THE LEVISON LETTER
Action Ideas For Better Direct Mail,
E-mail, Web Sites & Advertising
Ivan Levison, Direct Response Copywriter
Volume: 21 Number: 12
On a chilly December morning, this
diligent copywriter sat down to work
Check out the leads of these three recent articles:
From the New York Times . . .
"On a brisk autumn afternoon, in the shadow of
the marble arch in Washington Square
Park, a couple visiting from Ohio walked along holding hands . . ."
From the Wall Street Journal . . .
On a hot Sunday in October, the world's richest philanthropists,
Bill and Melinda
Gates, stood in a cassava field outside Abuja, Nigeria."
From the New York Times . . .
"On a rainy afternoon in June, Eric Poehlman stood
before a federal judge in
the United States District court in downtown Burlington.Vt."
Notice a pattern? Yup. All of these reporters began
their articles using the same set
opening based on the weather. Instead of coming up with an original
lead, they settled
for what I call (after the painter Marcel Duchamp), a "Readymade."
Why does this particular Readymade enjoy such widespread
Because it allows reporters to quickly and evocatively establish the
and without having to do a lot of bothersome thinking.
Copywriters do the same thing. Ever notice how many
copywriters end an ad
or a sales letter with the hackneyed Readymade, "So call XYZ
be glad you did."?
"You'll be glad you did." What a lazy cop-out.
IMPORTANT: If you're going to work with a professional
deserve someone who's really thinking every step of the way.
Let me give you an example.
Some time ago I wrote a direct mail package for the
Atlanta Golf Classic. I kept
writing glowing prose about the great golf that the reader would see
at the Classic,
but I just didn't feel that I was connecting. I hadn't found the "hot
would get big companies to buy a lot of tickets.
Then it dawned on me that the Atlanta Golf Classic was
offering corporate attendees
a lot more than golf. They were giving companies the chance to build
valued clients by inviting them out for the day. This was a chance
for executives to kick
back and get away from the office, have a few drinks, and make some
This human dimension, not merely the golf, is what had to be massaged
in the letter's
ending. The proverbial light bulb lit up and I knew I was on to something.
ending wrote itself:
"On a personal note, let me add that the BellSouth
Atlanta Classic is a truly
magnificent sporting event that I know you, clients, and customers
If you want to have a fabulous time, while you create
or strengthen important business
relationships, I urge you to pick up tickets while they're still available.
The dogwood will be in bloom. The weather will be beautiful.
These are the days you always
said you owed yourself!
How To Get In Touch
Direct Response Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive
Greenbrae, CA 94904
Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
Web Site: http://www.levison.com
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Copyright 2006, by Ivan Levison, All Rights Reserved.
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