Direct Response Copywriter Indulges in Branding

In the world of direct response, branding is a banned word. There’s a famous book about branding…or non-branding: Branding Only Works on Cattle.

People in direct marketing (like me) often wonder why small companies spend a lot of money on branding/image advertising. And the people who run branding/awareness agencies generally view people in direct response as inferior. Let’s not get into that battle for now. But it was time for me to come up with a new image for my business so I asked a graphic designer to create a new logo. I gave her the direction and the copy and it was ready in two days.

The result…


I think every business needs an image and a brand but it’s less than 1% of the marketing spend.

When you want actual results from your marketing investment, use direct response techniques and hire a direct response copywriter.

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.

Advice for The New York Times from a Direct Response Copywriter (Part 2)

In my last blog, I critiqued a direct mail piece The New York Times sent me. The piece was trying to get me to subscribe to their "weekender" package: the newspaper delivered to me on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday plus full digital access.
I gave the piece a 2/10.
My recommendations to improve the piece.
  1. Sell New York not the New York Times. A friend who lives in New York once told me, "New York is where the most talented people in the world come to be the best." It's the city with leaders in every field. I'm interested to know what they're up to. The benefit: discover what the most incredible people are doing so you're ahead of the game when it comes to ideas and the practical application of these ideas.
  2. Streamline the offer. Make it all digital with an upsell for the printed version.
  3. Emphasize the apps and tell me what they do.
  4. Give me something FREE from the vast reservoir of content. The 10 greatest people in the Arts in New York and what you can learn from them...10 greatest bankers...10 greatest budget restaurants...let me choose. "See what you can get when order today."
  5. Get your direct marketing boots on. Guarantee. Take no risk...your credit card will not be billed for 14 days so you get a free look. Cancel anytime. COME ON! WE'RE TRYING TO SELL SOMETHING! This offer only good until XXX so sign up now.
  6. Get some testimonials related to the theme...from actual subscribers who don't live in New York City.
I just looked their site and look at all the juicy content on this page. Package it. Give it to me when I subscribe.
But overall, I would sell the city and access to it...not the newspaper.
Oh--and use a great story to start the piece...
But most of all, use a proven direct response approach to selling subscriptions. This code was cracked a long time ago.
The core offer from the offending piece once again. Extremely underwhelming.

    I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. For a free direct response copywriting checklist, go here

Direct Response Copywriter Details Marketing Lessons from the Royal Wedding


ROYAL WEDDING MARKETING LESSONS...from but a lowly direct response copywriter...







At age 15, in 1981, my parents let me go down to Fleet Street in central London the night before Diana and Charles got married. I went with Danny Milan and we spent the night in sleeping bags along with seven punk rockers--with nose rings, purple hair, and poor personal hygiene. It was great fun, though, and I was in the front row along the route.

There's another big wedding coming up on Friday (I've heard) and while I can't think of any copywriting lessons, there are PLENTY of marketing lessons.

Speed. 60 minutes after the royal couple leaves Westminster Abbey, a company will have an MP3 of the entire service ready for download. The CD will be ready in stores in three days. "Speed is a strategy" as Andrew Wood says. Get to market quickly. Make decisions. Act. BE FIRST.

Events create opportunities. Use them. Write an email about the Royal Wedding and the marketing angles. A store I've worked with that sells home "stuff" has been going bonkers with the wedding.

CONTENT IS KING...In this case, the content IS the king or someone who might be king one day. Is YOUR content Royal Wedding brilliant?

Merchandise around events. The Royal Wedding has been a massive bonus for companies that make and sell everything from plates to beach towels. I still own a copy of NOT THE ROYAL WEDDING...a book/spoof from a popular comedy show, Not the Nine O'Clock News.

Build anticipation. The Royal Wedding has been a big event since the announcement of the engagement last year. Start promoting your "big event" weeks before the event--and promote it frequently.

Publicize like crazy. Even the most ardent royal hater in the UK will have to admit that 1 billion eyeballs on central London is pretty good publicity for the tourism business. In fact, the Royal Wedding will be on YouTube. It's easier than ever to publicize your events: take photos and post them to your Facebook page. Shoot video. Blog. PR is no longer about the local newspaper and TV stations--it's your website, your blog, your Facebook page. And TV stations and newspapers look for all this "stuff" when they're scratching around for stories.

The most important marketing lesson from this Royal Wedding is speed. Update your website quickly. Get your Facebook page updated FAST. Move. Make decisions. Eliminate decision making by committee.


I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte NC. My full website is here.


Copywriter finds key to successful marketing/sales

I've worked in copywriting, niche publishing, content, communications (whatever that is!), and the like for more years that I care to admit (22). And I suppose that makes me a bit of a nomad or, even worse, the dreaded "multi-dabbling freelancer."

So this time last year I finally chose to stop dabbling and start specializing. Niche print publishing is OVER and so that was easy. I never really enjoyed the business anyway. I had been writing direct response copy for several years and always enjoyed it so I simply chose to specialize in the "buy now" and "your satisfaction is..." even though it's more complicated that a few "reliable" phrases. I know other writers and certainly the branding copywriters look down their nose at the direct response copywriter but I don't really care. I love writing pedal-to-the-metal direct response copy. Three reasons.

  1. It's measurable. No place to hide. You get the results or you don't. My brothers and sisters in the world of branding copywriting flee from this type of accountability. It's not about "image" it's about RESPONSE.
  2. It helps businesses succeed--and that's hugely excited.
  3. I enjoy the challenge of discovering what's going to persuade the reader to take the next step in the sales process.

Because I'm a freelancer, I'm constantly marketing. And if you're a freelancer and you're NOT marketing, give up freelancing.

I've discovered that passion is the most powerful sales weapon. Yet you'll rarely read about passion in sales and marketing books. My passion for direct response copywriting comes through when I speak with prospects and it separates me from other copywriters.

So I'm always striving to create passion when I write copy and convey the client's passion to their potential customers. As I reorganize my website, my #1 goal is to convey my passion in all my content (blogs, copy, podcasts, video, etc.)

Yes--people buy because I provide a solution to a problem, specifically low conversion. But people also buy for emotional reasons backed by logic.

"This guy is seriously into direct response copywriting and the enthusiasm is infectious; but he also gets results."

Here's some content from people I know who are seriously passionate.



Get some passion into your marketing and get routinely superb results.


I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, NC. My current website is here. My clients measure results. They keep hiring me.

Direct Response Copywriter Critiques Google's Direct Response Package for Places

Google has regularly sent me a card with $100 of free Google AdWords spend. I like it because it's DIRECT MAIL and proof that even the most advanced and famous companies recognize the power of a marketing tactic that started, according to legend, in the 13th Century.

OK--let's take a look at the package.

This box arrived by UPS...yes...Google uses direct mail.

The goal here is to get business owners to use Google Places. I won't go into why but Google is really motivated to boost its Places product. Here's an article I found.


Basically, Google wants four outcomes...

  1. Finally put Yellow Pages under and get that money
  2. Get people to spend more time on Google, and not Facebook...especially when it comes to business pages
  3. Mine the local advertising market even more...
  4. Become your website

There was a lot to like about this direct mail piece...unless you are Yellow Pages.

Delivery. By had to sign for it. Superb. Expensive...but impossible to ignore. Plus it came in a box the size of a small turkey. Again. How can you ignore that?

Benefit headline on the brochure. There are over 40,000 businesses in Charlotte...get noticed on Google. Not very grabby...

Overall, I thought the body copy was a bit confusing. Google Places is a mystery to most business owners (as is all of SEO and AdWords) so I would have made it easier to understand.

All graphic designers note: Google uses black type on a white background. Apple uses black type on a white background. Both companies measure response and make a lot of money.

Offer...$100 in FREE Google ads. But what sort of ad?...thankfully there's a number to call. In fact, the CTA is to call.

In a brochure within the folder, Google offers all sorts of "stuff" to get you to promote Google places...pens...fortune cookies...toothpicks...yes--toothpicks.

Interesting headline..."You're already doing a great job. Make sure you get noticed." Hmmmm.

Rookie direct response copywriting mistake: asking a question the reader might not know the answer to...ARE YOU EASY TO FIND ONLINE?

In a time when companies rarely send large-scale big budget direct mail packages, this one was epic...although confusing.

One final's cool that companies can add photos, videos, etc. to their Google Places page but I think it's a huge mistake to rely on user generated content, which is notoriously easy to rig. In fact, this line of copy reveals all..."Encourage customers to rate and review your business."

I would have made this piece more educational.



I'm a direct response copywriter and my site is here.