Book review: Use direct response copywriting to start selling more stuff, now.

Use direct response copywriting

Having just read a book on how to improve your persuasive copywriting skills, I’m now supposed to write an entertaining, informative review that will have all you Marketing Society members clicking through to read it. No pressure then?

Luckily for me, Glenn’s book, which sets out to help every reader sell more stuff, is not only an easy read but is full of tips and techniques.

He himself uses these tips and techniques throughout the book. For example, one of his four U’s of writing a good headline is for it to be ‘Ultra-specific’, an approach that will help your headline seem more authentic and indeed, another of the U’s, ‘Unique’. Glenn’s application here is that the book is based not on copywriting per se, but in harnessing the power of direct response copywriting specifically.

And just for completeness, the other two U’s are ‘Urgency’ and ‘Useful’.

Glenn defines direct response copy as, “presenting an idea to a person and persuading them to take direct action at the end” and he uses the long copy form to set up its best practice principles. With perhaps a deliberate nod to the 4Ps of the marketing mix, we are introduced to the 4Ps of good copywriting structure – Promise, Picture, Proof and Push. Glenn notes this isn’t fool proof but, as it’s based on analysis of hundreds of successful pieces, it’s a pretty good place to start.

Starting with a big promise seems very obvious but the suggested use of a secondary promise in the sub-head and indeed one that makes a smaller promise is an interesting approach. It often makes the first promise more believable and Glenn provides examples to prove the point. Picture is about engaging your respondent and one of the most obvious ways of doing that is ‘painting a picture’ with your copy. When it comes to proof I think the most powerful advice is in the sub-head for that section – “Proof: Make sure you’re not just blowing smoke”. Finally Push which could possibly be renamed Nod because, as Glenn describes it, it is all about getting people to agree with what you’re writing and unconsciously start nodding their head. However, ‘Nod’ of course doesn’t begin with P and would mess up the simplicity of 4Ps.

Simplicity is another area which the book covers and points out something I know I’m guilty of doing. People like to write ‘clever’ copy which they think shows they are smart and so will engage their readers. In direct response copy however Glenn says it pays to keep it clear and concise, “If in doubt cut it out”.

And if you haven’t heard of, or used the Flesch–Kincaid readability test, I suggest you either read Glenn’s book, which explains it and its benefits, or look it up elsewhere. It’s a simple and useful tool to assess your writing and encourage simplicity; a version is even included in Microsoft Word.

As ever I have made a ‘promise’ and written too long a ‘picture’, so I better move onto the ‘proof’ and the ‘push’.

So why should you believe in Glenn’s thoughts?

Well as his CV shows he seems to know what he’s doing. He is the founder of where for over a decade he worked with The Agora, a multi-million pound international financial publisher and helped launch and grow Agora Financial in the UK. In 2018 he left to write copy on a freelance basis and focus on coaching aspiring copywriters. More telling is the little bits of his life he uses throughout the book which makes it abundantly clear that he is doing rather well out if it.

And as author and one-time marketer Andy Maslen puts it in his review “Glenn Fisher knows an incredibly valuable secret. How to write to complete strangers and get them to part with their hard-earned cash. Now he seems to have taken leave of his senses and published his secret in this book.”

So, as Glenn would probably like me to do, I’ll finish with a ‘Push’; one on his behalf. If you want to learn some of the secrets of direct response copywriting and sell more stuff, click through to Amazon right now.

By Giles Lury, Director, The Value Engineers


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