If you’re going to be a copywriter — you gotta speaka da lingo!
Nothing says “rookie” faster than a copywriter who doesn’t know the basic language of the trade. And that rookie status will prevent you from demanding a higher price for your work.
So, right now, I want to make sure you’ve got the basics down.
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you feel like a native in the land of direct mail copywriter-dom…
BRE: This stands for “business reply envelope”. It’s a postage-paid envelope that’s included in direct mail promotions so customer can mail in the order.
Bullets: “Mini” headlines with supporting sentence aimed to tease and entice your prospect to purchase a product. They help you build up copy momentum and make it easy for reader to grasp important points.
Carrier: Another name for the envelope.
Client: Your “bread and butter”. The company/person who hires you to write the creative promo.
Control: The current winning promotion. The sure thing. New promos are tested against a control. If the new test wins, then it becomes the new control. If your package is the control — your goal is to try to keep it fresh and alive. Why? Because your royalty checks are based on the number of pieces mailed from your control. Regularly provide the client — free of charge — new headlines, cover tests, leads, or anything you feel can give you a lift in response to keep your control alive.
Copy chief: The experienced copywriter in charge of giving critiques to junior writers. Copy chief makes sure copy is strong before turning it over to the client.
Copy cub: A new or junior writer in need of copy supervision.
Design: The layout of your copy. A designer is the person who brings your promotion to life with pictures and other graphics.
Digest or Bookalog: Think “Reader’s Digest” size. Average is a 5×8. A digest can run from 40 to 56 pages long! Many of my successful designs look like a book. For example, my chapters start on right hand side of the page. The front cover is 4-color glossy but the interior is 2-color. Bookalogs can be even smaller in size.
E-book: Stands for “electronic book”. A book that is delivered electronically to your computer usually in a PDF file.
Fatigue: No matter how good your copy is, it will start to tire out and drop in response rate. Fatigue is a reason why your client will request new cover tests or a new package. To “fight” fatigue you can create additional headlines… new intro… and even new design tests.
Flat-fee arrangement: This means you agree on a price for your promo upfront. Once you’re paid, the client can use your copy for as long as he wants without any additional payments to you.
Headline: The copy designed to grab the attention of your market on the cover.
Landing Page copy: Pretty much, this is your sales letter used for internet marketing
Launch: A new project that needs strong copy to make it successful.
Magalog: A cross between a magazine and catalog — get it, “maga-log”? Size runs around 8×11. Remember, exact size can change depending on the client and/or the printer. Average length is 24-32 pages.
Mailing list: These are the names your promotion will be mailed to. The direct marketer will choose names that best fit the profile of the product you’re selling. Each mailing list has a “keycode”. This tracks the number of orders received from individual mailing lists. Total number of orders received helps determine if your package beats the control.
Number 10 carrier (#10): This is a standard envelope size used in business correspondence. It’s 4 1/8th x 9 ½ size.
Package: This is your direct mail promotion. Also called a “piece”, “creative” or “promo”.
PDF: Stands for “portable document format”. A PDF can be easily viewed and printed on any type of computer. It makes it possible for anyone to download and use documents created by specialized software without having to buy and install anything special. PDF files are compact and easily downloaded over the internet.
Premiums: These are the special gifts you use to entice your prospect to make a purchase. They can be special reports, gadgets or just about anything with a perceived value.
Promotion: Another name for your creative piece. Also called a “promo”, “creative” or “piece”.
RAE: This stands for “return address envelope”. It’s the envelope that requires the customer to pay his own postage. In other words, it’s not a “BRE”.
Results: The day of reckoning for a copywriter. After your package mails — usually around day 21 — your client is able to read the package performance. If your test beats the control, you’re the WINNER (you’ve got the new control)!
Retainer: A set amount of money guaranteed for your copywriting services. A client retains you to write copy and agrees to pay you one lump amount instead of a per project basis.
Royalty: What you’re paid when you create a control. Royalty arrangements are negotiated in advance of starting your project. The arrangements can differ but usually you’re paid on a “cents per name”. For example: If your royalty is “3 c/n”, that means you get 3 cents for every piece mailed. So a 100,000 piece mailing generates a $3,000 royalty check!
Slim Jim: An anorexic magalog. Usually 6×10, 28-36 pages long. This size can usually qualify for better postal discounts.
Tabloid: A super-sized magalog. Size runs 10×12 or larger. Average length is 16-24 pages. Be careful of going under 16 pages — it may be too “floppy” to meet postal standards.
Test: This is what your new promo is considered. If it beats the control, then your test becomes the new control.
USP: Unique Selling Proposition. This is the main reason your product exists. It differentiates it from any other product on the market.
Ok, that’s enough to get you started. With internet marketing — there’s LOTS more lingo to learn. I’ll make that another issue. But right now — take a few minutes to learn these so you can “talk the talk”!
Until next time,
Yours for stellar results,
Million-Dollar Copywriter & Consultant