Direct Response Copy on the Big Mistake

This blog is for my fellow copywriters … mostly.

Most of my clients are happy most of the time.

I suppose, as a direct response copywriter, I should be more specific about the above statement.

One client has been a client for over 3 years; they’ve gone from 3 employees to 56. Another contacted me for a large project after I hadn’t heard from them for 18 months. My copy has helped this client generate over $200 million in revenue. Another client in Orange County, California, sends me “emergency” projects and the head of the company calls me because I keep beating his controls ... plus I can turn work around fast.

I have repeat clients. I also have “one and done” clients who only need my work one time. But even members of the latter group re-contact me from time-to-time.

Repeat work comes my way NOT because the client likes me personally. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. They call me because they measure the results and my copy converts. That’s because I use tried and trusted direct response copywriting techniques but also because the client has a good offer.

Gary Bencivenga said it best, “don’t take on marketing challenges” and I’ve been pretty good at taking this advice. No, I cannot sell sunlamps, heating, and tanning equipment to a list of people in tropical locations.

But it can be difficult to stay away from work, especially when there are targets to meet for monthly production.

I took on a bad project a few weeks ago. It just went bad. Here are the details.

It was a dietary supplement – for men’s performance aka erections.
I got half up front.
I wrote an outline the client approved.
I wrote a draft based on the outline.
The client didn’t like the first draft and suggested some changes.
I made the changes.
The client also asked me to hide the ingredients. No client has ever asked me to do this.
Then the client showed the copy to several people who hated it.

The client fired me. I wasn’t about to argue with someone so totally clueless. I pointed out that the “copy police” would hate some of my highest-performing copy. The ultimate judge is the potential customer. If they buy, the copy is great. If they don’t, the copy is awful and it’s time to try something else. I returned most of the initial deposit and hopefully, this client won’t make life miserable for any other direct response copywriter. He’s not getting anything from me again.

So what’s the lesson here? I need to go back to the 80/20 model. 80% of clients are not going to be serious direct marketers. 20% of clients are. After about 30 seconds chatting with a client on the phone, I can tell the difference between the 20% and the 80%. The 20% will likely be great clients. The 80% will not.

I don’t have to deal with the 80% and nor do you.

If you’re a potential client reading this, then don’t be alarmed … just understand that serious direct response copywriters with a track record of generating revenue simply want to work with direct marketers who truly understand direct marketing … and won’t judge an ad by what his or her auntie thinks. Don't expect a copywriter to solve your marketing challenge.

A couple of potential clients called me last week. One wanted me to work on a “partnership” basis, which is basically translated to “we have no product and no money plus a terrible offer.” He was somewhat shocked when I said “no, I do not want to work with you.” I said it politely, of course.

Another potential client asked me for a quote then went to Upwork. So price was the only factor in that person’s thinking. Whatever. I wish I had known this upfront.

In speaking with both potential clients, it was clear in the first 30 seconds they were not serious direct marketers.

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While it’s on my mind, I don’t like it when I take time to get on a conference call with “Ron” and “Ryan” and the people on the call are clearly not named “Ron” and “Ryan” but Rajiv and Prakesh. I also don’t like it when they set up the initial contact through a Linked In profile that’s clearly fake.

I sometimes get cold calls from a call center outside the US and the cold caller calls himself Fred. I always ask, “is your name really Fred?” and they answer, “yes.” Why should I buy from a liar?

End of rant. It’s my birthday.

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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 when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on the Big Mistake

Yes – I write all day everyday to help my clients sell their products and services. That’s my job as a direct response copywriter.

But I also buy stuff. Not much stuff because I like to avoid the “over-accumulation” of items but I’m willing to make a big purchase when I think it’s warranted.

I recently made one such purchase … a car cover.

The process started with a Google search. I also went to some online forums for opinions. I wanted a quality product that would protect my car primarily from the sun but also the winter elements. I park my car outside most of the time and it sits in the hot sun. I was willing to spend a little bit more for a quality cover.

How I made my decision says a lot about the power of direct response copy.

A car detailing shop recommended a certain type of cover which cost $450. My next choice was $150.

I might have spent the $450 but the sales page for this cover was sparse at best plus the copy was hard to read and there was no proof. In short, the $450 company needed a direct response copywriter to help them sell more car covers. A long-form sales page might have pushed me to buy the Weathertech product. After all, they had a great head start: a recommendation from a car detailer.

The page for the $150 cover wasn’t much better but … they had a TON of testimonials: a key proof element. The copy wasn’t that great but at least it was clear and the company has a guarantee plus some additional benefits like free shipping.

I could have spent under $100 for a car cover so the company with the $150 still needs a lot of copy. There’s a huge opportunity here for the car cover company that invests a little in some direct response copywriting.

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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 when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on the "How To" Headline

If you know anything about copy or simply writing, then you know all about the importance of headlines. You'll see great headlines in newspapers, especially tabloids. You can also see excellent headlines on books. The title of a book, is, after all, a headline.

Gary Bencivenga, perhaps the greatest direct response copywriter still living got inspiration and ideas from book titles. A good idea.

If you're somewhat stumped when it comes to headlines, start with the classic "How To" headline. Here's an example:

"HOW TO FIND THE WOMAN OF YOUR DREAMS WITHOUT GOING TO THOSE SILLY DATING SITES."

Many "how to" headlines leave off the "how to" part.

"FIND THE WOMAN OF YOUR DREAMS WITHOUT GOING TO THOSE SILLY DATING SITES."

I went to a seminar many years ago where the copywriter said that his "how to" headlines won 90% of the time.

Yes, many direct response copywriters like to try headlines with more sizzle but it's always going to be difficult to beat the "how to" headline.

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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 when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on How NOT to Find Clients. Part 11.

How NOT to Find Copywriting Clients. Part 11.

Method #11. Social Media.

A Series of Essays for Copywriters and Fellow Creative Professionals.

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NOTE: You're reading a series of essays about how to find copywriting clients ... and how NOT to find them. This series will be extremely controversial. Read the blogs and you’ll discover my experiences with finding direct response copywriting clients … what works and what’s a waste of time. The goal is to help you find “elite” level clients with deep pockets who are looking for top-quality creative talent. My focus is on direct response copywriting but it all applies to all creative talent.

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I regularly read articles about how social media is either changing everything or going to change everything.

When I talk about social media, I’m talking mostly about the big names like Twitter and Facebook.

I discuss LinkedIn in another post. I don’t consider LinkedIn to be social media … although some people might disagree. LinkedIn actually has some value.

You’ll find numerous private groups for direct response copywriters on Facebook. People who are looking for copywriters will often post opportunities. I have responded to some of these postings and it’s almost always a WHOPPING mistake.

Why?

Because the people who post here are, in my experience, raw amateurs who either have no money or know very little about direct marketing ... or both.

Some of the opportunities sound great but when I respond, I wish I hadn’t. I discover my mistake in the first 30 seconds of a conversation when it becomes clear the person on the other end of the phone is very pleasant ... but a total amateur when it comes to direct marketing.

Even if you get some gigs from a client, it will be painful and you risk not getting paid. It’s harsh perhaps but that’s my experience.

You have to GO AFTER the clients you want.

This means building a database of really awesome clients then pounding away at them.

I have used this methodology to build a database of over 2,000 potential clients for copywriters and creative professionals. To get access to this list, click here now.

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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 when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on How NOT to Find Clients Part 10

How NOT to Find Copywriting Clients. Part 10.

Method #10. Trade Shows

A Series of Essays for Copywriters and Fellow Creative Professionals.

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NOTE: You're reading a series of essays about how to find copywriting clients ... and how NOT to find them. This series will be extremely controversial. Read the blogs and you’ll discover my experiences with finding direct response copywriting clients … what works and what’s a waste of time. The goal is to help you find “elite” level clients with deep pockets who are looking for top-quality creative talent. My focus is on direct response copywriting but it all applies to all creative talent.

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Over the last 15 years, I have attended trade shows and conferences. A couple of reasons.

First, I wanted to see current clients. Just a few minutes in person with a client can mean a lot to the client. Second, this can be a great place to meet new clients ... in person.

This past January, I attended a whopping trade show. I saw some current clients and simply asked, “are you happy with my work and the services I provide?” It’s important to ask this question and listen very closely to the answer. Fortunately, the client is happy. I also made a point to see a couple of potential clients. I’m in Charlotte and the client is in Texas. We met in Florida and this meeting has led to some work.

In October, I usually attend a conference with about 400 other direct response copywriters. The event features presentations and there’s a “job fair” one afternoon. There’s a room full of people who are eagerly looking for a direct response copywriter like me. It’s tough to argue with an opportunity like that and I’ve met many a strong potential client at this event.

Clients can be found at these events. You can cement relationships plus you can begin new ones.

Is it the BEST way to find new clients? No. The sheer scale of these events makes it hard to focus on the best clients for your copywriting business. One show I attend has 400 exhibitors. Another show has 45 with just 2 hours to find these clients.

Here’s how I approach a situation like this.

Before an event or conference, I try to target good potential clients and meet with them in person at the event. Many events have a Facebook or LinkedIn presence; you can see who will attend and plan accordingly.

The stronger approach is to get the list of people who are attending. One trade show lists all the exhibitors in the official guide plus there’s a listing on the event website. Another conference gives you a list of the people who are looking for a direct response copywriter.

You can take these directories and then start to build a list of strong potential clients. I have used this methodology to build a database of over 2,000 potential clients for copywriters and creative professionals. To get access to this list, [click here now][1].

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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 when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.