Direct Response Copywriter on Telling the Truth

The entire advertising industry has a bad rap for not telling the truth. You've heard the phrase "false advertising" I'm sure. Every now and then, a company gets nailed for not telling the truth. They get sued privately or publicly.

As a direct response copywriter, I'm part of the whole marketing gig so I guess I'm perhaps seen in the same way as the entire marketing industry. To some, direct marketers are seen as the worst. That's not entirely fair. There are some scallywags in direct marketing; the same applies for the branding side.

This brings up the tricky subject of ethics in direct response copywriting. My clients want me to show their product in the best possible light so that people will buy the product. But some clients have asked me to make outrageous claims.

I'm not comfortable making these claims. Here's why.

  • It's not right.
  • Potential customers are not stupid and they know that outrageous claims are just that...outrageous.

There's nothing wrong with a little bit of excitability and color. The key is what Herschell Gordon Lewis calls "verisimilitude" which is a long word for putting the product in the best possible light.

I have to trust the information the client provides but I won't tell flat out lies. Here's my overall approach to telling the truth in direct response copy.

  1. There must be a guarantee...a way for the customer to say, "no thanks I want my money back" if the product fails to live up to expectations.
  2. Crazy claims might work in the short run but it's not a good long-term strategy.
  3. The clients and customers you want are the ones who will buy from you again and again. You want to build a relationship with them based on trust. The truth is the foundation of a trusting relationship.
  4. Real testimonials from real people are important.
  5. Proof elements prove you're telling the truth.

So there's no need to lie in advertising. As I regularly say...clear copy that easily explains why the prospect needs the product or service almost always works.


I'm a direct response copywriter. I specialize in providing direct response copy for the direct marketing environment for clients around the planet. I specialize in sales page copy, landing page copy and copy that 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.

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.