Direct Marketing – The Old School Way

You can often improve your direct marketing and advertising by 100% or more with one simple strategy…

Study the “old classics.”

You can often find a new selling angle for your product/service, a new way of presenting the offer and some killer copywriting techniques.

How is this possible, you ask?

Simple: even though technology changes, media changes and the world changes…the appeals that sell and the concepts for connecting with a prospective customer and compelling them to open their wallets have not changed.

I doubt these core principles will ever change. Human nature doesn’t change.

People will always want to live longer, make more money than their neighbor, eat Big Mac’s and have a beach body, etc.

Ok, let’s press on…

What do I mean by “old classics?”

I’m talking about the time tested direct response ads (from the 1920′s – 1960′s) that were runaway winners.They were written by some of the greatest ad copywriters of all time and also ran profitably for years on end.

Here is one of my all time favorites.

Classic Sherwin Cody Ad: Do You Make These Mistakes in English?

You can read the headline and subheads alone and be hooked into this ad. The offer at the end is irresistible. Of course, the headline “made” this ad and became a classic. It ran profitably for over 40 years.

What I took away from this ad for my own advertising and direct marketing:

  • Let people off the hook for why they are ‘where they are.’ The “Why Most Persons Make Mistakes” subhead and copy gives people an easy reason to explain away why they don’t speak proper English and paves the way for them to be open to an answer. Otherwise, the reader lets their pride get in they way of seeing a helpful solution to their problem. This technique is akin to that used by the weight loss industry and diet products: “it’s not your fault you are overweight…you’ve been lied to by the weight-loss industry and medical establishment…”
  • The ad is written so that it doesn’t look like an ad. Compare the look and feel of this ad to those using large pictures, lots of white space and funny fonts. This ad is simple, benefit driven for the reader and gets straight to the heart of the problem it solves.
  • There is a lot of great copy dedicated to accomplishing a single goal: generating a lead. The offer in this ad is for a Free Booklet. No doubt the free booklet came with a salesletter. Simple, classic and still very effective “two-step” direct marketing strategy.
  • The “star” of this ad is Sherwin Cody’s amazing self-correcting machine. Cody is the inventor but the automatic machine is the magic pill. Most successful direct response marketing and infomercials use this same strategy. The host or writer or celebrity is the person touting the amazing invention. The invention that solves the problem is the real star of the show or ad.

Here are a few more. See what you can get from reading them.

U.S. School of Music: “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano…”

Rolls-Royce: “At 60 Miles an Hour…”

There are many more classic direct response (aka mail order) ads I could post…and I plan on doing more at a later date. For now, these 3 classic ads should give you some idea fuel for your next campaign.