Is Your Copywriting & Direct Marketing Readable?

When sitting down to write the copy for letter, web site, postcard or any direct marketing media, most marketers focus 100% of their attention on the words they are writing. Without a doubt, the written message is ultimately critical for achieving high response rates, however HOW YOUR COPY LOOKS is also important for achieving the best results from your direct marketing.

One of the critical mistakes made by copywriters and marketers who don’t understand the importance of what I call “copy cosmetics” is creating copy that is hard to read. Not because what it says, but because it’s physically hard to read.

Think about this for a moment. You either spend your time or hard-earned dollars on a professional copywriter to craft a unique and compelling direct marketing message. When the last period is added, you breathe a sigh of relief, and consider your job done.

Not so fast….

Now comes the important task of making your direct marketing copy:

– attention-grabbing
– personal-looking
– and easy-to-read

If you can accomplish these three goals, you’ve definitely increased the chances for a higher response rate versus not spending the time on the look of your copy and direct marketing.

Let’s look at a few direct marketing examples that came across my desk recently and study where they fall short in the copy cosmetics department.

This first example is an ad for a local restaurant in Philadelphia Magazine. Sure, there’s a classy-looking black and white photo to grab your attention, but can you read the copy? Not only is the font too small it’s also “reverse copy” meaning light colored type on a dark background. Knowing the demographic for this high-end restaurant probably doesn’t have the best eyesight, does it make sense to make the ad so unreadable?

Imagine spending the money on creating this direct marketing advertisement and running it in a high-priced magazine, only to fall short on readability.

This is a classic advertising blunder made by advertising agencies who don’t understand copy cosmetics. Their big goal is a nice-looking ad, not response (if you don’t believe me, look at this ad closer and tell how this ad could be measured).

Reverse copy is a definite response-killer and should be used only in certain ways and sparingly at most.

Here’s another example of a nice-looking “special report”, complete with the buff gym owner, but because of the heavy use of reverse copy, it makes the copy very hard to read, even for a younger target market.

Using full background photographs in marketing sure does look nice, but be very careful when placing copy on top of them and if you’re going to try to make somebody read the copy, keep it short and simple and as readable as possible.

Finally, here’s another classic, “let’s make hard it for the reader to read” mistake. This time it’s a direct marketing postcard I received in the mail from a local printing company (you’d think they would understand how to make a postcard easy to read, wouldn’t you?).

Besides not following proven direct marketing principles, check out how the font choice for their five “fresh ways.” Can you read them? Even with the actual postcard in front of you, you would have a very hard time. I have no idea why they decided to use a red, script font for these very important items for their postcard, but their selection of font definitely kills response. Make sure your font choices are readable to your target market and based on the media you’re using.

Not wanting to end this article on a negative note, this postcard does use one or two direct marketing techniques correctly. The black on white paper contrast helps make the overall piece much more readable and their use of a serif font for the body copy is a smart choice, since serif fonts (like Times New Roman, Courier, etc.) make offline direct marketing much easier to read.
The bottom line is the right use of copy cosmetics can make or break your direct marketing piece. Online or offline, it doesn’t matter. You must understand what increase readability and response and what decreases it.

If you want to know the right way to improve the response of your copy and direct marketing, check out my CopyBoosting Profit Secrets home study course. This is the recording of a one-day workshop where I focused on showing the right way to use more than 20 copy cosmetic techniques to improve the attention-grabbing power, readability and response of your direct marketing and copy. Grab your copy at

About the Author Mike Capuzzi

I'm a speaker, author and high impact marketing strategist for business owners and sharp, aggressive entrepreneurs looking to get to the next level in their business. I'm also the the inventor of the world-famous CopyDoodles. CopyDoodles are the world's largest library of handwritten fonts, hand-drawn doodles, comics and more designed to grab attention and boost your marketing results!

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