Jul 15, 2010

Ad Man's Book Club: July 2010 Choice

How to Write Sales Letters That Sell: 
Learn The Secrets to Successful Direct Mail 
- Drayton Bird

David Ogilvy said, "Drayton Bird knows more about direct marketing than anyone in the world." That's the statement that got me curious about Mr. Bird. To my surprise – and maybe to his own – Drayton Bird is still around writing copy after 50 years in the business.

He has written four books so far. I think How to Write Sales Letters That Sell is the most practical. There is very little theory. The book is filled with examples from companies you would never guess use direct mail. 

Who uses direct mail today

One letter sells frozen steaks, one is from Richard Branson offering free drinks on a Virgin airplane, another one is the famous "Quite frankly, the American Express card is not everyone" -letter. There is also a copy of the Wall Street Journal's two-page letter that sold subscriptions for over ONE BILLION dollars.

Bird doesn't just show you successful direct mail, he explains why they worked or didn't work, and how you too can write successful letters that make people buy.

Why direct mail is more than just paper in a flashy envelope screaming "Buy!"

On the page 129, there's a story how Ogilvy & Mather used live pigeons to deliver their sales message to Cessna airplanes' prospects. To get a free test flight, the prospect had to let the bird out. The story goes that many of the pigeons never returned because, according to David Ogilvy, "Some of those mean bastards cooked and ate the birds."

On the page 18: The most important letter you will ever write... 

... Your job application. And you will learn to do it better than most of your competitors by reading this over 300-page book. Did you know that Victor Ross, the former Chairman of Reader's Digest said it is, "the ultimate how-to book of direct mail letter writing."

You can get How to Write Sales Letters That Sell from Amazon.

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