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By Gail Diggs

On September 16th, I did something I’ve never done before…

I attended a monthly luncheon sponsored by DMAW  — and it was absolutely wonderful.

I was greeted warmly by the conference organizers and directed to a lovely, quite comfortable room where the meeting would be held.

While waiting for the session to begin, I met several other direct mail professionals and reignited relationships with a few folks there that I already knew.   While I was pleasantly surprised to see them there, I really shouldn’t have been.  We were all seeking a way to connect with our colleagues while broadening our knowledge about our exciting world of direct marketing.  And things were certainly getting off to a great start.

After a tasty lunch, the speaker was introduced.  He was Tom Gaffny of Tom Gaffny Consulting.

Gaffny was a knowledgeable speaker whose words came alive through an entertaining presentation.  Titled Designing Winners, the goal was to share with us Seven Keys to Successful Direct Marketing.

“Design is a big deal,” he said, “but it is just a part of the creative process.”  So, as he explained, through a discussion of seven key points, he would discuss and show us examples of how to leverage design and copy to create direct marketing that works.

Here’s a very brief summary of the great points Gaffny made:

Key #1:  Its not about you. The point made is that our efforts have nothing to do with us, as direct marketers, but should be all about the person we’re mailing to.  They have the power, we don’t.  Therefore, Gaffny urged us to stop thinking like direct marketers, but more like a “real person” when we sit down to read our copy.

Key #2:   The Passion Pyramid. Gaffny discussed the difference between high passion donors and low passion donors.  The high passion donors know you and are interested what you have to say.  The low passion donors are the exact opposite.  His point is that you can’t speak with or motivate these two groups of people in the same manner.

Key #3:    Always consider the context. We were encouraged to consider everything else that’s going on when our packages are mailed.  The economy and world news are just two examples of things that can affect how the reader perceives our message.  Gaffny shared great examples of mailings that worked, and a few that didn’t work, based upon who the reader was and what was happening in their world when the piece arrived.

Key #4:  You have five seconds to be successful. Gaffny shared that he’s had the most success with mailings that were delivered in a #10 carrier, addressed in a handwritten font, with a real stamp and no return address.  He also stated that the more successful pieces don’t ever hide the offer.

Key #5:  Make it easy. It was stressed that our readers should be able to scan our pieces and quickly know what they’re about.

Key #6:  Headlines matter. Even when a piece doesn’t have a formal headline, Gaffney would argue that the first few sentences serve as the headline.  And he revealed that he’s a lot of success with pieces where the opening paragraph is just one line of copy.

Key #7:  Dramatize the offer. People love stories and they can be used to bring your offer alive.  Gaffny shared that people especially love to “hear” stories that they think they shouldn’t be privy to.

The presentation ended with a Q&A session during with guests shared their concerns and also their own experiences.

I commend DMAW for sponsoring such a great event and I’ll do my best to be at next month’s luncheon.    So should you.

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Gail Clanton DiggsGail Diggs is president of GCD Writing and Marketing, where she uses a unique blend of offline direct mail knowledge and newer online strategies to help businesses realize lasting success.  Prior to her work with GCD, Gail was an Executive Marketing Director and Copywriter at Healthy Directions (formerly Phillips Publishing.)