Enhancing your credibility with your subscribers


by Robert W. Bly


Note: This article originally appeared in the Newsletter on Newsletters and was written for newsletter publishers. Readers selling other products or services can substitute “product or service” for “newsletter,” “company” for “editor,” and “customer” for “subscriber” or “reader” when applying the advice below.


“People buy from people they like and trust” is an established sales truism, but how many people receiving your DM package have even heard of your publication or editor or you, much less like and trust you?


Your DM copy must work hard to build the credibility that will get the reader to trust you enough to order and rely on your information. Here are some techniques copywriters use to establish credibility quickly in their mailings:


1.      Show a picture of your building or establish a physical presence to prove you’re more than just a mailbox. Promotions for Dr. Atkins’ Health Revelations show a photograph of his impressive 7-story clinic in midtown Manhattan and note that tens of thousands of patients have been treated there.


2.      Link the specifics of the editor’s background to reasons why this particular background enhances his value as a researcher and analyst. A promotion for Forecasts & Strategies notes that editor Mark Skousen was once with the CIA, which gave him government insider contacts he still uses today to interpret the market for his readers. Likewise, promotions for Technology Investing point out that Michael Murphy’s proximity to Silicon Valley enhances his ability to research high-tech companies first-hand.


3.      Cite any awards the publication has won or favorable third-party reviews it has garnered. These can include Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association awards and, for financial newsletters, favorable ratings in The Hulbert Financial Digest. (Since some readers may not be familiar with the source of the rating, describe it in impressive terms -- Hulbert, for instance, can be described as “The Consumer Reports” of the financial newsletter industry.)


4.      Get and use testimonials from subscribers and the media. The best testimonials are specific rather than superlative, and support the key points you are making in your copy.


5.      Stress the editor’s credentials and experience. List the books he has written (and their publishers) and the periodicals in which his articles have appeared. Also list major conferences and speaking engagements as well as academic or business affiliations. Give the names of the  TV and radio shows or stations that have featured the editor as a guest.


6.      If the editor is not a subject matter expert and the publication is not built around him, promote the credibility of the publisher instead. Tell how many publications you have and why you have such a great reputation in the market you serve.


7.      One way to get around an editor or publisher credibility problem is to create an Editorial Advisory Board. Have three to five experts agree to be on this board, then stress their credentials and achievements in your promotional copy.


8.      Don’t forget standard credibility stuff, like number of years in business or number of subscribers -- especially if you have been in business a long-time or have an unusually high number of subscribers. “Our 50th year” impresses some people. Also look for other statistics that can boost your credibility. For example, perhaps you still have your first subscriber who joined 28 years ago when you published your first issue.




            Robert W. Bly is a freelance direct mail copywriter whose clients include Agora Publishing, Phillips, KCI, Rentrop, Georgetown, Institutional Investor, McGraw-Hill, and Medical Economics. He can be reached by phone at 201-385-1220 or via e-mail at rwbly@bly.com. His latest book is Internet Direct Mail: The Complete Guide to Successful e-mail Marketing Campaigns published by NTC Business Books.