Direct Response Copywriter on Another Big Mistake

This blog is for my fellow copywriters … mostly.

Most of my clients are happy most of the time.

I suppose, as a direct response copywriter, I should be more specific about the above statement.

One client has been a client for over 3 years; they’ve gone from 3 employees to 56. Another contacted me for a large project after I hadn’t heard from them for 18 months. My copy has helped this client generate over $200 million in revenue. Another client in Orange County, California, sends me “emergency” projects and the head of the company calls me because I keep beating his controls ... plus I can turn work around fast.

I have repeat clients. I also have “one and done” clients who only need my work one time. But even members of the latter group re-contact me from time-to-time.

Repeat work comes my way NOT because the client likes me personally. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. They call me because they measure the results and my copy converts. That’s because I use tried and trusted direct response copywriting techniques but also because the client has a good offer.

Gary Bencivenga said it best, “don’t take on marketing challenges” and I’ve been pretty good at taking this advice. No, I cannot sell sunlamps, heating, and tanning equipment to a list of people in tropical locations.

But it can be difficult to stay away from work, especially when there are targets to meet for monthly production.

I took on a bad project a few weeks ago. It just went bad. Here are the details.

It was a dietary supplement – for men’s performance aka erections.
I got half up front.
I wrote an outline the client approved.
I wrote a draft based on the outline.
The client didn’t like the first draft and suggested some changes.
I made the changes.
The client also asked me to hide the ingredients. No client has ever asked me to do this.
Then the client showed the copy to several people who hated it.

The client fired me. I wasn’t about to argue with someone so totally clueless. I pointed out that the “copy police” would hate some of my highest-performing copy. The ultimate judge is the potential customer. If they buy, the copy is great. If they don’t, the copy is awful and it’s time to try something else. I returned most of the initial deposit and hopefully, this client won’t make life miserable for any other direct response copywriter. He’s not getting anything from me again.

So what’s the lesson here? I need to go back to the 80/20 model. 80% of clients are not going to be serious direct marketers. 20% of clients are. After about 30 seconds chatting with a client on the phone, I can tell the difference between the 20% and the 80%. The 20% will likely be great clients. The 80% will not.

I don’t have to deal with the 80% and nor do you.

If you’re a potential client reading this, then don’t be alarmed … just understand that serious direct response copywriters with a track record of generating revenue simply want to work with direct marketers who truly understand direct marketing … and won’t judge an ad by what his or her auntie thinks. Don't expect a copywriter to solve your marketing challenge.

A couple of potential clients called me last week. One wanted me to work on a “partnership” basis, which is basically translated to “we have no product and no money plus a terrible offer.” He was somewhat shocked when I said “no, I do not want to work with you.” I said it politely, of course.

Another potential client asked me for a quote then went to Upwork. So price was the only factor in that person’s thinking. Whatever. I wish I had known this upfront.

In speaking with both potential clients, it was clear in the first 30 seconds they were not serious direct marketers.


While it’s on my mind, I don’t like it when I take time to get on a conference call with “Ron” and “Ryan” and the people on the call are clearly not named “Ron” and “Ryan” but Rajiv and Prakesh. I also don’t like it when they set up the initial contact through a Linked In profile that’s clearly fake.

I sometimes get cold calls from a call center outside the US and the cold caller calls himself Fred. I always ask, “is your name really Fred?” and they answer, “yes.” Why should I buy from a liar?

End of rant. It’s my birthday.


I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy 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.

Direct Response Copywriter on Making Copy Readable

I’m a big fan of long-form direct response copy. No surprise there – I’m a direct response copywriter. In tests, long-form direct response copy performs better than short copy … especially when selling expensive items.

A couple of long-time truths about long-form copy.

  1. The more you tell, the more you sell.
  2. Copy needs to be as long as it needs to be.

Direct marketing copywriters must be given the width to write as much as they need to write. It’s not always possible with direct mail – especially when someone has a budget. But online, there’s no limit … just testing.

One (usually) forgotten key to success with a long-form sales page is making it readable for the scanner.

When I come across a sales page for a product I might want to buy, I start by scanning. So … key points must be made through:

  • Photos with captions
  • Pull quotes
  • Subheads
  • Videos
  • Testimonials
  • Other proof elements

These elements tell me what’s going on as I’m scanning. After scanning, if I’m interested in the product or service, I will read every word, especially if the product is expensive.

There’s nothing wrong with direct response copywriters writing a lot of somewhat dense copy. But the reader must be able to figure out what’s going on just by scanning.

When you need guidance, look at newspapers, magazines, and news-oriented websites. These are generally brilliant at making copy readable for the scanner.


I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy 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 if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

I'm also a Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers.


Disclaimer for the above.

The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study of preparation for such copywriting. This Certification has not been provided by an accredited education institution. It does not constitute endorsement of or liability for any individual copywriter by Mr. Kennedy or any companies or organizations affiliated with Mr. Kennedy. The client's relationship is solely with the individual copywriter retained via any agreement.

Copywriter on Content. Part 5. Selling Happiness.

What do people really want? In his excellent book, 2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success, Denny Hatch writes about motivators and lists two pages of them. Two of the most important are happiness and ease. Hatch breaks these down into 100 motivators and I won't go into all of them here and there's no need for most businesses to worry about precise motivators--leave this up to us direct response copywriters.
However, if you make a big effort to base your content on happiness and ease, you'll be way ahead of most of the competition.
Six steps to selling happiness through content.
  1. Find out what makes your clients and customers really happy. Then show how you deliver.
  2. Ease is always huge. Make everyone's life a lot easier.
  3. Tell stories about just how happy clients and customers have become since making the decision to do business with you.
  4. Show happy people in photos and videos (this may seem obvious but there's a lot of morosity on websites).
  5. Make sure testimonials are teeming with happiness.
  6. Your special report and free content should be organized around making people so happy they have to buy what you have to offer.

Also...try to organize your content so the happiness is digestible.


  • Captions under photos.
  • Pull quotes.
  • Subheads.
  • Bullets.
  • Copy doodles.


Let's take a look at some websites and pages that really sell happiness with their content.

I'm not a huge flash fan and there's a lot of flash on this site but it's selling happiness throughout. Think it's hard for a dentist to sell happiness? Think again by clicking here. And I think Jim McLean, the golf instructor, is really good at showing results on his site.

Take a look at your site and your content. If you think you're selling happiness really well, leave a comment with a link.


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.