Some time ago I gave a training session in Copenhagen. The subject of my training course was ‘how to write direct mail letters that really sell’ and my audience was 100% Danish. Very quickly the discussion moved from writing excellent direct mail copy to writing superb website copy… but let me tell you the story as it developed.

What happened was that I had been warned in advance by the course organisers that the Danes are very practical people and they like practical solutions to communication problems. And they love checklists too.

By this last, I mean, they adore practical information that is presented to them in the form of checklists. For example: “Three easy ways to improve your direct mail letters”, “the 12 rules of good writing”, “the seven secrets of”… and so forth.

One other thing that I was advised about before I stood up in front of a conference room full of Danish business people, all poised with their pens in hand, waiting to hear from me, was ‘don’t make generalised statements, Robert, be specific.’

And specific I was!

In fact, beat this for being Specific: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I want you all to listen carefully to these three golden rules for writing winning direct mail letters’, I said.

‘Rule Number one is: always remember that the opening paragraph of your letter is the most important part of an entire communication process. For this reason you must always promise a benefit in your opening paragraph.’

‘Rule Number two is: never forget that next to the opening paragraph, a PS at the bottom of your letter is the second most important part of your direct mail letter.

So don’t waste it. Use the PS to reinforce the benefit that you promised your readers in the first paragraph or, better still, to introduce yet another benefit.’

‘Rule Number three is: ‘keep your sentences and paragraphs short and make your letter lively and interesting to read.’

Things were going well. And when the very specific ‘Danish Style’ questions started coming at me from all over the room I was well able to bat them…

Q. “How short is a short paragraph?
A. “Not longer than six lines.

Q. “Which type font works best in written communications?
A: “Times Roman on paper, Georgia online.”

Q. “Can a letter be longer than 1-page?
A. Some of the best Direct mail letters ever เว็บตรง written are 2-pages – sometimes more.

Q. If you don’t actually know a person that you are writing to, may you address them by their first name?
A. It’s better not to.

Q. Who should sign a direct mail letter or online message?
A. The more senior the person who signs, the better the response will be.

Q. When we are writing in English should we use American spelling or English spelling?
A. Use whatever English spelling format is normally used in the country of origin of the sales message and be consistent throughout.

Q. Does underlining words in a letter or using a bold type for emphasis work?
A. Yes – provided you don’t use too much of it.

Q. Do these rules apply to online communications like web sites, ezines and emails?
A. Yes! They certainly do.

Q. Okay… then which is faster – reading from paper or reading from a screen?
A. Reading from a screen is approximately a third slower than reading from paper that’s why long sentences and long paragraphs are such an absolute killer to read online.

Suddenly, I became aware of what the Danes had done.

In less than twenty minutes they had expanded my three golden rules for writing direct mail letters into 10 great guidelines for writing website copy.


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