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How to Cowboy (or Cowgirl) Up

This morning at the gym before my workout with my personal trainer, it was time for my monthly Inbody. The Inbody is a $10,000 machine that measures your body fat and amount of muscle in every part of your body. It gives you a 100 times more accurate picture versus stepping onto a scale, in part because muscle weighs more than fat. Well, yours truly had a really good Inbody this morning. It helps that I've been consistent with food, exercise (and not drinking alcohol the past 5 weeks has helped, too). I lost 6 pounds of body fat in just the past month...and gained a pound and a half of muscle. I shared my results with one of my gym buddies, Frank--a fit 70-year-old with an insane laugh and who used to be a male stripper in a previous life. As I warmed up and stretched, I said maybe my trainer was going to go easy on me since I had a good Inbody. Frank said, "Now girl, you forget about that...you've got to 'Cowboy Up'!" Meaning, just because you have some success, you can't start to let up...you can't let things slide... You've always got to be getting ready for your NEXT challenge! (And no, my trainer did NOT go easy on me this morning...for which I'm glad.) In any case, now that I know I'm on the right path, I'm going to stay on it (though I plan to indulge in some nice wine and pasta when we dine out at a favorite Italian restaurant this weekend)... But consistency--and not taking the EASY path, but the one that's hard--is what keeps you moving forward towards your goal. So I'm going to keep "cowgirl-ing up"! This lesson (which I've learned time and again) that there really is no easy shortcut or substitute to losing weight if you don't address your nutrition and exercise leads me to this promo that landed in my mailbox last week. Let's take a look in this latest edition of... What's in Kim's Mailbox? The promo I'm about to share with you is a direct mail magalog from Healthy Directions, whose promos I haven't been getting as often lately. (Healthy Directions is the supplement business I helped launch and run a few decades ago when I was working at Phillips Publishing). It's selling a weight loss supplement which I actually did take for a month up until about 3 weeks ago when I ran out. To be honest, I didn't notice a difference. I credit my recent weight loss success to the grueling strength training with my trainer, increased cardio, and Paleo-ish, alcohol-free diet the past 5 weeks. But it's human nature to look for shortcuts, hidden causes, and alternatives to good old-fashioned willpower and hard work. I know I've been reeled in by them time and again. And there can truly be roadblocks that nutritional supplements can help address. So let's take a look at the front cover of this magalog. I have to admit, I was surprised to see Healthy Directions go out with a such a strong weight loss angle. It's definitely a more risky move compliance-wise...

Most people start at the top and read down from there, so the "special report" masthead immediately telegraphs what this is about: "At-home weight loss", and that it's coming from an M.D. no less. Then the main headline leads off with "The cardiologist's secret...", which immediately conveys credibility and builds trust and belief. Whatever follows next immediately becomes more believable: "Melts stress and [in big letters] sheds pounds". It's linking the two problems together, which right out of the gate is setting the prospect up for the idea that stress is the underlying cause of their weight issues...and it's not their fault! Then right after the main headline, there's a subhead that reads: "(And it's so good for your heart!)" So right away it's bringing in a side benefit that happens to be a top concern for a lot of people, which allows it to cast a wider net. Since this is going to direct mail lists, the prospects receiving this promo skew older...60s to 80s primarily. That's why they're not showing some skinny 20-something model on the front. More importantly, it's also why the copy isn't JUST focused on weight loss for vanity's sake...it's more about the health reasons behind it. Those tend to be bigger motivators...but there is definitely still a vanity angle, too. That desire to look attractive and feel good about their appearance doesn't go away once people hit their 70s and 80s. There's also a big claim made on the front cover in one of the "cover lines" that helps substantiate the main headline: "Lose twice the weight compared to dieting and exercise alone". I also find it interesting that they're revealing the first ingredient they lead with in the magalog--ashwagandha--on the front cover. I suspect this is being done since it's become a "hot" nutrient, so a lot of people are already hearing about it...or perhaps are taking it. The idea that this form is "cardiologist-approved" attracts both audiences. Alright...let's take a look at the first two pages inside...

You can see that the entire lead is primarily focused on stress being the primary cause of their weight gain, and why it's so difficult to slim down. It also brings in heart and blood sugar benefits, since these are both big motivators for people to lose weight (i.e., to prevent or manage diabetes and/or blood pressure/cholesterol). The copy plays up the cardiologist credibility in multiple places here and throughout the promo...it's a major differentiator for this supplement and it's ingredients--that it's "cardiologist-approved". Early on there's a testimonial for social proof, the first of many...and the product is introduced there as well as on page 3. So it's not wasting any time bringing the product to light. It's not trying to "masquerade" as an issue. Okay, let's take a look at how they introduce the first "star" ingredient in the formula--ashwagandha...

Here they introduce the first of 4 "secrets"...this is a tactic I've used dozens of times in supplement promos. You give each key ingredient its own distinct role or action. There needs to be a crucial reason for it to be in the formula, and the prospect needs to feel they need each one to do a different thing, in that special form or amount. Otherwise you risk someone getting "sold" that ashwagandha is all they need to solve their weight loss problems, and they can hop online or go to Costco or Whole Foods and buy it off the shelf. On this and the page that follows, they do a good job of making the case for ashwagandha because, let's face it, who HASN'T been doing a little stress eating these days? Now let's hop ahead to how they set up ingredient #2...

Here's the ingredient for which they're able to make the "double your weight loss" claim...a special type of green tea extract. They're also broadening it out to provide benefits for heart health--an important motivator for losing weight. Just as they did with ashwagandha on the previous spread, they're putting emphasis on the unique form of the ingredient, and why it's superior to ordinary green tea extracts. I also want to make note of the compliant copy throughout...there are no direct disease claims being made, but the benefits for your heart and blood sugar still come out loud and clear. This is a good promo to study for how to do compliant copy right. There's so much more I could comment on with this promo, but I need to stop here. I suggest if you aren't getting enough "junk mail" in your mailbox, you call and order this product (tell them you have savings code 365004 and that may help you get tagged as a direct mail buyer). It's $24.99 a bottle--and no, I don't get a cut! (-; Who knows, you may get this and other promos from lists Healthy Directions rents your name out to. And heck, you might take it and feel less stressed (and lose weight!) Though if you want to do the latter, just go Paleo, cut out alcohol, and hit the gym...it's working for me! That's it for today...I invite you to forward me any promos that have landed in your email inbox, Facebook feed, or anywhere else if you think they're a good (or bad) example to learn from, and I may share it in a future edition.

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