Direct Response Copywriter on Hype

It’s easy to accuse direct response copywriters of a rather low-level activity.

The activity?

Hype. Something like …


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 ...


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.