J&C Blog

Find all the latest marketing trends on the J&C Blog.

“I always wanted to be somebody, now I realize I should have been more specific.”   – Lily Tomlin

Posted by Brian Jones on May 18, 2022

Did you ever notice...

The most successful direct response campaigns have something in common —


I was first introduced to this idea while on a call with the great Herschell Gordon Lewis. During the discussion, he simply said — “…specifics sell.”

And the beauty of this concept is that it applies to direct mail... email... display ads... websites... landing pages... etc.

Be personal. Be relevant. Be specific.

If you write in generalities, if you write in broad strokes, if you pen mere platitudes, your copy will not only

be weak, but it will also be boring.

Get to the point.

Tell people precisely what you have to say.

For example, you wouldn’t say that your product/service “…really helps businesses grow.”

Rather, you would say your product/service “increased sales by 83%, over a 60-day run, generating $103,111.69 in revenue for our Milwaukee-based insurance client.”

Specific results. Specific time frame. Specific customers.

Readers want details. Their time is valuable. They will not waste it sifting through sand looking for gold.

Get to the point. Make it clear, make it specific, and make sure it’s something that’s valuable, important, or interesting to the reader. Ask yourself, does it address a pain point or concern they currently have?

And once you’ve mastered this technique, you can use it in other areas of your business, like to promote your company. So for instance, instead of saying that you’ve won many prestigious awards, get specific. Tell the world that you won the Marketer of the Year Award in 2019, 2021, and 2022 and that your VP was awarded the “2020 Medical Underwriter of the Year - Personal" Gold Medal.

Now, of course, this isn’t to say you can make claims without backing them up. In fact, the backup is where you’ll find the details people want to know.

Just do your research, know your market and be in tune with your audience. What is it they want to know more about? What’s important to them? What’s a challenge they’re having right now? What’s causing them stress or anxiety? 

Find out and give them specifics on what’s interesting to them — and how it qualifies you to help them.iStock-1326217696-1
Last, but certainly not least, be specific in your call-to-action. This is the moment of truth. You’ve told your audience why you are uniquely qualified to help solve their problems, that you have the exact experience they need and that you know their specific troubles.

Now tell them specifically what to do next. In your call to action. Let them know in no uncertain terms, what action to take.

Here are 5 quick tips to help make sure your readers take that action:

  1. Start with a strong action verb
    Be clear and be concise with your CTA. You don't have a lot of space to make your point, so it’s important to be direct. Let your readers know exactly what you want them to do. If you can, start the CTA with the desired action. For example, "Buy," "Shop," "Order," "Download," "Subscribe,” “Fill out,” “Find out,” “Learn” – you get the idea.

  2.  Use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm

    If you want a response from your audience, you must get them to move (David Ogilvy said, you can’t bore someone into action). If your CTA has energy and power, your audience will feel it and they’ll stand a better chance of being “moved.” For example, something like this CTA: “Buy before Friday, June 3rd and take 57% off” – Strong verb, strong action, strong offer, and specifics. This benefits anyone who takes action sooner than later.

Or you can be more aspirational. For parents who are thinking of taking a trip with their kids, a CTA like “Take your family on a dream vacation this summer.” Connecting their “dream” with a specific season and their family members will excite them about the idea of finally making that dream come true. 

  3.  Always give readers a reason 

    Remember, your reader’s favorite radio station is WIFM (What’s In-It For Me?). You’re asking something of them, so if they do it, if they take that action, what will they get in return? Will you make their lives easier, help them lose weight, ease stress, or save more money? What are you offering? This goes back to your unique selling point (USP). There must be something of value in this transaction for the reader. Your CTA is not only telling them “what” to do, but also “why” they should do it.

  4. Add urgency 

    Other ideas to try in a specific CTA are “scarcity” and “exclusivity.” If someone thinks that they may miss out on an opportunity because it’s going away soon, or only being offered to them, they think about it in a much different mindset. Examples of this are adding something like “Today ONLY” or “3-Day Sale” or “Limited Supplies.” Another way to add urgency is by adding a specific expiration date. “This offer expires May 30th, so act now.”

  5. Use odd numbers 

    Odd numbers are wonderful for a couple of reasons. First, they convey a sense of authenticity. “Discover 3 Ways to Save on Your Mortgage.” It’s not a fabricated Top 10 List or a nice even set of four or six. It’s a reasonable list of three. An additional benefit of using numbers is that it lets the reader know what to expect when they click. They mentally prepare themselves for the time commitment to read a 3-, 5-, or 7-point list – and they’re more likely to do so. Also, lists are easy to read.

So, there you have it. Be SPECIFIC in your copy, your offer, and your CTA. If you can do this, you’ll attract more attention from your readers and you’ll persuade more of those readers to respond because they’ll know EXACTLY what’s in it for them and why they need to respond now.

Or if you need help creating direct response copy from experts who have been using direct response techniques like this for over 40 years, contact J&C 

Topics: Direct Marketing, Email Marketing, Direct Mail, Creative

Recent Posts