2 Ways to Craft Successful Sales Copy: Which is Right for You?


As a direct response copywriter, my job is to persuade people to buy a product or use a service.

More specifically, I want the reader to provide their email, buy something on the spot, pick up the phone, or contact the company. Fortunately, there’s more than just one way to do that.

On occasion, direct copy gets straight to the point and instantly details the offer. Something like…

SAVE 50% TODAY on the famous Acme Halitosis Cure!

But in many cases, there’s a more indirect way to get the sale. It gets attention (often better than an over-hyped headline), builds relationship, and drives sales.

What is it? Keep reading to find out.

First, let’s review the direct approach

Direct response copy was aptly named. It makes good use of the direct approach. Let’s look at a few examples.

This one provides ultra-direct copy.

direct copy

Smaller classified ads tend to use this approach as well. Here’s a typical classified ad you would have seen about 15 years ago.

old ad using direct response techniques

Here’s another beauty from back in the day.

old-style direct response ad

But dig deeper into classified ads and you’ll start to discover something interesting: Numerous classified ads DO NOT sell directly.

Free information is often the hook

Let me give you an example.

indirect ad offering free information

The ad doesn’t ask for a direct sale. It promises free information.

Many marketers provide information as a way to get someone to respond to the ad. Here’s the theory…

  • Use information to grab your attention.
  • Let the information stir a buying emotion.
  • Relate the product or service to the emotion.
  • Provide logical reasons to get the product.

Now let’s review some indirect sales copy

When he was launching his advertising agency, David Ogilvy ran these full-page ads in major newspapers.

David Ogilvy advertorial

It’s dense copy providing a TON of information. But look closely at the final paragraphs. Here they are, enlarged for easier reading:

Advertorial CTA

The message? If you want the “really good stuff” then you can become a client.

Here’s another direct response advertisement written by legendary copywriter Gary Bencivenga.

indirect ad

Again, the ad leads with valuable information.

If you take a close look at classic long-form direct sales copy, you’ll discover that direct response copywriters LOVE to provide a ton of information before getting into the sales pitch.

You’ll find this tactic in financial copy, health copy, and in copy that’s trying to sell information.

Here’s an example from the portfolio of direct response copywriter Clayton Makepeace.

information lead in direct response

Ultimately, the goal is to persuade you to buy a subscription to a newsletter. But the pitch starts with some potentially powerful information.

Here’s a sales page from the golf world. Again, it starts by providing information that’s valuable to a golfer—without asking for anything right away.

informational direct response

And the information promise continues below the fold…

info 10

So I’m sure you get the picture. Provide information as a way to:

  • Get a potential customer’s attention
  • Build a relationship over time (especially important in B2B marketing)
  • Lead to a direct sale
  • Test against a more direct pitch

Not to be confused with content marketing

The phrase “content marketing” is fashionable these days and it’s easy to confuse content marketing with direct marketing.

Content marketing simply provides information to an audience of potential buyers. And that’s it.

However, direct marketing uses information to lead directly to a call to action which leads to a sale.

Want to see if information will help you sell? Take these steps.

  1. Create your information around the problems you solve and the benefits you provide. Pleasant stories about pleasant subjects might entertain your customers but they’re more interested in the answer to the question, What’s in it for me?
  2. Provide your potential clients and customers with an opportunity to get vital information… but only in return for some data… like first name and email address.
  3. Information can come in many different forms. Newsletters… directly in an ad… an advertorial… video… podcast….
  4. A good place to start with the information is a solution to a pressing problem.
  5. You can be topical… especially in certain niches like financial marketing.
  6. MOST IMPORTANT… make sure the information ultimately leads to a call to action where you give the reader the opportunity to buy the product or service.

Next time you’re considering buying a product or service from a company, review their sales copy to see whether they provide you with information. And note how they provide this information.

There will always be a thirst for information. Provide your potential clients or customers with valuable information and you can increase your revenue.

Don’t miss other Crazy Egg articles by Scott Martin.

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