Copy to Avoid in Marketing Communications

By Robert Dunhill, President

When writing copy for marketing programs there are many words and phrases used so often that they have become meaningless. Customers, prospects and your sales force have heard them so many times that they have become hollow and worthless in getting the point across.

The four major communication areas to avoid these words are:

  1. Writing a direct marketing sales letter
  2. Giving a pep talk to salespeople
  3. Sending out promotional emails to customers or prospects.
  4. Avoid using in headlines, subject lines and postscript sentences.

Check here for a list of 57 words and phrases to avoid whenever possible in your B2B and B2C communications.

All hands-on deck
All you’ve got
At the end of the day
Back to the drawing board
Bang for your buck
Best of breed
Close the deal
Cutting edge
Dive deeper
Do It to it
Don’t do as I do, do as I say
End of play
Get the ball rolling
Get with It
Going forward
Good to go
Heavy handed
Here’s a heads up
It can’t lose
It pays to beware
It’s almost right
It’s on my radar
Keep your eye on the ball
Keep your head out of the clouds
Knock ’em dead
Low hanging fruit
Make It work
Move the goal post
Move the needle
Never say never
Never say no
No brainer
Now or never
On my plate
Open your eyes
Pedal to the medal
Plan ahead
Plant the seed
Positive momentum
Reach out
Run It up the pole-See how it flies
Run the numbers
Sell, sell, sell
Shift paradigm
Stick with It
Take it to the bank
Think outside the box
Touch base
Touch points
Try harder
Value added
We know the ins and outs
When the rubber hits the road

How to Identify Your Prospects

It’s not easy. In fact, it’s darn hard. It takes lots of time and thought and the results can be misleading and far from what you would have envisioned.

Here are some general hints to help non-professional marketers pin down their best prospects. Whether or not you use direct mail, email, telephones or any other media channel, you must decide the relative importance of the criteria that is available.

The current term used for a wide conglomeration of information is called Big Data. It refers to a collection of information that been gathered about people or businesses. The data is either self-reported through surveys by direct mail or on the internet… or by appended information from existing databases (real estate records, auto registrations, voter information, census data, boat or aircraft registrations, telephone books, directories, membership rosters, state or federal occupation files, city, county, and federal tax info, etc. etc.).

Add to this the thousands of Internet sites that record lifestyle or hobby interests. These lists alone total many tens of millions of records in hundreds of categories of products and services.

Now, here’s the first step. Reduce your requirements to those that are really more relevant. Select those prospects in an age bracket (assuming you have researched your client list) or in lieu of a client file, a category of income and age that will be a major step in reducing your target market.

If you are selling an item for the single-family home, then omit all multiple dwelling addresses. The same simple demographics apply to ethnic origin, male vs. female, children in family, mortgage information, geography, etc.

Then select the type of lifestyle that relates to your business. There are 200 choices including book or magazine readership, hobbies and crafts, financial and investment data, travel, health, self-improvement, sports, life event data, senior adult interests, ailment information, autos and vessel info, medical professionals, licensed professionals, business and industry data, energy and utility usage, response data (subscribers, donors, shoppers), plus new hotline records (movers, businesses, homeowners, births, newlyweds, etc.).

Let’s assume that you will reach your prospects by email and perhaps, direct mail. Therefore, choose only those records that contain both addresses.

So, make a choice of all the data that’s available to you. Find out the quantity of records that meet your requirements. Decide if you want to send email announcements, product descriptions, money saving coupons, etc. etc.

We’ll work with you to really pinpoint your very best customers and provide you with a file that’s been handpicked for your exclusive use.

Please email us at, or call us at 1-800-DUNHILL (386-4455) today for your personalized quotation.

Robert Dunhill, President

Takeaways from the ANA | DMA Response Rate Report, 2018

Direct Mail is an important element of your Advertising Mix. Check out these statistics from the ANA|DMA 2018 Response Rate Report.

  1. Direct mail response rate to house files is 9% This is nearly double the previous direct mail response rate of 5.1%. *
  2. Direct mail median cost-per-acquisition to house files is $43.90. *
  3. At 59%, oversized envelopes have the greatest return on investment to house files over other mediums (followed by postcards at 34% and letter-sized envelopes at 48%). *
  4. The top response rate tracking methods are online tracking such as PURLs (53%), code or coupon (45%), and call center or telephone (41%). *

The Bottom Line – Direct mail is important in your advertising mix. Reaching your target audience via several mediums is important as they will become conscious of your business when they see your message in several places.

Call us 1-800-DUNHILL (386-4455) for a free consultation on direct mail marketing for your business.

*(Source: ANA | DMA Response Rate Report, 2018)


Integrating Direct Mail and Email with Your Website

(by Robert Dunhill, President)

Combining your direct mail and email programs with your website is an extremely powerful way to provide incentives and instant gratification to your recipients.

Your business will benefit from this marketing strategy because no matter how great your website is optimized for your target market, there are customers out there that don’t know about you. Contacting them directly will bring their attention to your business and your website will provide them with an opportunity to learn more about your company and your products or services.

Here’s what your website can provide:

  • Print coupons to bring into your local store
  • Free information for downloading
  • Registration forms
  • Viewing password-protected content
  • Making donations
  • Claiming a special gift

There are several advantages to integrating your website with your communications programs.

  • Eliminates postage cost for reply cards/envelopes
  • Builds your database by capturing visitor contact information
  • Ability to track promotion response via an analytics program
  • Allows you to build trust, confidence and to pre-sell your visitors

Dunhill has thousands business and consumer lists available for response advertisements. We provide full service direct mail fulfillment and email deployment. Email lists are available with a continual use feature at no additional charge. For more information use our website request form or call us at 1-800-DUNHILL (386-4455).

Make a Compelling Guarantee

An important aspect for any direct mail piece is to develop a persuasive guarantee. Even if you have a strong offer, new buyers may be reluctant to make a purchase without some type of guarantee.

A compelling guarantee will assure prospects that they have nothing to lose and it will help gain the trust and confidence required to make the purchase.

Good guarantees should be unconditional. At the very minimum, allow customers to return the product or get a refund on a service if it doesn’t work for them or meet their expectations. If you have a quality product, the small number of returns you get will be offset by the larger number of orders and repeat business you receive because of the guarantee.

Here are some additional ideas for creating compelling guarantees.

  1. Offer free bonuses along with the product or service. If the customer decides to return the main product, they get to keep all the bonuses. Make sure you assign and advertise a dollar value for your bonuses.
  2. Delay the billing or payment for 30 days. This essentially allows the customer to use the product or service free before they are required to make the full purchase.
  3. Survey prospects that decided not to make a purchase. Find out why they were reluctant to purchase and use this information to craft a guarantee that eliminates this issue.
  4. Make the guarantee unconditional and simple to perform. Do not make it difficult to return an item. It just upsets the customer and ensures they will never do business with you again.

Dunhill international will help you to choose the right prospects for your product or service so that with your guarantee your campaign should enhance your profits. Call 1-800-DUNHILL (386-4455) for a free consultation. 

How to Choose the Right Mailing List

You send out a direct mail campaign to your existing clients and the response is overwhelming. So, to capitalize on this success you want to send the same campaign to a prospect list. How do you find the right list?

It’s an axiom of the direct mail industry that the biggest factor in the success of a direct mail campaign is the list. Some say using the right list will account for as much as 80% of the success of any mailing. So, doing your homework is the logical first step in planning your direct mail campaign.

Ask yourself what are the characteristics of your clients who responded to the campaign?

For consumer marketing:

  1. What is their gender?
  2. What is their age?
  3. What is their average income?
  4. What problem does your product or service solve?
  5. What lifestyles are you searching for?

For business marketing:

  1. What is their job function?
  2. What is the business’s size?
  3. What is the business’s sales volume?
  4. In what industries are these businesses?

The answers to these questions (and more) will help you target the exact prospects for your product or service.

The next step is to find the best list that has these prospects. This is where the expertise of your direct mail list broker comes into play. A good list broker will ask you many questions including the ones above in order to help you pinpoint the exact target market you should be reaching. They will use your answers to research lists and advise you of which lists will perform the best for you. All of this at no cost to you.

Many attributes of a list help determine which lists will work. A list broker will take these into consideration:

  1. Where do the names on the list come from? What sources are being used to create the list?
  2. How often is the list updated?
  3. Are new names being added on an ongoing basis, and if so, can names be selected by recency?
  4. What demographic selections are available?
  5. What other mailers have used the list recently? And what kinds of offers were they making?
  6. What are the terms for one-time and multiple use?
  7. Are net-name arrangements available and what are they?

Dunhill International List Company’s account executives have an average 35 years of direct mail list expertise. Call our account executives at 1-800-DUNHILL (386-4455) today for expert advice on choosing your next direct marketing postal or email list.

Mailing List Checklist

When preparing to send out a direct mail piece, there are 6 simple steps you should take to insure your mailing list is ready for your marketing campaign.

Not only do you want the mailing to get out on time, you will also want to be sure you will get the best return on investment. This includes making sure the list you are using is up to date and meets with the USPS rules for bulk mail.

When you rent your list from a reputable list broker, they should prepare the list to comply with the USPS rules, but it is always good to ask your list broker to verify when the list was last NCOA’d, etc. Here is a checklist to help make sure your list will be ready for your mail piece.

  • Is the list targeted to the right audience? When renting a list, be sure target prospects are similar to your best customers
  • Is the list current? When was the list last updated?
    • Was it run through NCOA (National Change of Address)?
    • Was it passed through the DMA’s “do not mail file”?
    • Was it purged of deceased persons?
  • Does it need to be checked for duplicates? Do you want to reach only one person in a household/address?
  • Would adding “Or Current Resident” make sense for this mailing?
  • Would the mail piece benefit from Personalization?
    • If personalizing, is the list Capitalized properly?
    • What about initials as First names (e.g. H. Ross Perot).
    • Would a reference to their COMPANY, LOCATION (CITY/STATE) grab more attention?
  • What about empty fields? Choose a default name (e.g. Guest, Friend)

Dunhill International List Company is celebrating it’s 80th anniversary in the list industry. The company currently provides over 30,000 constantly updated mailing, email and telemarketing list categories. Our account executives offer essential sales guidance for consumer and business to business direct marketers. Call 1-800-DUNHILL (386-4455) today for your free list consultation.