More Than a One-Trick Pony …

Even when you have all the raw ingredients necessary for success, there’s still one more thing you’ll need to have a long career as a copywriter.

This fourth step on your roadmap to success is critical, because it can determine whether you prosper or perish.

You’ve got to be flexible and evolve with the times.

Or as Clayton Makepeace, the six-figure copywriter we've been talking to this week puts it, you’ve got to “adapt or die.”

Let me explain …

When Clayton wrote his first direct-mail promotion, Nixon was in the White House, “The Godfather” was shattering box-office records, and Elvis was alive and kicking. In those days, the “norm” in direct-mail was to send promotions in a #10 envelope – the most you could stuff in there was eight pages of copy.

But then, innovators started testing larger envelopes. They figured the larger size would get noticed and create enough curiosity to get opened. The rest of the direct-mail industry thought they were crazy to deviate from the “norm.” But their big-envelope theory was right. It soon became an accepted, even fairly standard practice in the industry.

A few years later, another group decided to test no envelope at all … and instead make the promotion look like a magazine. Again, the industry thought these guys were crazy.

Yet again, it turned out to be a huge breakthrough …

All those marketers and copywriters who weren’t flexible enough to notice the trend when it was emerging, had to play “catch up.”

Fortunately for Clayton, he’s always stayed current on the latest technology and trends. And, it’s a quality that saved his hide just a few years ago …

He noticed his direct-mail packages weren’t doing as well as they used to.

No matter what he tried, response rates were dwindling and his royalties were vanishing (normally, he could expect each financial newsletter he promoted to hand him nearly $1 million in royalties for the year … but with the Internet playing a more dominant role in the marketplace, the best he could hope for was $100,000 – the equivalent of a 90% pay cut!).

That’s why when information publishers began making inroads with Internet marketing, he watched them like a hawk.

Says Clayton, “I went to school on every technique I could find that seemed to be generating new leads and new customers for publishers on the Web.”

And every month for the last few years, he’s been creating fewer and fewer direct mail promotions … and more and more promotions for the web. In fact, these days he writes online video sales letters almost exclusively(the latest evolution in direct-response formats for the web).

They’re those “talking” promotions with words on the screen and a narrator you’ve surely seen around the web. Clayton switched to them after seeing how well they did for one of his client’s biggest competitor. And when he finally stayed on top of the trend and tried his hand at writing a video sales letter, his client’s results quadrupled right out of the gate!

Moral of the story:

Having a solid grasp of direct-marketing fundamentals and persuasion is critical. But just as important to your long-term success, is being flexible enough to stay current with trends and industry changes.

Who knows? It may just save your professional life, as it did for Clayton!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: February 28, 2013

1 Response to “More Than a One-Trick Pony...”

  1. Guillermo, while I'm not so sure direct response snail mail has given up the ghost just yet (as one who follows Dan Kennedy), your point is well taken. Keeping up with the changing times is essential. Being on top of these new trends (assuming ROI justifies them) gives you the advantage of providing a deeper benefit to your clients as a trusted adviser.

    Alan SteacyFebruary 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm


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