Direct Response Copywriter on Creativity

I work in advertising so people think I’m creative. What does that word “creative” really mean?

My admittedly somewhat rudimentary dictionary defines creativity as …

“The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.”

In many advertising agencies, you’ll find someone called a “Creative Director” and this person is often in charge of the copywriter. Sometimes they rose from being a lowly copywriter to the exalted position of Creative Director. Woo-hoo! But the Creative Director has to come up with ideas for ads.

What does a direct response copywriter do when it comes to creativity? I see two problems, going back to that definition: original ideas … artistic.

Every direct response copywriter knows that being original and artistic is a huge mistake. The “branding” copywriter can be original and artistic because they don’t really have to sell anything. They’re not accountable.

I love those beer ads featuring “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” But they don’t make me buy Dos Equis beer. I also believe they took the idea from “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt” created by Ogilvy and Mather. Whatever.

My “creative” work has to motivate people to buy the products and services being sold. But how creative can I be? In direct marketing, 80% of the work is following the usual methods that have worked for decades. Then 20% is creative, coming up with a fresh way of selling the product or service … coming up with a fresh narrative and/or big idea. I also like to be involved in the graphics by providing ideas and thumbnails.

But I don’t want to be too creative. The foundation of great copywriting is following the tried and tested tactics and strategies of direct response copywriting and direct marketing. Anyone who deviates from this is doomed.

Yes … I get to be creative and it’s fun coming up with new headlines, subs, and body copy. But I have to remember that I’m a direct response copywriter. I’m selling a product or service and NOT trying to win awards for creativity.

*

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.

Direct Response Copywriter on Who is Right and Who is Wrong

I got some great news from a client. A video sales letter (VSL) I wrote for them is making over 300 sales a day. The product is a health-related ebook plus there’s an upsell. I won’t go into the details but that’s a chunk of change in that client’s bank account every day.

In full disclosure, the client is great with traffic and testing. They’re a full-on direct response company and it shows. I tweaked the copy several times based on some testing data and, after a lot of hard graft, the VSL is rocking. I don’t know the conversion rate but 300 sales a day is … 300 sales a day plus an upsell that converts at around 25%. Good news for the client and this direct response copywriter.

Personally, I don’t like the VSL when I’m buying something but that’s just me. In many verticals, the VSL works. But in others, it’s a total fail.

But here’s the important point.

The client showed the copy to another copywriter who they hired to critique the work of other copywriters. The “other” copywriter panned the copy.

I stuck with my guns and the client let me do that … with a few minor changes. I can’t wait to see that consultant and tell them about the 300 sales-a-day result.

When it comes to copy, it doesn’t matter what I think. And it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks. The only person who matters is the potential customer. Will they buy? Or will they not buy?

I’ve written direct response copy that’s failed. But I’ve also written copy that’s worked astonishingly well. The “copy police” might have found the former copy wonderful but the latter copy laughable.

My approach? I always follow the proven fundamentals of direct response copywriting. That’s the starting point. This means research, finding out what’s worked before, and then patient testing.

A lot of copywriters now spend their time training other copywriters. And that’s fine. But that gig isn’t for me, although I have a series of “look over my shoulder” copywriting videos as part of my client-finding service you can discover here.

*

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 How NOT to Find Clients Part 3

How NOT to Find Clients. Part 3.

A Series of Essays for Copywriters and Fellow Creative Professionals.

*

NOTE: You're reading a series of blogs about how to find clients ... and how NOT to find them. This series will be extremely controversial. Read the blogs and you’ll discover my experiences with finding clients … what works and what’s a waste of time. The goal is to help you find “elite” level clients with deep pockets who are looking for top-quality creative talent.

*

Method #3. Inbound Marketing … AKA Your Website

This may be confusing but hang with me for a minute.

With inbound marketing, you optimize your website for the search engines and you get leads.

This works for me and it's been my #1 source of business for the last 3-4 years. Right now, my website ranks #1 for several search engine terms like "direct response copywriter."

Trust me, I'm not complaining. Several great clients have come my way. But I also get a number of poor leads.

"Boo hoo," you say ... and with good reason. I'm sure, if you're a direct response copywriter, you'd like to have this ranking.

Here's the downside. At some stage, someone is going to take my spot and I'll be on page 2 where nobody will see me. This could happen tomorrow due to some Google algorithm change. Or it could happen in a few days or weeks.

I can't rely on this #1 ranking forever. I'm not in charge of this situation. And I fully admit I know little or next to nothing about SEO.

So I need to gain complete control of my marketing. That's why I created a database of 2,000 potential clients.

Armed with this database of direct response copywriting clients, I don't have to rely on being found. I go after the clients I want. That's what direct marketing is all about: going after the clients and customers you want.

Inbound marketing is NOT a pure form of direct response marketing.

To find the "elite" clients, you have to be more aggressive.

If you want access to my database of potential clients, click here.

*

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 My 2nd Biggest Challenge

As a direct response copywriter, my biggest day-to-day challenge is writing copy that generates cash for my clients. My copy – or at least one version of the copy – has to perform. I’m a sales person and when sales people fail, they get fired … and that’s totally understandable.

But here’s another challenge: speaking with a potential client who has endured a bad experience with another direct response copywriter.

Typically, the potential client has hired a copywriter, paid a sometimes significant fee, and watched the copy fail miserably. There may have been other issues like missed deadlines, a haughty attitude, or something else. But the biggest problem is usually the poor return on the investment made in the copy.

I rarely get into the gory details with the potential client. But I often ask a simple question: “How aggressively were you testing?”

The answer is usually the same: “there was only one version of the copy … and it stank.”

And there’s the real problem. The potential client isn’t letting the copywriter fail. The first attempt at the copy fails – as it often does – and the client thinks the copywriter is a dunce – an expensive one at that.

The clients I have worked with who have enjoyed the most success are the ones who EXPECT me to fail. That’s because they test like crazy … constantly. After a lot of copy that fails to beat the control, one attempt will hammer the control and everyone will be happy.

I’m upfront with potential clients about copy. I say what I just wrote: you have to test. If the potential client isn’t with that plan, then the whole situation is probably going to end in tears.

If you've had a bad experience with a copywriter, that's understandable. But ask yourself this question: "am I testing enough?"

*

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 to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on the Problems with Inbound Marketing

About 4 years ago, the big buzz-phrase in my space was “Inbound Marketing” due, primarily, to the book by Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, and David Meerman.

As with 99% of marketing books, Inbound Marketing provided nothing really new. The book was mostly an advertisement for HubSpot, the company that Halligan and Shah ran. Perhaps they still run the company. I don’t really care. But the book is really just a repurposing of common marketing knowledge.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing a book that provides information AND promotes you and your services. I actually think it’s a great marketing tactic. But the concept of inbound marketing is flawed.

Here’s the premise of the book…from the Amazon description.

Traditional "outbound" marketing methods like cold-calling, email blasts, advertising, and direct mail are increasingly less effective. People are getting better at blocking these interruptions out using Caller ID, spam protection, TiVo, etc. People are now increasingly turning to Google, social media, and blogs to find products and services. Inbound Marketing helps you take advantage of this change by showing you how to get found by customers online.

From my perspective as a direct response copywriter, I disagree with the premise of the book and the premise of Inbound Marketing.

If you have a restaurant, you have two primary ways to get business.

  1. Wait for people to walk in the door. And deal with anyone and everyone.
  2. Find the people you really want to walk in the door, tell them you want their business, and encourage them to return and spend more.

#1 is 'inbound' and #2 is 'outbound.'

Even with only modest SEO traffic and almost no social media, I get plenty of inbound leads. Many of them are serious marketers with good budgets. I’m not complaining. My website has helped me get great contracts and that’s partly the result of all the work I’ve put into my website.

Let’s go back to the restaurant.

The restaurant never really knows who is going to walk through that door. The diners could be cheap and looking for deals. They might not drink much wine or beer…vital to the financial viability of most restaurants.

But the restaurant could…get this…advertise to the people in more affluent neighborhoods using a direct response campaign starting with a list of people who make globs of cash.

These people would spend more. They would buy steaks instead of hamburgers and order bottles of wine instead of ‘water with lemon.’ A $20 ticket becomes a $65 ticket.

The major problem with inbound marketing: the people you really want to do business with will likely miss you. They’re not always looking for new vendors. Plus there's an insane reliance on social media.

Marketing tactics are complex but strategy is really pretty simple.

  1. Define financial goals.
  2. Find the clients and customers who will help you reach those goals and who value what you provide.
  3. Pound away at those potential clients and customers.
  4. Keep those people happy and keep them coming back for more.

Generally, my worst experiences in direct response copywriting have come from inbound marketing and from responding to online ads for copywriters.

When you have identified the ideal clients and customers, a direct response copywriter can help you get them in the door…and keep them happy.

Yes...inbound marketing is a good concept and it can help but the best results often come from outbound, even though it's not fashionable.

*

I'm a direct response copywriter. I specialize in providing direct response copy for the direct marketing environment for clients around the planet. I specialize in sales page copy, landing page copy and copy that 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.

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.