Creative Tricks of the Trade — Copy
Contrary to popular belief, direct response creative professionals—copywriters, designers and art directors—are neither magicians nor miracle workers.
The good ones are creative strategists, who take the information they are given, then choose which tricks of the trade to apply (or not apply) to generate maximum response.
The choices your writer and art director make and the reasons they have for making these choices play a major role in the success of communicating your direct response message, whether it goes out by mail, on the Internet, or in a space ad.
What are some of these tricks of the trade? Here are a few I've learned during my 25 years as, first, an in-house copywriter and, now, a freelancer.
The Alice Wiens Approach to Writing COPY
No, Alice Wiens is not a famous direct response copywriter. Alice was my neighbor while I was growing up. Here's the trick I learned from her—albeit indirectly—about writing effective direct response copy:
Write your copy as though you were talking to a specific individual you know who fits the description of your targeted audience. Do not write to a mass of nameless, faceless "customers" or "prospects."
I learned this trick when I was applying for my first job with Current Stationery in Colorado Springs. I had been given a copy assignment as part of the interviewing process and was staring at my typewriter (in the midst of multiple rewrites) when my sister—also a direct response writer—shared this sage advice.
She said, "Always write your copy to someone you know … in this case, write like you're talking to Alice Wiens."
My sister had read the first draft of my sales letter and she said it sounded too general. It didn't "talk" to the woman I was trying to influence to buy Current products.
What I did to correct this (and land my first catalog writing job!) was to zero in on someone I knew who fit the customer profile of my targeted audience, then write copy as though I were talking to this individual. Alice Wiens fit the description perfectly.