Has the Direct Response Copywriter Become a Commodity?

Has Copywriting Become a Commodity?

I spent 30 minutes with a guy in my office building I know from the neighborhood. He was interested in using direct marketing to find new clients. So I started talking about direct response copywriting techniques.

“There’s no great secret to what we do,” I said. “We execute the proven techniques and they almost always work.”

My neighbor thought for a minute.

“Doesn’t that make what you do a commodity?”

Great question.

Advances in technology in the last decade have turned everything from insurance to flying into a commodity. In the airline industry, nobody really cares about service; they just want the lowest fare. Fair enough.

Gas is a commodity. A gas company may try to differentiate themselves but only a very small number of people care about a brand when it comes to gas. They just want gas. It’s the same for orange juice. I’m looking for the lowest price...the brand that's on sale.

Websites like Elance and Odesk have tried to turn copywriting (and other creative disciplines) into a commodity. And you can get a full-on 10,000 word sales page written for $50 if that’s what you want.

A direct response copywriter will use the techniques and follow ‘the plan’ but the 15% skill that’s required to write a sales letter will keep copywriting from becoming a commodity. It’s not easy to find the benefits that will really appeal to the reader. It’s not easy to get the reader to imagine themselves in a certain place. It’s not easy to get the ever-suspicious reader to become a buyer. It’s hard.

And while nobody is going to pay a small fortune for orange juice, plenty of people are paying big money to the top direct response copywriters. Why? The return more than justifies the investment especially when you consider lifetime value of a customer.

The ‘buyer’ of direct response copywriting who sees us as a commodity is always going to save a ton but is more than likely going to see their landing pages and websites flop. However, the serious marketer understands that investing in the highest level of creative talent pays on the front end and the back end.

Can copywriting be a commodity? You bet. But only if you don't care about conversion.


I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment for clients around the world. I increasingly specialize in sales pages and landing pages. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here.