Holiday Copywriting Thoughts. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive December 2018.


From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Holiday Thoughts

It’s the holiday season, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, and it’s the time of year when I have a few days NOT writing copy and not getting any communication from current or potential clients.

I’m fortunate to have many great clients and I’m fortunate to have communication from them. But it's pleasant to have a bit of a break, even though I love my work.

I know that many of you want/need more clients, more often.

This time of the year, I’m actually really busy, regularly waking up around 5 to catch a bus at 6:45 a.m. to be ready to teach skiing all day beginning at 9. It’s wonderful to have a ‘bonus’ career that complements and augments my ‘regular’ work.

I don’t know how or where you’re spending the next couple of weeks. I hope it’s a fun time and mostly peaceful.

But even though I’m busy and active, I’m thinking about what’s next for me in this upcoming year when it comes to copywriting.

Who do I want to work with? Which categories? What type of clients? Do I want to start selling my own stuff instead of helping clients? I've helped a lot of people generate a massive amount of revenue.

If there’s ONE thing I really want YOU to focus on in the upcoming months, it’s being more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to building and expanding your copywriting business.

In fact, and here’s something that might seem really controversial, if you’re getting going and you’re frustrated with stupid clients and bad work, I’d rather see you have some type of side job that keeps you solvent while you do two things …

One. Improve your portfolio with spec pieces. Create a product or service and write copy for that product or service.

Two. Make a point to start contacting great potential clients. This requires persistence, intelligence, and patience.

End the insanity of Upwork and Facebook groups and other platforms where grim potential clients offer nothing but slow payment, bad pay, and constant headaches.

Perhaps your next step is to find a full-time gig with an agency or with a company. This will provide you with some stability plus some valuable experience. Then, if you want the freedom that comes with freelancing, you have a sprinboard.

Then there’s one more thing. Make a point to read more about direct response copywriting and direct marketing next year. Want to know what I read? Click here.

Have a great holiday season.

And think about this thought from one of the world’s top direct response copywriters.

“There’s an ocean of work out there. And you’re a thimble.”

All the best,

Scott Martin

The Power of Clarity. Professional Copywriter Email Archive November 2018 2.


From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Power of Clarity

Ask a bunch of direct marketers and direct response copywriters, “what’s the most important thing in direct marketing?” and you’ll get a lot of different answers.

The list. The offer. Proof. Testing. Headlines.

And so on …

All of the above must be there.

But here’s something you rarely hear. THE POWER OF CLARITY.

In the branding world, obtuse and obscure ads are still popular. I’m certain you can think of examples. These ads are clever and super-intelligent and there’s no way to determine their success or otherwise. That's exactly how people in branding want it. These ads often win prizes handed out by people are interested in producing obtuse and obscure ads.

But in direct marketing, we’re all about clarity … or we should be.

I routinely see direct marketing advertising where the benefits, features, and the offer are not totally clear. I work extremely hard on making sure my copy is totally clear.

The reader must INSTANTLY understand exactly what’s going on, and, most importantly, what’s in it for them when it comes to the product or service.

Look at my work for my clients and it might seem overly simplistic. I keep the headline clean and clear. I organize the copy so the scanner “gets” what is happening right away. And in the body of the copy, I make totally certain the reader fully understands what he/she will get in return for their money and/or information.

I get this desire for clarity from the work of Gary Bencivenga and Clayton Makepeace. Their copy is always crystal clear. You can easily find examples of their work online.

The next time you’re watching network TV, pay attention to the clever, obtuse, and obscure ads. You’ll see plenty of them. Then switch to QVC and you’ll see total clarity. At QVC, they measure their annual revenue in the BILLIONS. Look at other ads, direct or branding. Is everything extremely easy to understand?

Here’s a reason my copy resonates with potential customers and motivates them to try a product or service. CLARITY.

Before your ad goes live, ask yourself, “is everything totally clear?”

All the best,

Scott Martin 

Suspension of Disbelief. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive November 2018.


From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Suspension of Disbelief

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

Here’s a headline I recently saw in a newspaper. Not a tabloid or a downmarket newspaper … one of the world’s most respected newspapers.

How blasting worms into space could help slow down the aging process.

I imagine you’ll want some proof. Here you go.

It’s actually a legitimate article. You can see it here.

Scientists from the United Kingdom who are studying the impact of age believe they will gather important data from micro-worms. It appears these worms, when they are in zero gravity, will provide insight into energy production in the cell under rapid aging circumstances. People age faster in space. They also lose their eyesight and get taller.

Whatever might be happening, you have to admit this headline is totally bonkers. Let’s see it again.

Note the British English spelling.

How blasting worms into space could help slow down the ageing process.

Imagine what might happen if I wrote a headline like that for a client. The client would justifiably tell me there’s potential mega-trouble with the FTC and other government entities. The client would likely fire me from the project.

Yet that headline is actually an excellent example of a headline technique called ‘suspension of disbelief.’

You hear this technique every day in normal conversation. Examples ...

"I got the best steak I ever had at Denny’s last night."

"I was flying to New York in coach and the flight attendants decided to give us champagne."

"It was snowing in Miami the other day."

"Our flight to Miami was delayed due to ice ... in MIAMI."

"You won’t believe this, but I got the best deal on this really good Bordeaux … in the drug store."

Gary Bencivenga used this technique with this headline template.

Believe or not, this xxxxx is better/safer than xxxx ... plus provides these advantages.

Advantage 1. Advantage 2. Advantage 3.

I’ve seen other copywriters use suspension of disbelief but based on a pure lie. I’ll protect the guilty but here’s a version of a somewhat famous ad.

“Man with one arm and one leg wins Olympic record for shot put and discus in the same day … thanks to ‘secret’ strength technique that's available to everyone for a limited time."

Or …

“Lose 10 pounds every 14 days by thinking about beautiful women.”

Yeah, right.

I use the “believe it or not” headline periodically but here’s the most important part of the suspension of disbelief template.

It must be truthful.

For example, the headline from the newspaper is somewhat silly but the science and the facts actually make sense.

I’m going to have a hard time believing that Denny’s offers the best steak anywhere.

But I can believe it when an airline gets a little crazy and starts offering champagne … especially when there’s a photo from a friend.

There’s NO WAY a person with one arm and one leg sets records in the shot put.

Scallywag copywriters, and there are plenty out there, use suspension of disbelief and keep lying. That’s lazy copywriting.

Seriously good copywriters, like Gary Bencivenga, use suspension of disbelief to get your attention and then prove the premise in the headline. It can be a powerful direct response copywriting technique.

The key is research. Those scallywag copywriters are too lazy to perform the research. The top copywriters discover the suspension of disbelief headline in the research.

Worms or no worms.

All the best,

Scott Martin

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 7. Clients are Everywhere. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive October 2018 3

October 2018 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Ways to Find Great Clients. Part 7.

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

So … I see all these ads at the bottom of websites I visit.

So … I get a link to an internet marketing event with 12 speakers who are ALL Internet marketers.

So … I see a list of the top “up and coming” marketers in a business magazine.

So … I know a way to find out who is marketing online and how much they’re spending.

So … I see all these ads on Facebook.

So … I hear there’s a conference that’s replete with companies that sell dietary supplements.

So ... I hear there's a conference that's choc-full of financial publishing companies.

So … I look in my local newspaper and see a ton of ads. I look in the New York Post and see a ton of ads.

So … I see that The Denver Business Journal and The Charlotte Business Journal and every other Business Journal in the country has a list of the “Top 25 Advertising Agencies” and other complementary lists.

So … I see a prominent direct marketer on Linked In. He consults with marketing companies and I see all his connections.

So … what do I see?


What are you seeing?

Right now, you’re seeing clueless Upwork clients who want the lowest possible price.

You’re seeing shoddy potential clients who come to Facebook groups looking, supposedly, for quality copy … and then you see a stampede of mendicants desperate to work for these awful clients.


I’m trying to instill a big change in how you think about finding clients.

Spend the next few hours and the next few days thinking about this. Let your subconscious start to figure this out for you. It will.

Let's go back to that list of 'Top 25' Advertising Agencies in those business journals. Guess what? They all need copy. I would BET THE FARM that no freelance copywriters EVER contact them.

All the best,

Scott Martin 

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 6. AWAI Bootcamp Review. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive October 2018 2

October 2018 2

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Ways to Find Great Clients. Part 6.

AWAI Bootcamp This Week

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

I’m not in Colorado right now. I’m in Delray Beach, which is one of my favorite places to visit.

But I’m not here for the AWAI Bootcamp which starts on Wednesday, tomorrow.

A client needed me to be in Palm Beach last week and the timing/travel didn’t work out for Bootcamp this year. But I’ve been to Bootcamp at least 6 times.

It’s a fun event and I love being in Delray. The main reason I used to attend Bootcamp was the opportunity to meet potential clients. Bootcamp includes a 3-hour meet and greet known as Job Fair. I also liked many of the speakers and I had the opportunity to have lunch with Herschell Gordon Lewis before he passed away. What an amazing guy and I'm a big fan of HGL. I really enjoy Bootcamp and part of me is sad I won't be there.

Job fair is a scrum at first but once things calm down, it’s a chance to meet over 40 potential clients. I’ve actually secured over $20,000 worth of work from the Job Fair over the years and met some potential clients.

At least 1/3 of the potential clients are part of the Agora empire. They’re not typically looking for freelancers. But they are quite often eager to find and hire apprentices. Here’s the deal with them. You move to Delray Beach or Baltimore and you earn about $40,000 a year with the potential for bonuses and big royalties. You get training from some of the world’s top copywriters. It’s a GREAT way to get started.

Not all the clients at Job Fair are great potential clients. Two of the companies I started working with turned out to be difficult and disorganized. One client told me I was terrible and my name is mud there ... I did everything I was asked to do. This same client told an assembled group he didn’t care about a copywriter’s website. That’s sheer lunacy. With another client, I had to fight to get paid after they decided not to run my promotion. And the owner of the company is a friend of mine.

And then I’ve had companies at Bootcamp be rude. It’s rare but it happens.

I saw some of the same faces year after year. They all need copywriters and they know I write copy and that I’ve had plenty of success. But they never return emails. Makes no sense. You’d think they would want to chat. But maybe they don’t like me. Whatever.

These are just part of the frustrations of the client-finding journey. I enjoy these frustrations because it means I’m making the effort to find great clients.

If you’re going to Bootcamp then I’m sorry I’m going to miss you. I really enjoy meeting fellow copywriters, with two notable exceptions. Let’s not go there. But I enjoy meeting other people in the trade … even when they are competitors.

A lot of copywriters find some great work at the job fair. I’m told the bar at the host hotel is a great place to meet clients. Is hanging out at a bar the greatest way to meet clients? I’m not sold on that one.

Are you going to find tens of thousands of dollars worth of work at Bootcamp? Maybe. I recommend you complete all of the spec assignments and follow up with potential clients you meet if you’re going. Definitely speak with the Agora people if you want to get into an apprentice program.

But the job fair at Bootcamp is, ultimately, a passive event. I want you to be active and aggressive. I want you to change your mindset and start contacting the clients you really want.

This means looking around at the landscape and starting to identify the companies who are advertising … the companies with great products … the companies who want to be successful.

When a company is advertising a lot, what does this mean? It means they need copy and people to write that copy and feed that testing beast. Just saying …

All the best,

Scott Martin

P.S. Speaking of mindset, have you seen the book about the growth mindset? You can read my review of this fascinating and inspirational book here. You'll also see reviews of books by HGL. 

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 5. Advice for Newbies. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive October 2018 1

October 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Way to Find Great Clients. Part 5.

My Advice to Newbies.

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

Some copywriters who contact me are thinking about being a copywriter. Others are just getting going.

I’ve never had an established copywriter contact me for advice but I’d still give the same advice I’m presenting here.

In the past emails in this series, I’ve talked about being passive and waiting for work to come your way or being proactive and going to get the work you want. I’ve also talked about the importance of changing your mindset and thinking very differently about finding clients.

Today’s email provides another step on this journey.

The world today is replete with digital marketing agencies. It’s also replete with advertising agencies. No surprise there. A quick search for “Denver Digital Marketing Agencies” turns up a ton of results.

Take a look …

Just a few of the hundreds in Denver, the nearest city to me.

I rarely work for digital marketing agencies these days because I’m more experienced and I can command higher fees than digital agencies are usually willing to pay. But I still have digital and traditional advertising agencies contacting me periodically and I’m happy to help them, provided the fees are there.

But when I was just getting going as a direct response copywriter, I sought out digital agencies. Why? Because I knew they had to have copy. The pay wasn’t stratospheric but it was good enough PLUS I gained valuable experience and built my portfolio. The head of the agency provided super-valuable training.

Need work? Then start contacting digital advertising agencies right now.

You need a couple of things.

One. A website. It doesn't have to be exotic but it needs to be solid. Two. Samples. Just getting started? Make up an imaginary product or create your own information product and start writing copy.

You’ll need to contact these agencies by phone, email, Linked In, or through their websites.

When you contact them, one of three things will happen.

One. You’ll be totally ignored. Keep pounding away with polite persistence. Two. The agency will ask to see samples. Provide these samples and follow up with polite persistence. Three. They will ask you to work on a couple of minor projects. Get going but don't undersell yourself.

Yes … you’re going to have to sell. You’re a copywriter. You’re in sales.

Just remember … there’s huge opportunity out there.

A quick search for “number of advertising agencies in the US” provides me with the number … 120,000. And THEY ALL NEED COPY.

Rejection? It’s no fun. People who never reply to messages? They’re no fun.

But just a little digging around will produce some results. You MUST be persistent. And once you start getting results, which you will, you will no longer be relying on Upwork, message boards, classifieds, and other passive ways to get (really bad) work.

I’m not afraid to contact advertising agencies. Some of the projects can be lucrative.

Is your thinking starting to change?


Don’t Plagiarize.

I came across a copywriter’s website the other day. The copywriter had blatantly stolen copy from my Linked In description. Don’t do this.


Are you stylistically elastic?

I recently wrote a letter to my local newspaper. The letter is below.


It was exciting to read that the American Planning Association named our pedestrian mall “One of America’s Great Public Places.”

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but the list is not exactly exclusive. Florida alone garnered 10 citations.

Who is complaining? Not me, not yet, as I sit quietly on a bench on the mall, 34 yards from Wagner Park. I see the daily charge of canines toward the Rugby field. I relish the views. I see children organizing rubber duck races in the ersatz rivulets. I work on my laptop and send instant messages to friends in lands not cited by the American Planning Association as “One of America’s Great Public Places” and ask them how long they spent in traffic that morning.

All is well until I smell something, a combination of rancid gerbil vomit, untreatable halitosis, malfunctioning diesel engine exhaust, my smelliest socks ever, canine diarrhea, the Baton Rouge municipal landfill, freshly-squeezed anchovy juice, platypus flatus, and the weapons-grade BO from the 345-pound traveler in seat 38F when I’m in seat 38E for a 10 hour flight to Dubai.

The olfactory offense comes from the person on the adjoining bench who decides to smoke a cigarette. Said puffer renders any awards from the American Planning Association completely irrelevant. The smell I just described, in perhaps the longest sentence ever printed in The Aspen Times, before this one, wafts over me and “One of America’s Great Public Places” becomes one of its worst.

If the powers-that-be are keen to maintain the beauty of the pedestrian mall areas, then, perhaps, they will ban smoking and march the puffers to Rubey Park where it’s PERFECTLY OK to smoke within 7 inches of the signs that read, “No Smoking Within 25 Feet of This Sign.”

Yours, etc.

Scott T. Martin


Would I write direct response copy like that? No. The copy I write for my clients is totally different. One of the skills you gain as you write more is stylistic elasticity. Direct response copy must be simple, clear, and direct.

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 4. The Raw Folly of Online Copywriter Groups. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive September 2018 3.

September 2018 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Way to Find Great Clients. Part 4.

Groups ... The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly ...

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

I'm a member of several Facebook groups dedicated to copywriting. I'm also in some Linked In groups.

There’s quite a bit of action in the Facebook groups, with quite a few clients looking for copywriters. I’ve contacted some of these clients and it’s always been a waste of time. D-grade clients looking for cheap work but expecting A-grade work. In fact, I saw a former client looking for copywriters in one of the Facebook groups. This client was disorganized and not that good a marketer. Good luck to him.

Last week, on a Facebook group posting, I saw some advice that was totally wrong. So I wrote a post saying, “that advice was totally wrong.” The moderator lambasted me for criticizing the advice and the person giving the advice. What am I supposed to do? Say something is great when it's clearly awful?

So there are two things happening in those groups. Bad clients. Bad advice.

I’m writing a book about copywriting and it’s close to being ready for a publisher. It’s a book for copywriters. There’s a section about who to follow and who to listen to. You MUST be extremely careful. There’s a TON of really bad advice out there from people who have never actually written much copy.

You’ll find more serious people and more serious groups on Linked In. Not a huge surprise, perhaps. So let me ask you a question. How active are you on Linked In? It’s a great place to find clients. I’m not going to give away my Linked In secrets but, remember, the goal of this series is to get you thinking differently about finding clients so you don’t rely on those Facebook groups and other really bad sources.

So your homework this week is cruising around Linked In and also looking for information about how to make the most of this powerful tool. There’s a lot of free information out there about making the most of Linked In. Read it.

You’ll start to think differently about finding the right clients … and contacting them.

As promised, here are my thoughts about choosing a niche.

In one niche, in a sport, I’m probably the #1 copywriter. And work in this niche is about 30% of my revenue. But I also write in health, financial, and biz-opp. In fact, I’ll pretty much write anything for anyone, provided the company and product are all above board.

Let’s say you decide to work in just one niche … health. There’s plenty of work in that niche but you may end up limiting yourself because one company won’t want you working for the competition. Ditto for financial publishing.

When I started writing copy full-time, I sought out advertising agencies and digital marketing agencies. One day, I was writing for a plumbing company. The next day, I was writing to sell information about Australian real estate investing. I like this variety.

There’s something to be said for being the #1 knee surgeon on the planet. You might find some joy if you ultimately become the #1 financial copywriter but it will be a long road getting there.

But if you look at the careers of the most successful copywriters, they have NOT limited themselves to one niche. Study them and you’ll see what I’m talking about. A bit more homework there for you.

As you start to think differently about finding clients and you become more active instead of passive, think about finding clients who really value copy and copywriters. If you’re going to pursue a niche, think more about the client and not the actual niche itself.

I'm updating my database of 2,000 current clients and and I'm simply asking, "will this be a good client if we work together?" I'm not concerned about the niche.

All the best,

Scott Martin

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 3. Direct Response Copywriting Archive September 2018 2

September 2018 2

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Way to Find Great Clients. Part 3.

Defining Your Perfect Client

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

Who is your ideal client?

Very few copywriters are able to answer this question with any degree of accuracy and/or conviction.

The real answer is usually, “whoever contacts me” or “whoever posts on Upwork or one of those message boards or facebook groups.” In essence, it’s the client you get as opposed to the client you want.

My biggest goal in this series of emails about finding clients is to change your thinking.

Most copywriters, and I’m guilty of this, simply wait for the clients to walk through the door. I have an advantage here because my website ranks fairly high in the organic search results for key search terms.

But this ranking could go away tomorrow if someone at Google decides to tweak the algorithm. These tweaks happen frequently.

I’m making a much bigger effort to contact the clients I really want to work with.

I want YOU to start contacting the clients you really, really want … instead of relying on a more passive approach.

First, you have to target the right type of client. The ‘right type’ depends significantly on your place in the copywriting space/time continuum.

Beginner/just getting started.

To get started in direct response copywriting, I worked with advertising agencies and digital marketing agencies. The pay is not sensational but it’s enough and there’s a lot of work. Once you gain the trust of the decision makers at these agencies, you’ll get a lot of repeat business. I also had some small business owners contact me on occasion. You can search for these agencies online and start with your local area. A word of warning, though … many agencies will pay decently but many won’t. If the fee is too low, don’t take the work.

Some experience under your belt/moving along.

At this stage, you have some experience under your belt and you’re ready to start working with clients who want copywriters who are looking for more experienced clients. You can continue to work with agencies but you’ll want to charge more. You can look for direct marketers who are selling online and through the mail. You can look for companies who have what’s essentially an in-house agency. You can also work with companies and groups that are looking for one-time projects.

Super-experienced with a lot of success.

Now you can approach the top direct marketers. These are the companies that are genuinely looking for the top talent and will pay the top fees and, in some cases, a royalty.

If you’re just starting out then you’re not going to get much joy from the direct marketers who are looking for top and super-experienced talent. It would be a mistake for me to go back to working for agencies who are happy to work with less experienced talent.

In the next few days, take an hour to define your ideal client.

There are definitely some commonalities between the stages above. You can see these here.

Once you have defined your ideal clients, you can organize your website around who you’re trying to attract … and not attract. You can also start to search for potential clients with more purpose and precision.

In the next email, I’ll write about whether you should focus on a niche. You’ll find my thoughts surprising.

One final thought ... remember there's a huge demand for copywriters. But the work will not come to you. You have to get out there and get it.

All the best,

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 2. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive September 2018 1

September 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Way to Find Great Clients. Part 2.

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

I hear it all the time from copywriters who aim to find clients through sites like Upwork and by waiting around for postings on social media groups. What do I hear? THE CLIENT IS HORRIBLE.

If there's a theme to this series of emails, it's this ... success comes from being proactive and not reactive. It's pretty simple, really. If you want the clients you want, you have to go after them.

Where's a good place to start? Have you written down the characteristics of your perfect or near-perfect client? I have.

This definition has changed over the years but some of the elements are the same and they probably won't change. Here are some of mine ... will treat me with respect ... understands the power of copy ... crazy about direct marketing ... and so on. You can get the idea through this page on my website.

Your definition will depend on your experience, your goals, and what type of copy interests you.

But right now, write down the definition of that perfect client. It will take about 60 minutes to create that definition.

In the next email, I'll write about the type of client you should be contacting, depending on your status in the copywriter space-time continuum.

All the best,

Scott Martin

P.S. Here's another way to get started with this exercise. Look at 2 to 3 copywriters you know who have had some success and write down what their top clients look like. Who did they talk to in the past? If they're a practicing copywriter, who would they be talking to right now?

The Most Effective Way to Find Clients. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive August 2018 2

August 2018 2

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Way to Find Great Clients

Dear << data-preserve-html-node="true" Test First Name >>:

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

I’m currently writing a book. My 17th book, I think. In fact, I’m “tidying up” the book before sending it to an editor. The book is my first about copywriting and it’s for copywriters. But it’s also going to be a calling card I’ll send to prospective clients.

Here’s an excerpt from the book detailing my approach to working with my clients. Make the client the center of my professional life so I help them achieve what they want to achieve. Bend over backwards to get them the copy they need, when they need it. Help out if there’s an emergency copy need. Communicate and be available. Have a positive attitude and approach, even when I get frustrated. Provide complementary consultative direct marketing services when needed and requested. Keep improving my direct response copywriting and direct marketing skills to help the client generate more revenue. Help to build the value of the business. Provide honest feedback without being a rude mega-dork. I’ll provide this level of service for a great client. I have enough experience in the client finding exercise to avoid the bad clients.

How do you find these great clients?

That’s the big question, of course, for all service providers, including copywriters.

So I’ll go through client finding in the next several emails. The thoughts will be a bit random, perhaps, but I hope they help you.

I just sent 10 post cards to potential clients. I walked to the mail box and I put them in. I hand addressed them. I sent 10 today. I sent 10 yesterday. I’ll send 10 tomorrow. I won’t send 10 on Wednesday as I’m totally off the grid, hiking 27 miles in a day … or that’s the plan. I’ll see how that goes.

Where do I send the post cards? Who gets them?

I have a database of over 1800 potential clients. Do you?

Do you have a database of potential clients? Just a few?

It’s super-simple to read books about finding clients. You can take courses about finding clients. You can get advice about how to sell to clients. You can get oodles of advice about approaching clients, dealing with clients, firing clients, and even giving your clients massages and appropriate gifts.


Why? Because it takes too much time to organize this database. That’s one reason.

You buy a course about approaching clients but you don’t know who to contact. What use is the course?

So what happens? You rely on referrals, Facebook groups, online classifieds, going to conferences, networking, and other mostly useless methods. I’m going to go through some of these in the next few weeks. But you already know these methods are mostly vapid.

Let’s remember the business we’re in … direct marketing.

This means you find the people who want or need what you provide … and you let them know you exist. That’s a somewhat basic definition of direct marketing but it’s salient.

Getting the materials ready to let them know what you can provide is the easy part.

Finding that list is the hard part. In fact, it’s impossible.

Several years ago, I tried to buy a list of potential clients. I couldn’t find one to buy and, trust me, I looked. So I decided to create my own.

I’m not going to tell you how I created my list and my list isn’t for sale. Why? You have to generate your own database of prospective clients based on your current status in the copywriting world, what you want to achieve, and the type of work you want. My list might not work for you.

In the next several emails, I’m going to show you how to build your own list. I’m NOT going to give you precise instructions. Instead, I’m going to get you THINKING about building your list so identifying strong potential clients becomes part of your daily world.

This may sound slightly crazy and I fully understand if you’re thinking this.

But once I started thinking the way I think about building my list, potential clients started to appear before me … and they still do.

Yes, my website ranks above the fold for key search terms and it has for a while … and I get some business this way. But now, I’m starting to go after the clients I really want.

Let’s remember what I just said about all that advice from all the gurus and others about finding clients. How has that worked out?

Not very well for the copywriters I see on Facebook groups and other online groups. It’s the same old, same old … Companies say, “we’re always looking for copywriters.” Copywriters bleat, “I’m desperate for work.” Some copywriters head to Upwork. What do you find there? Bad clients looking for the lowest price. A potential client pops up on a Facebook group and it’s a feeding frenzy with a bunch of copywriters desperate to impress a total plonker.

It’s all about what Gary Bencivenga called the “red shirts” effect. I’ll talk about that in the next email.

Make sure you open your emails from me over the next several weeks. I’m going to reveal the real way to find clients.

All the best,

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Different Paths to Copywriting Success. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive August 2018 1

August 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Different Paths. Same Results.

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!


Dan Kennedy says, and I’m paraphrasing quite a bit, “if you want to be successful, follow someone who has been successful and find out how they became great … then do what they did.”

If you want to be a lawyer, a doctor, or a dentist, then the career path is fairly predictable. It’s sort of the same with a corporate career.

However, take a look at the careers of productive, and even famous, copywriters and you’ll find a panoply of paths.

Bob Bly started in a corporate marketing department and went freelance fairly early in his career.

Eric Betuel, who wrote several powerful controls for Boardroom, went door-to-door selling encyclopedias before discovering direct marketing and direct response copywriting. And he was selling door-to-door in his teens to support his family. He HAD to make sales.

One of my mentors, Andrew Wood, was sitting around in his empty Karate studio in southern California when he went to the library and read Ogilvy on Advertising. He then built a karate school empire before turning to golf marketing and copywriting.

David Ogilvy did just about everything before starting his agency. He was a researcher, cook, farmer, and door-to-door salesman, selling AGA stoves. To learn to write advertising copy, he took what was then called a "correspondence course." He found his first clients through a direct mail campaign.

Gary Bencivenga spent several years working in Madison Avenue advertising agencies, working under greats like John Caples, before heading toward a direct marketing agency. Then he went out on his own.

John Caples went directly into the advertising world after a stint in the Navy.

Kim Schwalm started in the marketing side of direct marketing before moving to direct response copywriting. So she worked with a number of top copywriters before becoming a copywriter herself.

I started my career as a copywriter in the advertising department of a department store chain and I’ve always written copy. But I’ve taken detours into corporate communications, magazine publishing, books, publishing sales, ski instruction, and waiting tables.

Fortunately, I discovered direct marketing and direct response copywriting in 2002 and went full-time with only direct response copywriting in 2010. And it’s been a great 8 years.

In my career, I’ve published something like 10,000 pages of magazine content and this background has helped me tremendously. You can discover a TON about direct response copywriting by studying the world’s top newspapers and magazines and how they grab your attention and then keep you reading.

My first clients were mostly advertising agencies and direct marketing agencies. They had a ton of work for me. The pay wasn’t stratospheric but it was enough and I got some super-valuable things: training, mentoring, feedback based on metrics, experience, and samples for my portfolio.

Before getting into direct response copywriting all the time, my career was mostly peripatetic. All those experiences helped me move into copy fairly easily. But I know several people who have arrived at copywriting from crazily different backgrounds … sales … engineering … academia … nursing … Wall Street … the corporate world.

John Caples was the exception because he was so productive, so quickly, so early in his career … his mid-20s. But I believe you have to have been out there in the real world for a long time before you can really understand human nature … but not from an academic standpoint.

Copywriting is about selling but it’s more about understanding what really makes people tick and what they really want in life.

Everyone must study the work and thoughts of the hyper-successful copywriters. You should know who they are. But also study how they learned and how they became super-successful. They also failed a lot. You’ll get a blueprint for success from the big names in our business.


Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Proof Elements Part 5. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archieve July 2018

July 2018 2

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

More Proof Elements ... Final Edition ...

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

In this email, I'll finish up my series of proof elements.

Quote An Authority

Struggling to find an authority figure in the financial space? Dig around The Wall Street Journal site or The Financial Times and you’ll find something you can legally quote. How many financial promotions quote Warren Buffet? A ton.

What about the health space? I’ve quoted The Mayo Clinic site and other health-related authorities.


Won some awards? Put them in the copy. Use photos of grinning recipients if you can but make sure you include a caption.

Founder or Team Photo

Potential clients and customers LOVE to know more about the people behind the company or a product. We all love personality in copy. So include that founder photo along with others involved in the product. But write a caption with some intrigue.


A controversial subject. Our bothers and sisters in the branding world believe this: hire a celebrity and watch revenue soar.

But there are three problems. First, revenue doesn’t always soar.

Second, when celebrity fees and media are factored in, the ROI is rarely worth it. There’s a study that proves this.

Third, what happens when the celebrity goes on a five-day bender, crashes the Ferrari into a Dairy Queen, and stumbles around naked?

I like to include celebrities in copy but only as a proof element. For example, I was writing copy to sell DVDs from a golf instructor. Turns out that Jack Nicklaus sent his children to this golf instructor. I built much of the promotion around this fact.

Just remember ... the customer doesn’t care about the celebrity … they care about themselves.


A guarantee, along with a seal, is vital in direct response copy. But amp up that guarantee.

You could write …

Your satisfaction is extremely important to us here at Acme Halitosis. If you’re not totally satisfied, you get your money back. No questions asked.

Or you could write …

PUREBREATH 365-Day Rock-Solid Guarantee … Money Back Plus $10 Just for Trying PUREBEATH If You’re Not TOTALLY DELIGHTED …

PUREBREATH from Acme MUST end your bad breath forever. Your significant other must enjoy kissing you and notice the difference. You will never again see people recoil and run away because of bad breath. You will enter every conversation with everyone with total confidence. You will have fresh and agreeable breath even if you have been smoking, have been eating onions in a garlic sauce, and have been glugging down coffee.

In short, PUREBREATH from Acme must transform your life and end the social leprosy that often comes with bad breath.

If PUREBREATH from Acme fails to fulfill the promises we’ve made, you can receive a full, prompt, and courteous refund. If, for any reason, or no reason, you’re not totally delighted, call our customer support team at 800-800-8000 and we’ll dispatch your refund PLUS we’ll send you a $10 check as our sincere “thank you” for trying PUREBREATH from Acme. And, of course, you can keep all the bonus items an extra “thank you” for trying PUREBREATH from Acme.

Once again … your satisfaction is VITAL to us. We want you to be totally delighted. We want to help you end all the hassles that come with halitosis and bad breath. We want you to join the community of people who trust PUREBREATH from Acme.

You know which guarantee I like.

Admitting a Fault or Limitation

It’s not the biggest or most prominent proof element but it’s important. You can say, in the financial space, that there have been some stock picks that didn’t work out. In the medical space, you can say that some people who try the product find it doesn’t work … then stress the guarantee. You can write …

Look … this product isn’t for everyone. It’s only for a select few who genuinely value the finest cigars on the planet … and want that quality.

Admitting a fault or limitation brings out your humanity and decreases the hype factor.


The well-chosen metaphor is the hallmark of a top copywriter. However, if you can’t find that metaphor, avoid using this proof element. You can quickly get into the realm of the cliché when you write, “it will make your shirts as white as snow” or “it’s like motor oil for your joints.”

A metaphor can become the “big idea” that is the foundation of a successful promotion. But be careful with metaphors and similes. Use them sparingly as it’s easy to mix metaphors and this can confuse the reader.

What about this for a financial promotion …

Subscribing to Profits Down Under is like having your very own 10-person stock research team in Australia and New Zealand … letting you know about exceptional opportunities in these countries … well before other investors … for a fraction of the cost of that team.

A realistic metaphor.

Don’t Exaggerate

Veracity is a built-in proof element. If I write that an SUV can carry an elephant, I’ve lost the reader. But if I organize a photo showing how the SUV can carry four large backpacks plus a couple of bicycles, that’s realistic.


It’s not necessarily a proof element but real scarcity can prove a statement like … “we only have a limited number of these knives at this price.”

And if you set a deadline, stick to that deadline. I was interested in a product the other day. The offer was $99 for all the information, for a limited time. I missed the deadline and when I returned to the web page, the price had increased to $999.

Thousands of legitimate and successful products have some scarcity built in ... readers almost expect it.

Human Stories

Stories can provide a positive impact on copy and I’ve built many promotions around stories. But note … the story has to be salient, often with a lot of intrigue and mystery.

Simply saying, “Donna bought this product and it changed her life forever!” is pretty horrible.

But I recently wrote about a doctor whose husband started showing signs of dementia. I included in the story what she started feeding her husband, based on her research, and what happened after the change in diet. The VSL that included that story helped to sell $1.5 million a month for a $19 ebook.

So that’s it for the series about proof elements. Many big-time copywriters gather the proof elements before writing a word. Good idea. First … you’ll have a lot of copy ready to go before “assembly” and second … you’ll likely find a big idea and build the entire promotion around this proof element.


Something totally different in the next email.

If you want the full list of proof elements from the ad agency in Australia, click here.


Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Proof Elements Part 4. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive July 2018 2

July 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

More Proof Elements

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

In this email, I'll cover ...

Social Media Proof Reviews PR and Media Exposure Valuable Content Credible Photos

Social Media Proof. Reviews. PR and Media Exposure.

I’m going to group these three together because they’re closely related. Social media proof can be screenshots of positive activity from all your favorite social media sites. Reviews are from actual customers/clients and are a lot like testimonials. PR and media exposure can be extremely valuable and I’ve even built entire promotions around a great piece from a big outlet. You can also put the logos of media outlets on promotions.

Valuable Content

Many of my clients are superb at organizing regular content that’s fun and valuable to their current and prospective clients and customers. This content builds trust and makes my job as a copywriter a lot easier. I have two folders full of successful Boardroom promotions and each one provides a ton of useful information. You can and should build as many promotions as possible around valuable content.

Credible Photos

A picture is worth a 1,000 words, right? Wrong. And I’ll get into that in a later email. But photos in direct marketing can be valuable. They must be well-chosen and, most importantly of all, there MUST be a caption right on the photo or underneath. The goal of the caption/photo is to illustrate a benefit or draw the reader deeper into the copy.

  • More proof elements to come in the next email.

If you want the full list of proof elements from the ad agency in Australia, click here.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter 

Proof Elements Part 3. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive June 2018 2

June 2018 2

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

More Proof Elements

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

More proof elements in this email.

In this email, I’ll go through …

Infographics Before and Afters Testimonials Demonstrations Client List


When I’m working on copy, part of my job is helping to organize graphs, illustrations, and photos. Another part of the equation is making sure they complement and augment the copy. Infographics can summarize the entire theme of the promotion but should encourage more reading and more time spent with the promotion.

Before and Afters

Self-explanatory and you’ve seen these, I’m certain. I’m guilty as charged here and I should include these more when I’m writing promotions. Should every promotion include before and after proof? Why not?


Three things. First … it’s OK to edit testimonials for grammar and clarity. Second … put a headline on every testimonial and base this headline on a benefit. This headline should be 3 words at most. Third … testimonials are like snow at a ski resort. You can never have enough testimonials, even if people don't read all them.


Can’t do a demonstration in direct mail? Can’t do a demonstration on a sales page? You can certainly organize them on TV because it’s the perfect medium. You could include a thumb drive with mail. You can certainly organize a demonstration on your webpage, via a simple video. Your copy will convert better if you can provide this proof element.

Client List

Big in the B2B space, not so much in the B2C space. I’ve had potential clients tell me they have contacted me specifically because of my client list. Are you listing your clients on your site?


More proof elements to come in the next email.

If you want the full list of proof elements from the ad agency in Australia, click here.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Proof Elements Part 2 and Brunch With Bob Bly. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive June 2018 1

June 2018 1

More Proof Elements ... and Brunch With Bob Bly ... And the $2.5 Million Royalty Check ...

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

More proof elements in this email.

In this email, I’ll go through …

Reasons why Logical argument Specialization Third party verifications Trust seals

Reasons Why

Look at my copy and you’ll ALWAYS see a section titled, “33 reasons to get (insert product/service).” The number of reasons varies but you should always strive to include these reasons. Aim to include every conceivable reason without getting contrived. It’s here that you stress all the benefits. This section can really motivate the prospect to try your product or service.

Logical Argument

Not much to add here but I rarely see direct response copy with a strong logical argument to try a product or service. Yet it’s vital in any type of direct response copy. The classic example of the logical argument is the problem/solution approach to copy. Here’s your problem … I understand the problem … here’s the solution … here’s proof the solution works … you can try the solution with no risk.


I write quite a bit of copy in the golf niche. I often write the copy in the voice of a golf teacher who has taught many of the world’s top golfers. The specialization here is definitely a proof element.

Third Party Verifications

These are primarily endorsements from media. So … if The Wall Street Journal reviewed your product, favorably of course, then include that review or a portion of the review. Plop their logo in the sales page.

Trust Seals

Let’s say you have a partnership with an organization like the AAA here in America. Include that logo. Let’s say you’re a member of the local chamber of commerce where you live. Include that logo. Let’s say you sell dietary supplements and you follow GMP practices. Include the logo.

Brunch With Bob Bly

I was away for 15 days on an east coast road trip to see clients in Florida, Charlotte, and New York. I also enjoyed brunch with Bob Bly on a rainy and windy Sunday morning.

Bob’s working on his 100th book, by the way. I won’t go through everything we discussed but it was just a lot of fun to share some time with a fellow direct response copywriter.

We have a lot of opportunities in our business but we also have a lot of challenges. One of these is loneliness and isolation. There are lots of ways to overcome this challenge and maybe I’ll go through these in later emails, but it’s important to have regular conversations with fellow copywriters, even if they’re competitors.

A Famous Direct Marketer You Don’t Know

On my recent road trip, I spent two very enjoyable days at the mastermind group run by Brian Kurtz. Brian regularly brings some well-known names in the business to the group but he also brings some highly successful people who have never publicized themselves.

One of these people spoke at our meeting. He’s worked with many of the major direct marketing companies. Twenty years ago, he signed a $2.5 million royalty check to a famous direct response copywriter. That’s a client who understands the value of the direct response copywriter. Are you finding clients like that?

Housekeeping Note

I’m working on archiving all the emails to this list on my website. Stay tuned.

If you want the full list of proof elements from the ad agency in Australia, click here.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

P.S. As you read and hear copy, check the copy for proof elements.

Proof Elements Part 2. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive May 2018.

May 2018

Proof Elements

I’m going to continue with my series about proof elements. I'll go through the following.

Comparisons Scientific findings Research findings Unique mechanism


I’m quite a big fan of Car and Driver Magazine, a publication that routinely runs comparison articles. They’ll test 2-5 different cars and tell you which car they liked the best … and then rank all the contestants. It’s fun reading plus it motivates car lovers to open the magazine to see which car won.

In direct response copy, comparisons can be a proof element, usually in some type of table that compares your product to others in the market. You have to be careful and I’m NEVER a big fan of bashing the competition, even if the competition is eminently bashable. In fact, I'm working on copy where the control bashes doctors, drug companies, and pretty much everyone. My new copy doesn't bash anyone.

The comparison I prefer is what I call the “self-comparison” where I provide two offers for the product, each with different levels of features. It’s the old, GOOD-BETTER-BEST self-comparison.

I like this approach much more than creating a table that beats up the competition.


I’m going to group these together because they’re very similar … and mostly self-explanatory.

It’s not hugely difficult, although it takes a lot of time, to come up with research to back up claims. Many times, the client will have this research ready to go.

And it’s not hugely difficult to pump a ton of research and related content into a promotion. But you have to be careful.

In the last email, I talked about how it’s really important to be careful with specificity. You can include a lot of numbers and specificity but you can end up bombarding the reader with too much information and the surfeit of specificity can confuse everyone.

So … with your scientific and research findings, choose wisely and only include the most salient findings that really back up your claims. Perhaps there’s something from a big-name source like Harvard Medical School, or Time Magazine, or The Mayo Clinic. In the financial space, can you get something from The Wall Street Journal?

If you have a lot of “leftover” research that you really like, you can create a Johnson Box with a subhead saying … “Here’s Additional Research About Product X” or you can include it after the P.S. in a Q and A.


I could write a book about this proof element and, in fact, I am writing a couple of books about copywriting and the “unique mechanism” will play a big part in both books.

The unique mechanism is not just a proof element. It can be a core element of profitable copy. Over the next couple of days, pay close attention to the advertising you see and hear and you’ll see the unique mechanism tactic used over and over. It’s such a vital way to differentiate a product or service.

But you can’t just plop down the unique mechanism and say, “here’s a unique mechanism so that’s why you have to buy.” The prospective client will say, “yeah, right.”

You have to explain the basis behind the unique mechanism plus you have to prove that the unique mechanism actually works and makes the product better than other products.

If you have a dietary supplement then you can highlight a new ingredient but then you have to show that it performs.

Let’s say you’re selling a ski with a new technology that makes it easier to turn the ski. You have to explain the new technology with video plus images and copy. Then you have to show it actually works. You can use before and after images, testimonials, and celebrity skier endorsements.

What are we discovering here?

All the proof elements must work together. Proof elements do not work in isolation.

In the next email, I’ll go through the following proof elements.

Reasons why Logical argument Specialization Third party verifications

If you want the full list of proof elements from the ad agency in Australia, click here.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

P.S. As you read and hear copy, check the copy for proof elements.

Proof Elements. Direct Response Copywriting Archive April 2018 3

April 2018 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Proof Elements

I’m a big fan of Gary Bencivenga. Brian Kurtz calls him “America’s greatest living copywriter” and that’s based on results … not hype. Bencivenga routinely smashed controls and he generated tens of millions for his clients.

You can read a great deal about Bencivenga online and I’ll provide some links to resources toward the end of this email.

Proof is a huge deal to Bencivenga ... as it should be to every copywriter.

If fact, Bencivenga had an ‘equation’ he used when writing copy.

Problem + Promise + Proof + Proposition = Persuasion

I prefer to use the word “motivation” instead of persuasion but that’s fodder for another time.

For the next several emails, I want to focus on the “proof” part.

When it comes to copywriting, you’ll read a great deal about headlines, bullets, guarantees, and other technical parts of our trade but you rarely read much about proof.

As Bencivenga writes, the biggest obstacle you face as a copywriter is the “yeah, right” skepticism that everyone has today ... including me ... including you.

You might be writing copy for a client who has genuinely found the cure for type 2 diabetes but the initial reaction from everyone is always going to be “yeah, right.”

Herschell Gordon Lewis wrote a great deal about overcoming skepticism. You haven’t read anything by the great HGL?

Fix that problem right now. HGL was one of the greatest copywriters … plus he was also the producer of what he called “splatter” movies … horror movies with tons of serious gore.

But I digress.

An advertising agency in Brisbane created a wonderful poster of proof elements. You can find it here and it’s free.

I’ll go through parts of this list in the next several emails.

But let’s start with …

Test data Charts and graphs Specificity

Test data is especially important with health-related products. But I have also used test data in golf-related copy. Sometimes you can use test data from extensive tests and trials. But you don’t always have to use data that super-deep. Sometimes I’m a big fan of surveys but sometimes I’m not.

Charts and graphs are always valuable but with these caveats. • A chart or graph must be super-clear. • There should be a copy doodle and caption saying “here’s what this graph proves” along with some type of benefit. • The chart or graph should be relevant. You might be thinking, “I’m a copywriter so why should I have to get involved with charts and graphs?” Dan Kennedy says, and I agree, that a copywriter must be totally involved with the graphical presentation of the copy. I’m not a developer and I’m not a graphic designer but I always want to provide graphical direction.


It’s pretty simple … instead of writing, “you’ll hit the ball further with the Max Cannon” … I write … “Gain an Extra 14-25 Yards Off The Tee With The All-New Max Cannon.”

Specificity is so important, you’ll find a chapter about it in Scientific Advertising.

But you have to be extremely careful with this weapon … and specificity is about more than just numbers. Specificity can be about individual success stories, geographic examples, relevant studies, testimonials from experts, and more.

Let’s focus on numbers.

Choose the numbers extremely carefully and find the ones that have the most impact plus are most relevant to the most important benefits of the product or service.

You can quickly and easily overwhelm the reader/viewer/listener with too many numbers. The prospect’s head can be spinning and there won’t be a sale.

Specificity is obviously vital and must replace vagueness wherever and whenever vagueness appears in copy. But be careful … especially with numbers.

In the next email, I’ll go through these proof elements.

Comparisons Scientific findings Research findings Unique mechanism

OK … here, as promised, are the Bencivenga links.

The Bencivenga Bullets are here.

An interview with Clayton Makepeace is here.

And if you have $5,000 lying around, you can get the video of Bencivenga’s retirement seminar. It's all here along with over 30,000 words of copy.

Direct Marketing Notes from the U.K. Direct Response Copywriting Archive April 2018 2

April 2018 2

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Direct Marketing Notes from the U.K.

Thoughts from the U.K.

I’m sending this email from the U.K. where I’m spending a few days seeing family and friends plus attending a wedding.

There are so many similarities between America and U.S. yet so many subtle and not-so-subtle differences.

Let me focus on a few differences that seem salient when it comes to direct marketing.

Print still exists in the U.K.

Newspapers are dying in the U.S., and, as a former employee of a major newspaper, it’s not a huge shock. But, in the U.K., people still want their physical newspapers and their physical magazines.

Look at just a small portion of a newsstand in a town in the U.K. ... hundreds of specialty magazines.

What’s totally remarkable is the variety of and depth of niches. The U.K. offers thriving magazines in everything from knitting to trucking.

Many copywriters believe they need to rush into a niche and specialize in a niche. That’s fine provided there’s plenty of business in the niche.

So there are two lessons here.

First … there’s a rampant thirst for information and this will never change. Good news for copywriters who help clients to sell information.

Second … it’s not all digital. Print is alive in certain areas and this can translate to direct mail. One of my clients has sent 2 million post cards in the past 12 months for a client in southern California in the health space.

TABLOIDS. You see them in New York City but nowhere else in the United States ... unless I’m missing something, which is very possible.

But daily tabloid newspapers are huge in the U.K. Deep inside these tabloids, the advertorial is prevalent. Yesterday, I saw an opt-in page ... in a newspaper.

You’ll see some magnificent headlines and copy in these newspapers. But you’ll also see some superb examples of advertorials. In fact, you’ll also see them in the broadsheet papers, like The Daily Telegraph. You will also see them in certain magazines.

Yes … direct marketing is alive and well in the UK plus there’s something else I’ve noticed in the U.K. People are more interested in deals.

It’s all apocryphal, of course, but I sense that people in the UK are more tuned into deals and promotions than they are in the U.S. Maybe it’s because the cost of living is so much higher in most of the U.K. than the U.S. but fatigue in the U.S. may also play a role.

Yes … direct marketing is alive and well in the U.K. So is print.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Truth in Advertising. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive April 2018 1

April 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

To Tell The Truth … And The Power of Verisimilitude …

I’m going to STUN you with this comment … get ready.

There’s a lot of lying in advertising.


Of course, there’s a lot of lying in a lot of parts of the business world. A large bank recently created thousands of fake bank accounts … or something like that … to drive new revenue. Many companies will tell you how much they care about customers when we all know that’s pure rot.

Sadly, the advertising world has its fair share of scallywags who will simply make things up.

There’s an irony here.

I’ve never met a branding type who has a lot of love for direct marketers. I’ve heard, as I’m sure you have, a branding person say, “that type of copy would damage our brand equity” when presented with direct response copy.

Yet branding ads care little for the truth, blatantly using justifications like “actual results may vary” and “dramatization” and “don’t try this at home” or “not actual customers.” Branding ads thrive on exaggeration and non-believability.

Case in point … The Most Interesting Man in The World ads for Dos Equis.

Think about those pharmaceutical ads replete with happy, smiling people going about fun things … while the narrator provides the laundry list of side effects, most totally dire and even comical … like “your ears and eyebrows may drop off and if that happens, contact your doctor immediately.”

Sadly, you’ve seen, and I’ve seen, direct response marketing that’s also false. Yes … I’ve seen direct marketing that’s packed with lies, purely to “get” people. It’s a tragedy this happens and it brings everyone into disrepute.

And here’s the result … companies like Facebook start banning, with no reasoning, totally legitimate advertising because a few bad apples have told a bunch of lies. I’ve seen some of the offending ads and nobody in their right mind would believe the claims but still, they’re there.

Here’s the sad part …

With enough research and enough probing, there’s no reason to lie.

In fact, truth and believability are part of successful direct response copywriting. Believability is simply … the truth or a claim backed by real proof and based on common sense.

The clients a company wants are the ones who believe realistic promises backed by proof and a guarantee.

Common sense tells me it's going to take 3-5 days to get over a nasty case of the flu. Why do I believe a company that promises I'll feel totally better in 10 minutes?

I could say that I wrote a promotion that generated a 67.2% response. But nobody in direct marketing will believe that. The 67.2% number would be a total lie. Yet some copywriters would pluck that 67.2% number out of thin air.

Now … it’s totally acceptable, in fact it’s a vital part of direct marketing, to put the truth in the best possible light. This approach is called verisimilitude, a concept championed by the late Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Lewis, or HGL as he was known, was an interesting man. He was a pioneer in the horror movie business and called "The Godfather of Gore." I had lunch with him in Florida shortly before his passing and he referred to his work movies as “splatter” movies.

Ah … the beauty of onomatopoeia.

But HGL was also an accomplished direct marketer, consultant, and direct response copywriter. He wanted tight, precise copy. He loved verisimilitude. And his books are quietly among the best about direct response copywriting … must-reads for everyone.

I review one of his books on this page on my website.

Verisimilitude is NOT lying.

I can say that a promotion had a 4% conversion rate. I can also say it had a 96% failure rate. Verisimilitude tells us to use the 4% conversion rate metric.

On my website, you’ll find a list of clients. I’ve worked for some of these clients for many years. Others gave me a project or two … but I still consider them a client … they wrote me a check in return for copy.

Is verisimilitude an excuse for not telling the truth?

Absolutely not. My job, and yours, is to put the truth about a product or service in the best possible light. This tactic bears no relation to blatant lying.

There’s a famous series of sports-related ads containing a load of pure tripe. The copywriter is really famous and even coaches nascent copywriters.

I asked this copywriter about the ads the copywriter said, “that’s what the client told me.”

I’m sorry … but just because the client makes up facts DOES NOT provide a license for the copywriter to write lies.

You’re intelligent enough to know when the client is just making it up. I am too.

I’ve closely studied the work of Gary Bencivenga and he always wrote the truth and made his copy believable. And I consider him the top living copywriter. Would he have taken pure lies from a client and built copy about those lies? Of course not.

Marty Edelston, the founder of Boardroom, and one of the world’s top direct marketers, sadly now passed, once told a copywriter …

“Look … it’s really easy … just tell the truth.”

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

P.S. In the next few weeks, study some ads. Simply ask ... true or false? The results will surprise you.

Finding Great Clients Instead of Plonkers and Punters. Direct Response Copywriting Archive March 2018

March 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Some Thoughts About Refining Your Client Search ... So You Find Great Clients Instead of Total Plonkers and Punters.

I wrote a PDF last year titled, “The 17 Worst Ways to Find Clients” … or something like that … and maybe one of these days, maybe in a few weeks, I’ll dig it out and send it to this database. It makes for interesting reading. Many of the ways you've heard are really great are, in fact, a total waste of time.

If you’re a copywriter, then I’m certain you have tried several different ways to find clients, likely with mixed results. Or just really poor results.

I have ample work, especially from a couple of clients, and I’m fortunate that my website generates leads ... over 700 in the past 5 years.

Some of the people who contact me are serious direct marketers; others are serious but have “one and done” project work, which is fine, but it’s always preferable to have regular assignments from a company: you get to know them and their list plus you're not constantly searching for clients.

Still, having a website that generates leads is ultimately a passive exercise.

So … over the next few months, I’m going on the offensive. I’m going to keep working for the two clients I just mentioned, provided they still like me, but I’m going to FIND two, maybe three, additional clients.

What do these clients look like?

Great traffic. Great list. Excellent traffic buyer. Superb products that really appeal to their current and prospective customers. The need and desire to keep selling products and services. Total compliance and dedication to ethical business practices. The willingness, if not rampant desire, to invest in copy and PAY THEIR COPYWRITER. A direct marketing mindset. One of my current clients has a copy of Breakthrough Advertising in the bathroom. A growth mindset. The constant desire to improve. A general disdain for all things branding. The ability to test like crazy … and celebrate both success and failure. Generally amenable and pleasant people in the organization. A paucity of corporate bureaucracy. An entrepreneurial mindset … plus ambition. Speed … getting products to market quickly. No copy police looking over my every word. They trust me. Ample cash in the bank. Size: between 10-30 employees. The potential to work together for many years. A need for direct marketing expertise.

I could probably think of a few other criteria but that’s a pretty good list above.

As you can see, I’m not going to work with a lot of punters. And if you don’t know what a “punter” is then search a little … for the British meaning … it’s one of my favorite words and extremely malleable.

But I digress.

Some of you who receive this email might be extremely experienced. Others might be more nascent. Either way, it’s VITAL to define your ideal client profile.

Eight years ago, that client was a digital advertising agency with regular copy needs.

Once you have a sense of your ideal client, you can ignore all the ads and online guff you see asking for copywriters.

Most of these potential clients are like people who walk into a Ferrari dealership with precisely $500 to spend on a car ... but still think they can get a Ferrari.

But most importantly, once you have a sense of your ideal client, you can search with much more precision.

Look … there’s triage involved here. I might cruise around looking at more than 300 potential clients before I find one that matches my criteria. That’s great, if you ask me.

Why should I settle for a client who is not a good fit?

Let’s remember something crucially vital. Yes … it’s important to have a great list. Yes … it’s important to have great products. But without copy, there isn’t a sale … there isn’t a phone call made to a 1-800 number.

So why am I settling for clients who will make my life miserable? Why are you?

Be aggressive. Find those great clients. Don’t work for companies that don’t deserve to work with a copywriter who can produce results.

Two more things to consider.

One. All those so called “A Lister” copywriters … were they actually really great copywriters? Or did they find and work with the top clients? Hmmmmmm …

Two. Notice I haven’t said the “niche” word. You can focus on a niche to the point where you’re willing to take on bad clients.

My niche … especially in the next few months? Finding the top clients … clients who are a good fit with my career goals over the next decade.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

P.S. If I seem mean or even snobby then my apologies. I don't want to sound like either. I simply want serious copywriters to work with excellent clients. Is that too much to ask?