Direct Response Copywriter on Hype and the Beauty of Simplicity

If you’ve watched a direct response TV ad or infomercial, then you know all about tonality.

Ads for cleaning products bleat. Ads for life insurance purr.

As a direct response copywriter, one of my goals is to get the tone correct. Some products require a little bit of hyperventilation. Others require a more subtle and respectful tone.

I can HYPE! IT! UP! with the very best but I can also turn down the volume.

When it comes to hype, I’m extremely cautions. Consumers are increasingly wary and skeptical and mega-hype can damage conversion. And potential customers are intelligent: they don't need hype; they need a solution.

Someone I know was thinking about paying to attend a conference. The copy for the conference included the phrase:

"Mingle with the masters..."

To the person thinking about the conference, that tiny bit of hype turned him off and so he didn't spend the money for the event.

Herschell Gordon Lewis, one of my copywriting heroes and perhaps the spokesmodel for anti-hype, despises the exclamation mark and believes it’s a sure sign of a poor copywriter. So I use exclamation marks sparingly!!!!!!

Hype is often a cover for a poor sales argument, offer, product, or service.

The reason for buying—the value proposition—should provide the excitement. The offer, guarantee, bonus items, testimonials and additional elements simply buttress the primary reason to buy.

In the past six months or so, I’ve primarily been using a straightforward tone and it’s been extremely effective based on test results.


Here’s the product.

Here’s what it does.

Here’s the problem it solves.

Here’s why you need to have it.

Here’s why you should pay the money.

You take no risk.

Here are the goodies.

Here's what you lose if you don't buy now.


Yes—the occasionally powerful metaphor and the occasional bit of semi-breathlessness can provide some vivacity but simplicity, logic, salient facts, and clarity triumph over pure hype.

This approach DOES NOT provide an excuse to eschew personality. While people don't always buy from manic crazy salespeople, they don't buy from dullards with the personality of a brick.


When a product solves a complex problem or if the product has a lot of moving parts, it can be tempting to ask the copywriter to complicate the copy by including everything about everything and making the offer overly complex.

That’s where the USP comes in.

That’s where simplicity is vital. I like to focus on one primary idea for most of the copy.

I admire marketers who keep concepts and copy simple. Far too many marketers complicate offers, products, and deals—to the point where the reader is confused. A confused reader quickly clicks to another company or trashes the mail piece.

Yes...getting to that simple clarity is hard but it's worth the effort.

When I’m writing copy, I like to:


  • Keep the syntax simple
  • Find the strongest value proposition
  • Make the offer extremely clear and simple to understand


Using this approach, the reader can quickly understand the reason to buy and also create their own hype—because the product or service scratches their itch.


I'm a direct response copywriter. I specialize in providing content and copy for the direct marketing environment for clients around the planet. I specialize in sales page copy, landing page copy and copy that just plain persuades readers to pull out their credit card and buy. Enter your info 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.