The Two Schools of Thought in Direct Response Marketing. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive 2018 1

January 2018 1

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

First of all, happy new year and I hope you enjoyed a pleasant holiday season.

I hope you enjoyed the series about Gary Bencivenga in the last few emails. A couple of things to take away.

First. Read and digest, then re-read and re-digest Bencivenga Bullets. Here’s the link.

https://marketingbullets.com/archive/

Second. There are two schools of thought in direct response copywriting. One school champions hype, braggadocio, and, I’ll try to put this politely, BENDING the truth. The other school champions research, clarity, and verisimilitude, which is a long word for putting the truth in the best possible light ... but still telling the truth about the product or service.

Gary Bencivenga was one of the greatest copywriters of all time and he was firmly in the latter school. Which school are you going to be in? I don’t know about you but I’m following Gary Bencivenga.

When I’m not writing copy, I go skiing, and, in fact, I’m a part-time ski instructor. One of my favorite colleagues fully understands the technical aspects of skiing … and these can be extremely complex. Anyone want to discuss the finer points of centripetal forces?

But she’s extremely superb at helping with the mental side of skiing. She helps her students feel comfortable on skis and comfortable with confidence on skis.

So, in the next few emails, I’m going to discuss what it really takes to succeed as a direct response copywriter. You can read a TON about the technical side of copywriting. You can read a TON about direct marketing fundamentals. And you can read a TON about dealing with clients. But you’ll rarely read anything about the mindset you need to succeed in this business.

You can also find a lot of information about how to find clients. In fact, I just purchased a program from a well-known organization. The program promises to tell me how to find clients but it’s the same old bunk: nobody tells you which potential clients to contact.

I know how to find them. I’m going to reveal all this year as I personally search for two to three clients I hope to work with for a long time.

But first, it’s important to understand the mindset you must have to succeed in this business. The mindset starts with confidence.

Let’s say I’m skiing and I’m about to ski a pretty steep pitch deep in the trees. I know I have the technique to ski this pitch. But I need confidence and I have to trust myself. Yes … I could fall and I could possibly hurt myself. But I could also ski the pitch successfully and gain the benefits of having tackled something difficult.

In copywriting, trust begins with fully understanding the scale of the opportunity.

A famous copywriter once said to a group of copywriters, “there’s an ocean of opportunity out there, and you’re a thimble.” And he’s right.

I hear two things ALL the time.

First, from companies and agencies … “we’re desperate for good copywriters … we’re always looking.”

Second, especially from people who are in groups on social media, “I’m desperate for clients.”

It’s totally crazy and makes no sense.

The problem, again, is mindset. First, you need the mindset that will lead to constant learning and improvement so you can consistently convert potential buyers into actual buyers. Second, you need the mindset “I’m going to succeed and I’m going to find the clients I really want and need.”

I’m a big fan of Dan Kennedy, for a number of reasons I’ll discuss in future emails, perhaps. But one thing he said really resonates with me, almost every day.

“Most people give up when there’s even the slightest headwind.” If you’re one of those people, then find a full-time job where, in return for a probably paltry wage, you know you’ll probably have employment for a long time.

But if you’re serious about success in copywriting, then be prepared for headwinds, turbulence, and other hazards.

Again … it’s all about mindset and I’ll discuss this more over the next few weeks.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

The Bencivenga Headline Secret. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive December 2017

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

Gary Bencivenga and His Headline Secret

I’d like to continue this series about what you can learn from Gary Bencivenga, now retired, and generally considered one of the greatest copywriters of all time, certainly in the 80s, 90s, and into the 21st Century.

Bencivnega rarely spoke but I was fortunate that a client bought me the videos of Bencivnega’s retirement seminar. These cost $5,000 and if you feel like reading the over 30,000 words of copy selling the DVDs, you can click here. No affiliate commission here, in case you're wondering.

Let me divulge something from the DVDs when it comes to headlines. Bencivnega talked about the inspiration for many of his headlines: book titles. Take a look at book titles and you can get a sense of what Bencivnega was talking about.

How to Work From Home and Make Money in 2017: 13 Proven Home-Based Businesses You Can Start Today (Work from Home Series: Book 1)
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
15 Minutes to a Better Interview: What I Wish EVERY Job Candidate Knew

What are we seeing here?

An all-out “how to” headline. Numbers (specificity) in the headlines. The “tease” factor. Intrigue. Classic headline techniques.

There’s an irony here. Book publishers are among the WORST marketers on the planet. That’s based on my personal experience with this book I wrote. I sometimes wonder how any of them make any money. I wrote a VSL for a client. The VSL sold an ebook about dementia. The client was selling 1.5 million of these ebooks a month. That would put the book at the top of EVERY bestseller list on the planet for several weeks.

Now … there are lots of super-weak book titles. Take a look at these.

Leaders Eat Last
The Player: Target: The Executive Suite
Principles: Life and Work
The One Page Marketing Plan

Look at the first three. What do they mean? What’s the benefit? What’s in it for me? The final one offers a bit of a benefit but the premise is not believable … especially to someone who is in marketing.

Now let’s take a look at some direct marketing book titles.

The Direct Mail Solution: A Business Owner's Guide to Building a Lead-Generating, Sales-Driving, Money-Making Direct-Mail Campaign.
Direct Marketing Doesn't Have to Make Sense, It Just Has to Make Money.
Confessions of a Direct Response Copywriter: An “Old School” Advertising Man Reveals How to Make Your Marketing Twice as Effective at Half the Cost - ... Secrets of Success in Business and in Life.

Better book titles/headlines … especially those long ones; the latter is for a Bob Bly book so it's no surprise the title is excellent.

I’m working on a book about copywriting and I’ve chosen the title based on a believable benefit. It’s based on a headline template I like to use.

So … the next time you’re in a bookstore … or your looking at a book site, take a few minutes to rate the titles/headlines. Put the good ones in your headline templates.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Gary Bencivenga and Copy Clarity. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive 2017 3

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

Gary Bencivenga and Copy Clarity

Brian Kurtz still calls Gary Bencivenga the world’s #1 copywriter, even though Bencivenga is retired. Kurtz was in charge of marketing at Boardroom, one of the top direct marketing companies on the planet. Bencivenga used to write extensively for Boardroom.

I attended Kurtz’s event The Titans of Direct Marketing back in 2014. We all received, as part of the goodies, two folders of Boardroom controls, including plenty of copy from Gary Bencivenga. I’ll share some of that copy in the next few emails.

But first, let’s focus on the ad I consider one of the greatest ever written.

Click below to see it.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/copyswipes/legends/GaryBencivenga-Launch-Business2-1980.pdf

Focus on a couple of things here, both closely related.

First, the total clarity. I regularly see ads that are difficult to understand. This happens more often in the branding world where the copywriters are striving to be clever and impress copywriters and art directors. I regularly see headlines that have me scratching my head, wondering what the ad is actually trying to achieve. In fact, I saw an ad like that just last night when I picked up a friend from the airport. There was a big sign with a photo of a woman plus the name of the company; I'm still struggling to figure out what that company actually sells.

I even see this lack of clarity in direct response copy. Remember that we’re writing at 6th or 7th grade level. I strive to make my copy extremely clear ... so the prospect knows, with intense clarity, “when you hand over your money, here’s what you’re going to get.”

Second, the copy in the Bencivenga ad may be somewhat dense, but it’s very simple. Look at the basic “how to” headline. Look at the simple bullets. Every copywriter should strive for this clarity and simplicity. There’s no hype here and every claim is believable and backed by proof.

One more thing … check out the specificity. You see this in the headline and you see it throughout the body copy. But Bencivenga avoids having too many numbers. It’s easy to overwhelm the reader with facts and figures. There’s a balance.

This ad appeared in newspapers and magazines so it reads like an article … it’s an advertorial.

What else can you discover from this advertisement? What can you take from this ad to your copy?

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

A-Lister. B-Lister. D-Lister. Whatever. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive November 2017 2

November 2017 2

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

A-Lister. B-Lister. Whatever.

Plus Some Extremely Salient Advice from Gary Bencivenga. And Why I Gleefully Fired Two Clients in Two Weeks.

Even if you’re a freshly-minted copywriter, I’m confident you’ve heard of the pecking order of A-Lister and B-Lister, and so on. I’ve heard certain copywriters called, “A-Plus-Lister” which means, I have to deduce, they are just a bit better than A-Listers.

A well-known direct marketing expert has called me an A-Lister, which I suppose is a good sign. Another copywriter I know very well calls himself an A-Lister on his website. That’s because others in the marketing world have called him thus.

The system applies to other disciplines, even celebrity life. So and so used to be an “A List celebrity” but is now “D List.” I suppose I could look up the genesis of the idea but I have better things to do ... like take my skis to the ski shop for a tune up. Perhaps you’ll investigate and let me know what you discover.

Anyway, I don’t care for this whole A-Lister palaver. I care about reaching my financial goals so I’m not a burden on family/society when I’m old and in the way. I care about clients who care so deeply about direct marketing that they have a copy of Breakthrough Advertising on the top of their commode. And yes, I have a client who keeps a copy of Breakthrough Advertising on the top of their commode. I care about becoming a stronger copywriter who can generate more revenue for my clients. I care DEEPLY about the success of my clients.

And here’s something you need to know about A-List direct response copywriters. Most of them don’t write copy anymore. They teach and critique.

My ego wants to be called an A-Lister, I guess, but ego satisfaction is short-lived at best. I want to generate a lot of money for my clients so they send a small portion of the revenue my way and keep hiring me.

As I mentioned in the last email, I’m going to discuss Gary Bencivenga’s copy in future emails, but before going there, there’s a piece of Gary Bencivenga advice that’s especially valuable and salient to me every day …

DON’T TAKE ON MARKETING CHALLENGES.

Let’s flip this around.

WORK FOR COMPANIES WITH GREAT LISTS AND GREAT PRODUCTS THAT PEOPLE ON THE LIST REALLY WANT.

If a company has a list of people who love bananas, and everything banana, and they ask me to write copy selling light bulbs to the banana list, I’ve got a problem.

But when they ask me to write copy to that list selling … get this … BANANAS and related banana products … then I’m going to look like a rock-star who is so brilliant I can’t even be classified as an A-Plus-Plus-Plus-Lister.

I had a potential client contact me the other day. He was in the banking business. He wanted a direct mail piece, a post card, plus a long landing page. He had a poor list plus asked if I could get paid when he got some business in the door. The gestation period for people in this business is about 8 months. He balked at the quote and wanted a discount. Plus he wanted everything written in 24 hours. So I fired him before the project could even start.

Another client has an awesome list. The company just asked me to write a promotion for some sunglasses. “Nothing exotic or fun there,” you might justifiably say. But wait a minute. These sunglasses let you listen to music and TAKE PHONE CALLS through the frames! Really! The people on the list will go bonkers for these sunglasses … based on what they have bought before.

Which client do I want to work with?

Let’s remember something about the so-called A-Listers from a decade or so ago … including Gary Bencivenga. They wrote for companies with … Huge and responsive lists, hand curated Excellent products A proven copy formula Top-quality complementary resources like graphics and printing A proven offer and price structure So it’s no wonder their copy worked.

I’m not disparaging these copywriters in any way. I admire Gary Bencivenga more than any other copywriter.

But the lesson here … avoid clients who are not serious direct marketers.

The other client I fired? This company sells a building product/service. My contact would tell me he loved the copy one day, then send me a scathing email the next telling me I’m the worst copywriter ever. He ignored my direct marketing advice, even though he said he liked my feedback/push back.

It was a big piece of business but, even with the fee, I couldn’t take the lunacy. So I issued forth the red card and moved on.

Some clients will, unknowingly, say what Steve Jobs (allegedly) told a copywriter, “keep writing … when I see what I want … I’ll let you know.” That’s fine when there’s an unlimited budget but that’s a marketing challenge I would take on if the client was paying me a whopping fee with no timetable.

Life’s a lot easier when you work with companies that give you the opportunity to sell great products and services … with promotions sent to a list that’s hungry for what the company sells.

In fact, maybe that’s the difference between the A-Lister and the “others.” The A-Lister works with the great companies while the “others” take on marketing challenges.

I think I just discovered something there.

It’s amazing how brilliant I can be when I write about sunglasses THAT TAKE PHONE CALLS and PLAY MUSIC, priced aggressively, and sent to a list of about 2 million strong potential buyers who will go BONKERS for this product.

Funny how that works.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Free Resources for Copywriters. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive November 2017 1

November 2017 1

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

One of the Best Free Resources for Direct Response Copywriters

I'm confident you've heard of Gary Bencivenga. He only writes sporadically these days, for his olive oil company, and he's mostly retired but, until his retirement, he was the #1 direct response copywriter on the planet.

He wrote several controls for Boardroom, back when Boardroom was rocking out those powerful magalogs. He worked for other direct marketers too. He earned millions in royalties plus he charged $25,000 just to show up for a project. That’s around $50,000 in today’s money.

$50,000 a month for 12 months. Plus royalties. "You do the math." And that was 20 years ago.

I have closely studied Bencivenga’s work and I try to model my style after his style. His style is very “non-hype” and it's super-clear. The clarity of the offer is perfect and this clarity is something I strive to emulate every time I write copy.

Here’s an example of what I consider the most perfect copy I have every seen. Click here.

I met Bencivenga at the Titans of Marketing event. You can see my review of the event here.

I was having a pleasant conversation with him until three extremely rude people barged in. Don’t do that.

You can get a copy of Bencivenga’s retirement seminar DVDs for $5,000. A client bought the DVDs for me and they are superb.

Thankfully, if you don’t have $5,000 lying around in your house/apartment/office/manse, Gary published what he called “The Bencivenga Bullets.” These are totally free.

These will give you more direct response wisdom than you’ll find in 20 direct marketing books.

Here’s a link to the first one. This link will lead you to the other bullets.

If you want to learn something today, pay extremely close attention to Bencivenga's syntax.

In the next few emails, I’m going to discuss and dissect some Gary Bencivenga copy. And in the next couple of weeks, at some stage, I’m also going to obliterate an archaic old-school copywriting notion: A-Listers, B-Listers, and so on.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

AWAI Bootcamp Review. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive October 2017 3

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

AWAI Bootcamp Notes

So I'm (almost) back home in Colorado after a few days in Florida attending the AWAI Bootcamp and Job Fair.

As promised, here’s a report.

It was wonderful to be in Delray Beach, which is one of my favorite places to visit, not just in Florida, but pretty much anywhere.

There was quite a variety of content. Clayton Makepeace spoke about mistakes he sees in direct response copy. Another speaker, who specializes in B2B copy, talked about … you guessed it … B2B copy.

Programs started at 7:15 in the morning and some of them finished at 9 p.m. It’s a long day but AWAI packs in the content.

I see many of the same faces, but there’s definitely some ‘churn’ with many people arriving one year, then not returning.

On Wednesday afternoon, I had a drink with Bob Bly, who was in excellent form. He’s still writing copy, pounding it out 10 hours a day, at least five days a week. He gave a presentation about marketing.

On Friday at lunch, I met one of the copy chiefs from Agora. He seemed to know me and my work. He told me the copywriters in his division were earning well over $500,000 a year … “if you’re interested,” he said.

The Agora “model” for hiring copywriters is quite well known. They want you to move, usually to Delray Beach or Baltimore. The initial pay is around $40,000 a year. They provide training … some of the best copywriting training in the world. They expect you to earn significant royalties in the first 2 years or they show you the door.

The allure of half a million dollars is quite strong, for sure, but if you’re actually serious about me moving and working with you and you’re implying I can make big money, here’s my number one thought … WRITE ME A CHECK.

There’s a line from a somewhat famous movie … SHOW ME THE MONEY … or something like that. Be careful about the promises potential clients make.

At Job Fair, the usual suspects were present. I saw some current clients. I saw some people I’d like to work with. I saw some people who have fired me from projects.

I also briefly met with a copywriting agency. I met the owner. I’m not normally aggressive … but you have to be at job fair. I’m not elbowing fellow copywriters out of the way but, when I meet someone, I quickly let them know about my track record. Why? Because 95% of the attendees are new to copywriting. I have experience. Nothing wrong with being a newcomer but I want to differentiate myself.

Every company at job fair is looking for copywriters, otherwise they would not be there. They’re usually especially eager to meet experienced copywriters. So I told the owner of the agency I was experienced and had some results and he REFUSED to take my business card and the attached thumb drive which included a short VSL about my work plus a word doc with links to my portfolio.

He said, “just do the spec challenge” and was generally extremely rude. I was tempted to jettison the rattle out of the pram and tell him to speak with everyone … especially if he’s looking for copywriters.

Aside from my semi-angst, what’s the biggest lesson here?

An event like job fair can lead to some work and it’s always good to see some current clients … BUT … ultimately, you have to go and find the clients you really want to work with. You might find a couple at the job fair … you might not.

This year’s bootcamp, for some reason I don’t fully understand, moved me to think about my business in a totally different way. More on that in the next few weeks.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

AWAI Bootcamp. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive October 2017 2

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

Bootcamp ... Here I Come ...

This week, I’m heading to Florida, specifically Delray Beach, to the annual copywriting ‘bootcamp’ organized by AWAI. I’m sure you’re mostly familiar with the event. Maybe you’re attending. Maybe you’ve attended in the past. Maybe you have thought about attending.

It will be my 5th visit to the bootcamp (I think) and I’ll have a full report when I return.

Why do I go? I'm not always sure!

It’s an expensive trip … around $4,000 including the price of admission, flights, a place to stay, and sundry expenses. Plus it’s difficult to write copy and produce income during the event. So I lose income.

What’s the ROI? I have picked up some work directly from the job fair, where direct marketing companies are looking for direct response copywriters. One company turned out to be disorganized and a poor client.

Another company was, weirdly, more interested in branding, even though their revenue comes from direct response copywriting; I had to fight to get paid for a promotion that never ran because my contact left the company.

So the ROI has been negative overall. I've spent about $25,000 over the years and I once won a spec challenge which brought me $1,000 but the fees have not covered the cost of being there.

Some of the speakers have provided some really great ideas and techniques. Other speakers have been vacuous and ill-prepared. Some of the presentations are “repeats” from previous events.

I certainly enjoy a few days in Delray Beach in mid-October. It’s a beautiful spot.

There’s a certain sadness to the event, despite the cheerleading from the AWAI staff. There must be at least 400 people who have bought into the dream. I won’t see them again.

But it’s fun to meet new copywriters and some of the bigger names in the business.

Maybe this year, I’ll meet a strong potential client. But my gut tells me I’ll see the same faces, including the approximately 30 Agora subsidiaries who are all looking for full-time copywriters, and I’ll get the same business cards and the same emails will not be returned. Maybe I’m being pessimistic when that’s not my nature.

No worries … I’ll repair to one of the many restaurants there on Atlantic Avenue if I don’t get any traction.

So how will I find clients? Through my website but, more importantly, by identifying strong potential clients and contacting them ... it's called direct marketing.

I’ll write a complete review of bootcamp and send it next week.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Advertorials. Simplicity. Tabloids. Direct Response Copywriter Archive

October 2017 1

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

On the Beauty of Simplicity ... And the Advertorial ... And Tabloids ... I just spent a week in New York and environs, meeting with a client and attending a meeting of the mastermind group run by Brian Kurtz. Then I flew to London to spend a couple of weeks in the United Kingdom.

New York and the UK have something in common: a strong printed newspaper culture. Yes … people in these spots still read newspapers and the newspapers are magnificently written, ESPECIALLY the tabloids.

I pay close attention to the headlines in the tabloids: perfectly written by professionals who understand how to grab the attention of the reader in 3 seconds … or less.

Of course, if you want examples of 7th grade writing, then the tabloids will give you all the fodder you could ever need or want.

Yes … the tabloids are alive and well. So too are advertorials … in both upmarket newspapers and the tabloids.

Here are some thoughts about these advertorials.

I haven’t seen testing data but the better advertorials are in the tabloids.
They merge seamlessly with the rest of the content so they totally look like articles … all by design.
Super-strong call to action … the next steps are totally clear.
There isn’t a whopping amount of space so the copy has to be really clear and really tight. I can write as much as I like on a sales page on the web but I might only get 600 words in the advertorial.
They follow the AIDA copy formula.
Image selection is picture-perfect.
Everything sells happiness and solutions.
The design makes it easy to read.
The CTA is almost always to call a phone number at a call center. That's where the close takes place.

Every time I visit New York and every time I visit the UK, I see advertorials in tabloids and broadsheets. Clearly these are working. And one more thing … they work successfully for a wide variety of products. I saw health advertorials. I saw gardening advertorials. I saw travel advertorials.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Having Fun With Copywriting. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive September 2017

September 2017

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

Labor ... Or Ease?

I generally dislike meetings … for a wide variety of reasons. But a big company recently bought one of my clients and so I found myself in a drab meeting room in a drab office building, meeting the people from the big company.

These people are not really direct marketers, although they seem genuinely interested to discover more about direct marketing and direct response copywriting. The executives asked me to explain how direct response copywriting works. I had 15 minutes so the explanation was super-basic but I poured a lot of enthusiasm into the presentation.

A friend from the company that was acquired was in the meeting. After the meeting, he commented on my enthusiasm for direct response copywriting.

My friend was right, of course. I love writing direct response copy. I’ll be sitting down with my laptop, and this could be almost anywhere, and I’ll be working on some copy, and I’ll be thinking, “I’m loving this and I’m really fortunate to have something in my life that’s not really work, but generates a solid income.”

I know well over 100 copywriters. Some are good friends. Some are acquaintances. Some are just starting out. Others are extremely famous. But I can only think of a handful of copywriters who tell me they really love writing copy. One friend told me he hates writing copy. Another really famous copywriter rarely writes copy because he no longer enjoys it. Many top-level copywriters are no longer writing copy; they're coaching aspiring copywriters because it’s easier and the money is excellent … upwards of $1,000 an hour. For these copywriters, writing copy is labor.

Now, there are times when being a direct response copywriter is a major challenge to the point where it’s not a lot of fun. When does this happen? When clients don’t pay and I have to chase them. When clients use the 4.0 peer review process and other copywriters are critiquing my copy … totally randomly. When clients don’t communicate. When clients get super-critical about copy and get super-slow. I start to feel the natural loneliness that freelancers can experience. So … here are my ways to maintain my enthusiasm. Keep reading about direct response copywriting, sales psychology, sales, and direct marketing. At least 30 minutes a day. I also listen to MP3s and watch videos. Find great clients and avoid the bad ones. Fire the bad ones if you need to. Work with clients whose products and services get you excited. And work with clients who move quickly. Find diversions outside direct response copywriting. Dan Kennedy is one of the top harness racers in the country. I’m a part-time ski instructor. Make some friends who are also copywriters and stay in touch with them. Vent if you need to vent. Relish the process of finding great clients. It’s a little like a hunting expedition. Be patient but be persistent. Keep improving and learning more about direct response copywriting. Attend events where you can hang out with other copywriters. Remember the power you have to help companies and entrepreneurs. Vary your schedule and your routine. Find clients who share your passion for direct marketing. Find clients who really want to succeed and really value direct response copywriters. Some copywriters find they can only write copy for a few hours a day, usually in the morning. I can write copy all day … at any time of day … pretty much anywhere.

I feel sorry for the copywriters whose enthusiasm for writing copy has waned. It’s almost a tragedy. Writing direct response copy can be one of the greatest gigs on the face of planet earth.

So this labor day, ask yourself, “is copywriting going to be hard work … or fun?”

It’s fun for me … in part because I make a point to make it fun.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Great Clients or Bad Clients? Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive August 2017

August 2017

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

Solid ... Or a Dud?

Every month, I speak with, on average, 10-15 potential clients. I use that word, "speak" with some wiggle room. Sometimes, it's texting (really!) and other times, it's just by email. But most of the time, if there seems to be a good potential fit, it's a direct conversation.

How can I tell if a potential client is going to be wonderful? How can I tell if they’re going to be a total waste of time? A complete mega-dud?

First of all, I’ve organized my website to repel people who are not going to be a good fit. I make it totally clear I’m not the least expensive copywriter. This keeps the price shoppers away; they can go to Upwork and the commodity sites. Second, I have a page on my website titled, “are we a good fit?” which you can see here. Again, I’m working to attract top clients while repelling poor potential clients. A great website purposely repels the people who cannot, and will not, buy.

As a result, the potential clients who contact me know who I am and they are solid people and solid companies. I don’t have any data but they tell me they have spent time on my website … at least 30 minutes.

One important note: while I want to keep price-shoppers away, I want to be approachable and amenable to the type of clients I’d like to work with. I don’t play “hard to get” and write absurdities like “let me see if I can fit you into my schedule.”

Way too many copywriters have a sort of “reverse snobbery” they think potential clients will find impossible to resist. Look … here’s what I know about great potential clients: my schedule is wide open to them! And yours should be too.

A cautionary tale. I know a direct response copywriter who got a huge gig about three years ago. It was just one promotion but it was a high-profile gig. This copywriter got a lot of traction plus some top-quality testimonials. The acclaim went to this copywriter’s head and suddenly this copywriter went into “let me see if I can fit you into my schedule in two years” mode. Then I saw the same copywriter at the AWAI bootcamp the very next year blatantly interrupting meetings I was having with potential clients … in order to find clients. I also recently saw another copywriter, an extremely famous copywriter, talking about losing a big client. Again … this copywriter is simply waiting for the power of pure reputation to fill that all-important schedule. A bad idea.

But I digress, and I apologize.

I have to admit I have a “sixth sense” when I’m speaking with potential clients. I can tell, in about 90 seconds, whether the potential client is a serious direct marketer … or they want to be. I speak with marketing directors at direct marketing companies and they obviously speak our language. But I also speak with the owners of micro-businesses who are just beginning that direct marketing journey. For example, they might say, “I just went to a direct marketing seminar and I’ve been reading some Dan Kennedy books and I hear it’s important to hire a direct response copywriter.” I love both types of clients. But you have to be careful. The other day, I was speaking with a potential client who was pretending to know a lot about direct marketing. He’s actually a branding guy. In time, you’ll develop this “sixth sense.”

Here are some more “empirical” ways to determine if a client is right for you. • Are they crazy about direct response marketing? • Do they have any money? • What’s their website like … even if it’s a corporate site? • Is it a one person operation? Or a big company? Note: well-funded companies in the 10-30 employee range can often be the best clients … at least for me. • Do they have traffic? If so, what sort of traffic? • Are they ethical? • Will they back up a guarantee? • Have they worked with copywriters before? If they have fired copywriters in the past, what happened? • What does the LinkedIn profile of the potential client look like? • Do they test? • What sort of products are they selling? Is it something people might actually want? Or is it a silly idea, hatched in a bar at 1:30 in the morning? I’m sure you can come up with other questions you want to ask. Remember … when you’re looking into clients it’s a two-way conversation. They’re interviewing me but I’m interviewing them. The supply of direct response copywriters is extremely low. The demand is extremely high. Why should you deal with potentially poor clients?

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

What Are Copywriting Clients Looking For? Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive July 2017 4

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

What are Potential Clients Looking For?

I hear it all the time. And maybe you've heard it.

"Where are all the copywriters?"

I also hear ... from direct marketing companies ... and others ...

"We're always looking for copywriters." "We need copy." "It's hard to find copywriters."

There are 350 people listed as direct response copywriters on LinkedIn. There are 90,000 people who call themselves copywriters on LinkedIn. Either way, the demand for copy outstrips the number of copywriters. But clients are still fussy and won't hire just anyone. What are clients typically looking for?

• Solid samples in the portfolio. • Evidence of training. • A commitment to being a copywriter. • Professionalism. • Specialization (but not always). • Proof that you can actually do the work. • Previous results. • Testimonials.

Where/how are you supposed to communicate the above? It helps if you have a website and every copywriter should strive to have a superb website; but it's not disaster if you don't have one yet. You must have a strong LinkedIn page.

Remember ... companies need copywriters but they are still selective ... especially the top companies.

In the next email, I'm going to discuss how to tell if a client is going to be solid, or a dud.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Free Gary Bencivenga Resources. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive July 2017 2/3

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.

  1. Competitive fire. Bencivenga wanted to be the best by beating controls, even his own.
  2. Epic copy. My all-time favorite piece of copy is by Bencivenga. You can see it here.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. Study. You can tell that Bencivenga has read everything in the direct marketing and direct response genre. Have you?
  6. Research. You can tell that Bencivenga did his homework.
  7. Being easy to work with. A colleague once worked with Bencivenga and said he was polite, pleasant, humble, and amenable.
  8. 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

The Number of Copywriters on the Planet and What This Means. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive July 2017 1.

July 2017 1

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

How Many Copywriters Are There in the World?

No … it’s not some sort of a joke. I don’t know any copywriter jokes, but I heard a ski instructor joke recently.

Q: How many ski instructors does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A: Three. One to screw in the lightbulb. Two to say, “nice turns.”

I can mildly wind up ski instructors ... because I’m a part-time ski instructor.

Anyway … back to the question above. If I type “copywriter” into the LinkedIn search engine, I get 90,690 results.

That’s a fairly accurate number, I believe.

The other day, I was listening to a podcast featuring an interview with one of the top list brokers and direct marketing experts in the world.

The interviewer asked, “how many direct response copywriters are there?” The reply: “I only know about 50 direct response copywriters who can get the job done consistently.”

A LinkedIn search turns up 358 direct response copywriters. That’s .004% of copywriters, if you’re counting.

Does this mean that all 358 direct response copywriters can produce consistent results? I don’t know but I estimate there are about 100 top-level direct response copywriters on the planet ... and about 20-40 "elite" copywriters.

Your goal is to join this group.

“How?” Here are some steps. Constantly study direct response copywriting and direct marketing. Study selling, psychology, and writing. Get a part-time job where you actually sell a product or service. Strive to work with top direct marketers. Join a peer group but make sure you’re not the smartest person in the room. Find a client that tests and has a lot of traffic. Be humble and professional and be able to offer direct marketing advice. See #1 and #2. Am I in this top 100? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. It’s not really a relevant question. I’m more concerned with … Striving to be the top direct response copywriter. Reaching my monthly financial goals by helping top direct marketers succeed. Learning from copy that fails and copy that succeeds. Constantly striving to stretch my direct marketing and direct response copywriting knowledge. Consistently keeping my name in front of top direct marketers and using “polite persistence” to work with the world’s top marketers. Being around top direct marketers who know a TON more than me. Working with companies that market great products and back up their promises … the “white hat” crew. Many of the world’s top direct marketers and direct response copywriters have written books and produced training materials. Are you going to leverage all this sagacity?

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

The Joy of Handling Rejection. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive June 2017 3.

June 2017 3

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

Who likes to be rejected? Nobody.

But there’s something extremely important you have to remember if you’re a direct response copywriter: you’re a salesperson. Your copy must sell the client’s product or service. Plus you must sell yourself to the client.

Being rejected is part of the sales process.

One of four things will happen when you start to contact potential clients.

They won’t reply. They will say no. They will ask for more information. They will say yes.

You have … and I have … something extremely important to marketers … the ability to motivate people to buy products and services. If a marketer won’t reply to me after several attempts to contact them, then do I really want to do business with them?

Many potential clients will ask for more information, usually samples.

Many will say “no” right off the bat. It’s usually the first thing someone says when you ask them to buy something. I don’t get upset about hearing “no.” Why? Because with some persistence, I can turn that “no” into a “yes.”

If I keep hearing “no” then maybe the client isn’t a good fit. Sometimes you have to find the right person in a big company. That happened to me with a big client a few months ago. I heard “no” from four employees before finding the person who would say, “yes.”

The key word here is persistence. Most people, according to Dan Kennedy, give up when there’s a mere zephyr of a headwind. Don’t be one of these people.

I know the first thing I’m usually going to hear from a potential client is “no.” So I’m not upset with the rejection. It’s simply the first step on the road to making a sale.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Speed is a Strategy. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive June 2017 2.

June 2017 2

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

I'm a slow eater, a slow skier (mostly), and a slow runner but I'm a fast golfer and fast writer. I know a fair number of copywriters but there's only one copywriter I know who is faster than me when it comes to writing copy. I have written 4,000 word promotion in about 6 hours and the promotion met the needs of the client.

My initial mentor in this business always says "speed is a strategy" and I agree. Far too many companies take way too long to get their copy up and running.

One famous direct response company took EIGHT MONTHS to get my copy live. The fee seemed decent but when I looked at the time I spent on the project, the remuneration was low. I have one client who has my copy live in 7-10 days. They give me a week to write a 4,000 word promotion.

No problem.

I understand the client's market plus I have templates I can use based on promotions that have worked in the past. The fee may seem a little low but, based on the time I spend on the copy, it's solid.

So ... two thoughts.

One ... find clients who are ready, willing, and able to move quickly. Two ... make writing quickly a goal. Yes ... the quality has to be there and using templates will save hours of time. But ... here's something vital ... while you are working on becoming faster, also work on becoming BETTER.

Let's go back to the world of skiing. I know a lot of people who ski super-fast. However, technically, even based on my somewhat nascent knowledge of skiing, they are not technically sound. Put these speed skiers in more difficult terrain and they fall over. Becoming a faster skier is a wonderful goal, provided your technique improves.

I don't know any direct response copywriters who bill by the hour. I know plenty of lawyers who bill by the hour and feel they have this special right to keep the meter running. I wrote a book several years ago and I'm trying to get the rights back from the publisher. I hired a lawyer to help me. He's not done a thing, billed me for work he said he wasn't going to bill me for, and sent me a bill for $938.

There's going to be an interesting conversation in the next few days.

As you grow as a copywriter, find ways to be faster, while maintaining and improving the quality of your work.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Defining Your Perfect Clients. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive June 2017 1

June 2017 1

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

Over the next 8-12 weeks, I’ve set a goal of finding one, maybe two additional long-term clients. I have plenty of work to keep me going right now, and I’m enjoying some additional free time, but it would be prudent to find some new clients.

Here are some notes from this assignment.

My first step is to define who is a good fit for me. I have a mental checklist that will soon be a physical checklist and I’ll share this with you in the upcoming weeks. But here are the thoughts.

They must be serious direct marketers with a marketing director who knows a ton about direct marketing.
They must be an organization built around selling tons of stuff through direct response copy. This makes me, a direct response copywriter, indispensible. Get rid of me and it’s like turning off the electricity.
They must have a big list or be really good at traffic.
They must be “white hat” with a strong product portfolio.
For some reason, the ideal size company is 10-25 people. This size means they’re big enough to be serious but not big enough to have an in-house copywriter.
They must have a solid budget and be open to a royalty.
They must understand the key role of a copywriter in their success and not view the copywriter as a commodity.
They must not be meddlers who change my copy… unless there are factual errors or compliance issues.
They must love testing.
How quickly can they move? Are they likely to be super-slow and bureaucratic? Are they going to move as quickly as one of my clients? One client gives me a week to write a promotion and has it live the next week. That’s my type of client.

Well there’s my physical checklist!

Notice something here? I’m starting to go after the clients I’d like to work with, instead of hoping that these near-perfect clients arrive out of thin air. I’m going through my lists and I’ve identified about 400 potential strong clients. This week, I’ll send the first of a bi-monthly newsletter to this list, even though I’m currently speaking with four strong potential clients.

Just because you may be relatively new to copywriting doesn’t mean you can’t define your perfect client. Take a few minutes when you can to write down the traits of your perfect client based on where you are in your copywriting journey.

One more thing … I’m also working with a couple of clients to help them with more copy. Remember … once you have a client and things are going well, you MUST ask them for more work.

In the next email, I’ll discuss the importance of speed and why you don’t want to be like a lawyer when it comes to billing.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Inspiration for Headlines. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive May 2017 4

May 2017 4

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

(More) Bookstore Lessons

In the last email, I talked about my visit to Strand Book Store in Manhattan. In this email, I’m going to discuss two more lessons from Strand that apply to direct response copywriting … one from the fiction section and another from the non-fiction section.

I’m contemplating writing another novel and I spent about an hour in Strand looking at how various novelists opened their novels. After all, in theory, the first few paragraphs and pages of a novel had better draw the reader in. Right?

But … with a couple of notable exceptions, the openings of even famous novels by famous authors were poor. The first few paragraphs of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway are superb, even beguiling. But that’s an exception.

The first few paragraphs of direct response copy, also known as the lead, MUST draw the reader in, and keep the reader reading. Each sentence of copy must propel the reader to read the next sentence … and so on. Direct response copywriters get this … I’m not sure that our brothers and sisters in the fiction business are always brilliant at this.

Let’s head over to the non-fiction section. The writers and editors are often superb when it comes to writing titles. Let’s see some examples. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Blast the Sugar Out!: Lower Blood Sugar, Lose Weight, Live Better I Will Teach You to Be Rich The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age What are we really seeing here?

HEADLINES.

Stuck for a great headline? Look at non-fiction books.

There’s some irony here. Yes … publishers create some great headlines/title but they are generally awful at marketing. Trust me on this based on my personal experience with my book about Caddyshack.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Lessons from a Manhattan Bookstore. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive May 2017 3.

May 2017 3

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

Bookstore Lessons

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

How Opportunities Arrive. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive May 2017 2.

May 2017 2

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

A Dose of (Extremely Welcome) Humility Wrapped Up in a Big Opportunity

I fully admit, that’s a wild headline buttressed by mixed metaphor. So let me explain. One of my clients sells nutritional supplements. A copy chief left that company to work for a company that supplies how-to information to people in the creative industries.

The copy chief liked my work for the nutritional supplement company, where I established a new control for a flagship product. So she called me from her new company to ask if I could write some emails.

Another copywriter might have said, “you know, I wrote long-form copy for you at your last company … and you only want me to write five emails now … really?”

But I didn’t say that. I happily accepted the gig even though it was not the biggest assignment of my career and there’s no potential for a royalty. I’d like to write more for this copy chief and her new employer. The bigger assignments will likely arrive a little later. I helped out the copy chief by gratefully accepting the work and my foot is in the door … and not in my mouth.

Here’s the advice I give to new, and even more experienced copywriters … and I might have given this to you: seek out the “routine” work when you approach clients. This “routine” daily work comprises emails, advertorials, display ads, squeeze pages, and the like. Serious direct marketers need a TON of this type of copy.

Yes … you can find people on the commodity sites like Upwork who want long-form copy, video sales letters, and the more glamorous work. But this will most likely be “one and done” work with low fees. Real prosperity in copywriting comes from working with strong clients who will provide a lot of repeat work. You can get your foot in the door with these clients by saying, “I’m here to help with the day-to-day copy needs.”

The emails I wrote for the copy chief "click through" to a long-form sales page … a page I could dramatically improve. I simply said to the copy chief … “I have some ideas I believe could improve this page.” And she was receptive to my suggestions and I’ll get the opportunity to re-write the page in the next couple of months.

Seemingly small opportunities in the copywriting business can lead to much bigger opportunities … often faster than you think.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Great Advice from Gary Bencivenga. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive May 2017.

Advice from the Greatest Living Copywriter ... (not me!)

Ask many direct marketers the question “who is the top copywriter?” and you’ll get a lot of different answers.

But the top living copywriter is Gary Bencivenga. I won’t give his full bio in this email ... you can discover more about his work elsewhere at your leisure, but his work generated tens of millions for Boardroom, a company that made a point to hire the world’s top copywriters. Bencivenga was the top Boardroom copywriter based on insight from Brian Kurtz, who used to run the marketing at Boardroom. Bencivenga no longer writes copy for clients; he runs an olive oil business and writes copy for his business.

A client bought me the videos of the copywriting seminar Bencivenga ran when he officially semi-retired in 2007. I took a lot from those videos and the accompanying book but I’m going to focus on something Bencivenga said that resonates with me every day.

DON’T TAKE ON MARKETING CHALLENGES.

What exactly did Bencivenga mean? My interpretation: be selective when it comes to clients and the products and services they sell. So … if a client knocks on my door and they want to sell sunlamps in the Sahara or they have some crazy idea that only makes sense to the inventor, I might have to decline. It’s hard to write copy for a product nobody really needs or wants.

But what happens when a potential client is presenting you with a marketing challenge AND they have a large check waiting for you?

Early in my career, I accepted the challenge and the check! I wrote the copy to the best of my ability and sent the copy to the client. The client wanted copy so I gave the client copy.

Here’s a general rule of thumb. The more experienced you become, and the stronger and deeper your results, the more selective you can be. Who did Gary Bencivenga write for early in his career? I don’t have that list of clients and products but I’m certain there were some “marketing challenges” in the mix.

As Bencivenga broke records and established controls, he became more selective and wrote for companies with big lists, superb products, and the ability to pay high fees plus a healthy royalty.

Writing direct response copy is always a challenge. The reader is skeptical … you have to overcome objections … competition is fierce … budgets are tight … scammers are sadly prevalent in our space. There’s pressure to produce results for clients. Branding copywriters have it easy because there’s no accountability. Direct response copywriters must motivate the reader to buy and that's ALWAYS a challenge.

So when Bencivenga says, “don’t take on marketing challenges” he’s not talking about writing copy … that’s always hard … but his advice is “avoid bad clients” … or at least that’s how I take it.

A different type of marketing challenge is a client who is a bully and/or constantly unreasonable and rude. I won’t take on that type of challenge.

One component of great copy: it attracts the clients and customers you want and repels the clients you don’t want. The copy on my website is a conversation with the clients I know are a good fit for me. I make it clear I’m not the cheapest option and I will NOT work with scammers, spammers, and other miscreants.

And guess what? The over 600 potential clients who have contacted me in the past 4 years directly from my website have been solid leads who understand the value of direct response copy.

When I created my database of potential clients, I was careful to avoid including companies I thought would be a hassle to work with … or clients with products nobody would really want. The database includes strong direct marketing companies who value copywriters.

I just finished my first ski season as (very) part-time ski instructor.

Rookie ski instructors have to take on “instructional challenges.” Most of my students during my first year teaching were “rejects” from group lessons; these students were holding up the progress of the group. Other instructors would say, “Scott … do you see those two people over there who are upside down? They’re yours for the rest of the day … and by the way … they don’t speak a word of English.”

I happily took on the challenge. Another student, a big man, fell over constantly for two hours until he was “re-assigned” to yours truly. He didn’t fall over again that day. Again … I happily accepted the challenge of keeping this 275 pound man from smashing into the snow.

Ski instructors who have been teaching for 25 years get the top clients and get to ski the most enjoyable terrain. But it’s still a challenge for the instructor to help the student.

If you’re just starting out, there’s nothing wrong with taking on clients who present marketing challenges … provided there’s a healthy fee. I would not take on scammers just because they have a budget. This will usually end in tears … but when you have a list of results and a great portfolio, you can take Gary Bencivenga’s wonderful advice and avoid marketing challenges. You'll get to that point.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter