Direct Response Copywriter on The Not-So-Secret Secret

I run into a lot of people in/from the business world. I meet people with business degrees. I meet successful entrepreneurs. I meet business academics. Pretty much the whole shebang.

Many of these people want to know what I do.

I tell them, “I’m a direct response copywriter.”

And then I get a blank stare or a few moments of embarrassing silence … even from people in business.

Quite a few people think I’m some type of lawyer, specializing in the realm of intellectual property, specifically the little ‘c’ sign.

©

That’s copyright, not copywriting.

Quite a big difference.

Even though I’m in the writing business and words are my day-to-day existence, I’ve never really come up with a quick and simple definition of what a direct response copywriter really does.

Here are just a few of my efforts.

*It’s sort of like those infomercials.

I’m a salesman in print.

I write ads.

BUT WAIT … THERE’S MORE.*

The problem with the last explanation is this … it makes me seem a tad low-end. That’s not how I operate. I’m not trying to fool or con anyone. I’ll leave that to the bankers from a certain national bank.

Let me make it much, much easier for everyone.

The people who know what a direct response copywriter does … and hire a good one … make a TON of money.

One of my clients has organized sales in excess of $400 million for their products. A major international company purchased another client for tens of millions. The copy is part of the equation.

Let me say it again …

The people who know what a direct response copywriter does … and hire a good one … make a TON of money.

Certain people in advertising and marketing fully understand my work and how I write copy. But they won’t hire me or another direct response copywriter because they’re worried about “brand equity” and other such nonsense.

Oh well … that’s your loss as the money leaves for your competition.

How many direct response copywriters are there in the world? About 200-300 who can genuinely motivate potential customers to become actual customers.

This explains, in part, why so many people in business don’t know what I do.

I hope that changes.

I’ll write it one more time.

The people who know what a direct response copywriter does … and hire a good one … make a TON of money.

Direct Response Copywriter on What Really Matters

Copywriters who write anything but direct response copy have it pretty easy.

I think about the “fluff” copy I see on 99.9% of websites and sometimes think about writing copy like this …

“Our award-winning Creative group engages customers by developing inventive ways to bring each brand’s personality and positioning to life. Beginning with a research-based understanding of customer attitudes and behaviors, our designers, writers (sic) and developers create compelling, integrated experiences.”

I mean ... it can't be hard to write THAT.

The copy above comes from a “top” advertising agency in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m not singling out Wray Ward, necessarily, because you can read the same nonsense on the websites of most advertising agencies.

Why the sic(s)? No comma after writers. Why is ‘Creative’ capitalized?

I have no beef with copywriters who want to write non-direct response copy. There’s a market for it. But the page has no call to action and the copy breaks all the rules of direct response copy.

Instead of writing the “fluff” above, I write direct response copy. This makes me accountable. Most copywriters don’t want to go anywhere near accountability … and that’s fine.

But my copy must produce results for my clients. And that’s what direct response copywriting is all about: generating results.

It’s a blood sport. There’s success. And there’s failure. When things don’t go right, I pick myself up off the floor and keep testing.

Let’s go back to my brothers and sisters at Wray Ward. Here’s a headline …

“We create meaningful relationships between brands and consumers.”

I have no idea what that means. Here’s my headline … “I help you sell your stuff and measure the results so you sell even more stuff.”

Here’s what really matters to a direct response copywriter: revenue. Not awards … not fluff … not a pat on the back … not a nice lunch with the client … not offsite strategy sessions … REVENUE.

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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.

Must Direct Response Copy be Obnoxious?

I really want to avoid the typical arguments between the direct marketing camp and the forces of branding: I'm not really one of those 'Branding is for Cattle' direct response copywriters who goes bonkers on the branding and 'awareness' copywriters.

But some of my prospects have more of a positioning background. And are sometimes and justifiably afraid of direct response copywriting and copywriters. And of lots of sentences beginning with 'and...' And they're especially afraid of this...

 

Hollywood 'Doctor to the Stars' finally reveals the SECRET of...

 

* How to look 15 years younger...TODAY *

 

So you:

Attract hordes of 'admirers'

Gain superstar vitality

Party like a rock star

Do better in business...and in bed!

New drug-free, pain-free, and totally natural Russian plant extract is available FOR FREE but only for a limited time.

 

Dear Terminal Loser:

Do you look in the mirror and think, "you know...if I could just go back in time 15 years..."

*

And I understand the hesitation. "No, no, no...that's not quite what I'm looking for!"

There's a place in the world for the type of direct response copywriting you see above. And I'm happy to write it and help the people with products and services sell their products and services--provided it's all legit and it's not pornographic.

Now, let's take a look at the other end of the spectrum at some 'branding copy.' I typed in 'San Jose Branding Agency' into Google and one of the results led me here. Liquid Agency Brand Marketing. Some big clients and big names. Rap stars. Etc.

To me, the site makes a major 'rookie' mistake: telling me how brilliant they are instead of telling me how they solve problems and/or provide solutions. I have to dig for the solutions--another rookie mistake. But let's take a look at some classic 'branding' copy from the site.

Olive: When it comes to music this brand rocks! Olive has become a favorite brand for music lovers and Liquid is proud to have played a role in its success.

If I supplied the above sentences to one of my clients, they would fire me. And justifiably so.

Let's take a look at some more...from the "Agency" page.

Branding is a process. Not an event. The best way to create disappointment is not to clarify expectations. That’s why we’ve developed our own process for delivering work that is not only remarkably on target, but also eliminates the kind of surprises that no one appreciates - like the ones that have to do with budget and schedules. Successful branding starts with a clear understanding of the market conditions, the competitive landscape, and the target audiences. Our research teams collect the data and extract the kind of insights that are invaluable for strategic planning.

A 10th grader could write that drivel and you'll find it on the websites of branding 'experts' all over the world.

So...dear potential client...do you want:

A. drivel that's 'safe' and sanitized and reads 'nicely'

or

B. copy that stresses benefits, uses all the direct response techniques, and strives to get the desired result?

B? Thought so.

Well you want direct response copy.

Direct response copy does NOT have to be obnoxious or in your face or replete with BOLD SUBHEADS, Johnson Boxes, Copy Doodles, bouncing pop-ups and other 'in your face' stuff. Direct response copy can be subtly presented, toned down, and designed intelligently--and STILL...

  • Drive response
  • Protect brand identity
  • Produce a measurable ROI
  • Get the reader to take the next step in the sales process

Again--our friends in the branding world don't like those three little letters: ROI.

Let's return to our branding buddies at Liquid.

The company says it played a role in the success of Olive--which I've never heard of. But if I click 'read more' to find some actual numbers. I learn all about the process and, of course, there's an AWARD...but there's NOTHING THAT DETAILS THE PRECISE ROI. Olive spent XXXXX and got XXXX for its investment...where is that?

Take a look at this branding boulderdash.

Now--let's take a look at the website of a direct response agency: Creative Direct Marketing Group.

First--the headline on the home page is a corker:

Welcome to Creative Direct Marketing Group…
where you’ll learn how to increase your profits

It's not a headline you'll find on a branding agency's site. The corresponding headline would be:

We'll win obscure awards, make you look good, and your image will be global. And the lunches...you'll never forget those!

Again. What do you really want? Do you want to look good? Or increase your profits?

From the Creative Direct Marketing Group Site...actual results in their case studies area.

The results “blew away” the client’s expectations, with the first newsletter alone exceeding projections by over 350%. Each subsequent newsletter launch also exceeded or met expectations, and each has been a success for the TheStreet.com. Note: to view these newsletters online go to TheStreet.com and look for “featured products.”

Here's the case study.

Their site is packed full of direct response copy--and it's not obnoxious.

If image and brand awarness are all that matters, then DON'T hire me. But if response matters, then I can help. Click here for actual results. And, as you can see, I can tone down the copy so it resonates comfortably with the reader.

Let's go through some direct response fundamentals...argue with any of these as you like...

  • It's about the reader, not the company.
  • Benefits not features.
  • The reader is asking, "what's in it for me?" I'm going to answer that question all day.
  • Irresistible offer.
  • Next step.
  • Guarantee.
  • Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.

And more...

Branding copywriters, like branding agencies, don't want to go anywhere near results. I do. I want to know all about ROI and how I can help to improve it. And you're afraid of an accountable copywriter?

Direct response copy does not have to be obnoxious, unless it needs to be obnoxious in order to SELL the product. Here's an example of a squeeze page converting at a huge rate; it's produced a big number of qualified leads (I can't disclose due to confidentiality). It's not obnoxious. Contact me and I'll be happy to provide the numbers.

There's only one goal with direct response copy: get a result--someone taking the action you want them to take.

Every copywriter should use direct response techniques. Direct response tells the reader to take the next step in the sales process. And that's what advertising is all about. And if you're not trying to generate a response and you're in marketing, then what are you doing?

So, why are you so afraid of direct response copywriters and their techniques?

 

"We're here to help you make money!!!!"

* And we don't care about prizes...we care about RESPONSE! *

And Direct Response Copy Doesn't Have to Look Like This!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

So, direct response copy does not have to be obnoxious. Toned down, it can be especially effective--as the numbers demonstrate.

*

 

I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here.