Direct Mail Catalogs & Brochures: Write Captions That Sell

Many prospects skim through catalogs and brochures, glancing at the photos and reading the accompanying captions only when a particular image arouses their interest. That's when you have their attention. And so that's when you sell them.

My advice for writing captions is to never describe what readers can see for themselves in your photo.

If your photo shows a man in a golf shirt, for example, don't place a caption beneath the photo that simply says "New Golf Shirt." Instead, write a subhead that communicates a benefit that the reader cannot see, one that the photographer could never capture. Write something like this:

NEVER A HOLE IN ONE: Our new Glengarry Golf Shirt features a Teflon fabric protector that forms an invisible shield around fibers for superb protection against tears and punctures.

My second piece of solicited advice (you subscribed to the newsletter, after all) is to start your captions, whenever possible, with a pithy intro phrase. In five words or fewer, capture the essence of what you are saying with a clever word play, like the one above. Here's another example.

My local newspaper ran a story about the problem that my city is facing this summer with some homeowners watering their lawns every day when they should be watering every other day to conserve water. The story was illustrated with a photograph of a city bylaw officer, in uniform, at the door of a homeowner who was in the very act of breaking the bylaw. The photo caption began:

LAWN ORDER: Bylaw Enforcement Officer Jack Phillips issues a warning to homeowner . . .

That caption put a smile on my face and forced me to read the story. Your captions and subheads will do the same if you make them clever, interesting and laden with benefits that interest your readers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alan Sharpe is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation specialist who helps business owners and marketing managers generate leads, close sales and retain customers using business-to-business direct mail marketing. Learn more about his creative direct mail writing services and sign up for free weekly tips like this at http://www.sharpecopy.com.

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