Direct Response CopyWriting Techniques

First off what exactly is Direct Response marketing and why is it vital you learn direct response writing techniques?

Typically you’ll run into two basic styles of marketing. One is called by several different names but they amount to the same thing. I’m talking about Traditional or institutional or branding advertising or marketing. The main idea behind this type of writing or copywriting to create brand awareness or recognition. This is usually a long term (very long term) strategy where your company name or product becomes lodged in your prospect’s brain through repetition. Then when the day comes when they a product or service such as yours, you will be uppermost in their mind.

Direct Response marketing is designed to give you just that, a direct response.

Direct response writing techniques are more scientific than they are creative and as such often follow a formula. Now when I say a direct response I mean your sales letter, email, blog, postcard, etc. will be written so that it generates a direct response such as clicking a link, filling out a form, raising their hand, or calling your number.

There are several formulas direct response copywriters will use because they work.  Two of my favorites are I.E.E.O. (Interrupt, Engage, Educate and Offer) and A.I.D.A. (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action)

Let’s take a look at I.E.E.O.

Interrupt- interrupt or interruption is key and that is why it is the first step. If you don’t interrupt whatever it is they are doing or thinking about you’ll never get them engaged long enough for you to educate them and them make an offer.

brain interrupted by copywriting
Gears in prospect’s head interrupted by direct response copywriting

The interruption process is designed to make the brain wake up to your message. Think of your prospect’s brain as having two main modes of operation. One is an Alpha state and the other is a Beta state. Most of the time they will be going about their day in an Alpha state, there but not really paying attention. This is normal because there is just too much stimuli vying for your attention.

Imagine your prospect is driving along the highway. They’ll be a somewhat relaxed state as they just flow with the traffic. They are in an Alpha state. Suddenly they hear a siren behind them, they look in the rear view mirror and see a firetruck racing up from behind. Now their brain is hungrily eating up all the readily available sensory data. They are in Beta mode. They are alert and paying attention. That is what you want your direct response copywriting to do, get them into Beta mode.

You’ll find that Interrupts will fall into three main categories. FUP

Your mind programmed programmed to look for or notice things that are Familiar, Unusual or Problematic

Familiar – you will recognize faces, names, animals, etc. that you are already familiar to you. Advertisers will use celebrities because their target market will likely recognize them and it draws them in. Other companies will use cute or supposedly cute animals in their marketing because most people like animals.

Unusual – you will also have the tendency to notice something that is extremely unusual. For example a talking animal, of a vehicle climbing up the side of a building.

Problematic – this by far one of the most effective categories for Interrupts. Why, because everyone has problems. And those problems are often top of mind. Here are a few examples of headlines that focus on a problem,


2. “7 Fast Ways To Stop A Headache…Without Drugs”

3. “Stops Diarrhea in 30 Minutes”

The next component of the Direct Response copywriting formula is Engage.

Before we discuss the engaging component it’s vital that we discuss mechanism that determines if the reader will bother to read any further. It’s a part of your brain that determines what you focus on. It’s called your Recticular Activating System. Think of this as a tiny filter that selects what you’ll pay attention to and what you’ll ignore. The primary driving force for your Recticular Activating system is self-interest. In marketing we refer to this as WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

When you use an Interrupt or Attention getting statement or trigger, your brain will immediately try to determine if it is important to you and whether or not to pay attention to it. The example I like to use is, “A commercial comes on showing three pretty young women running down the beach frolicking in their bikinis. I admit it, I’m a guy and they have my attention. Then the announcer starts talking about gum. My brain goes, huh? It can’t make the connection between pretty girls, bikinis and gum.” So if fails to Engage. And I stop paying attention. And when the commercial comes on again it is immediately ignored.

The Engage component connects the headline to the body text to keep the direct response mechanism in play.

Here’s an example of strong interrupt and engaging combination I used at seminar where I was one of the presenters.

Interrupt – I have a 4 step process that is guaranteed to give you better results in your business, finances, health or relationships.

Engage – Who would like to know what it is?

Result – More than 90% of the hands in the room went up.

The third step in the Direct Response copywriting formula is Educate.

Once you’ve got your prospect’s attention and have engaged their WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) you now need to educate them on why they need your solution. You can do this by pointing out just how bad their problem is now or how much worse it could get.

You could tell a short story of someone going through something similar and the stress and costs they struggled with until they found your solution. You could share statistics of others in the same situation as the reader.

Here you’ll include social proof that your solution has worked for people like your prospect. Tell them how they will benefit from using your services or products.

The fourth step in this Direct Response copywriting process is Offer.

In direct response marketing there always has to be an offer or a call to action. Why, because if you haven’t given them an offer or asked them to do something, how can you have a direct response?

If you don’t ask people to do something the odds are extremely high that they will do nothing.

Try this exercise; go through some of your marketing pieces and underline where you gave your reader a direct call to action. What you are likely to find is at best a hint rather than a clear and concise instruction.

If you want feedback or an evaluation of your marketing piece contact me. I would gladly evaluate it for you.


 5 Rules on How to Use Direct Response Copywriting to Target Your Customer

1. Aim your Headlines and Opening Phrases directly at the individual person you are trying to sell to.

2. Never try to be clever, cutsy, humorous or abstract. You only waste your time, energy and marketing money.

3. Always explain what the real benefits and advantages your product or services give your customer. Never lose sight that your customer is only interested in What’s In It For Me.

4. Use long, interesting and relevant copy. Use as many headline words as necessary to grab their attention. Include as much copy as needed to get your message across. The only thing your copy can’t be is boring.

5. Get into the mind of your customer. What would them most want from your product or service. Once you’ve identified that you’ll be able to accurately target your customer and their needs.



One Reply to “Direct Response CopyWriting Techniques”

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