The Levison Letter

 

How they murdered a post card and lost an election
February, 2016
 
I live in the Ross Valley, an area about ten miles north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

A while ago I received a ballot sent to all Ross Valley residents that allowed us to vote (by post card ballot only) on a new flood-control tax measure.

I took one look at the ballot and instantly smelled big trouble. You see, in order for your vote to count, you had to sign the front of the ballot. However, the directions, which stressed the importance of the signature, were printed on the back of the ballot, on the bottom, and in tiny type. Nowhere near the signature line on the front!

Whoever put this together didn't have a clue. Nobody was going to sign this thing and we needed the flood-control tax to pass! Obviously the copywriter should have put the directions on the front. And it should have looked something like this. Obvious, simpleminded, but nice and clear!
IMPORTANT! Sign your ballot here!  Ivan Levison Copywriter

Your Signature:_______________________________________________
You must sign here for your vote to count!

That's all I thought about the matter until the headlines started to appear in our local paper, the Marin Independent Journal

It turns out that 20% of voters (1,600 out of 8,000 people) failed to sign their ballots and the flood-control tax failed by just 65 votes! 

Needless to say, as per the American Way, suits have been filed and the matter is in the courts.

So what's the moral to the story?

Simply that, when you're copywriting a direct response vehicle, be it an email, web page, lead-generation letter, ad, . . . or even an election ballot, the details matter big-time!

For example, suppose you're copywriting (or evaluating copy) for a flyer/brochure that's going into an envelope along with a lead-generation letter. What are some of the details and issues a copywriter should pay attention to? 

Here are just a few of the important questions I ask myself along the way:
  • Is the flyer a good match for the target audience I'm trying to reach?
  • Does my flyer educate and really motivate the reader?
  • Are the creative approach and my copywriting tone appropriate for the product I'm selling?
  • Is the flyer a good fit with the other elements of the mailing?
  • Are my headlines communicating clear benefits?
  • Are my subheadlines working together to tell a complete story to readers who are just scanning?
  • Is there a way for me to show the product or service in use?
  • Can I offer a persuasive guarantee?
  • Should I add a "Questions & Answers" section?
  • Should I add a testimonials section?
  • Do the typography, photography, and illustrations used, effectively support my copywriting?
  • Have I included full contact and ordering information for pass-along readers?
  • Does it make sense to run a split test and see if the package does better without a flyer?
And that's just for starters . . .

The take-away message this month? When you're copywriting (or approving copywriting), pay close attention to the details. They can spell the difference between direct response success and failure.

You may not need me to copywrite a ballot for you, but how about an email, web page, sales letter, whatever? 2016 is the year to put me on your team and very possibly get results like this! Let's go to work!

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Want to reach senior executives and end-run receptionists and admins? 

Joanne Black
Joanne
Black
CLICK HERE to read Joanne Black's excellent new article called 
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How to get in touch . . .
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Phone: (415) 461-0672
E-mail: ivan@levison.com
Fax: (415) 461-7738
Visit my Web site
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Ivan Levison. Direct Mail, Email & Advertising Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive, Greenbrae, CA 94904
Phone (415) 461-0672      Fax: (415) 461-7738
E-mail: ivan@levison.com

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