What’s In a Name?

Personalized mailings were all the rage in direct marketing… back in 1975. They continue to be a staple today, online as well as off, based on the idea that no sound is sweeter than that of your own name.

Given my one or two experiences with hand-shaking, name-abusing car salesman over the years, I beg to differ. (”John, what can we do to get you behind the wheel of this beauty today… John?”)

That doesn’t mean personalizing a mailing doesn’t work. Only that the same principle that made it a good idea decades ago has matured today. That is, using your prospect’s name is a good beginning – but better is a stronger, fuller profile of what the customer cares about.

Think Amazon remembering past purchases and suggesting new ones. Think psychographic marketing, not just demographics. The baseline rule: The goal of getting personal with your prospect is actually getting personal, not just pretending to have a connection.

That said, one of the most popular pieces of copywriting advice you’re likely to hear is to write your sales pitches in the second person. This doesn’t mean developing a split personality at the keyboard. It means writing to the “you” – as in, your reader.

Of course, arbitrarily stuffing “you” into every sentence is no better than overplaying your reader’s name. If it isn’t genuine, it will irritate him.

The difference is often just a mindset. Really write to the “you” while you picture him in your head, and all the phoniness falls away.

[Ed. Note: To get more of copywriting expert John Forde’s wisdom and insights into marketing (and much more), sign up for his free e-letter, Copywriter’s Roundtable, atwww.copywritersroundtable.com. Or send an e-mail to signup@jackforde.com. Get a free report about 15 deadly copy mistakes and how to avoid them when you sign up today.

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John Forde's 15-year career as a top copywriter started as an understudy of Bill Bonner and Michael Masterson. Since then, John has written countless winning controls, has generated well over $30 million in sales, and has successfully launched dozens of products. He's also worked three years as a financial journalist and has written books on wealth building and health, as well as more than 250 articles on copywriting for his popular ezine, The Copywriter's Roundtable. John has taught copywriting in private seminars and conferences in Paris, London, Bonn, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Baltimore, and Warsaw. He currently lives and works from Paris, France.