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I've spoken numerous times on "Creative Strategies in the Age of Disbelief"....

One of the key premises is that DECEPTION IS VERBOTEN. One of the "10 Ways to Suspend Disbelief" is to admit fallability.
There's a creative corollary to that - being totally truthful about your product/service up front– or airing the dirty laundry.
Example 1: Years ago, I approached Barron's with a direct mail subscription package themed "Invest Ugly." At that time, Barron's was not particularly well-designed or easy to read. I wanted to compare it to Forbes or Money, telling prospects upfront - "if you want pretty pictures and slick design, you won't find it in Barron's."
Example 2: This is from the opening of the letter in a successful B2B lead generation package for a commercial lender:
If your company needs a working capital loan of $300,000 to $3,000,000 NOW, call us at 1-800-000-0000 ext. 14
We can't promise you the same interest rates that companies with "A" credit ratings might get, but we are able to lend to companies that banks turn down. Availability is more important then ever, in light of the recent increase in bank mergers.
ABC Lending offers a more open approach than you've been accustomed to.

The second paragraph is completely disarming. Instead of hiding the fact that interest rates will probably be higher than some companies pay at banks, it raises and dispenses with the objection.
Example 3: A well-known company in document processing services wondered why its direct mail control package didn't hold up. The answer was in the Acceptance Certificate. The disclaimer type is so small that it is intimidating. Recipients will have an immediate distrust of any deal that is so heavily footnoted. The recipient's name is almost invisible on the form. We urged the mailer to increase the type size used on the response form, and to explain the deal right up front in the letter.
"Yes, you can try the Widget free for 90 days, but frankly we're making the offer only to companies who can profit long term. So we're asking you to do a, b, and c– and to understand that d, e, and f."
When you are forthright at the outset, you lower prospects' resistance and earn their respect. That credibility .... particularly in times of government and corporate deceit -- can make all the difference in the profitability of your company's marketing programs.
Who among you has shown warts and won?

Continue reading "Dirty Laundry and Clean Relationships" ... Read the full article

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Lee Marc Stein is a direct marketing consultant and copywriter with over 40 years experience. He has developed and executed direct marketing programs for a wide variety of marketers in the publishing, insurance and financial services, nonprofit, technology, and business-to-business arenas. Current clients include Effectiveness Solutions Research, Entertainment Publications, Long Island Children’s Museum, National Grants Conferences, Rickard List Marketing, Travelers Insurance, and a number of direct response agencies.

As a direct response agency executive, Lee worked with companies like Chase, Colonial Penn Auto Insurance, Dial Corporation, Hertz, Mead Johnson, The Money Store, and U.S. Airways. He also held marketing management positions at Standard & Poor’s, BusinessWeek, and McGraw-Hill Information Systems Company.

Lee taught at NYU and Hofstra, and has spoken at 100+ industry conferences. He was a Founder of the Long Island Direct Marketing Association, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Direct Marketing Association of Long Island.