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Phone: 631.924.3888 • Alt. Phone: 631.775.6075 • Fax : 631.924.8555


Direct Mail Critique

For the DM packages, I see many ways to make these stronger, which we

could outline in a critique for $1,500 per package. If the client wants us

to rewrite the packages based on our critique suggestions, we would

credit the $1,500 critique fee toward the $6,000 copywriting fee, so the

cost would be only $4,500 per package for copywriting.

For the ad, I recommend we test a 7 X 10-inch version of the control ad vs. a new 7 X 10-inch test ad. We could supply 2-3 test concepts in a copy platform memo for $750. If the client picks one and wants us to write the test ad, we would credit the $750 toward the $3,500 copywriting fee, so the copy for the test ad would cost only $2,750.

A sample DMP critique follows:

Mr. RJB. — Copywriter/Consultant

TO: John Client

RE: Critique of Money Laundering Alert mailing

DATE: 7-27-99

Overall, this is a solid mailing that could be made even stronger. My

critique is designed to help you accomplish this improvement.

Your topic, money laundering, has a strong dramatic appeal. It’s newsworthy and is connected with the fear of loss and legal prosecution.

Although your package is aimed at professionals, not the general public,

I would still consider bringing in this news and interest angle more.

(See my page-by-page comments below).

You define your three audiences as bankers, lawyers, and law enforcement

officials. Perhaps you should test lift notes speaking more directly to

each of these three groups. Law enforcement officials, for instance, are

quite different from bankers and lawyers.

Your outer envelope is designed to look like personal correspondence.

You lose that advantage by putting the Alert Global Media name in large

type in the upper left corner of the front of the envelope. Instead, in

the upper left corner put in plain type the following:

Nikolas xxxxxx, Editor

Money Laundering Alert

xxxx Brickell St.

Suite xxx, North Tower

xxxxx, FL 33131

Ideally the newsletter name and address should be in plain Helvetica,

and the editor’s name in typewriter type (Prestige Elite) above it. See

my package for Strategies & Forecasts as an example; I can send a copy

if you need one.

Another small point is the letter typeface. I like the Courier font (I think

that’s what it is) better (easier to read on a personal level) than the Times Roman, but I don’t feel it’s terribly critical. If you want to test them, go ahead. My page-by-page comments correspond to the pages in the Times Roman version.

What’s the size of your list? Have you tested this letter without the

personalization? Maybe you can get away with eliminating it and save

some money.


The current headline reads as if you get $100 discount for a 1-year

offer or NO discount and free tapes for the 2-year offer. Rewrite to

make clear that the 2-year subscribers get a BETTER discount ($200 vs.

$100 for 1 year) PLUS the bonus tapes. Also, unless Intriago is well

known, naming him in the headline is not a selling point. And you might

want to consider a more appealing title for the tape set, e.g., Protect

Your Bank (and Yourself) Against Illegal Money Laundering Fines and Jail


The headline and lead are competent. But they are also flat and

unexciting. My instinct says this topic gives your audience a rush

(raises their emotional state), but the package doesn’t hit this hot

button. Law enforcement officers, for example, might anticipate the

thrill of closing down a laundering operation. Bankers might fear that

they are being used and are therefore open to personal prosecution.

Use specifics in your copy— "facts, figures, stories, case histories."

For instance, a lead based on a real story might begin this way: "Joe

Blow, a VP at AnyBank, didn’t expect federal agents to be waiting at his

desk to arrest him for money laundering when he walked into the bank

last Monday morning. But that’s exactly what happened.

Or, you could lead with the story from the June 1999 issue on Pakistan’s former prime minister having to pay $8.6 million in fines. The idea: If a king, president, or queen can be prosecuted, you can too.

As for statistics and specifics, instead of saying laundering can lead

to severe penalties, give specifics: "fines of $100,000 per day or

more; jail sentences of 2-3 years; etc." whatever the facts may be.

Also in the first paragraph, help the reader visualize the danger. For

instance: 6,000 agents from 15 federal agencies [name two or three] are

now crawling through bank statements, monitoring your e-mail, even

watching your home.

In paragraph two, add this sentence after the first sentence ending in 30

states. "Is yours one of them?"

In the third paragraph, rewrite slightly as follows so you end the lead

sentence with contains 13 new provisions to the Bank Secrecy Act. Can

you name them all?

I do like the knowledge you display on page 1 concerning the new

examination procedure and the new crimes strategy act. But you should

either tell the reader something useful about these in your letter, or

offer to send them details in a free bonus report.



I like the positioning statement in the third paragraph about MLA being

the most quoted and reliable source. Is it also the only money

laundering monthly newsletter aimed at the banking community vs. say,

consumers? If so, add that to the positioning statements.

We give ourselves a lot of praise. Do we have testimonials from

subscribers who support our claim that we tell them what to do so they

can avoid problems? Does any subscriber say we helped him or her stay

out of court, avoid expensive litigation, clear the bank’s good name, or

win in court and avoid fines and jail?

Again, we refer to more inside knowledge of regulations (Operation

Casablanca, KYC). We tease the reader but don’t pay off. If we don’t

give specifics in the letter on what these mean to them, maybe we should

pay off and discuss these topics in the premium.

Can you name a big financial institution or government agency that uses

MLA in a training program? What do they say about its effectiveness?

If MLA is the first step for your protection, what are the other

steps? Be careful. This implies that MLA is an incomplete solution.

How do we get the inside information on what US federal agencies are

doing? What are the information sources we scour? We should build the

editorial and research story a bit to show readers how and why MLA can

get stuff they won’t read elsewhere.

On pages 2 to 3 you list 6 features MLA provides. These might read better

if we gave them names instead of numbering them. For example, #5 on

essential documents access could be named - MLA Archives or something

similar. Number 2 on federal agencies could be named - FedWatch.



Bullet points could be stronger and more specific. For instance, in

fourth bullet point, talk about one specific bill (name it) rather than

general statements of details of important bills.

Similarly, for the list of articles at the bottom of page 3, I would

rewrite them as more engaging bullets rather than just reprint the

article titles. On the fifth item, for instance, I might say something

like, "How money laundering destroyed the lives of 64,000 peaceful,

law-abiding citizens on this tiny tropical island."

Also, no need to list the dates or issues for the articles. This has the

negative effect of reminding the reader that these articles have already

run and therefore he won’t be getting them as a new subscriber.



As with the headline, the 1 vs. 2 year offer is a little confusing.

Rewrite to make clearer. See my earlier comment on the headline.

Make the guarantee terms more specific. What happens if I have a 2 year

subscription and cancel after 14 months? Do I get ALL my money back?

Just a refund for the unmailed portion of my subscription? Or no money

back? Is this a lifetime or time-limited guarantee?



To get paid and avoid deadbeats, add a note to the bill-me option that

says, "Premium shipped upon receipt of payment."

I notice you have a book on KYC. Perhaps this or some other printed

material should be offered as a premium for 1 year subscribers. Two year

subscribers would get whatever the 1 year people get PLUS the tape set.

You might also take one of the copy points from the sales letter and

create a short premium around it. Example: "13 New Provisions to the

Bank Secrecy Act ˆ and What You Should Know About Each." Then offer it

as a quick-response bonus if they order within 10 days.



Reference the bullets to the tape and side (Tape 2, Side B), since in

this case, they will be getting every piece of information offered.

If the live seminar was expensive, state the price and compare it to the

price of the tapes (in this case, FREE!).

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