Tuesday, March 2, 2021

#120 Creating Believability

#120 Blog Post — [Tuesday March, 2 2021]

Posted By Denny Hatch

Part 2
(To see Part I, Including the Complete
Mayo Clinic 30-Year Mailings Click Here


The Nitty-Gritty of Creating Believability:
E.g., What's Wrong With This Lift Letter?


"The publisher's letter (or lift letter) is yet another voice backing up the key salesman, the long letter; its job is to convince the waverer and salvage the skeptics."
—Malcolm Decker

 Two Basic Errors in the Above Lift Note

• The lift letter above is emphatically NOT "another voice." It is signed by the same dude who signed the giant 8-page main letter. Instead of being an extra testimonial from another voice, it says to the reader: "Oops, here's something I forgot to tell you in the big letter. Oh for dumb!"

• The signature at the bottom does not match the "handwriting" of the text above. It's phony-baloney. (In today's parlance "fake news.")


Direct marketing—whether on paper, online or on the telephone—is "intimate advertising" as Stan Rapp called it many years ago in a Hong Kong speech.


The tone of a good direct mail letter is as direct and personal as the writer’s skill can make it. Even though it may go to millions of people, it never orates to a crowd, but rather murmurs into a single ear. It’s a mesmerizing message from one letter writer to one letter reader.
—Malcolm Decker 

The challenge: creating absolute believability that your message is going directly from your lips to your prospect's ear. 

     This may seem like picking fly shit out pepper wearing boxing gloves... but if you can make your message more believable, it might result in a 1% lift in response. And at no additional cost to your CPM.


       Bill Jayme's Direct Marketing Philosophy
Why is Ben and Jerry's causing meltdown in the sale of other ice cream manufacturers? Because everyone knows that these two guy not only make the stuff themselves by hand, but also personally examine each scoop.
     Why is L.L. Bean the envy of Macy's? Same reason. Because everyone know that old Leon Leonwood not only sews the shoes himself, but also sees that they fit.


The two basic tenets of selling are that (1) people buy from other people more happily than from faceless corporations and (2) in the marketplace as in theater, there is indeed a factor at work called "the willing suspension of disbelief."
     Who stands behind our pancakes? Aunt Jemima. Our angel food cake? Betty Crocker. Our coffee? Juan Valdez. Anyone over the age of three know that it's all a myth. But like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, myths are comforting.


The Great Mayo Clinic Gargantuan Mailing

In last week's Part 1 post, I focused on the riveting 8-page letter sent to me by the Mayo Clinic's Medical Editor Daniel Roberts, M.D. Actually Roberts made the same goof twice.

The "handwriting" in this giant P.S. was clearly not written by Daniel Roberts. Compare the text to Robert's signature.

     Sure, it great to have handwritten notes in the margins of a direct mail letter.

     And old-school direct marketers know that the P.S. in a letter is one of the most avidly read elements of the entire mailing.

     Just make damn sure all the handwritten stuff in your letter matches the sender's signature.  


Really Good Elements

The 8-page Letter: TERRIFIC!
A letter should look and feel like a letter."
    —Dick Benson

• The giant 8-page letter comes to us seniors in giant 14-point warm-'n'-friendly old fashioned Courier (typewriter) type, comfy as an old shoe. Easy peasy on our old eyes.

Short words! Short Sentences! Short paragraphs!
—Andrew J. Byrne, Freelance copywriter

The Offer—Terrific!
2021 No-Risk Certificate

• Free Trial Issue. No Risk. No Obligation.

• Free Special Report. Four Free Special Reports every year if you subscribe.

• Actual cost to subscribe: 16 issues x $1.97 = $31.52.

• $31.52—a possible deal killer—is never mentioned.

• Cost is always stated as just $1.97 a copy.

• "If I don't wish to subscribe, I'll simply write 'cancel' on the bill and return it."

• "In any case, the trial issue and free report will be mine to keep."

• Note the involvement device: "Peel off sticker and place in box to right.

Tokens and stickers always improve results.
Dick Benson  


This Offer Has Been a Grand Control for 30 Years!
Here's the Original 2001 No-Risk Certificate

 Four Magic Words You Seldom See These Days:   

                      SEND NO MONEY NOW  

In the epoch of digital marketing, how often do you see "Send No Money Now?" Almost never.

    Standard operating procedure: a demand for your Credit Card Acct #.

     "Send No Money Now" has been tested for years. It says, "We're all ladies and gentlemen. We trust each other." 

    "Send no money now" is a complicating factor. It means creating a pain-in-the-neck billing series.

     "Send No Money Now" vs. "Gimme a credit Card number" is testable. 

     If the Mayo Clinic has been doing it for 30 years, shouldn't you at least test it? 


 The Guarantee: Powerful

              Takeaways to Consider

• A missing element in my opinion: Testimonials.

• If you can include testimonials from happy customers, you have further "proof" that everything you say in your pitch is true. Testimonials are additional members of your sales team.

• All the elements in this direct mail package are relevant to digital marketing: great offer; affordable price; benefits, benefits, benefits; guarantee; and believability.


 Word count: 870

You Are Invited to Meet Denny Hatch and
See His
26-minute Geezer-Fast Yoga Routine



At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.



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  1. Digital marketing continues to evolve year after year, providing modern marketers with a wide range of channels, tricks, and tools that can help them reach larger audiences. One area that has become an integral part of many businesses is search engine marketing (SEM), where companies focus their efforts on search engine marketing like Google and Bing.

  2. Denny,

    Two unforgivable oversights! All believability down the tubes! I call this, “Letting the cat out of the bag.” When finishing any ad or mailing piece one must always wait a few days and then do a believability scan to double check you have not "Let the cat out of the bag." The writer may not be as savvy as I first thought.

    All the best,
    Anthony Green