How I Write Direct Response Copy

Many of my clients like to know exactly how I’ll approach their project.

Here is my process:

I gather as much information as I can about the product or service.

This includes the technical specs of the product, background information about the industry or niche, the prospect and market at large, clinical studies, articles, interviews, videos, testimonials and reviews.

I might ask to get on the phone with the people behind the product, and I’ll definitely need access to previous promotions that have both succeeded and failed.

I will also need to know price points, the offer, and any guarantees you want to make.

I will read the book; try the product or service; go through the program; or read the newsletter. Whatever your product or service is, you can rest assured I will use it and become as familiar with it as you are.

I put my research into Scrivener.

Scrivener is a Word-on-steroids program that helps me organize all of my research, ideas, video / audio clips, and interviews. It lets me see everything all at once, all in one place.

I brainstorm. A lot. 

This process usually involves an empty room with a whiteboard and my computer.

I write 100 headlines.

Master copywriter Marcella Allison introduced me to this concept—the process of writing 100 headlines, no matter how terrible they are, helps me discover every possible Big Idea, angle, and direction that a promotion could take.

I send 3 headlines to review.

I have found that 3 headlines is plenty to think about … and you’ll often know exactly which one will suit your prospect best.

I revise the headline if necessary and write the lead.

The final version will go back to the client for approval and revision if necessary.

I write the rest of the copy … the body, the offer and guarantee, the push, and the P.S.

I usually go through at least three drafts before I print out the entire promotion and go through it with a fine-toothed comb.

First look

The draft the client receives is not a “first draft” … it’s just the first time you’ve seen it, which is why I call it “first looks.” (The first draft happened a long time ago!)

More often than not, this draft is what I consider final copy. I may have a few questions that can make it stronger at this point.

Now, I’m ready to hear what you think could be stronger.

Peer Review

A peer review is not a “beat the copywriter up” session. It is an objective, procedural session that follows the rules that Mark Morgan Ford and Mike Palmer describe in the book Copy Logic – or, online here.

Suggested revisions from the client

If there are only a few minor things to be strengthened, the client may find it’s easiest to make the notes and send them back to me for revision.

Minor revisions are made immediately; more time-consuming revisions will be done within 48 hours.

Submit final copy and celebrate!