Marketing Copywriting, Maslen on Marketing

Shake out a few new ideas

What’s the first thing you do when you buy a magazine at a newsstand? I’m guessing you hold it by the front cover and shake it vigorously to release the loose inserts (blow-ins in trade parlance).

Me? I keep ’em. This month I thought I’d give you a quick analysis of five I collected from the October issue of Top Gear magazine.

#1 Classic & Sports Car – 2pp card

Great media-buying, since Top Gear readers are likely to be interested in classics too (I am). We’ve got the now standard “3 issues for £1” offer and a flash on the front advertising over 90% savings on the first three issues.

What marks this out as a cut above the average is 59 words of benefits copy, and I don’t just mean “free delivery direct to your door”. The writer is actually selling the magazine as well as the immediate savings. That should do well for future subscription renewals.

#2 Christmas gift subscriptions – 6pp gatefold leaflet

Another offering from Haymarket, publishers of Classic & Sportscar. This time we’ve got 15 titles to choose from, all at 20-30% savings off the full price. Positioned as a Christmas gift, it’s well-timed. All but four titles are either car or football-related – more good targeting.

Nice copy – necessarily brief. With headlines including SAVE UP TO 30%, Give the gift that lasts the whole year and Save more this Christmas.

It’s always a struggle to come up with fresh design ideas for Christmas mailers. This one uses snowflakes. Nostalgic, really, given the UK climate for most of us.

#3 Which? Money saving guides – 4pp leaflet

Copy and design work in harmony in this leaflet from the publishers of Which? – a consumer guide. Tightly focused on everyone’s worry these days with an opening sentence that reads, “Concerned about the credit crunch?” That should get a “yes” from just about everyone reading it.

Nice big call to action with a freephone number and plenty of clearly-signposted benefits: get the know-how, choose the right products, Find out how much you can save with these two money-saving guides. As a lead-generator for the main service this “two-fer-99p” offer should work well.

#4 Volvo XC60- 8pp leaflet inside brown envelope

The brown envelope says WARNING CONTAINS SCENES OF LÖV MAKING. Assuming you get past the over-glued packaging to extract the leaflet, it all goes downhill from here (though presumably with Hill Descent Assist on you’ll never get above 10 mph).

Volvo knows it’s stuck with a boring image and, like sherry, gin and brown spirits before it, wishes it were somehow more sexy. Well sorry guys, but this sub-Häagen-Dazs copywriting won’t do it. It’s back to the super-smashing-great school of copywriting. Best of the bunch: “wildly curvaceous rear lights”. Really? Rear lights? Oh be still my beating heart.

#5 MPH – the prestige & performance motor show – 10pp flyer

Another no-brainer for the media buyer, especially since the stars of this petrolhead’s wet dream are none other than the presenters of Top Gear. But why is this roll-fold flyer blank on one side? For no real increase in printing costs they could have doubled the selling power. Or slashed the cost by printing both sides.

The body copy is set exclusively in white out of either black or red, thus guaranteeing the lowest possible readability and comprehension. The headlines are all red, ensuring the reader’s eye will be constantly pulled away from the copy back to the headlines, further depressing understanding and response. Given the audience, a simple 2pp flyer would probably do just as well.

And I’m telling you this because?

Picking up new marketing ideas is as easy as picking up a magazine. If you see an insert in circulation for a few issues, you can start forming assumptions about whether it’s working.

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