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How To Win Friends and Influence People


After ohmigodyougottabekiddinme years in this business, we've learned a lot of the so-called "rules" of direct marketing. But, we've also learned a lot — and achieved great results for clients — by ignoring or rewriting some of the rules as we went along.

For example, "Don't be negative," is a rule we hear all the time. Yet, we built a very successful campaign for a high tech client around The Worst Case Scenario Handbook.

Or this one: "Short copy outpulls long copy." Sorry, but in a head-to-head test, we saw an email that was at least three times longer beat one with the same message and offer and a fraction of the word count.

If the creative is ... well ... creative — entertaining, educational, engaging — you can break some little rules and still end up with a big success.

So, how do you put together a recipe for success? Here are what we'll call B Direct's "helpful hints," rather than "rules." Because, you know, rules are so yesterday's news.

  1. Know your target audience
  2. Understand the elements of the campaign you're developing — where the "hot spots" are and how you can use them
  3. Appeal to the head
  4. Appeal to the heart
  5. Repeat yourself and benefit from redundant responsiveness
  6. Sell the offer, not the product
  7. "You" is the most powerful word of all — use it
  8. Speaking of ... put yourself in the audience's shoes
  9. Benefits always beat features
  10. Involve others in the process
  11. BUT, avoid "creative by committee"
  12. Borrow interest
  13. Stay abreast of everchanging USPS requirements (if you're doing direct mail)
  14. Integrate your best ideas across media
  15. Use both sides of your brain
  16. Make someone's day
  17. Proofread (please)
  18. Be completely original
  19. OR, steal smart
  20. Test, test, test and then ... test again

Some rules are made to be broken, but as long as your campaign gets attention, strikes a chord emotionally, and makes an offer (they can't refuse), you rule!

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