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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Junk mailers constantly at work to ambush customers with alluring offers

After 35 years selling names and personal data in the junk mail industry, I still follow what is going on. And that is primarily to educate consumers on their rights to control their names and private information to prevent misuse. With billions of manipulations of your data in this business on a daily basis, it is a wonder there aren’t more breaches. But there are only a few connected to the industry, according to Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).

ITRC has counted 346 breaches so far in 2010, exposing 9.2 million records. There are close connections like banks that use junk mail to send credit card mailings, and smaller online companies, but nothing major…yet. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse states on its data breach site that their listings are those that are “made public.” This whole ID theft fiasco started with the junk mail data broker, Choicepoint, in early 2005.

So how do they get your name so they can send you endless mailings, and then sell it to other junk mailers who do the same? Denny Hatch, a pioneer in the business has a new book that explains how to create “emotional, hot-button copywriting.” That’s the stuff that jumps off a page of junk mail and immediately entices you to respond. And it works.

Here are the “seven key copy drivers” that Hatch says will make a copywriter’s career take off. The first is “fear.” What comes to mind here are the cancer insurance mailings years ago that scared you into buying coverage. Second is “greed.” We’re all greedy to a certain extent, but the right words will make that greed overflow, and often make you buy what you really don’t want or need.

Third is “guilt.” Used regularly by non-profit charities to solicit donations, some very reputable and do need the money for good. Where this premise falls short is when the elderly, who can’t afford to feed themselves, are convinced to give the money they don’t really have. Forth you have “anger.” In political mailings like the GOP and Tea Party have been sending out recently, anger is created against President Obama and the Democratic Party to, once again, enlist donations and enlist support.

The final three are “exclusivity,” salvation,” and “flattery,” the latter of which is supposed to get you everywhere. Like I said, Denny Hatch is a pro, having been at this for over 25 years, so he should know what you want. Next time you get a piece of junk mail, check to see which one of Hatch’s key come-ons it exploits.

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