May 2017 3
From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.
I just spent a few days in Manhattan. One of my favorite activities there is a visit to Strand Bookstore. If you haven’t been there, it’s a haven for readers: three floors of new and used books with bookshelves so high even LeBron James would need help reaching those top tomes.
It’s usually extremely crowded with book lovers and store associates jostling for position. The associates are almost universally rude. Rude isn’t exactly the correct word. They have this “detached ennui” and usually treat me, at least, like a complete muppet. Maybe I deserve this.
“Where’s the fiction section,” I asked. “Just over there, where it says ‘fiction starts here.’” comes the reply. “Thank you.”
There’s a fairly extensive business section in the basement and within that section, you’ll find a deep selection of advertising and marketing books … well over 400 books.
Let’s remember that it’s a used section … these are the books that people sold or donated. But the selection got me thinking …
Only about 2% of the books were about direct marketing. About 15% of the books were about general advertising, including the excellent Ogilvy on Advertising. The remainder were books by authors, gurus, and “marketing experts” claiming to have something new and amazing that will “reinvent” marketing and “change it forever." I understand the latter: the same-old/same-old doesn’t sound sexy. But I wonder if any of these marketing experts, many of whom speak for whopping fees or teach at business schools, have ever actually sold anything. Have they been face to face with a potential buyer, working hard to overcome objections and getting smacked around a little? Probably not. How did that “new” stuff work out? Probably disastrous.
In among the gurus was a double treat: Scientific Advertising and My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins. It’s a must read for every direct marketer and if you’re a direct response copywriter then you’re a direct marketer.
I try to read something about direct marketing every day, even it’s only for a five minutes. I also listen to podcasts when I’m on the bus or I watch YouTube videos featuring copywriters. Reading/listening/watching will improve your knowledge and also get you fired up about our wonderful business.
And one more thing … on my way to the fiction section, I saw a table of books about writing. I’ve read a lot of books about direct marketing but only a few about writing. We can learn a ton from the top fiction and non-fiction writers. My first book will be Stephen King On Writing by, you guessed it, Stephen King. Think I’ll learn a thing or two about keeping readers reading? You know the answer.
In the next email, I’m going to talk about something I discovered when I was in the fiction section that applies to direct response copywriting. And then I’m going to talk about the most important lesson we can learn from the book industry and visits to magnificent places like Strand.
Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter