The Formula for Direct Response Copywriting Success
I want to tell you about a phone call I got a few weeks ago.
It was from a prospective client who was interested in having me write a lead-generation letter for him. He told me that he had heard good things about the response rates I get for my clients and hoped that I could bring a lot of creativity to his project.
His comment, which of course was very kind and well meant, showed that he was looking for the wrong quality in a direct response copywriter.
You see, he shouldn't have been searching for a "creative" writer. He should have been looking for someone who knows the winning "formulas."
Does this sound like I'm splitting hairs? I sure hope not. Because the distinction between copywriters who are "creative" and those who use tried-and-true techniques is a crucial one that you should be aware of.
If you're developing a so-called "image" ad that's building awareness or brand image, soaring creativity is much to be prized. The freshness, the imagination and sheer verve of a creative copywriter are valuable indeed.
But if you're trying to generate immediate response, if you want to gather leads, if you want to make sales, you had better get a writer who knows what works!
The simple fact is, a seasoned direct response copywriter knows from past experience and rigorous testing exactly which writing techniques are effective for a given target audience and offer.
Let me give you a concrete example.
Let's assume that you're trying to sell a new low-end software solution to accountants. A so-called "creative approach" might lead you to envelope teaser copy that sounds something like this: "Opening the door to a world of possibilities"
You know the kind of headline I mean. One that's puffy, pompous and self-impressed.
A direct response writer would know that if you want to get the envelope opened, you need a benefit-oriented, battle-tested headline that gets right to the point:
"Announcing new LevisonAccountSoft for just $199!"
The writer would then add another line that would encourage immediate action:
"Announcing new LevisonAccountSoft for just $199! Order by February 15 and get a $50 rebate!"
And how about setting up the headline-cluster with a "flag" line that signals relevance to the prospect?
"Attention Accountants! Announcing new LevisonAccountSoft for just $199! Order by February 15 and get a $50 rebate!"
And while we're at it let's use a "details inside" kicker underneath:
"Attention Accountants! Announcing new LevisonAccountSoft for just $199! Order by February 15 and get a $50 rebate! (Details inside)"
The bottom line? There are tried-and-true ways to improve response rates ... and your copywriter should have them at his or her fingertips. Knowing what works trumps "art for art's sake" creativity any day.
Direct response formulas that have proven themselves over the years are not to be scorned. They are to be mastered and used!
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mail letters and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for software marketers, visit his Web site at http://www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at email@example.com.