Beginning with a critique of email spam from the standpoint of effective copywriting, direct mail wiz Denny Hatch winds up reminding us of the most fundamental principles of the copywriting craft.

For example:

  • The letter is all about “You” copy — it's a highly emotional, personal message from the writer to the reader that translates the action sought into benefits for you the reader.
  • Flattery is one of the most proven copy drivers there is — according to one expert, flattery was the key to 42% of all the persisting controls in his mail archives.
    [You've gotten them: “You are one of a special group of brilliant, caring visionaries to receive …” I fell for one in 1970. Written by, you guessed it … Roger Craver. It got me to join Common Cause, who subsequently gave me my first job. See, it pays to read junk mail!]
  • The other key drivers are fear, greed, guilt, anger, exclusivity, and salvation.
  • Always tell a story — since before writing was invented, humans were hard-wired to listen to stories.

It's entertaining — and educational — to see Denny pick apart his spam because it's so poorly written.


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