July 2017 2/3
From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.
What You Can Learn from One of the World's Top Copywriters
Is Gary Bencivenga the greatest living direct response copywriter? I'm not big, personally, on sentences containing words like "personally" and I'm not keen on rankings and the "greatest" and the like ... even though I have massive respect for the person (and people) who call Bencivenga the greatest.
In golf, is Jack Nicklaus the greatest? Tiger Woods? Bobby Jones? It's fun to debate but all three golfers are superb. But in direct response copywriting, it's not about being the greatest: the goal is generating revenue for clients. Gary generated tens of millions for his and so I follow him extremely closely ... and so can you ... for free ... I'll show you how in a minute. But I can see why Gary's clients called him "the greatest." Bencivenga brought them customers and revenue and made them seriously wealthy.
I met Gary Bencivenga at The Titans of Marketing event that Brian Kurtz organized 3 years ago. Gary was in the lobby of the venue with his wife and I introduced myself. Both Gary and his wife were extremely cordial and we were having a pleasant conversation until three extremely rude people literally pushed me out of the way to speak with Gary. I was not a happy camper.
So here’s some advice … it’s great to want to speak with someone famous but wait until they are free to speak. I have waited upwards of 15 minutes when I’ve attended an event and patience is not a strong suit. I wait out of respect for the person who is speaking to the person I’d like to meet.
By the way, if you want videos of the Titans event, click here. The best direct marketing event I've been to, by far.
What are the Gary Bencivenga character traits I admire? Here’s a short list.
- Competitive fire. Bencivenga wanted to be the best by beating controls, even his own.
- Epic copy. My all-time favorite piece of copy is by Bencivenga. You can see it here.
- Clarity of writing. Bencivenga, unlike Gary Halbert and his raft of imitators, sought clarity and ease of reading. Bencivenga’s writing rarely gets “disco” and rarely includes contrived metaphors and hyperventilating. I strive to reach Bencivenga’s level of pure clarity.
- A little bit of “hard to get-ness” without comic pomposity. I’ve tried to meet Bencivenga in person twice have been told “no.” When he was writing and he said he was booked, he was booked, and you had to request a time on his schedule. I HATE it when a copywriter writes on his/her website, “let me see if I can fit you in on my schedule” when I know they don't have much work. I don’t do the “schedule” thing even though I’m busy. My message to all potential clients is, “let’s talk about your goals and how I can help you.”
- Study. You can tell that Bencivenga has read everything in the direct marketing and direct response genre. Have you?
- Research. You can tell that Bencivenga did his homework.
- Being easy to work with. A colleague once worked with Bencivenga and said he was polite, pleasant, humble, and amenable.
- An aggressive approach. In person, Bencivenga is well-mannered. But he was aggressive about getting the work he wanted and contacting clients to get that work. I could spend hours writing about my admiration for Gary Bencivenga and I hope, one day, that I get to sit down with him … if nothing else for just a cup of coffee.
If you’re feeling flush (UK slang) then you can buy videos of his retirement seminar. They are $5,000 and a client bought them for me a few years ago. Epic wisdom. The sales copy is about 30,000 words and you can read it here. No affiliate commission for me!
But there are some free resources.
First … Bencivenga Bullets. A MUST READ for everyone in direct marketing. In just 3 hours of reading, you’ll treble your direct marketing nous. Second … this rare interview with Clayton Makepeace. Third … fresh copy from Bencivenga, who now runs his own olive oil business.
I hope you make the time to discover more about Gary Bencivenga.
Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter