What is Direct Response Copywriting? Everything You Need to Know
- What is Direct Response Copywriting? Everything You Need to Know
- What You Should Know About Direct Response Copywriting
- Direct Response Copywriting Is Attention-Grabbing
- Direct Response Copywriting Sends Clear and Concise Brand Messages
- Direct Response Copywriting Asks for An Immediate Course Of Action
- 3 Direct Response Copywriting Lessons You Should Learn and Understand
- 3 Great Direct Response Copywriting Examples You Should Study
- “How Chinese Medicine Helps Burn Disease Out Your Body” by Gene Schwartz
- The Admiral Byrd Expedition Letter by Hank Burnett
- The Granada Letter by Thompson Cigars
- The One Ad You Should Analyze and Get Ideas From
- Let Your Copywriter Do Their Research
- Implied Benefits and the Rolls Royce Headline
- Using Jet Engines to Establish Rolls-Royce’s Credibility
- 3 Tips to Producing Emotional Direct Response Copywriting
- Presenting Your Market’s Desire
- Positioning Your Offer as a Viable Option
- Making It Easy for Your Market to Buy Your Offer
- Start Getting the Business of Your Market
As a direct marketer, you may have come across the term “direct response copywriting”. But do you know exactly what it means?
I have put together this article for you to answer the question “what is direct response copywriting?”
Through the course of this article, you will learn:
- What is direct response copywriting
- 3 lessons you should learn and understand
- Examples of direct response copywriting you should study
- The one ad you should analyze and learn from
- 3 tips to write emotional direct response copywriting
Starting today, you will know if your copy is attention-grabbing, sends a clear and concise brand message, and presents an irresistible call to action. That’s the purpose of this article.
Because that’s how you make direct response copywriting work for you.
What You Should Know About Direct Response Copywriting
Drawing from the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years, as well as my experience as a direct response copywriter, I have listed three things I believe direct marketers need to understand about direct response copywriting:
Direct Response Copywriting Is Attention-Grabbing
For direct response copywriting to be effective, it must grab the interest of the reader at once. In his book How to Make Your Advertising Make Money, John Caples writes “If you can come up with a good headline, you are sure to have a good ad”. That’s because grabbing the attention and interest of the reader is the job of the headline.
Neil Patel talks constantly about the importance of headlines. In the past, Neil has gone over how advertising extraordinaire David Ogilvy was able to sell so many products by presenting headlines that would blow readers away.
Check out this image from Referral Candy with the quote “If you want to craft headlines that sell, you better study David Ogilvy”.
But how do you create a headline that is appealing to your market right now? Simple: present the reader access to something they’re craving for. That’d be access to valuable information, the solution to a constant problem, or the chance to get something they love.
And you can craft an effective headline in so many ways – by asking a question, offering a list of things readers must do or get to achieve a goal, or introducing them to a new product or service – just to name a few.
Direct Response Copywriting Sends Clear and Concise Brand Messages
Once you get the attention of the reader, you can present to them what your business, product or service is about. But CAUTION: you can easily lose the interest of your audience by trying to over-sophisticate your presentation. Therefore, your brand message should be as simple and easy-to-read as possible.
And there’s where many marketers and copywriters make the mistake and lose customers. Because when it’s time to present the offer, they try to make themselves sound extremely cool or super smart. They start talking about the many features their offer has; often using vocabulary that seems to come from a Harvard Ph.D. textbook.
But readers don’t care about your accomplishments or the level of your education. They want to know what they get out of your offer. And if you don’t let them know, they’ll drop you and march towards someone who does.
To send a brand message that is clear and concise, use Julia McCoy’s K.I.S.S. philosophy. Focus on the benefits you generate with your offer and paint a picture of what life could be for them if they buy your product or service. And always keep your customer in mind.
Oh… and keep your vocabulary to an elementary school level for effective communication. Don’t make your reader think about the meaning of words – make them think about getting your offer.
Direct Response Copywriting Asks for An Immediate Course Of Action
The keyword in the term “direct response copywriting” is response. Because that is what you aim to get – an immediate response to your offer. And to make that response happen, you need a strong and appealing call to action.
This is what separates direct response from brand copywriting. Because while brand marketing focuses on keeping a product or service fresh in your mind for later consumption, direct response looks to persuade the reader into taking a course right away.
And all you must do is ask.
Ask the reader to fill a form, send a check, or click a link. Whatever you need the audience to do to move forward in the sales process. Of course, you can always take your CTA to a higher level of persuasion by restating your promise, introduce new benefits, or create a sense of urgency.
If you have done an excellent job explaining to the reader what you offer is and giving reasons why they should get your product or service, they will follow your instructions to buy your offer.
3 Direct Response Copywriting Lessons You Should Learn and Understand
You should have a full understanding of what makes your campaigns work, and what doesn’t. Because that knowledge is what makes the difference between success and failure for your business.
Here are three lessons you should learn and understand to acquire that knowledge:
Build a Core Desire
Core desires are those things you want more than anything else in the world. It could be meeting the woman of your dreams, become ultra-successful, or have a house in the Bahamas.
For direct marketers, presenting a core desire gives the reader a reason to stop what they’re doing and bring their attention to them. If you take this headline written by Vic Schwab, you quickly get the promise of fulfilling a want we all aspire – being successful.
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a headline that tells you exactly what you’ll get: the knowledge to help you make more friends and become an influencer.
Who doesn’t want to own those skills? Everyone does. Which is why everyone will stop and read. To find out how they can get that knowledge.
Look to build that core desire right from the get-go. How-to based and list headlines are the best way to do this. Because they tell the audience exactly what they’ll get from reading your information.
And regardless of whether it has niche or broad appeal, whoever has an interest in what you present will stop to find out how to get it. Bringing you one step closer to getting that sale.
The Power of Storytelling
Nothing captivates an audience more than a remarkable story. And that’s one key to creating powerful marketing campaigns.
Great copywriting tells stories that you and I can read and go “Yeah, that was me at XYZ time”. And you will keep reading to find out how the character you identify with solved their problem.
That’s one way to get the reader engaged. But you need another element to get them hooked. That other element is the journey.
You must make the reader care so much about the story, they want to read it from start to finish. Many times over. And to do so, you need to make the journey within the story as much as an emotional rollercoaster as possible.
That way, the readers can invest emotions into what they’re reading. And they won’t stop until they reach a satisfactory point. That’s how you get them hooked.
But now… how do you build a story that includes a character people empathize with and a journey the reader invests their emotions in? I have a simple four-step formula that can help you produce stories like that:
- Put some shine on your customer: don’t make them seem like they’re a bum. Bring out as many positive attributes about them as you can. Make them seem capable of succeeding – if they can only get that one obstacle out of their way.
- Bring the heat to the obstacle/problem: whatever is keeping your customers from reaching their goal – you must present it as the worst thing in the world. Bring up in which ways this problem is affecting your character’s life – their family, health, finances, and community.
The more “heat” you can put on the obstacle, the more hate (an extraordinarily strong emotion) your reader will feel for the problem. And the more chances you get to have the reader identify themselves with the character.
- Your character’s comeback: now it’s time for your character to overcome what’s been holding them back! They have gotten whatever skills or tools they need to achieve their goal, and now they’re executing. Again, bring as many details as possible when describing the solving of this problem.
- The finish: how’s life after your character overcame their obstacle? Describe how their family, their community, and the customers themselves have progressed after solving the problem.
Follow this simple structure and you will tell amazing stories that will keep people on the edge of their seat wanting to know what happens next.
And FYI… this is a construct my case studies for B2B clients.
Trust is something that takes a lifetime to gain and a nanosecond to lose. And today, with the ease of access some unethical people have to the rest of the world, it has become even harder than ever to gain people’s trust.
This is why it is so important for you to set up as much credibility as possible within your marketing campaigns.
Remember that you’re looking to get people to invest their resources into what you offer. Therefore, you must reassure them that it’d be wise to put their trust in you.
And by constantly proving your claims, you bring down that wall of skepticism that customers build when they look at advertising. If you can show (without a doubt) that you’re authentic, people will buy from you.
There are several ways to prove that your offer is for real:
- Use reliable and verifiable sources – specific names, numbers, and statistics
- Real-life testimonials display what you can do – keep them pure to support your integrity
Be honest. Be real. And prove what you claim.
That’s how you build credibility and gain the trust of your market.
3 Great Direct Response Copywriting Examples You Should Study
What makes direct response copywriting great? For you know and fully understand this science, you must study the best copywriting available. But where do you start?
Here are three notable examples of direct response copywriting for you to study:
“How Chinese Medicine Helps Burn Disease Out Your Body” by Gene Schwartz
Gene Schwartz wrote that letter to promote Stephen Chung M.D. and his health philosophy. Dr. Chung believed that you can heal yourself using just your body.
Schwartz first published in 1979 and was a control for two decades. According to Schwartz…
“Burn Disease Out of Your Body Laying Flat on Your Back, Using Nothing More Than the Palm of Your Hand” are not my words. They’re the author’s words. I wrote seven paragraphs of this letter. But I had the ability to let this man speak for himself. And he still speaks to millions of Americans. We are mailing more in January than we mailed for the first eight years of the mailing. And it goes against very, very strong, strong, strong wonderful copy.” – Gene Schwartz on “Burn Disease Out of Your Body Laying Flat on Your Back, Using Nothing More Than the Palm of Your Hand”
The letter is a splendid example of how to write benefit-oriented copy. The headline presents the benefits right away. And it lets the reader know they don’t have to do much to obtain those benefits.
The body of the letter then delivers on the promise of the headline. It takes you through the why’s and how’s a series of massages that can help you combat a series of body ailments. But instead of telling you, the letter makes sure to show you how these Chinese techniques can better your quality of life.
The CTA is quite simple – to order the book The Complete System of Self-Healing. But it includes an irresistible premium: A free report on how to lose weight by rubbing your belly! Who doesn’t want to lose weight that way? I do!
You can write a letter like that one by focusing on the big picture. Present a huge promise in the headline and show how the reader can make it happen in the body. Then make use of testimonials, credentials, and explanations to help the reader become comfortable with your exotic concept.
The Admiral Byrd Expedition Letter by Hank Burnett
This legendary letter, written by Hank Burnett, promotes a 26-day expedition through the world’s polar regions. The letter’s offer is a spot on the expedition for $10,000. They had 60 spots available, and that letter sold all them – bringing in $600,000 with minimum investment.
The lead paragraphs in the letter achieve two goals. The first goal is identifying the market (wealthy people who love adventures). The second goal is telling a delightful story.
From there, each paragraph adds an element of prestige to the event. The letter makes you feel like you’d be an American hero for taking part in the event.
And the CTA carries a sense of urgency while using an element of reverse psychology. It asks you to take your time in making the decision but reminds you that there are few spots available. So, if you want in, you must reserve your spot ASAP.
Read this letter to learn a lesson in exclusivity. And to discover how copywriters like Hank Burnett can turn a product or service into a larger-than-life event.
The Granada Letter by Thompson Cigars
This letter, published by Thompson Cigars, promoted the Granada brand of cigars. And this is a letter you need to check out.
Not only does the letter present a very exclusive offer with an enticing discount (pack of 100 for less than ($17). It also brings an element of entertainment – telling you an engaging story that feels like you’re talking to the author at a bar while enjoying your drink of choice.
You should read this letter to learn how to bring a personal tone to your marketing. It can help you write copy that is friendly and joyful, but confident and persuasive at the same time.
If you sell products that carry a sense of intimacy with them (like cigars), this letter is a must-read for you.
All of those letters are great examples of direct response copywriting. However, there is one advertising piece I believe everyone in the direct marketing industry should study. And that’s the ad that David Ogilvy wrote long ago to promote Rolls Royce.
The One Ad You Should Analyze and Get Ideas From
You may have already learned of David Ogilvy’s “At 60 Miles an Hour” ad for Rolls-Royce. It’s an automotive advertising classic. Have you taken a moment to find and study this masterpiece?
Here are three reasons why you should study the “At 60 Miles an Hour” ad by David Ogilvy:
Let Your Copywriter Do Their Research
Research is the first thing anyone writing copy should do before they even think of the first word to put on paper. How else would you understand what you are writing about? Or who are you writing to? Copywriters who tend to not do their research end up presenting generic, bland copy that carries no value to the reader.
Ogilvy, on the other hand, knew how to make the most out of the time he spent on research. Because all throughout the ad, he hits you with information you should know about the car you’re buying. And he wouldn’t have been able to find those gems of information without trying out the car and taking the time to understand what it was made of and how it helped the potential buyer.
Before even thinking about producing a copywriting concept, take the time to know your product and your market. Find out what your prospects are looking for – what they want, need, or love. Then, figure out the ways in which your product can deliver that satisfaction. And viola… you have the foundation for your copy set.
Implied Benefits and the Rolls Royce Headline
The most talked-about featured of this ad is the headline “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”. Mr. Ogilvy himself described it as the best headline he ever wrote.
And you can’t argue with that claim – as sales for Rolls-Royce went up a whopping 50% in 1958 – the year Rolls-Royce launched that campaign.
But what makes this headline so magical? The element of implied benefit it has.
By telling you about how quiet the car is (even at 60 MPH), Ogilvy is telling you about the quality of craftsmanship. About how much effort people put into delivering a car engine that smooth. An engine that should not give you any trouble soon.
The headline is not telling you those things. But by telling you how quiet it is, it’s suggesting the other things I mentioned. If your headline can do that, then you have a powerful one on your hands.
Using Jet Engines to Establish Rolls-Royce’s Credibility
With a headline that makes such a claim as “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”, you’re going to need some strong points to back it up. And that’s what Ogilvy does throughout the body copy of this ad.
The ad gives you 20 reasons why Rolls-Royce is the best car in the world. Now, you might think some of those reasons are subjective – and some are – but you can’t argue with facts like Every Rolls engine runs for seven hours at full throttle before installation.
Yet, to me, the piece that carries the most weight in terms of credibility is the small box with the title “Jet Engines and The Future.” It lets you in on the secret behind such a quiet car… they use the same engines as jets! You then understand what power and smoothness this machine has.
That makes me want to get behind the wheel of one of those babies right now!
3 Tips to Producing Emotional Direct Response Copywriting
You understand the power behind copywriting that pulls the heartstrings of the reader. It’s emotion – one of the principles of direct marketing.
Your goal is to connect emotionally with your audience. Then, everything you have learned so far about direct response copywriting works perfectly. But, how do you present copy that makes such a strong connection?
Drawing from my knowledge and experience as a direct response copywriter, I have produced three tips that will help you create emotional direct response copywriting for your offers:
Presenting Your Market’s Desire
What is that one thing your market expects to get when they accept your offer? Your prospects might need you to solve a problem affects their daily routine. They could want a product of yours to make a process they conduct easier or faster. Or perhaps your audience just loves the way you work.
Whatever it is that your market craves should be the nucleus of your marketing campaigns. Because once you present the market with that one thing they’re looking for, they will want to know why they should get from you, and how to buy it. And that’s how you’ll hook ‘em!
One mistake I noticed from some marketers is that they want to get factual right off the bat. And that only turns the readers off.
The information doesn’t sell an offer; it justifies the offer. You sell with emotion. How something or someone will make you feel after they do what you ask.
Just think about this: cake is the most sold item in the world. Can you sell a cake with facts? NO – nobody wants diabetes. You can’t just present nutritional facts and expect the people to buy a cake.
Instead, you mention (and show) how soft and fluffy your cake is. And how much of a delightful experience it’ll be to taste – that’s what gets people interested in buying a cake.
Don’t sell facts. Sell desires.
Positioning Your Offer as a Viable Option
Once you have the audience salivating over the possibility of getting something they need/want/love, then you present your offer as the product/service of choice for them. Now is the time when you justify the sale. Where you present why your product or service is above the average offer, and what the market gets when they agree to your terms.
This is when you appeal to the buyer’s logic. “By accepting my offer, you will like ABC because of XYZ.” That’s how you position your offer as a useful choice for the market. It makes the buyer understand what they get, why they should buy it from you, and how they will get what they’re after.
Just make sure to not go on an ego trip and make it all about yourself. Your marketing should always be customer-centered. Talk about what the market gets when they buy from you, instead of letting them know how impressive your product is.
Making It Easy for Your Market to Buy Your Offer
It’s time to present your offer to the reader – how simple are you making the buying process to the buyer? Are you guiding them straight to the transaction? Or are you making them jump through hoops to get the goods?
When the baby wants a toy, if you don’t want them to cry, you just give them the toy. It keeps them happy and you get the peace and quiet you like. That’s exactly how you should see the buying process – the quicker your reader can access the product/service, the quicker you get to close the deal. And everyone’s happy.
Keep everything as simple as it can be. Present order forms that ask for the information you need to fulfill the order. Have your online sales sequence to be two steps at most. And give to contracts that don’t take forever to read and understand.
The quicker you get the market to send out the order, the happier everyone will be.
Start Getting the Business of Your Market
Bring persuasive, emotionally driven direct response copywriting to your marketing campaigns. Present your market something they want to get or solve. Then position your offer as a practical choice for getting what the market desires. And finally, make the buying process as simple as possible.
Do you have a comment or question about direct response copywriting? Leave a comment explaining your side of things. And if you think this article could be useful to someone you know, feel free to share it with them!