Copywriting Masters (Of today) Share Their Direct Response Wisdom

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You’re at your desk. It’s scorching hot out. You’re sweaty. And not just from the heat – but because you have a deadline that’s creeping closer by the second.

Looking at the clock is not slowing it down. It’s pushing it forward.

You’re panicking. And thirsty.

You hold your hand up in desperation, pleading with the gods of copy.

Warriors of the word. Help me! – You say as, suddenly, swooshing sounds start filling the room and then…

A portal opens to the year 1957. Dean Martin is playing in the background. You smell tobacco and whiskey.

It’s Eugene M. Schwartz. In an armchair. Looking you straight in the eyes as he says – I’ve come here to learn from you. I never wrote for the internet!

Suddenly you wake up. You had passed out at your desk. It was all a dream. Albeit one with a lesson.

“Learn from the past but don’t live in it.”

We can all fall into the trap of only following the greats of direct response copywriting and trying to follow their footsteps. Be it Schwartz, Halbert, or even the mad man himself, Ogilvy.

But as the savvy hot-shot copywriter you are, you know very well that copywriting is a reflection of the times.

This article from Scripted.com, for example, explores just how much advertising has changed since the days of Mad Men.

So does that mean we ditch the greats? Certainly not!

But we can look at how 5 of today’s direct response copywriting masters have forged the knowledge from the past, into an exo-skeletal, wordy armour for the present.

Or else you’ll be like the artist that shows up to the Grammys in a 3 piece suit, top hat and a monocle.


As a copywriter, you’re really a painter.

Only you use words to brush imagery into your prospect’s mind. You want to conjure vivid images in their brain, to help them imagine what their life will be after they buy what you’re selling.

Joanne Weibe, of Copyhackers, suggests you take it a step further and paint an image of what they’ve already done, but still not achieved, by simply using the phrase “Already, Still”. So you can show your prospect how they’re exclusively empowered to be your customers.

Let’s take our academy’s copywriting crash course (…you know I had to). I could write something like: You’ve read the copywriting books. Practised all the techniques. But you still feel like you’re not bold enough to quit your 9 – 5.

Just make sure that the first half covers what they’ve done up until they found you, and the second is about what you’ll help them accomplish, reach, or solve.


You’ve heard it before, people buy on emotions and justify using logic. Great!

But just how do you evoke those emotions? Emotions like hope and fear?

In his book – COPY: How to write persuasive sales copy and build a copywriting business from scratch – Quentin talks about hope and fear being chemical reactions in our bodies.

And our job as copywriters is to use the right words, in the right order, to trigger those reactions.

He suggests the acronym DOSE – which stands for:

  • Dopamine – Neurotransmitter that’s triggered when we expect something good to come.
  • Oxytocin – A double-edged sword that can increase fear and act as a love drug.
  • Serotonin – The happy hormone.
  • Endorphins – The organic opiates. They calm you down.

And the best way to use them is like a fruit cocktail – all mixed together, eaten one bite at a time.

Shall we stick to our academy course example?

You could start off a piece with a dopamine hit – (Keep reading to discover how you can quit your 9-5 and say hello to Hawaii!)

Followed by a dash of serotonin – (And just imagine how you will feel once you knock down your boss’s door and hand in your resignation…)

A sprinkle of oxytocin – (…And the prideful looks on your loved ones’ faces as they see you accomplish your dream…)

And finally, a dab of endorphins – (Join us now and you’ll never have to work for anyone again!)



Research is essential.

In fact, most of your job as a copywriter is collecting information about your client, the product, your prospect, and the market before you even hit a single key.

But you knew that already, right? RIGHT?! – I knew I liked you…

Glenn Fisher, who also happens to be the author of The Art of the Click, would like you to go as deep as the rabbit hole goes. Within reason, of course.

He suggests doing your research in Tiers. Tier 1, Tier 2, etc…

For example, you’ve just been handed a copy project, writing about a new skincare solution.

Your tier 1 research will usually involve the easy-peasy stuff – i.e. the internet, the reviews, the forums, the competition.

Now the information you find would be interesting for you, because you, the copywriter, are not a subject expert yet.

But if you had taken that initial tier and tried to create some copy with it – it wouldn’t have appealed to your client or the industry because it’s not new to them, it’s new to you! (Captain Obvious…)

What you do is, you let it simmer.

And then you add another tier. This time you try and find people who used the product, offline and maybe have a chat. You could even try the product or its alternative on the market.

And always ask yourself – Do they already know what I know? Do I need to learn more?

Push yourself. Add a second and third tier. Dig much deeper.

Basically, be the smartest guy/gal in the room.



Formulas work. They make your life easier. They’re tried and tested.

And you know about AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) – it’s most copywriters’ weapon of choice when crafting compelling copy.

You grab their attention with a gut-busting headline.

You highlight their problem by tying it to your product.

You make them feel like they NEED it.

And you tell them what they need to do to get it.

Andy, however, has come up with a neat addition that will obliterate the most cynical of cynical’s resistance.

That addition is – Conviction.

And to convince your readers, you try: testimonials. Free samples. Statistics. A free trial. A money-back guarantee. Or all of them!

We love to add a bit of conviction ourselves.

And not only have we riddled our academy course’s landing page with stellar testimonials – if you go all the way to the bottom, we’ve also added a nifty little money-back guarantee that goes a little like this:

Be confident in your studies, with a no quibble, 30-day money-back guarantee. So in the (unlikely) event that this curriculum isn’t for you, you can easily change your mind.

I even promise to eat my hat in that particular case…

Anything that would tip the odds in your billing favour, right?


Columbo was your parent’s favourite TV show that ran between 1968 and 78.

Certainly before my time, but I lived through the reruns.

It revolved around detective Columbo (errr…duh!). A blue-collar, down-dressing, harmless-looking detective who no one would suspect had more smarts than the average bear.

The premise was pretty much the same – a crime would take place. Columbo would go in, ask a couple of questions, let people underestimate him, and just as they thought they were getting away with it and their guard was down, he’d pull the ol’ “Oh, by the way…” and crack the case.

Jim Edwards explores how you can use the Columbo close (…or the stealth close) to fly under the radar of those people who have their defences up after looking at an advertisement.

Using these three words “By the way…” – You can Jedi your client into a sale without them even noticing.

Suppose you’re just about to finish a landing page.

You riddled that bad boy with persuasive techniques. Revved the benefits over the features. And your prospect is jumping with joy.

To make sure you “nip it in the bud”, you can hit them with a “By the way…” and add an irresistible benefit on top.

Do that, and you’ll certainly set fire to any objections they may have.


Formulas. Chemical reactions. Detective work. And time loops.

They don’t stray very far from what the greats have taught us.

But if this piece has left you with anything (which it should have by now, I hope…), it’s that modern day problems require modern day solutions.

And these tips were brought to you by copywriters who are making a KILLING in direct response copywriting right now.

Try these tactics. Make your copy sparkle. Break some conversion banks. And you can thank them (and me) later.




Download our FREE, expert eBook to unravel the mysteries of high converting copy.


Download our FREE, expert eBook to unravel the mysteries of high converting copy.

About the author

Konrad Sanders CEO & Lead Strategist at The Creative Copywriter
Hey you. I’m Konrad. A full-funnel content strategist and CEO with a pretty darn creative noggin on my shoulders. I run a team of word-slinging cowboys and strategists who blend science with art to help bold brands get their words right at every step of the customer journey. Which means? They sell more stuff and grow predictable revenue. Brands like AECOM, Thomson Reuters, TikTok, Panasonic, Adidas, Mercedes-Benz, plus shedloads of tech scale-ups...and you? Let's connect.

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