interesting mix: part local gossip of the San
Francisco area who was seen at various
nightclubs, etc. and part celebration
of the SF Bay area, and how wonderful it was
to live there. Since the banks Club membership
was supposed to convey a sense of insider status
in the San Francisco Bay area, I thought nothing
said that better than Herb Caen.
So one of the concepts I proposed was to have
the mailing come from Herb Caen.
The idea was to imbue a boring bank membership
with some of Herb Caens panache and excitement.
Instead of a brochure I proposed we have a long
column in Herb Caens format, and I would
write the column in his style. His style was
known as 3 dot journalism. He would offer a
tidbit of gossip, followed by three dots, then
another tidbit, and so on.
So for the promotion I tried to think up juicy
things that people could do with the club membership
and the money they got from the rate increase.
Each item was separated by the three dots.
While I really liked the idea, I thought it
was one of those longshot concepts. Either the
client or Herb Caen would nix it. Well it turned
out they all liked it. Caen just wanted final
It was a lot of fun to write, turning CD rates
and other banking items into tidbits of gossip.
And Caen approved it without any changes.
It turned out to be one of those wonderful
trifectas, where the client loves it, you love
it, and the results are gangbuster. And for
a moment, you think alls right with the
MCG: Now lets get into the nitty-gritty
of your methodology. Whats the first thing
you do when you get an assignment?
Leon: The first thing is to research
the subject matter. I do a lot of research on
the web competitors, articles, reports,
forums, Amazon.com. I want to know characteristics
of the list. If Im promoting a newsletter
I want to see as many previous newsletters as
I can. I ask to speak to company executives
and others who might be helpful, whether it
is an editor or a marketing director.
Once I get a grasp of the subject, I start
thinking of a first round of ideas and concepts.
I tend to do this before looking at old controls.
By doing this, Im not influenced by what
people did before me. Then, after I have a first
round of ideas, I analyze previous controls
and other promotions, and try to assess why
the control worked and why others didnt.
MCG: Do you think there is a difference
between online prospects and direct mail prospects?
Leon: It depends. If its a promotion
mailed to a certain list vs. a promotion emailed
to a similar list, the messaging and the writing
can also be quite similar.
But if, lets say, its a promotion
mailed to a list vs. a landing page people come
to from a pay per click ad, then there is a
bigger difference. The person who arrives at
the landing page has actively searched using
specific keywords for a topic or problem. When
they click on the ad they want to see a pretty
specific message. The landing page needs to
be very aligned with the keywords and ads in
the pay-per-click campaign. You need to write
with that in mind. With the direct mail, you
dont have to align your writing so closely
to specific keywords.
MCG: How do you build credibility for
Leon: I look to incorporate as many
credibility indicators as possible: awards,
certifications, testimonials, case studies.
Certain names or brands, depending on the industry,
can offer credibility. In the health field,
it can be a study from Harvard Medical School
or Johns Hopkins. If the promotion is technology-related,
any connection to a Google or an IBM, or a company
like that, will carry a lot of weight. Certain
investment firms and analysts carry a lot of
weight in the financial field. Track records
and biographies can be particularly effective
in certain categories.
While testimonials are effective, I think testimonials
integrated within case studies are even more
effective. I call them case stories. This way
the quotes have context. You know the situation
and how a problem was solved.
To read the full interview plus an analysis
of one of the projects discussed in the interview,
go to www.monthlycopywritinggenius.com
To see samples and case studies of my work
and find out more about my services, go to www.altmancopypro.com.