Direct Response Copywriter on Branding Copywriters

When I retire, I will become a branding copywriter.

I will get a cushy job at a big agency in a big city. The office will have exposed girders, vents, and pipes. Industrial.

The agency will have a wall with lots of awards. The office will have a phalanx of vixen-ish young girls…media buyers with beautiful hair and busy weekends.

Account executives will ask me to come up with ideas and concepts. I will spend caffeine-fuelled hours in meetings with award-winning art directors, creative directors, and producers. When I get stuck, I’ll leave the office for a walk and dive into a café for a couple of hours to “get the creative juices flowing.”

I’ll suggest a TV shoot somewhere in northern Arizona and we’ll trundle off in February to Flagstaff and quickly outspend the unlimited budget.

We’ll create funny ads that run on TV shows like The Simpsons. People in Lousiville, Kentucky and Beaverton, Oregon will laugh. The client will laugh. We’ll have client dinners at upscale restaurants and I’ll order comically expensive Bordeaux.

Of course, I’ll win some awards and this will delight the client. We’ll have a lunch that will start at 1 p.m. and end at a 1 a.m. somewhere in Brooklyn.

At some stage, inevitably, the client will ask about the lack of impact on sales. The Executive Vice President of Nothing in Particular, or the agency owner's expensively suited daughter, will remind the client that “we’re not really trying to push a response here” and that we’re helping to maintain “brand integrity” which can be especially important when the competition is spending $125 million on TV this year.

Sales will drop but I’ll get a raise and my work will appear in Communication Arts. I’ll get a confidential call from a brisk Manhattan headhunter named Holly who has a really exceptional opportunity in a big agency that's looking for a new senior copywriter. I'll leverage the offer for another raise.

That might be exceptionally pleasant. One day.

But for now, I’ll stick with being a direct response copywriter.

I will continue to dig deep to find what really matters to the buyer. I’ll spend hours trying to get into the head and soul of the customer to find what they really, really want. Headlines will float around in my head and I’ll write 20-30 before settling on one I like.

Laughter? Forget it. We’re trying to persuade someone to pull their credit card out of their wallet and BUY. I'm not trying to be funny. I'm trying to be persuasive.

Something I write won’t work so I’ll try again. And again. And again…until I beat the control or establish one that helps the company get in the black.

I will get the snot beaten out of me. I'll have success. But I'll have failures. But I will ALWAYS be accountable.

It’s not easy being a direct response copywriter.

As David Ogilvy said in perhaps the most perfect endorsement of direct response marketing...

The problem with many copywriters is that they don’t really think in terms of selling. They’ve never written direct response. They’ve never tasted blood.

I've tasted blood, my friends.

I spend my days at a desk or cyber-tramping in a coffee shop, tweaking copy to improve response from 2.3% to 3.1%.

And yes, I will giddily write “your satisfaction is completely and totally guaranteed” and “finally—there’s an easy way to…” and "It's clear you have nothing to lose."

There won’t be any awards on my walls. No prizes or languid company dinners.

But my clients, hard-core entrepreneurs, will benefit massively from my work. They get it. They don't want awards. They want customers and clients.

They know this important truth:

“The ability to organize words that motivate people to buy is a super power.”

That’s from Dan Kennedy, for the record.

Writing direct response copy is sheer joy and never a job. Yes—the ancillary stuff is a pain but actually creating copy that’s going to help a company thrive is a lot of fun.

No—I have no desire to become a branding copywriter. I’ll stick with being a direct response copywriter as long as someone will invest in my services. You branding copywriters can keep your awards and exposed brick offices and funny ads.

I’ll be busy helping my clients make money.


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 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.


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.