Bob Bly Copywriter/Internet Marketing Strategist test

Direct Response Copywriters vs. Brand Advertisers
By Robert W. Bly

Direct response copywriters often find themselves at odds with brand advertisers.

One reason is that, as David Ogilvy once put it, we worship different gods.

The stereotype is that direct response copywriters want to write advertising that sells goods, while general ad agency copywriters want to write ads that win awards.

To test this proposition, I asked a top branding expert I know this question:

“When you create a branding ad, promotion, or campaign, what are your top 3-5 objectives?”

In her answer, she told me the top 4 objectives of brand advertising are as follows:

1--Differentiation from the competition: Are we saying something they can’t say? Or doing it in a way only we can do it?

2--Getting attention: Will this cut through the clutter, appeal to the eye, stand out as something worth their attention? We think of the 3-second rule: that people take about 3 seconds to decide if they will pay attention or not.

3--Relevance: Does what we’re communicating matter to our target audience? At this time? In this place? For where they are in the awareness/decision pipeline? Are we saying enough or too much?

4--Great design: What can we do that makes the message easy to see, digest, and remember? How can we use design to help people engage with our communication?

What’s significant about her answer is as follows:

All four principles are for the most part sensible. But the problem is she says they are the “objectives” of advertising.

To me as a direct response copywriter, these are NOT the objectives of advertising.

Rather, these are principles that help us achieve what is the real objective of advertising: to sell products.

In other words, her four principles are a means to an ends – not the end goal itself.

If you asked me, “When you create an ad, promotion, or campaign, what are your top 3-5 objectives?” they would be as follows:

1--To generate orders for the product, or else inquiries that can be converted to orders – in other words, to sell the product.

2--To be profitable, meaning to generate sales in excess of the cost of the marketing.

3--To beat the control, meaning to get greater response than the ad or mailing that the business is currently using.

4--To make the most persuasive case possible for why our product is superior to others in this category while remaining in compliance with legal requirements for advertising.

And those are my 4 priorities.

Are there other things that marketing can do?


But when it comes to the 4 most important, to me, these are it.

About the author:
Bob Bly is a freelance direct response copywriter who has written for more than 100 clients including Thompson Cigar, Remedy Health, IBM, AT&T, and Agora. His email is and his phone is 973-263-0562