For the past few years, my family has called me “the baby whisperer.” I’ve had plenty of practice: I worked at a daycare throughout high school and college, volunteered with America Reads, was a nanny during the school year and babysat countless weekends. My skills dealing with kids have been fine-tuned over years of experience. Oddly enough, when my career path took me into direct marketing, those skills followed, especially in writing.
Here are five direct marketing writing tips I learned from wiping noses, playing patty-cake and sneaking veggies into meal time.
Direct Marketing Writing Tip #1: Be direct.
I’ve found that in order to get a kid to do anything, you must give clear, direct instructions. This applies to writing as well. Think about your current call to action (CTA). Is it phrased in a way that reads as suggestive? If you aren’t sure, try replacing your product with the word “cabbage.”
“Interested in paperclips? Please go to your local store.” turns into “Interested in cabbage? Please eat some.” Six-year olds around the world would laugh at you. Being polite is grand and all, but being a voice of authority gets more done. Don’t ask if they need or want it; just tell them what they need to do.
Direct Marketing Writing Tip #2: Make it sound great.
It’s a lot easier to get someone to do something when they already want to do it. However, there are some things no one wants to do. For some reason, no kid I know wants to wear socks. So I put on a big show before sock time. I point out the bright colors and fun designs, the soft, plush fabric, and that all the cool kids (i.e., me) are wearing them.
The same needs to be done with any advertising writing. The product needs to be put in the best light possible by playing up the benefits. If your description of a product is compelling enough, everyone will want it.
Direct Marketing Writing Tip #3: Give options.
A classic babysitting war-tactic is to provide options that ultimately lead to the same result. You can put on your pajamas or you can brush your teeth, but both options get you one step closer to bedtime. It gives a sense of control and power that kids and adults alike crave.
If there are several package deals, mention them (or at least state that there are more options and provide the reader with a way to learn more). The same goes if there are multiple response options. You never know if being able to talk to a real person versus going online will be the tipping point for a purchase.
Direct Marketing Writing Tip #4: Say it like you mean it.
Nothing puts fear in a child or adult as a well-placed “NOW.” To make it count, though, you have to use it sparingly; otherwise, it loses its punch. I’ll ask nicely twice. If I have to ask three times, my “now” comes out. I use this same principle with writing.
Adding a “now” to a CTA adds urgency, puts the reader on notice, and provides clear, direct action (see tip #1). Because I asked nicely twice, the “now” tends to show up in the last paragraph of a letter (after the argument for buying has been built) or in the P.S. (where expiration dates, a reminder of any free gifts or offers, or the strongest benefit is listed). The most important thing is to make sure your “now” counts. Build up the product so the CTA makes the prospect think, “I want this and I want it NOW.”
Direct Marketing Writing Tip #5: When all else fails, bribe.
I’m not above using my resources. And I understand all too well that sometimes the only remedy is a piece of chocolate. So if you can offer a reward for calling or buying, do it. If you can’t, there are still ways to entice someone to do what you want.
For a faster bath time, I promise an extra goodnight story. For calling a toll-free number to learn more, I promise that IWCO Direct experts will listen and offer customized solutions. In a lot of ways, it isn’t actually about the reward; it’s about there being a benefit for taking action.
Consider these five direct marketing writing tips your guide to both better babysitting and better copy writing. As always, feel free to comment below if you have any tips of your own to add or questions on writing or how to get two-year-olds to share their toys.
Sincerely yours, the baby whisperer.
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