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I’ve never written a letter to a direct mail copywriter before. But your subscription package for Writer’s Digest was super…”
Bob Bly
Author, The Copywriter's Handbook

 

INSIDE DIRECT MAIL
 

A Blockbuster of a Mailing
By Hallie Mummert

 

How do you tell the story of a publication that has been in print since 1920, and that already has a long-term control mailing by the legendary copywriter Linda Wells selling its benefits?

As the copywriter hired by F&W Publications to beat Wells’ control package for Writer’s Digest, freelancer Josh Manheimer was, understandably, a little intimidated.

“Linda’s a great copywriters, so I was shaking in my little boots,” says Manheimer.

But, he adds, he also knew that he had an advantage in taking a shot at the previous control.  Even though he was already a successful professional writer, he also was a budding creative writer – a fact that helped him feel intimate with the desires of the audience for this monthly magazine.

Manheimer’s “Blockbuster” package, which was designed by David Wise, tested against Wells’ package and became control in 1989.  Since then, it has been mailed continuously, with F&W Publications giving it a break periodically to guard against fatigue.

While the letter is the main voice in any direct mail package, it truly becomes the focus in an appeal that reaches out to fledgling writers.

Manheimer’s letter is four pages long, and creates instant rapport form the first paragraphs by sharing the story of a failed writing assignment from his college days.  This puts him on a level with the members of the audience who have had similar experiences, and it also reminds the readers of their pain of not being acclaimed.

Once they have been reminded of defeat, Manheimer delivers victory, by next revealing that he has since become a successful copywriter who earns a handsome income for his professional services.  At this point, readers are hooked, because there is the promise of turning failure into success.