It’s come to my attention that you, dear reader, might be sorely lacking in proper copywriting “vocabulary.”
Possibly because you don’t read this blog enough. Possibly because I don’t use the terms enough. Or possibly because, well, who wants to sit around talking terminology all the time? Nonetheless, I thought I’d do you a favor and lay down details on the handiest of terms. As follows…
Bluelines – Either (a) the term for the first-run package “proofs” you get from your printing company or (b) the drug they must do in the design department to make them think it’s ever okay to put screened graphics behind printed text.
BRE – (a) A business reply envelope, provided to customers to make it easier to mail back the order form or (b) a funky French cheese that goes well with baguettes, but makes your fridge smell like sneakers.
Break-even – Either (a) the level of orders it takes to recover the cost of your advertising or (b) Hey, no joking about the showing a profit here, Buster! This is serious!
Bottom line, the – (a) The money and how much you’re making or losing; also, (b) the second or third most common patient issue discussed in the offices of Beverly Hills plastic surgeons, as in “Doctor, I’m worried about how my bottom line looks when I where jeans.”
Customer Retention – (a) How long you keep a customer after the initial sale; or, loosely defined (b) how long your customer will stay in the bathroom to finish reading your latest promo package.
Deadline – (a) The un-missable, absolute moment when copy must be turned in or (b) I don’t know… I’ve never really seen one, though I’m almost certain they make a whistling sound as they pass.
Full Bleed – (a) When the colors or pictures on a printed page run to the edge. Expensive. (b) What your forehead does when you can’t think of a thing to write.
Fulfillment – (a) Everything involved in making good on your promises, especially the sending of promised premiums and the product itself or (b) the thing you hoped for back when you thought you’d actually grow up to be a poet. And now look at you!
Indicia – (a) Postal information printed on every piece that goes out (b) a small country somewhere in the Pacific where old copywriters go to die… or retire.
Johnson Box – (a) a paragraph or so of copy that appears above the body of the main promo letter (b) where copywriter Gabby Johnson was resigned to living after his control got knocked out of the mail.
Lettershop – (a) the company that assembles, labels, sorts, and mails your stacks of promo letters (b) the people you blame when your “brilliant” mailing flops miserably.
List Broker – (a) specialist service that puts together your mailing lists, from selecting and sorting to deal-making to delivery (b) the people you blame for flopped mailings when the folks at the lettershop stop taking your calls.
Merge-Purge – (a) computerized comparison of mailing lists to sift out duplicate names and “dead” addresses or (b) what new employees do at your Christmas party – come together, get drunk, knock over punch bowl, apologize to toilet the next morning.
Personalization – (a) technique for dropping the customer name into the text or the headline of a package to make the pitch look more personal or (b) the process by which copywriters take every critique of their “art.”
Response Device – (a) the card or coupon given to the customer so he can mark down his order, payment, and delivery information; gets mailed back to the seller (b) cattle prods, whips, knitting needles and other things used to speed up a sale.
Self-mailer – (a) A promo package that requires no envelope (b) as derived from the phrase, “What? Does he think the d*mn thing is going to mail itself.” Typically applied to marketing managers.
That’s it for now.
Please memorize. There will be a quiz!
Last modified: June 16, 2019