What’s more powerful than really great direct response copy?

Is this a trick question?

After all, I make a significant portion of my income from writing direct response copy for clients.

And I know many of my readers make some or all of their income as copywriters — or wish to.

My answer to the trick question bit…

No — this is not a trick question.

And in fact whether you’re a copywriter or are in a copy-driven business, this is absolutely critical for you to remember.

Copywriting is only a FRACTION of what generates response…

In fact, most of the success (or failure!) of a marketing campaign is determined before a word of copy is written.

Let me give you a relevant example, from my current work.

I’m working on a project right now that involves selling a subscription to an investment recommendation service.

The offer — if you’re talking about the basic service details and the price — is fixed.

In fact, it’s pretty much the same offer for a product of its type, across an entire industry.

And you might think, in a situation like this, that copy is the only lever I can pull to determine the success or failure on this project.

Not so.

I’ll explain…

Before I even started considering copy, I created a new OFFER…

Now here’s what’s fixed…

I can’t change the price — although the client might occasionally test pricing.

I can’t change the core deliverable — the service itself is well-defined and unlikely to change much.

But there’s something important I can change…

(And if you write for investment newsletters, this may feel a little obvious.  But take a second to really soak in this new perspective.)

I can change the immediate deliverable when someone responds.

I can work with the client to create a brand new report, with new or updated investment recommendations that fits their service.

I have to be careful here not to reveal too many details.

But the basic premise is this — and this applies on nearly all of my projects…

I had a call with the editor of the publication.  I’d reviewed his publication, as well as the big news in his industry.  I started asking questions.  I’d looked at one area of interest of his.  And I probed there.

I pressed him to tell me if there was anything NEW he could focus on there, that we could turn into a special report for his readers…  And for my promotion.

We worked together to develop an idea.  Something that would work within his investment strategy for the service.  But also something that was appealing to me to feature in copy.

And as soon as he decided on the investment recommendation…

I could create an entirely new story around that.

And my offer essentially becomes the report that comes from that, as the first deliverable of a subscription.

Most of the copy itself is about this brand new offer I created.

Even though, in the end, we’re selling a subscription that looks a lot like every other subscription.

Ever heard of the 40/40/20 rule?

I’ve written about it before and will likely write about it again…

It’s an old truism from direct marketing that your list or audience accounts for 40% of the success of a promotion…  The offer accounts for another 40%…  And creative only accounts for 20%.

You can have the best copy in the world, but if you send it to the wrong audience, it will fail.

If you have a miserable offer, even the best copy to the best list won’t fly.

It’s only when your offer and audience are a perfect match that copy becomes a massively-important factor.

But as a copywriter — assuming you have clients who will “play ball” — you can exert influence beyond the 20%.

First and foremost, you can use the above as an inspiration to redefine your offers.

That’s the biggest leverage point I find in nearly every client project.

When I charged $2,000 to $5,000 per project, I let clients tell me the offer I had to write about.

I became a $10,000 to $20,000 per project copywriter by learning how to massage the offer to allow me to write better copy.

My copy didn’t improve by 10X in that time.  But I did get much better at offers.

You could also get better at audiences.  In some cases, you’re selling to your client’s current customer base.  If that’s the case, you can’t do much about that.  But if you get good at online traffic and media buying, you have an entirely new skill set that will influence response and can lead to massive breakthroughs.  Some of the best copywriters I know (especially outside of health/wealth) don’t even bill themselves as copywriters — they sell their traffic services and use copy to convert the traffic into buyers.

How can you use this?

Start by trying.  Start by coming up with 10 or 20 questions relevant to the offer for your market or niche.

For example:

— Can we break a big price into payments?

— Can we create package deals?

— Can we charge a subscription instead of a flat fee?

— Can we offer a basic and deluxe version?

— Can we add premiums and freebies?

— Can we break out a small portion of a big product to have a low-priced entry-level product?

— Can we offer stacked or sequential offers?

— Do we have a down-sell?

— Do we have an up-sell?

— Can we charge less?

— Can we charge more?

… etc.

I once created a massive breakthrough for a client by basically telling him that his product was seriously under-priced.  He instantly increased his price by about 25%, doubled his profits-per-unit, and added $500,000 to his bottom line.  He’s since focused on much higher-end products, and seen a huge benefit to his benefit.

Don’t be afraid to ASK.  And to make recommendations, if you think of a good idea.

The worst thing that happens is they say, “No, we’re not going to do that.”  Or even, “We thought that was a good idea so we tested it, but it didn’t work.”

The best thing that happens?

You create a massive breakthrough — even before you write a word of copy…

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr