Direct Response Copywriter on Political Advertising

Here in Charlotte, where I’m a Charlotte copywriter…

Sorry…I had my SEO copywriter boots on…let me start again. Apologies…

Here in Charlotte, where I’m a Charlotte direct response copywriter, we just hosted the Democratic National Convention. Quite a circus. A huge event for Charlotte. Those guys were on spring break.

The center of Charlotte, the intersection of Trade and Tryon, was a zoo. We had three days of near chaos and more police than I've ever seen in one place.

For the record, I vote. I’m not registered with any political party but I vote. And it's private.

So please understand: this blog is not a political broadcast. I’m not taking sides.

The election is almost seven weeks away as I write and I have some advice for politicians based on speeches I’ve heard recently and, especially, on the mail I receive from candidates.

Use direct marketing techniques and hire a direct response copywriter.

Political advertising is extremely poor. Why? I’m not really sure. My guess: the world of politics is full of consultants and ‘experts’ who don’t know much and certainly have never picked up a book about direct marketing.

It’s extremely rare in direct response to see advertising that shamelessly bashes the competition. But in political advertising, it’s the norm: hammer the other candidate even if you lie.

In direct response, we shamelessly promote the benefits of a product. Yes—there might be the occasional harmless comparison chart but that’s pretty much it when it comes to being nasty about the competition. Data shows that saying rude things about the competition doesn’t sell stuff.

A politician is a product and the goal is to persuade the voter to buy the product. The voter, like a good consumer, is asking, “what’s in it for me?”

So, dear politicians, ANSWER THE QUESTION.

I’m dying for a political speech that gives me:

  • A reason to get excited.
  • The big idea.
  • Something even vaguely approaching a USP.
  • Concrete benefits.
  • An irresistible offer.

My mailbox will soon be overflowing with vague and vacuous postcards and letters from candiates. Many politicians don’t even list their party affiliation. And the promises are clichés.

"I'm here for you."

"You can be confident I will represent YOUR interests."

"I will FIGHT to lower your taxes."

The problem is obvious. Politicians (and their expensive consultants) use branding advertising instead of direct response advertising. It’s all about image.

Yet every politician strives to look exactly the same. Dark suit. White shirt. Bright tie. And for the women: bright suit. Wide smile. Country club hair. So the image advertising isn't about differentiation or standing out. It's about looking the same as everyone else. Bizarre.

If I were a politician, I would use every direct response tactic in the book. If you’re a politician and you’re guaranteed to win due to the demographics of your district, well done.

But if you’re a politician and you’re in a tight race, ask your marketing people how much they know about direct marketing or direct response copywriting or Dan Kennedy or Scientific Advertising.

If your ‘team of experts’ stares back blankly when you ask them about Dan Kennedy, find a team that can execute direct marketing techniques. You’ll win. Going away.


I'm a direct response copywriter. I specialize in providing content and copy for the direct marketing environment for clients around the planet. I specialize in sales page copy, landing page copy and copy that just plain persuades readers to pull out their credit card and buy. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

Copywriter on Content. Part 6. Content and Sales Tactics.

One of my clients emphatically states: EVERY WEB PAGE IS A SALES PAGE. And I agree. Even the pages that don't look like sales pages…these MUST be sales pages.

Here’s where the marriage between content and sales strategy is so vital. People buy for two reasons.

  1. Solve a problem.
  2. Emotional reasons backed by logic.

These two are often related.

Try to organize all your content around one of these two—depending on your marketing strategy. For example, if you solve a problem like tires being too expensive, show plenty of case studies where you help people save money on tires. And then you can show people buying other tires—tires that are more expensive but ‘make sense’ to the buyer based on logic.

And spread this content around…in the blog…social media…your email or printed newsletter. And, of course, the case studies on your website.

Here’s where a direct response copywriter becomes important. A direct response copywriter wakes up in the morning thinking, ‘sell…sell…sell…’ So, when you hire a direct response copywriter to create content, the content will be oriented around sales—either direct or generating a lead.

That’s because every page is a sales page…at least in my world.

Even when writing content, I'm using a standard copywriting technique like AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action). And there's always a call to action, always a next step. The Holy Grail of content is not awards or nice comments...but ACTION!

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. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting CopyOr contact me here for a direct response copywriting quote.

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 you want:

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


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'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 Note: to view these newsletters online go to 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.

Of Dogs and Victoria's Secret...and a Copywriter

Last week, I met the local president of the Humane Society. They rescue dogs and cats...noble work. I told her I write direct response copy for direct mail and the web. She told me their most profitable fundraising comes from direct mail.

I'm always extremely curious about people's approach--especially when they're successful--so I asked, 'where do you get your list?'

  1. People who have donated before.
  2. Local Victoria's Secret shoppers.

Turns out that young women who shop for underwear also like dogs and cats. THAT, my friends, is creativity. People win awards for creativity--usually for funny/clever ads with no way to measure ROI. Real creativity produces results--like increased donations to the Humane Society. They mail just nine times a year so each mailing HAS to work.

I start every direct response copywriting project by finding out who's in the database. Direct response copywriting is a highly targeted conversation between seller and prospect.

When choosing your mailing list--can you find an 'out of the box' idea like my friends at the Humane Society?


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.

Copywriter asks, "do you want people to read your website?"

My first job was for a department store, now part of the Dillard's chain; I wrote ads for household items. It was a crazy job with lot of crazy people. And you could smoke. At least 80 per cent of the people in the department lit their new cigarette with the butt of the last one. But I learned how to typeset--copywriters had to set type as well as write powerful and compelling copy about toasters and luggage, etc..

I studied typsetting and learned some basic rules. In print--use serif fonts. Always set body copy with black type on a white background. Now, online, sans serif fonts are more readable.

I can't tell you how often I go to websites where the copy is totally unreadable. Rookie mistakes...

  1. White type on a black background.
  2. The type is too small to read.
  3. Or both.

Here's a classic example of a wesbite that's totally unreadable. Guys, you might as well not have a website. By making your type too small, you're throwing money out the window.

I'm always happy to help clients with typesetting--print or web.

Tell me about some websites you think are perfect when it comes to readability.


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.