Imagine trying to sell a product through pictures alone.
Snazzy billboard adverts. Flashy TV adverts. Creative attention grabbing magazine adverts.
Big on ‘big ideas’. Short on copy.
Do they sell?
Who cares?! They win awards for the creative agencies.
But a certain type of copywriter does care. They care about your bottom line as a client. They care about the prospect, because they will put together a good case for why the prospect should buy. They will run split tests. They will even suggest weaknesses in the product offer so they can be improved.
What kind of copywriter sweats bullets and bleeds onto a blank canvas, cares little about awards, and avoid the word ‘creative’?
With my one hundred year background experience gleaned by studying the history of direct response advertising (mail order, direct mail, and print advertising)…my position on ‘creative’ advertising is this:
Combining an accurate well researched copy platform with the right mix of campaign execution, is far different from being ‘creative’.
This is vitally important to me as a direct marketer and copywriter.
‘Creative’ agencies often miss the potency and necessity of tying the product with the markets state of awareness (needs/wants) and their level of sophistication (how defined the offer is, how many times the prospect has been exposed to it, or similar offers from competitors).
You might be interested to know that David Ogilvy quoted Rosser Reeves as saying “creativity is the most dangerous word in advertising”. Why? Because it is equally important for innovative marketing success as it is a cause for possible marketing failure.
Advertising and marketing must suitably match the buying process of the target market.
It is from that direct response copywriting perspective that allowed me the 610% response increase (1900% ROI) at an Ad Agency – after which the Marketing Director had me prepare copywriting training for her staff.
Response is totally DESTROYED when an advert starts off with Our company, blah blah, was established in 1890, when the railroads were built, by our grandfather. As a family owned business for 75 years we have got the experience to blah blah.
My notes from Eugene Schwartz’ presentation to Rodale Publishing…
I have about an 85% hit ratio.
Working with a client
“I’m going to sit and I’m going to listen and you’re going to talk… He talked about four hours… And I just sat there… taking notes.
I wrote the ad (that night). I couldn’t give it to him that same night because he would thin it was worth nothing. So I put it away for two weeks, and seent it to him.
It was his thing. It was his idea. It was his conception. It was his vision. All I did was write it out.
After 33.33 minutes, the alarm goes and you stop. You don’t do anything from that moment on, for 5 minutes.
If you are in the middle of a sentence you really leave that sentence go. If you lose it, you list it. That’s too bad. You are under the command of something higher than you.
Simple, dramatic, move-gut copy.
I do ugly layouts. Why? Because in a beautiful world, ugly stands out.
I read the book. Four times. I underline so intensely that I get 40 or 50 pages of notes out of those readings.
Find your readers hidden desires. They are hidden, because your reader doesn’t want to really talk about them, but they are in the subculture, hidden culture, under-culture of our civiliisation. That’s why you’ve got to read the things that people buy. Anything that people buy. Vanity Fair. You’ve got to read Vanity Fair, People Magazine, The Weekly World News… because it shows the extend of people’s ability to believe.
You have no client but the audience.
Creation vs Connecting
Creation is a lousy word. It’s a lousy word that confuses what you really do to perform a simple little procedure. Creation means create something out of nothing… only God can do that
Let’s talk about connectivity – connecting things together. New means never joined before.
The creativity is in your market and in your product, and all you are doing is joining the two together.
One hour a day, read. Read everything in the world except your business. Read junk. Very much junk. Read so that anything that interests you will stick in your memory. … Get all the very low stuff. Low culture makes big money. There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use.
Everybody you’re out there writing to is a good soul. They really want to be nice, honest and successful. They want to be happy.
Listen. And every time they say something, you nod. And memorize specific statements, so you can feed them back to them in the same conversation. In that way, the person goes into a talking frenzy…. People become hypnotized by their own stories.
He may logically know he can’t do that, but he would love to do it… People want to believe.
You are presenting a showcase for your product. … You want the person to be able to look through the copy like the person is able to look through the glass in athe showcase and see the prodcut inside.
Let’s talk about ‘finding’ the headline. (not creating!) The headline depends strictly on how long it gets you to stop the person and get them going… a headline doesn’t sell. It has nothing to do with selling… You must prepare. You’ve got a whole mailing piece to sell. The more tie you have, the more you can sell.
Adjectives are where you carry your emotion. Adjectives are gut words. Description words. Feelings words. Very important words.
You are not writing to a private person. You are not writing to a bunch of people. You are writing to a number of people who share a private want. Remebmer that… And you are addressing them as if they were the only person in the world.
You grab their attention. You send them into the mechanism. The first reward; pain-proof. Now that you’ve got proof, you’ve got to demonstrate. Demonstration is a form of proof… Demonstrations are sending the products to the person.
It can be very hard if you work at it too hard. It can be very easy if you flow along with it. You can’t create demand for anything because demand is too large for you to create. The demand has to exist before you even walk into the picture… If the demand isn’t there, no matter how great a copywriter you are, you are going to fail. You cannot create demand. You can only channel demand.
I’ve been doing copy now for 35 years. I’ve sold millions and millions and millions of things. What does my experience allow me to say about the power of an ad? … Absolutely nothing!
You must remember that. You don’t know anything about how an ad is going to pull. The only way you can tell is to get a test cell.
Copywriters should be completely conversant with statistics and returns.
I don’t believe in focus groups or anything else. Only the test can decide.
Copywriters are crazy. And you want them crazy. They go for the big kill.
He should have seen how POWERFUL words can be in the 21st Century of high-octane commercialism, business capitalism and impulse buy advertising.
If your marketing words don’t sell, you don’t make money.
You know it. I know it.
And yet words are one of the most obvious areas of neglect at many businesses, large and small.
Obvious that is to a copywriter, and many savvy marketers, but often not so obvious to Directors.
Company Directors and rushed managers make the mistake of thinking that:
“words are simple. Words are common. Anyone can write the ‘blurb’ for the new product. Give it to the propeller head in the corner who did the programming for the new software, or let the marketing manager write the copy. Isn’t that what we pay him for?”
Copywriting is one of the highest paid professions in the world for a very decisive reason.
Here it is:
It’s darn difficult… takes a great deal lot of time to do right… and is a lot like running a government… everyone thinks they could do it but not many really can.
But for business management we have courses… degrees… even MBAs.
What do we have for Copywriting?
Underground courses developed themselves by nose-to-the-grind-stone copywriting legends such as Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, Gene Schwartz…
…plus the painstakingly researched and guarded collections of histories adverts to learn from – and a great deal of trial and error.
If you want to see a huge change in your marketing campaign ROI, put a direct response copywriter to the test. Not a branding copywriter for crying out loud. I said a direct response copywriter!
Get my white paper on how to hire a copywriter and you’ll instantly know more about finding and managing people who can deliver winning copy than most marketing managers and company Directors ever will. And it’s FREE.
Well, one of the things I wanted to ask you, Mr. Burnett â€“ touching on what youâ€™ve said â€“ did you find writing ad copy more difficult than writing newspaper copy?
Much more difficult, yes, because it has to be so much more compact and yet it has to deliver the facts, too. I learned a lot from newspapers as to how to communicate and how to put color and interest into advertising copy. But finding the magic things to say about a product that would interest people and evoke their interest and lead them by the hand to the conclusion that they should buy something â€“ that was another art, really.
If a 510% increase in conversion rate would be welcome in your business, this page should be of utmost important to you.
In July 2007 (a month before the credit crunch hit the UK), I beat an ad agency’s marketing campaign for their key financial client account by a whopping 510%!
In a head-to-head split test, their promotion (with excellent design and compelling pictures that are typical of ad agencies) pulled in a respectable 10 new business leads… yet my plain-looking long copy advert (with only 1 picture) pulled in 61 leads.
I bought Jim Stone’s Split Test Accelerator back in late 2005.
Most likely one of the most important investments in my own marketing self-education I could have made…
Because conducting multivariate true taguchi split tests on landing pages and sales pages gives you a genuine experience of the optimisation process that no academic text book or random trial and error marketing promotions can ever give you.