What's in Kim's Mailbox? If magalogs could talk right now, here's what they'd say... "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!" Yes, you might think these 20 to 32-page printed, magazine-like, direct mail promotions are an ancient dinosaur relic of the past. You may even believe that long-form copy itself is a dying breed... And you could even be falling for the false idea that no one is paying copywriters fat royalties these days. Well, you might hear or think these things, but the truth is those long-form "who the heck reads all this copy" direct mail workhorses are, to quote Simple Minds (yes, I'm showing my age)... "ALIVE AND KICKING!" Or, to quote Monty Python, "I'm not dead yet!"
Just take a look at a handful of direct mail promos that have landed in my old-school physical mailbox over the past month or two (and I admit, I'm only on a handful of health and financial mailing lists right now, primarily current or past clients'...)
A few of these babies have shown up again and again in my mailbox...so I know they're strong controls. I've broken down some of them in past issues of "What's in Kim's Mailbox" (you can read the most recent ones here). So clearly, magalogs are NOT dead! What's more, I keep getting my own magalogs in my mailbox...like my long-running CircO2 control, which I've used as a teaching example in several past issues (most recently focusing on sidebars in this post). It's also one of the highly-successful controls I break down in-depth from start to finish in my Million-Dollar Controls master class (which you can join at $300 off through the end of this month when you use coupon code WIKM300). Royalties are still rolling in for this and other controls I wrote as long as 11 years ago. These same controls have also been converted word-for-word into highly-successful online sales pages and VSLs, and are also generating nice royalties. My point is, long-form copy is NOT dead. What's more, the same "rules", tactics, and techniques used to create winning magalogs and other direct mail promos are the SAME as those needed to produce successful online sales pages, VSLs, landing pages, and heck, even shorter copy like emails, landing pages, and mini-sites. Now that I've made my case, let's take a look at something this pile of magalogs all have in common... They ALL pull you in with a compelling and intriguing main headline that's the first thing you see and read! Let's take a look at that first one on top of the pile I showed you earlier...
While there's a lot going on with this front cover--and certainly more than you'd want or need to bother with if you were looking at the top area of an online sales page or VSL--your eye is immediately drawn to the main headline: "Breathe Better With Clear, HEALTHY LUNGS Starting in just 2 weeks!" Obviously, the design--i.e., large, heavy fonts used, with varying emphasis on different words and phrases--is helping to drive your eye there. But let's dissect those main headline WORDS, shall we? Since it doesn't matter how much design emphasis is done to make you read something...it's the messaging you get once you read it that matters most! For the past year-and-a-half, in case you didn't notice, the global COVID pandemic has made a lot of folks much more appreciative of and concerned about their lung health. They may already struggle with a chronic lung condition like COPD, suffer from seasonal allergies or sinus disorders, or just worry that years of smoking or other lung abuse would render them helpless victims should they catch COVID or some other wretched virus. But, of course, because this is a supplement promo, we need to be compliant and not make direct drug-like claims. So we can't mention ANY of that here... However, notice how the wording of this main headline CALLS OUT those people directly...casts a wide net to include their diverse range of concerns...and makes a big, bold, and, yes, compliant promise! (Having worked with Healthy Directions as a copywriter--and having originally helped launch and run the company during its early years--I can attest they tend much more on the conservative side when it comes to copy compliance...but this is proof it doesn't have to hurt your copy. In fact, it can actually make it much more believable...) Let's break that main headline down word-for-word... "Breathe Better" = a wish or desire that all of those folks I mentioned before (people with COPD or other chronic lung disease, seasonal allergies and sinus troubles, smokers and others who are simply a bit on the hypochondriac side and concerned about being hooked up to a ventilator in an ICU should they catch COVID)... this phrase appeals to ALL of these folks, in a compliant way. "With Clear, HEALTHY LUNGS" = this phrase not only screams out "this is for your LUNGS", it provides the "how" or mechanism for how they can achieve the big promise of "breathe better". And because it's framed in the positive (i.e., "clear, healthy lungs") versus using a negative (i.e, "reverse years of lung damage" or something like that), it's significantly more compliant. Plus when it comes to health, people are more responsive to messages of hope versus fear. Last, but not least, let's look at the last part of the main headline... "Starting in just 2 weeks!" = a speed-of-result claim or promise that implies there's a unique mechanism as well as a desired result they won't have to wait long to experience. This type of claim obviously needs to have study back-up, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to find support to demonstrate at least SOME kind of noticeable improvement beginning within a relatively short time frame. Okay, that's all we have time for today. As you can see, studying successful magalogs--in particular, the main headlines and other cover copy--can teach you a lot about what will work for ANY kind of copy you write... ...whether it's Facebook or Google ads, email subject lines, website copy, and of course, online sales pages and VSLs...and, should you get the opportunity, direct mail magalogs and other promos! (Yes, there are clients out there, so go get 'em!) Yours for smarter marketing, Kim P.S. In case you missed my P.S. in last Friday's Copy Insiders issue, the doors are now open for my next Fast Track to A-List mentoring group that starts in January. There are a limited number of slots so that I can give full attention to everyone in the program...and they're already getting snapped up. You can find out all the details here. If you're interested, I suggest you act as soon as possible while the "early bird" savings are still available. Simply hit the "Yes Kim, I'm IN!" button and complete the form indicating all the requested details, and you can make sure you're in my next group of copywriting superstars!