From this classic case of how not to write copy, there is much to be learned about how to do it right:
- Be real. Is it just me, or does it seem to you, too, that DIRECTV’s mail piece reads like a huckster parody from “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy”? Hard-sell often works — provided you know how to write it — but a win-back isn’t the place. Here, a sales letter read should read like it was written by a real person, to a real person.
- Sell what matters to the customer, not what matters to the marketer. I care about what I want, but I have yet to lie awake nights obsessing about what might DIRECTV want. They want me back? What, I’m supposed to feel moved? Aw, they’re lonesome for me. How sweet. Yeah, right.
- Benefits should precede a call to action. What’s up with telling me to “come back” right off the bat? How about engaging me before presuming to order me around?
- Know the difference between selling and bragging. Being rated #1 is not terribly relevant to someone who got fed up and dumped you. Imagine using a similar approach to win back a romantic interest: “Go out with the person voted best-looking single now and you’ll get…” Mostly, you would succeed in confirming to your ex why he or she dumped you in the first place: because you just don’t get it.
- Substance beats hot air. “...a TV experience no one else can match...” Pah-leeze.
- When the same old thing doesn’t work, try a new thing. You may recall that I opened this blog entry by pointing out that I gleefully canceled DIRECTV. So instead of extolling the product offering that I gleefully abandoned, with which I am therefore most likely quite familiar, and that differs unsubstantially from that of competing providers, maybe DIRECTV could look for other ways to entice me.
- Sell from the customer’s point of view. If the pinheaded copywriters at DIRECTV thought for a moment, they might realize that win-back mailings target people who quit their service. I bet that most defectors, like me, didn’t leave by accident. Gee, the pinheaded copywriters might have reasoned, maybe these people left us because they were unhappy. Maybe we even made some of them mad. If so, then simply bragging ‘we're #1’ and listing features won’t deal with the problem. I indeed have a much better win-back strategy. But I won’t write it here, because it’s for sale.
- Think, write, think more and then rewrite. Think before you start to write. Never mind what you want to say. Instead, ask yourself what is likely to persuade someone who doesn’t see things your way. Write that. Then, re-read your copy from the customer’s point of view. Then rewrite it. Then rewrite it again. God created editing and rewriting because the first words that pop into your head stand a good chance of not being the best.