Ivan Levison — Copywriter
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting


Action Ideas For Better Direct Mail,
E-mail, Web Sites & Advertising

Published by
Ivan Levison, Direct Response Copywriter June, 2006
Volume: 21 Number: 6

Junk Mail Or Moneymaker?
The Two-Second Decision


When you're planning to mail a lead-generation letter or self-mailer, you
probably think a lot about what your offer's going to be, what lists you'll use, etc.

But don't forget to consider the context in which your letter will get read.
You see, it's important to understand exactly the way people read your
mail and the demands that imposes on the copywriter.

Let me put all this under the microscope and you'll see what I mean . . .

Typically, you get your mail in a pile, addresses facing you. Then you
become a Las Vegas blackjack dealer dealing down, making decisions,
searching for valuable material, discarding the junk.

There are basically four kinds of mail in everybody's pile of mail:

1. Bills. These are instantly identifiable, unwanted but retained. It gives you
no joy to receive your electric bill, but there's no question of tossing it.
It goes on the bill pile.

2. Personal mail. A handwritten note from a friend is a keeper for sure. You
might even interrupt your sorting to read it immediately. (No wonder hand-addressed
mailings with live stamps get opened in huge

3. Requested mail. These are items you've asked for, expect, and will keep
for later reading. Magazines, catalogs you've requested, newsletters, etc.

4. Junk mail/money-making mail. These are all the unsolicited marketing
pieces that land on your desk.

They are subjected to a merciless, one- or two-second review based entirely
on the envelope. (Yes. Envelopes are incredibly important. They crucially determine
whether the prospect will open the letter and get to your compelling sales message!)
Most letters will instantly be placed on the throw-out pile, but a few will survive.
Hopefully yours!

Here's where things get interesting.

As you know from your own experience, there are some letters that are on the
borderline. You're a bit interested but are not really sure if the letter is junk or not.
So you open it and quickly start scanning, looking for the writer to get to the point.
Here's where the skill of the copywriter really kicks in. He or she has to quickly
suck you in to the story, sell the offer, and make the sale.

One sentence that is unclear, one bit of ordering information that is vague, is all
it takes to turn a moneymaker into junk mail. That's why it's so important to
handle all the little details correctly when it comes to:

+ The offer
+ Product features/benefits/specs
+ Ordering and shipping details
+ The guarantee

If you've been extremely clear and focused, you have a real shot at
making the sale. If your letter is vague, or a reader's question is unanswered,
your piece may wind up on the junk pile.

The take-away message this month?

You don't have a lot of time to spend with your busy prospects as they
sort through their mail, so get to the point quickly and make sure that
everything that needs to be explained has been communicated clearly.

The difference between junk mail and a sale is often about two or
three seconds. Don't blow it!

How To Get In Touch

Ivan Levison
Direct Response Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive
Greenbrae, CA 94904

Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
E-mail: ivan@levison.com
Web Site: http://www.levison.com

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Copyright 2006, by Ivan Levison, All Rights Reserved.

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