Teasing and Pleasing With Envelope Copy

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Last time, I told you that you don't saw a board with a wrench and you don't tighten a screw with a hatchet. Every job requires a specific tool.

This is also true of teaser copy on your envelope. An envelope's job is simply to transport printed items to a prospect and be opened, and teaser copy is part of how you help people stop, look and open. You don't try to "sell" on the outside. That's the job of the letter and other pieces inside.

This is part of the "divide and conquer" philosophy I preach to clients, which we'll examine in more detail in another installment. We have a lot to cover this time, and we pick up with No. 46 in this 99-part series.

46. Use copy to select your audience. Your prospect needs to understand that your message is addressed specifically to him. Your prospect should think, "This is for me. I might be interested in this." Use words that relate to the prospect's interests or identity, such as "Exclusive offer for golfers inside."

47. Lead your reader inside. Copy on the envelope serves one purpose: to get the reader to look at what's inside. Identify your prospect's problem and suggest the answer can be found by opening the envelope. You can say there's something free, valuable, new or exclusive inside. Or you can simply refer to the contents of the envelope if you've sent something intrinsically interesting to the prospect, such as "Here's your Free Guide to Making Money on eBay."

48. Promise a benefit inside. The best teaser copy simply states a clear benefit for the prospect but requires opening the envelope, such as "Inside: A new way to cut your tax bill in just 5 minutes!" A teaser is nothing but a headline that grabs attention and leads the reader into the body copy. In this case, the body copy is everything inside the envelope.

49. Feature the magic word "FREE." State what the free thing is and lead the prospect inside, like this: "FREE ISSUE! Use the Free Issue Certificate inside to request your free issue of Chess Life. No commitment. No strings."

50. Make a provocative statement. If you know how your prospects think about an issue, you can say something on the envelope to push their buttons. If you're mailing to Republicans, you might say, "Hillary Clinton is running for president and she has a little tax day surprise for you if she wins. Look inside to see how much it will cost you ..."

51. Put your deadline on the outside. Inertia is your enemy. Action is your friend. Deadlines induce action. If you're sure about your mailing date, a deadline can prevent the prospect from setting aside your envelope for later.

52. Avoid prospect letdown. Never mislead or oversell with a teaser. Whatever you say on the envelope, don't overdo it. Your envelope contents should always deliver as much or more than you promise, otherwise you'll alienate your prospect.

53. Fully develop your "envelope real estate" to sell the sizzle. If you have a flashy, desirable product that doesn't need a particular image, you can crank up the excitement by using every square inch of your envelope, front and back. Show the product. Bullet point benefits. Starburst your special price. Hint at a gift for immediate orders. This works best for consumer offers that are proven sellers needing little explanation, such as best-selling books, software upgrades, fact-packed newsletters, etc.

54. If you use a blank envelope, make it completely blank. Not a single word of teaser copy. No graphics. Perhaps not even your logo. Just a return address in the upper left corner and the delivery address. You might include the letter signer's name with return address, if that person is well known.

55. If you're mailing to a business, use a low-key approach. Most business-to-business mail is intercepted by a secretary, assistant or mailroom clerk. If it looks too much like advertising, it may get trashed. You stand a better chance of reaching your prospect if your envelope looks personal, important and businesslike. Don't be fooled: This kind of envelope can be hard to design.

Next time we'll look at the core of your direct mail package, the letter. And you'll learn why wise men say, "The letter sells; the brochure tells."

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