The 4 ‘S’ Formula for Success

If you’re old enough (men and women of a certain age, as they say), you should remember one of the worst disasters in marketing history: New Coke. Back in 1985, somebody had the bright idea to change the iconic formula for one of the world’s most-consumed soft drinks. It was horrible, at least to me and the majority of consumers around the world. They strayed away from the formula that made Coke what it was. In an effort to lift flagging sales and re-energize the brand, the only thing they successfully did was highlight what happens when you don’t stick to what you know.

In direct marketing postcards, we, too, have a formula. Okay, it’s not ‘exactly’ a formula, but a suggested set of ingredients (the 4 S Formula) you want to incorporate into any postcard campaign for any product to any target audience.

  • Small words – This might be a little harsh at first. But says, “When writing for the general public, [they] recommend aiming for a…grade level of 8-10.” Wow! That stings, and some will find it insulting, but you have to step back and realize that you’re trying to attract a wide target audience to your product or service. By using language and words that the vast majority can understand, you only increase the potential prospects at the top of your sales funnel. Don’t dumb down your language…just make it easily understood and easy to remember.
  • Short sentences – If for no other reason than the fact that you don’t have an unlimited amount of space (e.g., scrolling and scrolling in a website on a long form sales letter), you need to chop up your sentences. Overly indulgent sentences can push the reader to skimming what you want them to know, and possibly gloss over the very point you need them to understand. Break up your communication into bite-sized pieces; easy sentences pack more punch than mini novels!
  • Short paragraphs – Yes, there can be paragraphs on a postcard. Remember, when you’re designing the layout and determining the approach, it might be best to form your copy into paragraphs. But just like in the editing process where you remove everything you don’t need to say or infer, when you’re using small paragraphs to impart information, they need to be to the point. One or two sentences, solid & actionable copy, and absolutely moving the target toward your CTA for next steps. Paragraphs aren’t just for sales letters, but they need to be expertly crafted and delicately placed on a postcard for the best effect.
  • Short sections – Again, this isn’t only for long form sales letters. Postcards are going to be thought of in sections or quadrants in their design. Breaking the landscape up into thirds, fourths, or more, gives you the opportunity to move the target’s eye around the postcard, emphasizing different things: GRAND OPENING, or your logo, or bullets on the benefits, or a client testimonial that’s outstanding or extraordinary.

Now, maybe it’s obvious and maybe it isn’t, but when most people think of a formula, they have a picture of a string of letters and numbers leading the reader (or chemist or math whiz) down a specific road toward a specific outcome. For the genius at Coca-Cola who decided to mess with the formula for Coke, he or she may have altered only one aspect of the formula. Whatever they did didn’t work, plain and simple.

When you think about the ‘4 S Formula’, think more along the lines of those elements you want to have in your mind as you go about the process of creating your direct mail postcard campaigns – each time, for every iteration (testing, testing, testing). Your formula isn’t as strict as what defines the way one version of Coke tastes when compared to another. But your formula IS what defines whether or not you can hold the attention of your target long enough to move them to your CTA.

Give Opportunity Knocks a call today. Our Success Coaches are wearing their lab coats, the chalkboard is blank, their beakers are empty, and they’re standing by to help you formulate the best possible direct mail postcard campaign!