsletter Some Personality

The next three parts of the template are pretty self-explanatory. You always want to start with a fun fact, story, question, deep thought, or another conversational and interesting sentence or two. In other words, you need a great email hook.

Remember, direct marketing. Don’t be aloof; don’t start out with statistics unless those statistics are really interesting. Because my emphasis is always on entertainment value, I’ll often start with a random thought or story. Examples might include:

  • Want to know when I realized that I absolutely, positively, with-a-blinding-passion-brighter-than-a-thousand-suns realized I hated sesame?
  • Turns out standing in line at the post office is good for more than crippling boredom and Dark Thoughts about What It All Means. It’s also good for meeting new clients.
  • One time I wrote a letter to Stephen King, and it started like this: “Dear Stephen King. Please marry me.”

Of course, you’ll want your opening line to be at least tangentially related to your content. The above, for instance, might be openers for emails about food, marketing and networking. Then you’d follow it up in the section for “Research, facts, main argument, product offering.” That’s when you explain why you had this thought or why this story is important, and come to the real point of the email.

Once you’ve developed an argument, slip in that bottom line. Going with the examples we’ve already used, this might sound like:

  • So don’t wait to get going on that new diet. It might just be the Whole New You that you’ve been longing to meet all this time.
  • Marketing, my friends, is the bread and butter of your business, second only to Paying Your Office Rent and Not Being a Jerk to Clients.
  • Networking … not so bad, huh? So don’t wait any longer.

As you can see, these are somewhat salesy lines. They SHOULD be, because your clients are trying to SELL something. They’re having a conversation, sure, but at the end of the day, that conversation is supposed to lead somewhere. And that’s where the call to action comes in. This is where you tell your clients exactly what they’re supposed to do:

  • Click on this link to get your free 30-day trial of our meal plan.
  • When you need marketing help, you need a specialist with lots of experience. That’s us.
  • Head to the Shop page of our website and download our handy networking guide, which contains all the secrets you need to know to build a solid gold contact list, all for just $10.

Good Signoffs Are Also Important in Direct Marketing

Now sign off. Obviously, since you’re writing for clients, you will do this using your client’s name. Much like salutations, there are approximately a jillion different signoffs you can use, but here are a few examples:

  • Till next time
  • Later
  • Farewell
  • Best
  • Cheers
  • To your health
  • Salut
  • Good luck
  • Godspeed
  • Catch you later
  • See ya
  • Bye
  • Au revoir
  • Hasta la vista
  • Peace out

Lots of these are informal because that’s how I write and because it’s a very popular style these days. If you’re more serious, you’ll clearly want to stick to more serious signoffs as well. For those who are strictly fact-based and professional (not that you can’t be professional and fun), you may wish to pick just one signature signoff and use that. Think “Together we can do this” or “To your success.” You can talk this through with the client to see what they think is best.

Remember, though: you’re the expert, and you should stand solidly behind what you think works best for the email.

Lastly, when writing more than one email, I always copy and paste this template into a new word document however many times it’s called for. Ten emails? Ten pastes. I separate the emails with the “–” you see in the email newsletter template. It’s a nice visual tool to tell me where one email ends and another begins. This is a simple step that makes my life so much easier, especially in longer documents where the page count stretches into the dozens and it’s easy to get lost in a maze of words.

Quick Tips for Using Your Email Newsletter Template

Now, some quick tips:

  • Keep emails to between 200 and 400 words. Brevity is a must because we just don’t spend much time on each of the emails in our inboxes.
  • Make sure your subject line matches the content. Do NOT make empty promises, except in the service of humor (e.g. the Make Him FINALLY Fall in Love with You gag). The content of an email should match the subject line, at least somewhat.
  • Always make sure the tone fits the client. This is important with everything you write, but nowhere more than in email, because the newsletter is coming directly from the company, and usually just from one person.

I understand that this is a lot of information to absorb all at once, but think of it this way: that’s a good thing. These templates and tips are what have allowed me to build a thriving business, and can do the same for you. It’s okay to lean heavily on these instructions for a long time before you feel comfortable writing off the cuff; I still use these templates almost every day!

And now, you can too.

Man, I’m the best. I mean, right??!

(Like this information? It’s from my marketing course, which also includes a dozen videos and worksheets to help you deepen your understanding of copywriting in general and direct marketing in particular. You can find out more by heading to the link and reading up on all the awesome shiz you’ll be able to do if you take it. If you just want to stay in the loop and get access to the Free Resource Library, go ahead and click that pretty picture below.)

Click here to subscribe

A No-Fuss Ad Copy Template That Doesn’t Suck

Ad copywriting is one of those skills that takes a moment to explain and a lifetime to master.

In a way, though, that’s lucky, because if you get the basics down you can safely tell clients that you write ad copy, then get paid to practice. It’s what I did.

Honestly, the first time I told a client I would write an ad for them, I had literally no idea what I was doing. It took a LOT of Googling, but I got there and they were happy. You’ve got a leg up on me, because I now provide this service regularly and am going to give you the basic template for how to do it. From there, you’ll depend on your client to tell you how to modify it to their specifications.

First and foremost, it’s critical that you understand one simple thing about ad copy:

No matter how boring the subject, product or service, it still has to appeal to people.

I’ve written ad copy on almost every subject imaginable, and believe me when I say some of them have been painfully un-stimulating. Like, so boring.

So boring I wanted to die.

And not infrequently, downright depressing too.

I’m talking legal representation for boating accidents. Change management. Automobile assembly line development. Cat dental.

Yes. CAT DENTAL.

Of course, I prefer topics that are more fun. Food, fashion, travel, science writing, books. And now that I’ve been doing this a while, I often land those assignments. But in the beginning, you’re likely going to have to pay your dues with a lot of boring shite, so get used to the idea right now. Eventually, your direct marketing assignments will get more and more interesting.

The Direct Marketing Ad Copy Template Anyone Can Master

That said, your ad copy template is super, super basic and easy to follow. To wit:

  • Headline
  • Subheading
  • Any other necessary info

Yep, it’s that easy. Most ads, from Facebook to Google, have their own guidelines (or hard rules). Depending on where your client is running the ads, you’ll need to check the specs. For instance, Facebook ads shouldn’t have much – if any – text on the image, because that will limit your reach. In terms of copy in the ad, you have 25 characters for a headline, 90 for the text and 30 for the link description. That translates to approximately 6 headline words, 15 for the text and 7 or so for the link description.

For Google ads, you have 25 characters for the headline and 35 characters for each of the two description lines. Again, about 6 for the headline and 8 or so for the description lines.

The takeaway: NOT A FREAKING LOT. So you have to nail your subject and offering quickly and engagingly.

What We Can Learn About Ad Copy from Flo

Think of Flo from Progressive Insurance. She’s the best, right? I mean, sure, you’re watching an ad and so 80 percent of your brain immediately tunes out when she comes on, but you still like her. She catches your attention. She’s kind of a friend.

This is what you’re going for. Now typically, you won’t create a character as lasting as Flo (though you might). And you won’t have as much room to “talk,” since she’s got a 30-second TV spot and you have basically no room whatsoever.

Instead, you need to replicate her success in drawing people in with your super-short word count.

But you can do it.

Start by collecting information from the client, who will give you the main information that needs to exist in the ad, such as a URL, a main offer, the name of the company, a specific product or service, or whatever. Then it’s up to you to sum it all up neatly and engagingly.

I offer three sample ads in my course (details below) so you can study them, see how I use a teeny bit of humor, and try to replicate them in the exercises.

Do NOT stress if you find this difficult. It’s supposed to be difficult because without a challenge you’ll never develop the skills you need. Keep in mind that there’s big money to be made crafting advertisements for customers, so put your nose to the grindstone and produce something great. If it takes a few tries – or a few hundred  – keep at it.

I promise you, this is worth it.

(Like this information? It’s from my marketing course, which also includes a dozen videos and worksheets to help you deepen your understanding of copywriting in general and direct marketing in particular. You can find out more by heading to the link and reading up on all the awesome shiz you’ll be able to do if you take it. If you just want to stay in the loop and get access to the Free Resource Library, go ahead and click that pretty picture below.)

Click here to subscribe

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