Direct Response Copywriter on "Voice" and Whether It's Important. Part 1.

A few years ago, a potential client contacted me about some work. This client needed a direct response copywriter, mostly for landing pages and emails. The client said, “I’m going to ask three copywriters to write about the same product and we’ll see who captures the voice the best.” To their credit, the client offered full pay for the project. Sometimes, a potential client will ask for a “spec” project without any remuneration. I’ll say “yes” only when it’s an established client with a serious copy chief and mega-traffic.

But I digress.

I told the client, up front, that I was more concerned with capturing the sale than capturing the voice but … I would write the spec anyway. The client sells consumer-based financial information based around a celebrity/personality. One goal was to capture “the voice” of the guru.

So I wrote the spec piece to the best of my ability. A few weeks later, I got an email from the copy chief saying, essentially, “we liked your work but we found another copywriter who more closely captured the voice.” A polite rejection, but a rejection nonetheless. I really wasn’t all that worried, even though it would have been a decent amount of work.

Why was I not lying on the floor, weeping?

Who likes rejection?

It’s pretty easy. “Capturing the voice” is seriously overrated and essentially irrelevant in direct response copywriting.

“HERESY!” you shout. “Advertising has to have personality … VOICE … you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Let me explain.

I’m a direct response copywriter, not a branding copywriter. “Capturing the voice” is an ethereal concept that relates to branding marketing and not direct marketing. The person interested in your product or service is NOT interested in your “voice.”

The potential client is asking, “what’s in it for me?” and “how will the product make me feel better about myself?”

I regularly write copy that’s essentially ghostwritten. The “author” of the copy isn’t me … it’s from the owner of the company. Again … I have no interest in “capturing the voice.”

I’m laser-focused on benefits … proof … clarity … grabbing the attention of the reader … the offer … you know … all the crucial elements of direct response copy.

For one of my clients, I write the copy but it officially comes from the founder of the company. This client has never ONCE said, “Scott, we need to talk about capturing voice.” I have written over 250 promotions for this client and every single one has met the sales expectation. Voice schmoice.

I’ve heard people say “copy has to have personality.” Once again … I don’t care. Why? Because the customer/client IS NOT interested in you and your personality. They are interested in themselves. It’s a reason why it’s almost always a mistake to build advertising around a celebrity, even if potential customers like the celebrity … a lot.

“HERESY!” you say.

Again … the potential customer is ultimately more interested about themselves and what they really want than any celebrity, unless, of course, they have a burning desire to learn more about the personality.

My clients are serious direct marketers. Let’s say I write a promotion and it fails miserably. What would happen if I said to the client, “no worries … I did a great job capturing the voice, though.” The client would fire me and I would not be surprised.

I'm in a marketing group comprising serious direct marketers. We recently had a speaker who essentially said he was more interested in capturing the voice in copy than results. I have to admit I was shaking my head in disbelief.

In the next part of this series, I’ll talk about further adventures in “capturing the voice” and a surprising email I received from an advertising agency in California.


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