Why Direct Response Copywriting is the gold standard

how direct response copywriting is the gold standard for business writing If you are fully aware of Direct response you will know that it’s foundations are just as true today in the web obsessed world as they were back in the day when print and mail ruled the roost.

It’s surprising to me how many people think that since the internet has come along that all that ‘old stuff’ is dead.

That’s a pack of lies I’m afraid.

Not true, not a bit of it. In fact, in order to successfully sell pretty much anything online you need a thorough knowledge of the workings of direct response.

You could not unreasonably call it ‘Best Practice’ methodology.

Let me give you an example:

When the ‘big boys’ (Philips Publishing, Rodale etc) were doing direct mail they would send out millions of pieces of mail.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that sending out poor advertising on that scale is a very quick way to go bust.

But they didn’t go bust, in fact they thrived.

They developed a system of ‘knowing’ with a surprising regularity how well a piece would do.

How did they do this?

Well the short answer is testing.

The longer answer is that they used the fierce competition between top copywriters.

What they would do is: Hire TWO copywriters to write about the SAME product. These two copywriters would work alone and produce their own version of the mail package.

Remember, these copywriters would be paid a fee, PLUS a commission per piece mailed so if they wanted to be paid handsome royalties they had to do well.

Then the company would test the two letters, they would send one to 10,000 prospects and the other to 10,000 different prospects.

Then they would wait and count the numbers when the returns came in.

The promotion with the largest number of final orders would win, but there is another metric that we haven’t covered.

It’s called ‘The Control’ and it can teach us something very valuable we can use even today.

In Direct Response Copywriting “The control” refers to the single mail piece that is top of the pile, it has outsold everything else by a long shot.

So, It’s a letter that is most importantly; reliable.

It’s the one piece that you can use like a science experiment to measure everything else against.

Sooner or later, a new piece will ‘beat’ the control and will in it’s turn become the new control.

Then the copywriter who wrote that piece can go skipping to the bank.

If we swing back to our two competing copywriters I mentioned above, they are not only trying to beat the other copywriter on this job they’re also trying to beat the control.

Because if they win, their piece could be mailed out to millions of addresses and they would receive the per piece commission.

You may be amazed to learn that we can do exactly the same thing today.



Sales pages.

VSL’s (Video Sales Letters).

All can be created and tested in this light, the very great advantage of the internet however is that the results come in FAST!

Though, unless you are a very large company you probably don’t want to go hiring TWO copywriters. The principle works the same, you already have your ‘control’ your new copywriter should try to beat that for you.

Sometimes it’s possible for a copywriter to negotiate a ‘commission per sale’ for their work, or even a ‘commission per impression’ the thinking is that they then have a vested interest in the piece working well because they will get paid more.

That might be worth thinking about.

Anyway, if you are a large company and want to hire two copywriters to produce a piece I’m game.

Send me a message and we can begin to explore how I might be able to work some magic for your business.