Your Best Story Hinges on a Single Word

Recently, our own David Paull wrote a post about, of all things, a direct mail piece. But it is more than that.

The Tale of Two Sides highlights the thin line between strong and weak communication; How a hit or a miss comes down to just a few words.

DS: You talk about the communication on the front of the mailer as being a ‘hit’ and that back being a ‘miss’; A missed opportunity to get you to act. We know you’ve done this before, so how would you have approached it differently to get a better outcome?

DP: My biggest issue with the back is that the two bold opening and closing paragraphs both dealt with things that didn’t offer the real value. Leading with a postage discount on something I know little to nothing about isn’t compelling. And telling me where I can go for restrictions and limitations is just a turn-off. Instead, I’d focus only on the value of the kind of mailer they’re promoting, then use a call to action (CTA) to drive me to a webpage where they can try to convert me to the next step–whatever that is. 

DS: What do you think is the real impact of being ‘oh-so-close’ vs. having a 100% win?

DP: The impact is huge. Getting even 90% there is a 100% miss. It’s so hard to get someone’s attention and if you manage to actually get it for a few seconds, there is no margin for error. Yes, words and phrases matter. But even having the right words and phrases aren’t enough if they’re not executed in a compelling and effective way. The communications strategy (i.e., the execution) is the last mile of any messaging campaign. When the messaging is right, and the communications strategy is sound, then you have a shot at getting to a win. 


For more on storytelling best practices, check out the post “Marketing and the Power of One Word.”