Ivan Levison —
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting

How to upgrade your upgrade
Part 2: creating a winning envelope

In another article I talked about how to write a successful upgrade letter. In this article we'll take a look at improving your envelope copy. (After all, if they don't open your envelope, a fabulous letter won't help!) And now, the envelope please . . .

1. Make it clear that this is an upgrade offer for existing customers. You want to make certain that readers understand this important fact instantly. If you're unclear, you risk getting your upgrade offer tossed in the round file.

When I'm writing an upgrade envelope I get right to the point and say exactly what needs to be said. For example:

    "Attention Silton-Bookman customers!

    Announcing a brand new
    Upgrade Offer
    you won't want to miss!"

The first part of the headline (shown above) flags the target audience. Then I go on to tell them what the offer inside is all about.

Witty and "creative"? No.

Obvious and straightforward? Absolutely.

I recently got an upgrade package in the mail from Intuit, the creators of Quicken. The envelope copy took a different approach. Here's the teaser:

    "Anyone who uses Quicken the way
    Ivan Levison does should get
    their own special upgrade.

    And a choice of special upgrade offers!
    Upgrade today!"

The personalization is definitely a grabber and the color photo of the Quicken box will stop a Quicken user in his or her tracks.

Obviously Quicken users, who live with the product, will open the envelope and get into the letter.

But for me, the first paragraph is a little too complicated. You have to concentrate a bit to decode the line. I also wonder if the "choice" of upgrade offer is a little complicated for the envelope.

If I were writing this package I'd simplify and start with the name first . . .

    "Ivan Levison . . .
    Your new Quicken Upgrade
    is waiting for you!"

Or maybe:

    "Brand new for Ivan Levison!
    A terrific upgrade
    with all the exciting new features
    you've been waiting for!"

2. If you're using a limited-time offer, turn up the volume. All too often the offer expiration date is buried in the body copy of the letter. If, for example, you're rE-mailing to upgrade non-responders, give them hell on the envelope.

A while ago Frame was considering sending a second mailing and asked me to write an envelope and letter. Here's the envelope teaser copy:

    Second and Final Notice!

    "Upgrade now to
    FrameMaker 4
    while our special offer is still in effect!

    Money-saving upgrade offer ends
    December 31, 1993!
    No additional notification will be sent!"

3. Punch up the new features and enhancements right on the envelope. Want to attract the reader's attention? Go ahead and put some of the goodies on the back of your envelope.

Symantec did a beautiful job with their Norton Desktop 3.0 for Windows upgrade package. On the back of the envelope they say:

    "Here's just a sample of what you get
    in this major new upgrade!"

. . . and then they run a list of eighteen new features. It's a very effective use of the space.

4. Keep the graphics simple. For a low-priced consumer product you might want to really splash on the color, but generally speaking, less is more on an upgrade offer envelope.

Here's why. You're talking to a pre-sold audience. They want to know what improvements you're offering. Simply telling them the Big News is all you have to do. If you start jazzing things up too much, they may get confused and think the letter is just another piece of junk mail.

© 2013, Ivan Levison & Associates. All rights reserved.