Direct Response Copywriter On The Offer

Soft Offers. Hard Offers. Flaccid Offers. Continuity.

I’m confident you can define a soft offer and a hard offer but just in case these are new to you, here you go.

• Soft offer. The marketing company lets the new customer try the product for free and then bills the credit card after a certain time. One of my clients provides a 30-day free trial for a dietary supplement. The client pays the $4.99 shipping then gets billed after 30 days for the next shipment at the full price.

• Hard offer. You buy the product right there and then.

In both cases, there’s usually some type of guarantee. Plus you’ll see variations that combine soft offers and hard offers. Sometimes you’ll see an installment offer where you can make “nine easy payments” but get the product right away. I use this technique for my copywriting course.

“What’s a flaccid offer?” you’re asking. The flaccid offer is not clearly defined and just confuses the consumer to the point where they don’t buy. I see this all the time.

The role of the modern direct response copywriter is to suggest offers to the client and to write copy that makes the offer totally clear. Here are the basic types of offer in direct marketing.

HARD OFFER … Pay right now.

SOFT OFFER … Send no money now.

NEGATIVE OPTION … Bill me until I tell you to stop.

INSTALLMENT OFFER … Pay once a month for a pre-determined number of months.

CHARTER OFFER … Be the first to get this … at a special low price.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER … just to a special few.

LIMITED OFFER … only a certain number available and only for a certain time.

ONE TIME … it’s the only opportunity.

You can combine some of the above for an even more powerful offer.

Some additional thoughts about offers.

• Your job as a direct response copywriter is to help the client with offers and the positioning of the offer. In a perfect world, you are also testing offers.

• If you’re unsure about your offer, take a look at what Claude Hopkins said … “Make your offer so great that only a lunatic would refuse to buy.”

• Is there a reason for a special offer? Maybe there was a fire in the main store. Maybe the bank is about to repossess everything. A relocation means a moving sale. In a perfect world, there’s always a believable reason for the current offer but don’t make it up.

• Can you come up with two versions of an offer for one product? It’s the simple A vs. B technique, often successful with children who don’t like vegetables. Beans or carrots? I only ever like to sell ONE product in the promotion, with copy targeted to those who will buy … but a solid A vs. B offer eliminates the “no” reflex from the potential customer.

• What are the competitors offering? If it’s been running a while, then it’s working.

• When you’re testing price, you may discover the higher price increases response.

• Can you organize the offer so it becomes a monthly plan? Continuity is lucrative but the product or service has to be like electricity … so vital that you can’t possibly stop. It’s not as easy as people say.

There’s been a lot of advice given to ambitious copywriters in the last few years about moving away from being a direct response copywriter and becoming a ‘direct marketing specialist who also writes copy.’

I’m not a big fan of this advice as it usually comes from people who are not copywriters. The number of direct response copywriters who can convert readers into buyers is extremely small, at around 200, if that, but the number of people who call themselves a ‘marketing consultant’ is vast. So I’ll stick with being a direct response copywriter … BUT … as I stated earlier, your job as a copywriter is to help your clients with direct marketing tactics and strategy. You can start with organizing the offers for maximum revenue.


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