It’s easy to accuse direct response copywriters of a rather low-level activity.
Hype. Something like …
TAKE THIS ALL-NEW DIETARY SUPPLEMENT AND YOUR JOINT PAIN WILL BE GONE FOREVER!
I’ve seen other examples.
“How Does An Out-of-Shape 55 Year-Old Golfer Crippled by Arthritis and 71 lbs. Overweight, Still Consistently Humiliate PGA Pros in Head-to-Head Matches by Hitting Every Tee Shot Further and Straighter Down the Fairway?”
That’s a headline for a golf product.
Here’s yet another ...
RUB AWAY BELLY FAT IN JUST 15 MINUTES A DAY!
I made the first one up but the second two are real … and written by super-famous direct response copywriters.
Compare this to a headline I recently wrote for a golf ad.
Save At Least 5 Shots a Round by Getting Super-Accurate Yardages for Every Shot … PLUS Get Compliments from Friends on “Your Super-Cool New Watch.”
This headline was for a watch that also provides yardages on the golf course. A cool gadget.
There are copywriters and companies who will push things when it comes to hype. But there are copywriters, like me, who like a headline that’s believable. I want all the copy to be totally believable.
The very second I see an ad like the first golf one, I switch off. But others don’t. The writer of the first golf headline told me the ad was extremely successful.
So the question becomes, “how far can you go … and should you go … with hype?”
I define hype as unsubstantiated claims … or claims nobody could really make. Others might use a word beginning with a ‘b’ and ending with a ‘t’ … a word I would never use in my blog.
I have to make claims. I have to make promises. I have to focus on the offer. The offer is “here’s what you get in return for your money.” A weak promise won’t sell anything. But a crazy promise might not sell anything either. Plus that crazy promise can easily get you into hot water legally.
So here’s my approach.
Make a promise and make it believable. Then back it up with tons of proof. In fact, I like to reverse engineer my copy, basing the claim in the headline on my research. Then I know for sure that I’m not lying. There’s no need to lie in direct response marketing … just find the truth and tell the truth. I like to put the truth in the best possible light but I’m not going to make things up. The customer knows when you’re making things up.
Ironically, I see a TON more hype in the world of general advertising. This comes in the form of vacuous claims that really mean nothing.
Here’s an example from a ski resort website.
“It is a risk-free adventure that we are certain you will not forget.”
There’s plenty of risk when it comes to skiing. And someone might forget the lesson.
Here’s another headline.
“America’s Best-Dressed Car Puts on Running Shoes!”
Who said it was a best-dressed car? Nobody.
A headline for a soft drink.
“Pick Your Energy Up!”
Meaningless drivel … AKA hype. So I get a little annoyed when the general advertising crowd says, “oh you guys in direct marketing are just making stuff up all the time.” No we’re not.
I know a lot of direct response copywriters who will happily write a lot of hype. I’m not one of them. There’s no need for hype.
I'm a direct response copywriter working 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.