Direct Response Copywriter on Making Copy Readable

I’m a big fan of long-form direct response copy. No surprise there – I’m a direct response copywriter. In tests, long-form direct response copy performs better than short copy … especially when selling expensive items.

A couple of long-time truths about long-form copy.

  1. The more you tell, the more you sell.
  2. Copy needs to be as long as it needs to be.

Direct marketing copywriters must be given the width to write as much as they need to write. It’s not always possible with direct mail – especially when someone has a budget. But online, there’s no limit … just testing.

One (usually) forgotten key to success with a long-form sales page is making it readable for the scanner.

When I come across a sales page for a product I might want to buy, I start by scanning. So … key points must be made through:

  • Photos with captions
  • Pull quotes
  • Subheads
  • Videos
  • Testimonials
  • Other proof elements

These elements tell me what’s going on as I’m scanning. After scanning, if I’m interested in the product or service, I will read every word, especially if the product is expensive.

There’s nothing wrong with direct response copywriters writing a lot of somewhat dense copy. But the reader must be able to figure out what’s going on just by scanning.

When you need guidance, look at newspapers, magazines, and news-oriented websites. These are generally brilliant at making copy readable for the scanner.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

I'm also a Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers.

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Disclaimer for the above.

The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study of preparation for such copywriting. This Certification has not been provided by an accredited education institution. It does not constitute endorsement of or liability for any individual copywriter by Mr. Kennedy or any companies or organizations affiliated with Mr. Kennedy. The client's relationship is solely with the individual copywriter retained via any agreement.

Direct Response Copywriter on Apple

Apple recently announced the arrival of their new watch. Not exactly a closely guarded secret. A Wall Street Journal article said Apple was trying to become like Rolex and I’ve seen other articles touting Apple as wanting to become a luxury brand.

People who believe that branding is marketing – and I’m not one of them – like to gush about the Apple brand … its “brand authority” and “brand value” and other such nonsense. Yes … Apple is a brand (so are you) and yes, Apple spends money on branding and probably has branding police and the like.

But here’s the truth about Apple: it’s a direct response company.

Let’s take a look at iTunes, a huge money-spinner for Apple and a source of constant revenue. You might think you’re buying an iPod or a iWatch or an iPhone. What you’re really buying is a way to buy more stuff through iTunes. The phone also helps Apple tap into continuity revenue from monthly phone bills.

Remember those print ads for Record of the Month Club or Book of the Month Club? You got 8 records for 99 cents or 12 books for 3 dollars; then you bought a book or record every month until you said, “stop!” The Apple model is essentially the same and it’s a DIRECT RESPONSE model and not a branding model.

I’m writing this blog on my MacBook Pro. It’s great but it’s not a big profit maker for Apple. It can be if I start buying stuff from Apple but buying a one off product once every three years is not the source of big revenue. The MacBook Pro is an awesome product for this direct response copywriter but the money is in repeat revenue from iTunes.

Very quietly, Apple is brilliant at email marketing. That’s an exercise in direct response. And if you look closely at Apple’s copy for expensive products, there’s plenty of copy. They use long-form copy. Again, that’s direct response copywriting, not branding copywriting.

Try checking out when you buy something on Apple’s site, as I have, and they try to upsell you like crazy. Again … an exercise in direct marketing.

Remember this fact: before he became a corporate rock star, Steve Jobs sold stuff from a booth in a shopping mall. So he knew how to sell. People who know how to sell are usually in the direct response camp. You can gush over Apple’s brand all you like but it’s a direct response company ... which is why it's so successful.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

I'm also a Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers.

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Disclaimer for the above.

The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study of preparation for such copywriting. This Certification has not been provided by an accredited education institution. It does not constitute endorsement of or liability for any individual copywriter by Mr. Kennedy or any companies or organizations affiliated with Mr. Kennedy. The client's relationship is solely with the individual copywriter retained via any agreement.

Direct Response Copywriter on the Guarantee

A few days ago, I went on a brief vacation to a famous destination. I needed a break from direct response copywriting -- even though I worked on several projects while I was away. That's life as a direct response copywriter: I work around the client's schedule, not mine.

But I digress.

During my time away, I took a lesson. The resort is built around a certain type of activity and I want to be really good at the activity. I won't go into details but the lesson was a disaster. Nice instructor and good group but I learned nothing.

I'm usually the last person to complain about anything although I have used the guarantee for some over-hyped information products.

The day after my lesson, I told a friend who works for the resort about my experience and she told me to speak to the head instructor. In fact, my friend marched me to head instructor's office. My satisfaction WAS guaranteed and they gave me a free lesson.

The "comp" lesson was superb. The guarantee worked.

Maybe some readers ignore guarantees. I'm not one of them. I pay extremely close attention to the guarantee ... especially when I'm buying an expensive product.

As a direct response copywriter, I spend some extra time writing the guarantee and making sure it's totally clear. A great guarantee can get a potential buyer off the fence.

In fact, some of my copy starts with the guarantee as the "big idea" for the promotion. Something like ... buy this product and if you're not totally happy then we'll refund your money and give you extra money.

Companies like L.L. Bean take unhappiness and use it as a selling/happiness opportunity. Every company can learn from this example.

Some people will try to rip you off. That's life. If you spot someone like this, then stop sending them promotions. You don't have to deal with cheats.

However, the top companies take a guarantee extremely seriously and use it to increase revenue and profit. It's one weapon in the arsenal.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

I'm also a Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers.

*

Disclaimer for the above.

The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study of preparation for such copywriting. This Certification has not been provided by an accredited education institution. It does not constitute endorsement of or liability for any individual copywriter by Mr. Kennedy or any companies or organizations affiliated with Mr. Kennedy. The client's relationship is solely with the individual copywriter retained via any agreement.

Direct Response Copywriter on My Real Motivation

In direct response, we talk a lot about the classic motivators. These include:

  • Greed
  • Solutions
  • Saving money
  • Retirement security
  • Better health now
  • Advancement in profession or trade
  • Prestige
  • Enjoyment
  • Easier chores
  • Gaining more leisure
  • Comfort
  • Losing weight
  • Freedom from worry
  • Be in the “in” group
  • Desire for a bargain
  • Outshining the neighbors

These are just a few.

The list misses one of the most important motivators: helping other people. As marketers, we tend to ignore this motivator because it’s difficult to leverage: you can’t really sell products based on the desire to help and mentor others.

My colleagues in the non-profit sector can use this motivator. But when I’m selling an information product, the reader is most likely interested in how much money they can make once they own the product. I get it.

But let me tell you about a key motivator for this direct response copywriter. Yes … I enjoy writing and yes I very much enjoy direct response. But I gain the greatest satisfaction from helping clients succeed.

Again, it’s not something I can really sell as a direct benefit: it’s too ethereal. I enjoy working with my clients, most of whom are massive marketing companies. But I love it when a local small business owner calls me because they heard they need a direct response copywriter to write their letter or landing page.

I just spoke with the owner of a bartending school who has been reading about AdWords and wants to ramp up conversion with a real landing page. It’s super-exciting when I get a chance to help someone like this who is just starting to “get” direct response.

One client has grown from just a few subscribers to over 1.2 million subscribers. They had less than 10 employees and now they have over 60 and we’re now working with the best-of-the-best in our industry.

It’s exciting to help entrepreneurs. I wrote a letter several years ago for a guy who runs a roofing company: it closed 4% and that created hundreds of thousands in new revenue.

One of my clients is a local restaurant and we’re closing in on 2,000 opt-in emails. That’s a huge deal for a small restaurant and the results are tangible for the manager. She tells people, “Scott brings me money.”

But I also enjoy working with the larger companies. I don’t always get the immediate feedback but it's fun to help a marketing manager succeed.

Ultimately, I get the most enjoyment from helping my clients reach their goals. Dan Kennedy says that direct response copywriting is a “super power” and I’m inclined to agree although I’m biased, of course.

My power, if that’s the right word, is persuading current and potential clients to buy a product and service. But the real power is helping a client succeed and prosper. When harnessed correctly, a direct reponse copywriter has the power to help you make a ton of money.

This will only happen when the client listens to me, trusts me, and starts to follow direct response principles.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

I'm also a Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers.

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Disclaimer for the above.

The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study of preparation for such copywriting. This Certification has not been provided by an accredited education institution. It does not constitute endorsement of or liability for any individual copywriter by Mr. Kennedy or any companies or organizations affiliated with Mr. Kennedy. The client's relationship is solely with the individual copywriter retained via any agreement.

Direct Response Copywriter on Clients

My professional life revolves around my clients and what they need. As a direct response copywriter, I'm fortunate to have wonderful clients. And that's by design. My clients are looking for someone who is serious. And I'm looking for clients who are serious about direct response marketing.

The most important word is trust. My clients have to trust me to deliver copy that will sell products and services. It has to work. And they also like it delivered punctually.

I want and appreciate feedback from clients. But the great clients trust their copywriters. When a client does not listen to me, there's going to be a problem and it's not an ego problem; it's a sales problem. A direct marketer who over-questions a direct response copywriter won't sell as much as they could. I've seen it happen many times. My advice to clients, let me do what I do.

Testing solves the trust issue. With testing, everyone knows what's working and what's not. The client has to understand that most copy will fail to beat the control.

When I was in corporate communications, I regularly hired creative providers including photographers, printers, designers, and the like. I let them get on with their work. I also gave them very specific creative direction. I almost always got great results.

So I work extremely hard to find great clients then keep them happy. If they're not happy or I'm not happy with their feedback, then it's time to part company. The only feedback I won't tolerate is rude feedback. A company won't get very far by berating creative talent. The most successful direct marketers, like Boardroom, treated their direct response copywriters almost like royalty.

I discuss this in more length in my PDF, The Care and Feeding of Creative Talent.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

I'm also a Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers.

*

Disclaimer for the above.

The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study of preparation for such copywriting. This Certification has not been provided by an accredited education institution. It does not constitute endorsement of or liability for any individual copywriter by Mr. Kennedy or any companies or organizations affiliated with Mr. Kennedy. The client's relationship is solely with the individual copywriter retained via any agreement.