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Once a snob, always a snob

Issue #121—March 5, 2021 This morning while sipping my coffee I got distracted with vacation planning. It's my favorite thing to do, as I've mentioned before. We're planning to stay for a few nights in a beach town in North Carolina to attend a friend's wedding one weekend this summer. I found an Airbnb that's nearby that will let us bring our dog Pearl with us. She loves the beach and since she's getting up there in years, we don't want her to miss out on some beach time.

But I'm looking for another, better nearby beach and place we can stay for a few nights beforehand... since the town the wedding is in seems overrun by big condo buildings (that won't take dogs) and is not as "upscale" as I'd like. I found myself complaining to my husband a few minutes ago, "I don't want to stay in some ratty place in some ratty town." Once a snob, always a snob! Back when I was growing up, my family used to tease me about being a snob. I'm not sure where I got it--we weren't wealthy. Heck, for a while we lived in a two-bedroom condo that had shag carpeting on the walls. The horrors! I think the fact that I wasn't born with a "silver spoon in my mouth" has helped me be a better copywriter. I can see things through the eyes of that average Joe or Jill. It's not just about being able to tap into their greatest wants, hopes, fears, and frustrations. It's being able to speak to that RATIONAL side of the brain, not just the emotional (you have to do both!) You have to PROVE many things to your prospect in order to overcome their many possible objections and close the sale. You have to PROVE to them that your solution will work or your product will deliver on its promise...where so many that have come before yours have failed. You have to PROVE to them that you understand they're taking a risk by buying and you're willing to remove that risk as much as possible by romancing your guarantee. And you have to PROVE to them the value of what you're offering...whether it's a $10 e-book or a $10,000 coaching program. That last point is something I often see given "short shrift" in some long-form sales promos. If you don't get into mentioning your offer or selling price in your sales copy...and wait for your prospect to simply discover it when they click through to the order page...you're cutting yourself off at the knees. You've got to use that precious moment in the close copy to tell them what your product or service is really worth in terms of the value it brings to their lives...the cost of alternative "solutions"...and/or the cost of NOT taking action right now. Then when you present your price and offer, you make it seem like a no-brainer! People are emotional beings, but they're also very practical about spending their hard-earned money. It's serious business. I realize most "snobs" may not get that...but as copywriters, you and I have to get it. As I remember the great Gene Schwartz saying in his day-long lecture at Phillips Publishing, never lose the "Butte, Montana" in you. No matter how high up you climb, or where you're starting out from, see things from the average person's point of view...and you'll be far more successful with your copy. Alright, now let's shift to discussing a promo I just received in my actual, physical mailbox. I've been seeing more direct mail promos lately...including ones like this one we're about to discuss that's from a successful online marketer. I also just received one of the first tabloid-sized health magalogs yesterday I've seen in a while (it's not quite the 1990s all over again...but this promo feels like it!) I'll talk about that latter one another time, but let's take a look at that online marketer's promo... What's in Kim's Mailbox? In recent years, Organifi has become one of the most successful online marketers in the health space. I remember back when they were one of the first to take Facebook by storm with their videos of the founder, Drew Cansole, whipping up healthy green smoothies and singing their praises. Now they're taking their "road show" to the mailbox with direct mail. They're clearly targeting people on the younger end of the age range...not as much the older 65-80+ demographic typically targeted with long-form supplement magalogs. (Though it could be that folks at the younger end of that demographic are much "younger"-acting these days than their predecessors, and their consumer behavior reflects that). So let's take a look at this "online-to-offline" promotion 8-page self-mailer. It's 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, so it qualifies for the cheaper postage rate that larger flats don't. Here's what they have on the front of it...

I love the pre-head copy at the top: "Exclusive Immune System Plan". It raises curiosity and tells me immediately who this is for and what it does. The image of the woman on the front is likely who they perceive their avatar's ideal to be. The only thing I really take issue with on this front cover is the headline: "All natural protection for the new era". Protection and prevention don't sell. It's more about what the product DOES for people... not what it doesn't let happen. "Supercharge how you feel and perform each day" would maybe be better...or something about boosting their immune power, energy, and thinking. "This new era" is obviously referring to COVID times, but I don't think they have to be that blunt about referring to it...and after a full year of it, how "new" is it? Gimme some real benefits, that's all. Now let's take a look inside at the first 2-page "spread"...

I realize the type may be a bit small to read, but the introductory letter on the left is focused on the urgency of boosting the immune system and taking care of one's nutrition and health during this "new" time. It seems to be speaking to those who aren't already interested in nutrition and health. But it's much easier to sell to those who are already "on board"...and it's not that difficult to find these folks via your list targeting and selection. It's much harder to get a behavior change out of the unconverted. So while I do think this is doing a good job of opening to the door to new "markets", you also want to speak to those people who are already supplement and nutrition buyers. Tell them why your product is going to be better than what they're already using or doing. I don't see any of that happening here and it's a huge missed opportunity in my opinion. The page on the above right is cramming too much in, and the copy has gotten too small in places as a result. It's positioning this copy as "tips" but it's really there to set up the problem and agitate their immune system concerns. It's also worth noting that the copy has taken GREAT pains to be compliant...until you get to this page. Saying the word "disease" in a supplement promo is a big "no no", as you're not to infer your product is to be used to "prevent, cure, treat, or mitigate" any disease (in FDA-speak). Now let's look at the two 2-page spreads that follow and present 4 different Organifi product options...

Here we have 4 different beautifully-presented and photographed green juice options to choose from. I particularly like how the "immunity boost" product is presented and am wondering where I can also get that Organifi shaker shown with it. (Same with the one shown on the back cover, which we'll get to in a moment.) The problem is, we've veered off from the "exclusive immune system plan" promised on the front cover to having to choose amongst 4 different solutions that are minimally-differentiated. The Organific Gold option talks more about sleep, and the Organifi Pure option talks more about brain function, whereas Organifi Green Juice and Organifi Immunity Boost both vie for the immune function "spot". The result is to potentially leave the prospect paralyzed with indecision, since they have to choose between the 4 different options, none of which are even positioned as an add-on, i.e., "take this with that" kind of thing, and one may be concerned about doing so anyway if not told they're meant to be used in tandem. There are also no prices shown. There is special 20% off offer that appears at the top of each page. The idea is to drive you online to place your order, hence no "order page" in this promotion. Plus no copy to justify the price or build the value or overcome potential objections. If anything, it raises concerns in the prospect's mind that it must be expensive. (The old saying comes to mind: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it.") Let's take a quick look at the final page of this promo--the back cover...

You're shown a beautiful photo of 3 different products (one of which isn't even in the promo) along with another elusive Organifi shaker glass. There's copy promoting the benefit of "boosting immunity" (not a compliant structure/function claim) and "total body health" and a guarantee seal which seems kind of slapped on there. Then there's the SMALLEST call-to-action copy I've ever seen on any direct mail promotion. Blink and you'll miss it! Yep...the single most important copy on this entire piece that the company likely spent tens of thousands of dollars printing and mailing, with not even an order form on it...and they're pinning ALL their hopes that you'll actually see this and go to their website, or possibly call that NON toll-free number if you can actually see it (get out those reading glasses, you over-50 folks!) YIKES! So what happens when you do as (not so clearly) directed and visit GetOrganific.com? Here's what you get...

Man, I'm going to be here from "sunrise to sunset" just figuring out what the heck to order! I don't want to work this hard. I'll probably just give up after hunting around...or becoming further confused. Because I'm not even there a few seconds and this pop-up happens.

So wait, is it 20% off like I saw all over the direct mail promo, or 10% off? This is not congruent with what I expect to see. It's crucial that whenever you're putting together an "offline-to-online" promotion that you go through the customer experience in advance and make sure you don't have these kinds of confusing (and response-killing) disconnects. If this promotion fails to work (or even if it does "work"...more on that in a moment), you're going to hear the same thing you hear other online marketers bellyaching about: direct mail doesn't work! Well, yeah, if it doesn't work, it's because, in part, you don't know what you're doing. And even if you do it wrong and get a decent response, how much money are you leaving on the table? How much better could it have done, and how many tens of thousands of names and dozens of lists could you have expanded your rollouts to, if it was performing as well as it COULD? If you never consult an actual supplement direct-mail expert...or you never test...you'll never know! Let me tell you what this actual supplement direct-mail expert recommends (the super-short version...because this promo needs a lot of help): 1) Focus this entire promotion on ONE product. I'd go with "Immunity Boost" or the "Green Juice"...whichever has the best story and profit margin. Focus the copy on boosting one's immune system throughout, and show the end benefits of that. The cover photo only hints at the lifestyle benefits of immune health...flush them out more. Put an end to your buyer "confusion" and don't make them have to choose. 2) Have an actual "order page" with your special offer clearly presented there, along with the prices. Send them to the website if you like, but MAKE IT A DEDICATED LANDING PAGE. They should only see this offer when they go there. Once they buy, maybe have one or two upsells to a sleep "add-on" product and a brain/memory "add-on" product in your funnel. They can visit your big beautiful confusing website another day. 3) Include one of those beautiful (and branded) shaker glasses as part of your offer (maybe it's an incentive to buy 3 jars versus one). I worked with a London client a few years back who's successfully incorporated a branded hand-held portable mixer as part of her highly-attractive and Instagrammable packaging and offer for a super high-end greens product. In short, don't try to re-invent the wheel. Look at what's worked well and follow those principles. Keep your shorter copy and your beautiful, Instagrammable visuals--they work well for the younger (and younger-ish) market, if that's who you're targeting. But still apply the same timeless principles of effective direct mail (or even online) offers...before you start complaining it "doesn't work". Yours for smarter marketing, Kim P.S. I just made plans to attend one of my favorite copywriting events, The Copywriter Club's "In Real Life" annual conference April 7th-9th. Except it's not "in real life" this time, of course...it's 100% virtual. Which also makes it a whole lot easier and more affordable for many folks to attend. They've got an exceptional line-up of speakers, including my good friend and fellow A-Lister Carline Anglade-Cole, along with many others. You can check out all the details here and grab your ticket while you can still get it at the "pre-sale" prices...and while the VIP option is still available (if you're a "snob"...kidding!) Having just attended the Copy Accelerator event virtually, I can tell you it's great to get out of your "cave" and connect with fellow copywriters...and potential clients, too. There aren't many opportunities to do so these days, so if you've gotten "rusty" on your networking skills and are feeling a bit isolated, here's your chance to put yourself back out there, with a minimal investment. Hope to see you there!

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