DM Rule #1:

If the copywriting is bad, you'll lose your shirt! As an energetic, 25 year veteran DM copywriter, I am trusted by hundreds of companies around the world to make them money!

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  I'm Stephen Kimball … a 25-year DM copywriting Expert  for Web and Direct Mail 

Writing hard-hitting direct response copy is ALL I have done since graduating from college!
My #1 goal is to use my vast copywriting and direct marketing experience to make my clients money.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

After 20+ years of direct response copywriting, I know it takes more than just great copy to make you money.

DM Rule #1:

If the copywriting is bad, you'll lose your shirt! As an energetic, 25 year veteran DM copywriter, I am trusted by hundreds of companies around the world to make them money!

I believe
whole-heartedly in one of my hero's, David Ogilvy, wise words:

Effective Direct Response Copy for ... Direct Mail, Web, Radio, Space Ads, TV!


Hard-Selling Web, Mail, TV and Space Ad Copy... For Direct Marketers Whose Profits Hinge on it!

Let me put my 25 year DM copywriting experience to work for you!

Don't let your underperforming copy and wrong messaging be the weak link in your marketing investment. My direct marketing copy is trusted by the world's most successful businesses to work hard and bring in profits and leads.

When you hire me to write copy, you also get my 25 years of hands-on marketing experience working with over 900 companies – free of charge. There is no marketing, strategic or logistical problem I haven’t helped my clients work through.

I’m well known as one of the smartest and most impactful direct marketing copywriters in the world by other top DM copywriters and companies alike. I’ll write copy that gives you confidence in its ability to make you money. And I’ll help you work out any kinks in your process, improve your conversion and fix your weak spots in your web promos or direct mail.

Your complete satisfaction is 100% guaranteed!

Get in touch

Phone: 330-671-5920

About Stephen Kimball

From Amsterdam to Russia, I’m trusted by successful web and mail direct marketers around the world who rely on top level DM copywriters to guide them to bigger profits.

From Fortune 500s to small start ups … My track record includes soaring response for over 900 companies. And my copywriting and marketing help has made untold millions of dollars in extra profits for direct response. I will personally write and design your project!

Hiring anyone but an experienced DM copywriter will result in a weak link in your web, direct mail, radio or space ad promo. I’ll work hard as your copywriter AND consultant.

I’ll help you develop or rethink your marketing messaging, fix the holes in your strategy and/or process, smooth out your conversion problems, drill down and fine tune what you know or should know about your ideal customer to maximize your response and profits.

Unlike most writers who specialize in only one or two areas, I’ve literally sold everything and anything. I have very broad experience writing in many areas, including ... Health Supplements ... Financial Offers ... Biz Opp … Events/Seminars … Sweeps ... Non-profit ... MLMs … B to B ... and Consumer Goods and Services.

About me Personally:
  • I have a BS in Communications/Advertising from Brigham Young University.
  • I speak fluent Chinese.
  • I’m married with 5 children.
  • From the North Shore of Long Island ,NY to the North Shore of Oahu … I have lived in New York, Ohio, Utah, Hong Kong and now Hawaii.
  • I am an adrenaline junky and extreme sports enthusiast! When I'm not writing money-making copy, I can be found flying through the air on a wakeboard, waterski, mountain bike, surfboard or snowboard!


Cell: 330-671-5920
Seven Important Points to Consider When You Hire Me:

    To get a profitable response in today's over-cluttered mailboxes and inboxes, you need fresh IDEAS and exciting copy from an experienced copywriter who knows how to craft an emotionally-driven message that speaks directly to your prospects. Nothing less will get the results you need and make you money.


    I only believe in copy that elicits response and profits for you. Copy MUST work hard, ask for a desired action and ultimately make you, the client, money. While I can help with lists/data, trouble-shooting, design, printing, traffic sources and more. I am a Direct Marketing copy and messaging expert. That's what my focus is on.


    When you receive my copy, if you want anything changed, I'll do it at no additional charge. Your complete satisfaction is crucial to me -- I want your long-term business. I want to become friends, which is the case with most of my clients.


    From start ups to Fortune 500s, I have written copy for hundreds of the most successful web and mail direct marketers in the world, and tested nearly every detail with them. My valuable consultation is FREE! That's right, you will receive the benefit of my multi-million dollar knowledge at no extra charge when you hire me.


    Unlike many top writers who specialize in just one area, I have literally done it all. You name it, I’ve sold it. If you read my partial client list, you will see I have written for most of the top players in any category. There is nothing I can't do. Or any area I am not comfortable with.


    Many of the top DM writers simply take your project and give it to another (junior) writer. I will never do that! And because I don't have to share the fee with another writer, my fees are slightly lower than most top writers. You'll never have to guess at what you are getting in return. It’s this simple, if you pay for me, you get me!


    I’m not a prima donna copywriter who is always “slammed” and impossible to find. Call my cell anytime and 9 times out of 10, I’ll answer right away. Email me, and I’ll usually reply within an hour. With clients around the world, I am always on call in some time zone.

my amazing offer

My Amazing Offer to ALL New or Current Clients ...

I LOVE to meet clients and spend time with them. I will pay for your FULL airfare if you'd like to come visit my office in the sky for a day of DM consultation and strategy ...

I hope that you take me up on this...

My office is perched high on a mountain in Utah with the most amazing views! If you'd like to come visit so we can talk strategy, allow me to learn more about your business, get your new project underway and enjoy some of the greatest skiing on earth, I will pay 100% of your airfare!

Our day will go something like this ... I will personally pick you up at the Salt Lake airport and take you to a luxurious Park City Resort. The next day we will enjoy a quick breakfast, then work through the morning until you are convinced and excited that we have winning DM copy and a solid creative strategy. Then, after a quick lunch, it is off to the slopes to ski or snowboard. (Summertime? No problem ... we can golf, waterski, wakeboard or just cruise on the nearby lake.) Then we'll join my wife for dinner at a fine restaurant of your choice. There will be no better use of your expense account! Call now for your day of consultation!

I'm also happy to come to you! I feel the the best business relationships are forged in person. So I can meet the whole team, and wrap my arms fully around your entire operation. The better I can understand your business, industry and prime prospect, the more powerful and compelling the copy I will write.

Call now 330-671-5920 or email

Important update: I moved! I now live in Hawaii. Come visit and we'll go the beach!



If you don't see a question you have, send me an email or pick up the phone and give me a call (330-671-5920).
I’m almost always available to take your call and chat.

Q1: How can I get samples of your work?


Too many to publish here. Simply email me with what you want to see and I'll send you a half dozen or more immediately.

Q2: How can you get higher response than our inside writers or by writing it myself?

Q3: How will you get to know our company enough to effectively communicate the benefits to our prospects?

Q4: What are your fees?

Q5: What do I get for my fee?

You will receive, on or before the deadline date we set together:

All copy laid out with graphics, color selections, and photos in a PDF. Plus, all related consultation and helpful information is included.

Q6: What if it doesn't work?

Q7: How do we begin to work together?

Call now to talk about a project, request samples or with other questions: 330-671-5920.



All these companies, plus hundreds more, have trusted me to write copy for them. Why? Because they know the value of hiring someone who knows what they are doing!

Need some in-house training?

Clients have flown me in for a day or two to do in-house training and seen a significant increase in their staff's ability to write control-beating copy and creative!

Call 330-671-5920 now or email


  • Disney
  • Brandon Burchard
  • AIG
  • Harv Eker
  • M.S. Rau Antiques
  • LeafFilter
  • Hoveround
  • New York Life
  • AARP
  • AAA
  • Corcoran Group Realty
  • ADT Security
  • Walmart
  • West Point Military Academy
  • Sno-Go
  • Sears
  • National Geographic
  • Cutco Knives
  • General Electric
  • Omaha Steaks
  • Symantec (Norton Antivirus)
  • Living Pure Heater (Montel Williams)
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure
  • International Masters Publishing
  • Hooked on Phonics
  • Lumber Liquidators
  • American Mint collectibles
  • AT&T
  • Travel Opportunities/Robin Leach
  • Prentice-Hall
  • Miracle Ear
  • Little Giant Ladder
  • Force Factor
  • National Collectors Mint
  • ADT Security
  • Abandon Interactive
  • Thermaclear
  • Amica Insurance
  • E21 Golf
  • Oregon Podiatric Medical Associations
  • H.S. Dent
  • Silkskin
  • Startec
  • PPE (Russia)
  • Schwans
  • AARP
  • Hairmax
  • Yves Roche
  • Toppik Hair Growth
  • Hearing Help Express
  • Proform
  • Pacific Press
  • Fitter First Catalog
  • Zane Publishing
  • Stephen Fossler
  • Union Pen
  • Trecor Vending Machines
  • CapSoft
  • Workout Warehouse Catalog
  • Novell
  • Phillips Publishing
  • Mastergrip Golf
  • Dixon Publishing
  • Legend Sporting Goods
  • BRC Marketing
  • Revshare TV
  • Colorado Prime Foods
  • Homeland Mortgage
  • Telco
  • Datran Media
  • U.S. Hotline
  • RotoBrush
  • Kipp Publishing
  • Vita-Mix
  • McDowell Publishing
  • Ann Trentons Value Shoppe
  • QLT
  • Filligree Consulting
  • N.U.M.A.
  • Tony Little
  • Jane Fonda
  • PerfectFix Paintless Dent Repair
  • 5-Star Shine
  • American Greetings
  • Softkey Intl
  • Direct Product Marketing
  • Novell
  • Icon Health and Fitness
  • Claris
  • Wordperfect
  • Waterwise
  • Weslo
  • Emerson Publishing
  • Strategic Seminars
  • Fresh Start Marketing
  • Rio - Las Vegas
  • Boca Lago Country Club
  • Thompson Creek Windows
  • Uber
  • iFreedom Direct
  • American Mint
  • American Bank Card
  • AmeriCover
  • Amsterdam Printing
  • US Auto Protect
  • First Data
  • Laughlin Group (Taxes)
  • US Tax Shield
  • Clearlink
  • Bell South
  • Doba
  • Electric Insurance
  • Post Gold for cash
  • Great American Photo Contest
  • First Endurance
  • Master Gold Traders
  • On Deck Capital
  • Lee Majors Hearing Aids
  • Kevin Heupel Law
  • O-Zone Fitness


  • Irwin Naturals
  • Sedona Labs
  • Wellmed
  • Gabamed
  • Physicians Choice
  • Health Resources
  • GLM Marketing
  • Health Freedom Nutrition
  • Q-Link
  • Nature's Medicine
  • Windsor Health Products (UK
  • Healthier You
  • Frank Cawood
  • Psoriaway
  • Biocentric Health
  • Rose Creek
  • Nature Rx
  • Smoke away
  • Life Extension Foundation
  • Chlorelife
  • Health Nutrition Freedom
  • Symons Super Mix
  • R Garden
  • AHP
  • Group RR
  • Tabak Health
  • Amrion, Inc.
  • Indiana Botanical Gardens
  • East Park Research
  • Health Sciences Institute
  • Aloes Intl.
  • Winston Health
  • Medex
  • Institute for Vibrant Living
  • Gero-Vita
  • Nature's Aide
  • Agora
  • Herbal Groups
  • Dr. Willix
  • Health Direct
  • Health Resources
  • Tony O’Donnell
  • Windsor
  • Neo-Tech
  • Sunsafe Rx
  • Accumed
  • Best Life Herbals
  • Nature’s Answers
  • Biowell
  • Arthri-D
  • Nutri-Health
  • Everest Nutrition
  • Great American Products
  • Home Cure
  • Rennaisance Health
  • Lipogen
  • Lombardi Health
  • Miracell
  • Ovvio
  • Jetco

B to B

  • Health Screen Direct
  • Schwans Food Service
  • Sunview Software
  • FirstData
  • American Bancard
  • Turnkey Direct


  • Suarez/Lindenwold Jewelers
  • Leader Direct
  • Win Research Services
  • Australian Lottery
  • Westport Enterprises
  • Strike-It-Rich
  • Opportunities Unlimited
  • Premier Direct
  • Morris International
  • Kennedy Pacific
  • Newport Creative
  • Seta Corporation
  • GMMS
  • International Mail Services
  • Publisher’s Clearing House
  • GPN
  • NaDom Russia

Business Opportunity

  • Armando Montelongo
  • RE Mentors
  • Dave Lindahl
  • Mona Vie
  • Stores Online
  • E Synergy Media
  • Optionetics
  • InvesTools
  • Lion's Bay Media
  • Prosper
  • Loral Langemeier
  • True North
  • Virgin media
  • Zaken Corporation
  • Michael Corbett
  • NSA Technologies
  • David Bach
  • Robert Shemin
  • Than Merrill
  • National Grants
  • Summit Business Group
  • Evolution Group
  • Trivita
  • American Entrepreneur
  • Premier Mentoring
  • Michael Kimble
  • Hume Group
  • Internet Marketing Center
  • Oxford Club
  • Vankomen Media
  • Americas Internet Goldmine
  • Building Wealth Institute
  • Travel Premiums Group
  • iworks
  • MIT Wealth Conferences
  • Highlander Club
  • ESI
  • Stefanchik Organization
  • ProsperScience
  • Mile High Capital
  • Perfekt Marketing
  • Top Originators
  • Bob Diamond
  • Dean Graziosi
  • Raghee Horner (Forex)
  • Stephen Pierce
  • Agora Financial
  • Online Trading Academy
  • Peter Vekselman
  • Forex Auto Profits
  • Property 21
  • John Cummuta
  • Robet Allen
  • JJ Childers
  • Jay Conner
  • Lee Arnold
  • Street Authority


  • Cutting Edge Media
  • Onstream Media
  • MDI Group
  • Permillia
  • H Street Media
  • Strategic Media
  • Sylmark
  • Synergixx
  • Rhino Marketing
  • Banner Direct
  • STG Media
  • Traffix
  • J. Walter Thompson
  • The Kessler Group
  • Verve Marketeting
  • HBM Associates
  • Datran Media
  • Affiliate Crew
  • Wingman Media
  • Fidelis Group
  • Blue Vase
  • 4 Corners
  • Karctr
  • Lombardi Publishing
  • Hungry Fish Media
  • Catherin Maley Cosmetic Image Marketing
  • Image Direct
  • J&L Auto marketing
  • James Direct
  • Lions Bay Media
  • Macromark
  • Think Ink
  • Silverstate Marketing
  • Media Partners
  • Becker Media


  • People's Choice Home Loan
  • Quickloan Mortgage
  • Amica Insurance
  • Top Trader
  • The Money Letter
  • HSBC (Hang Seng Bank)
  • The Hartford
  • Bank of New York
  • Capital One
  • The Winning Trader
  • Ron Price Investment
  • Equis Trading Software
  • Lombardi Publishing
  • Larry Williams/British American
  • Ruff Times
  • United Savings Bank
  • First Security Bank
  • 21st Century Invst.
  • Global Invest. Research
  • Bernie Schaeffer
  • Tax Wise Money
  • Taipan Newsletter
  • Strategic Investment
  • Fisher Investments
  • Adrian Day
  • The Spear Report
  • Gold Stocks Advisory
  • Louis Rukeyser's Wall St.
  • Masters of Retirement


  • Trivita
  • Herbalife
  • Xocai
  • Social Outbreak
  • Monavie
  • Shaklee
  • Maakoa
  • Sisel
  • Ecoquest
  • Xango


  • USA Olympic Shooting Team
  • Huntingtons Disease Society
  • USA Olympic Cycling Team
  • Defeat Diabetes
  • National Jewish Medical Center
  • Childhood Leukemia
  • Schreckengost Foundation
  • Brigham Young University


  • Voyance
  • Grosvenor Gold Assets
  • PP Direct
  • Fulfillment Consulting
  • JCO-Conseil


  • "Many of our valued clients (among the biggest and most successful DM companies in the US and abroad) have found response rate success with Stephen's carefully-written copy! In the DM industry, bad copy sinks a lot of ships. We trust Stephen to never let that happen to our clients."

    - David Klein, President, Macromark
  • "I have only been tracking our first 29,700 which was dropped all at once on october 17th. We have had 886 orders as of yesturday. A 3% response rate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would imagine we will end up at about a 3.1 % response rate. My business plan was setup based on 1.25%, so obviously I'm psyched! We're swimming in leads, which is an excellent problem. I can't thank you enough for helping me launch my business. You will be the only copywriter on my list for future projects. Thanks!"

    - S.R.
  • "Years ago I trained Stephen from a puppy (right out of school) and he was as good as I've seen. Then he left my DM agency to another hard-core DM copywriting venue and really earned his stripes (as judged by response rates to his work), before going out on his own. He's very good and absolutely understands the DM space. I have since hired him as a freelancer and he's a consumate professional. He's the first writer I'll call next time I need serious help. He'll do more than just write copy ... he'll look at your market, opportunity, offer, etc. My advice is to listen to him."

    - Peter Harrison, Affiliate Crew
  • "Everything we hire him to write turns into a control! Stephen's easy to work with and delivers on time, even in a crunch."

    - Joe Appleton, Independent Marketing
  • "When you find a top DM copywriter like Stephen, you stick with him, just like I've done. Bottom line: His copy works to make you money."

    - Harvey Markovitz, HBM Associates
  • "Hats off to someone who is this good at creating solid, profit-producing copy. His skill is worth 10 times what I paid to have him fix my copywriting problem."

    - Al Sharer, Filigree Consulting
  • "Stephen Kimball surprised us with a full-page 4-color ad which was more profitable than the control we had been using. His accomplishment was no small feat given the many tests we run! His name leaps to mind when we need more help."

    - James E. Hovis, Chairman, Hearing Help Express, Inc.
  • "Stephen is firmly entrenched among the best DM writers in the world. I use him repeatedly to write for us and grow our company."

    - Vic Dicriscio, Promax Plus


As printed in Target Marketing July 2007

You can’t hook a shark with Corn niblets ... and you can’t make a sale with the wrong headline.
How to write effective headlines that grab your prospects hook, line and sinker.

Thought I’m not a big fisherman, I often think of direct marketing as a fishing expedition. While general advertisers are more apt to cast a wide net and see what, if anything, they come up with. Direct marketers are more about using the right bait to catch the desired fish. Any expert angler can tell you, the wrong bait will get you nothing. That’s why the pros, the ones who succeed more often than not, spend significant time studying the fish, what they like to eat, when they like to eat and anything else they can know in order get a hit.

In ANY direct marketing effort, the headline is your bait! It either sucks a prospect in and encourages them to continue reading, or fails to interest them and loses the sale! The headline is your first line of attack! It’s your workhorse! And where significant thought time should be devoted. Using the wrong headline is like using the wrong bait. If you haven’t done your homework, not studied the market, the product or service or the targeted audience, and not crafted a headline that is loaded with benefits, you will get nothing!

On the other hand, good headline writing will make a prospect do exactly what you desire. With practice, anyone with a mind for marketing can master writing effective, interest-catching headlines.

I like to start any promo with the headline. It sets the stage for the rest of the mail package. It condenses everything into a single platform from which to build. Here’s how I do it ...

First, I study background materials to elicit the most intriguing, informative headlines. This includes any written materials, past or present controls, competitors info etc. Then, I take notes and mark good ideas so I don’t forget them. And as I read, I write down headline ideas that come to me.

As I go through this exercise, my aim is get to center of the issue. What does the product or service do that’s new and/or different? How does it help the user? Why should it be coveted? Next, I let it gel: I let it sit in my brain for a while.

That’s the idea germ process. Once I have 6 to 10 solid ideas, I’ll run it through this 12 rule gauntlet, what I believe are the elements and silver bullets of powerful, attention-getting headlines, to come up with a winner.

  1. Keep it SHORT! (6-10 words)
  2. Make it Punchy and Powerful with bold, vibrant words!
  3. Use specifics. (numbers, names, places, etc.) No bland generalities
  4. Doesn’t use big or hard-to-understand words.
  5. Never use questions. (You can’t control their answer, and they may stop reading.)
  6. Make the headine big and bold (where appropriate)
  7. Make it compelling and captivating.
  8. Capture, in 10 word or less, the ENTIRE ESSENCE of main benefit as well as all sub-benefits.
  9. Make it easy to digest and have INSTANT connectivity to the prospect.
  10. Avoid Humor, it mostly doesn’t work.
  11. Make it positive, that will nearly always outpull negative.
  12. Benefits … Benefits … Benefits! Answer the prospect’s question ... “What’s in it for ME!?”

Next I judge my headline. Is it intriguing? Does it make me want to know more? Does it solve a problem? Does it offer a solution? Does it speak of the very core benefit of what is being offered? Does it follow the 12 points?

Try it! Go through the process and you’ll likely come up with a winner too.


As presented to a standing-room-only crowd at DM Days NY 2005

Good afternoon.  My name is Stephen Kimball.  I’ve now been a DM copywriter for 11 years.   During this time, I’ve found that many copywriters seem to stumble into this profession by accident.  In my case, it was in 1984, my mom handed me the newly published Ogilvy on Advertising when I was a sophomore in high school, and said, “Stephen you’d make a good copywriter.  Here, read this.”

I read it immediately and I was hooked!  I felt I had found my true calling in life. That of an advertising copywriter.  After that, I never considered anything else.  My only diversion was this:

When I closed my eyes and saw myself in the world of advertising, I was here, in NY on Madison Avenue creating glitzy ads for Nike and Coke.  Churning out clever, witty advertising that the whole world would see.

After graduating with a degree in advertising, I began knocking on agency doors.  If any of you have ever tried to get a job as a copywriter with little useful experience right out of college, you know what a painful exercise that is.   No matter how good one might be, agencies want someone who can hit the ground running.

As fate would have it, and after offering to work for free, Peter Harrison, a sharp DM copywriter himself gave me a shot.  That would change my life and my feelings for advertising forever.  College failed to teach me that advertising needs to have a purpose beyond awareness.  Smart companies use advertising to sell things.  To get people to act now.  To educate, empower and tap into people’s minds and sell like a salesman would if he or she could be in everyone’s kitchen or living room to present their pitch.

After fully embracing my new advertising attitude and philosophy, I’ve now spent the last 11 years perfecting my skill by writing copy for nearly 200 different companies, selling everything imaginable. From health supplements, to collectible coins to software to exercise equipment.  But nearly as important, I’ve been learning about people and what makes them tick.

I eventually understood, and began to think a lot about the fact that people are largely the same types of creatures.  With the same basic wants, desire and needs.

As a copywriter, the better job I can do to intimately understand the prospect as I write, the better job I could do of connecting with them as a trusted friend.

And ultimately sell them something.

How many of you have heard of or listened to Delilah on the radio?  To be honest, I couldn’t stand to listen to her at first.  That was 10 years ago when I first heard her in Cleveland, and was still a relatively new DM copywriter. 

But over time I began to realize that while sappy and sweet, she had America’s ear.  She gets them to call her and tell her their problems.  And you and I, as direct marketers get to sit and listen to them for free!

It’s amazing fodder for good copy!   She has a unique insight into the hearts of the very people you want to sell things to.  She gets them to open up about the things they deal with everyday.  Now, with that in mind, I’m going to switch gears for moment,

This is a fact, at any given time, you can expect that about 5% of your target audience are ready to purchase your product or service.  Now, if you used that as a measure of response, some of you would be overjoyed, some would be disappointed. But 5%, on average is not a bad response rate.

Now, do me a favor, I’m going to ask you to be interactive.  Raise your hand, if you know of a friend or loved one suffering with arthritis. Now, again, by show of hands how many of you know someone who wants to have their own business.   Again, how many know someone who wants to lose weight?  How about someone who is in poor financial shape?

My point is that these are common issues.  And these buying groups are large.  And we could go on and on identifying different groups.

You must realize this, for all these groups, human emotion is the instigator of their buying decisions. Good copywriters use the power of intuition to tap into the heart of a prospect. The 5% I spoke about are easy targets.  The other 95% need to convinced and sold on a deeper level in order to make a sale.

Think about the last piece of nice furniture you bought.  Did you think much about the price?  I’m going to guess you are in the norm and did consider price quite a bit.  But it wasn’t the price really, it was “could you afford it.” Would it hurt you financially?  Emotional issues.

Did you think about how it would look in your house? Do you think about how others might perceive it?  Would your taste be judged as tacky, or will they be impressed?  Again, emotional issues.

Everyone, no matter what we think, has the same base human emotions and needs  -- everyone wants 1) more money and prosperity, 2) better or continued health and 3)  love and better relationships.   So you might ask, well how does an obscure consumer product, like golf clubs, pens, or software fulfill one of these categories.

Try to think about the product or service in terms of what need it might fill emotionally. Golf clubs, for example fulfill feelings of pride, (perceived money).  Speaking to the prospect about prestige, owning the best club available and perfecting their game are all emotional copy points.  Copy that is read at an emotional level is going to be far more effective than copy that only tries to sell based on features. For me, copy that appeals to real life issues and needs in my life gets my attention.

People want security. They want to be spoken to in a language they speak and understand.  Not like a salesman who only cares about his commission.  Maybe some of you know of one of today’s more popular authors, Nicholas Sparks.   I consider him a true master of reproducing real life human emotion, and thoughts. He knows how to write in a language that people say, “Wow, that’s really how life is. That’s really how relationships and feelings are. That’s really how arguments between people sound. That’s how I would feel too.  In short, his fiction is rooted in very real emotion.  And my guess is he would make an amazing copywriter.

And copy has the ability to be written in the same emotional manner.   Let me tell you a bit about what makes a good copywriter …  freelance copywriters like myself are hired guns.  We can’t play favorites.  And we must change who we are all the time.

We may be: One day we may be a 65 year old woman in poor health.  The next day we may be a 45 year old Wall Street banker concerned about his job.

The next we may be a brain surgeon trying to stay on top of the learning curve.  And the next a frustrated stay-at-home Mom. This requires understanding, in detail, what makes a particular prospect tick.  How does that prospect think? What do they feel?  What are their fears and hopes?  How do we create copy that will sell them something?

The copywriter needs to literally feel these varied situations … without actually being any of them.  How do they do it …

The best copywriters are extremely passionate. They are very emotional. 

If not copywriters, they would make brilliant lawyers. Skilled psychologists.  Crack researchers.  High-grossing salesmen.  They are also master manipulators and sharp business people.

They possess the ability to poke their finger into the soul of a prospect and convince them to act now.

They are great “understanders.” They empathize. They imagine and project. They assume with great accuracy. They make educated guesses like no one else. They can read a 6-inch stack of material for your product or service, digest it, internalize it, and churn out the very essence of it in a single headline.

So how can you posses this skill?  It may not happen immediately.   It will take some time and practice.  But I assume, at some level, this is important to you. So whether your responsibility is to write or evaluate copy, you can use certain techniques to make yourself a better writer, owner, editor or visionary.

I submit these 5 points will help;

I remember in trying to get that first job with Peter Harrison out of college. As part of my interview, he gave me the assignment to write a mail package for a financial product for elderly people. As I rode a public bus back home, I happened to be sitting by two elderly men who just happened to be discussing their financial woes. What great stuff I picked up! Better than a focus group. It was honest, unsolicited. The real stuff great copy is made of!  And I used it to write a package that landed me the job.

  • Read everything and become a student of people. Books, magazines, cereal boxes. Immerse yourself even in things you have no interest in. And take interest in everything! Exposure and experience comes through absorption. I had the good fortune to grow up close by here on Long Island.  I also spent 2 years in Hong Kong, 5 years in Utah and 10 years in Ohio. I learned valuable things about people living in these extremely varied places.  Obviously, you can’t move around the world to gain experience and insight, but you can be an observant traveler.  Learn from the places you visit. See what drives the people. What are their beliefs, values and opinions? Be an eavesdropper. 

  • Talk to everyone. Your brain has the ability to store far more than is put in it. Fill it with conversation and observation you have with people. That’s how you build mental images.  My wife sometimes gets a bit annoyed with my habit of speaking and questioning everyone. I love to talk to strangers. To start down a road, and have them open up. Then continue to ask them questions until they are telling me very personal feelings and about their life situations. One eternal truth is this: People love to talk about themselves. Some of you know people who are great at asking lots of questions during conversation. Most people only keep their conversations on a superficial questions.  They are afraid to really probe. You need to become part investigator. 

  • Before writing or evaluating copy, create a real image of your prospect.  No matter what product or service you are trying to sell, you have to start by defining and imagining your prospect. Write down everything you know about them … where they live. What they drive. What they read.  How many kids they have. And where they shop. Write down 20 things you know about them and study it.  Make it your company mascot. Your bread and butter. Your goldmine. So many businesses owners or marketing directors are good at running the operation. But they don’t take enough time to study the ones buying their product or service. Their attention to understanding their prime prospect drives the focus for understanding the prospect for the whole company.  To ignore this is a marketing sin!

  • Do your homework on the internet. Data about people isn’t as good as real stuff you can find in the internet. Use Google to expose yourself to everything about your product/service and prospect.  Write down your thoughts and feelings and observations as you go. Blogs are an interesting new tool.  They are our world’s new opinion board. Soapboxes that anyone can contribute to.  Always knowing the emotional state of the average citizen will help you connect with them. Plus, you can see what people think of your industry, product or service It’s important to stay connected to the news and have your pulse on the national vibe.

  • Think from your heart and soul. Not your brain. You have to feel like they feel.  Sometimes data and boardroom plans and strategies, in reality, don’t help prospects react to a promotion. No matter what everyone thought.  Often a great idea is just that, a great idea. But it has to be an applicable, common sense idea.  Before money is spent, and copy is printed, someone, the copywriter, the creative director, the product manager, the president of the company, has to look at the copy, and ask, does this speak to the emotional makeup and needs of our typical prospect? Does is make them feel comfortable, answer and anticipate their questions and objections?  Does it make them feel good about making a buying decision.  Does it speak to them as a person with needs, instead of like a piece of data.

These 5 things will help you “get into” the head of your prospect and serve them better. Speak to them.  Connect with them. And sell to them.  You’ll think how they think.  Feel how they feel.   Act like they act.

Right now people are in debt, they are in pain, they are having difficult relationships. They are ready to be catered to.  They have money to spend. Everyone is looking for safety, security, optimism and good relationships.

Let me tell you a story. Recently, Mother’s day in fact, I was supposed to be putting my 2 and a half year old son to bed, and instead we were playing, with him jumping off my chest.  Well, one of his jumps was poorly placed and he hit his head on a corner of a wall that jutted out.  Split his forehead open.  How quickly things changed.  We’d been having a perfectly pleasant day and then sudden panic.  How many of you have ever rushed to an emergency room?  What emotions did you feel?  Fear, worry, financial concerns. Aggravation from waiting. Stress.   If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s a bit scary.  Think about that moment.  You had a problem and what did do you want:

  • Attention
  • Competency
  • Quickness
  • Comfort
  • Answers
  • Peace and calm
  • Reassurance that all will be Ok

If it were possible to get any of that from your typical emergency room, while in the moment, most of us would pay a premium for it.  It’s all about timing.

My actions were based on emotion.  The price of services rendered was not a motivating factor.

Let me ask you, what was the last funny thing you remember?  The last thing you laughed hilariously at?  Now with that front and center in your mind, Let me ask you this,  what’s your biggest problem today? What, in the back of your mind are you very worried about in your life?  Money?  A relationship? Legal problems?  Business going badly?

Do you see how quickly I took you from pleasant to glum?  All our emotions, fear, joy, sadness, anger are ready to come out at any time and usually instantly

Our days are filled with emotional triggers.  Our minds drift in and out of various thoughts, good and bad, all day, everyday.  That’s human nature. Ands here’s the key: Your marketing, your direct mail, your web promo, TV or radio ad can act as triggers for those in pain, in debt, or to solve a problem or satisfy a need.

I challenge you, to make your advertising copy work harder for the money you spend on it plus, the other money invested in a marketing effort, make sure it hits at an emotional level.

I thank you for your time. I hope that you’ve learned something that will help you make your copy work harder.    And speak better to your prospects.

One last thought: My best friend is a psychologist.  He often tells me how much fun it would be to write advertising copy.  And he probably wouldn’t be half bad at it. And I think it would be fun to jump in on some of his therapy sessions and see if I can help people sort out their problems.

In thinking about the difference between he and I, I discovered this, people go to him with their problem looking for answers. As direct marketers we go to them with solutions to their problems.


As Published in DM News
Evaluating Copy When You're Not a Copywriter

By Stephen Kimball, Stephen Kimball DM Copywriting
January 27th, 2006
It happens all the time. You hire an agency or freelance writer to create copy for your company's product or service ... the due date arrives ... the project is submitted to you ... and now you have to decide: Is it going to do the job?

You're not a copywriter. So what do you do?

No writing source is perfect, and you are wise to do your own evaluation in order to protect your investment, even if it's the 100th project from a writer who has performed well in the past. After all, chances are you paid a lot of money for it, because good copywriting isn't cheap. But it's not always good, no matter how much you paid.

Judging new creative can fall in the lap of many people: the company owner, president, marketing director or others. If you are not a creative type but your money is on the line, what can you look for? How can you feel confident about what you are about to spend even more money on to get placed, printed and mailed? Here are seven checks and balances to help you judge new direct response copy:

Does it pass the "If I were in their shoes" test? Too often people say, "I'd never open that" or "I'd never respond to that." Well, maybe it's not for you! Go outside yourself and focus on your target audience. Rich? Poor? Male? Female? Educated? Old? Young? Gather the information needed to get a clear image of your prospect in your mind and then think, "If I were them, and in their circumstances, would this appeal to me?" Think about how they might react and whether it hits the target based on their wants, need and desires.

Does the headline make you want to keep reading? Whether it be a direct mail package, space ad, Web promo or any printed promotion: Is the headline too long? Too boring? Too unbelievable? Too complicated? Or does it suck you in and make you want to learn more? A good headline is short, specific and benefit-oriented, and it makes you want to read the subhead and then the copy. A bad headline can sink the whole effort.

Does the copy flow like a well-thought-out legal argument? Does it follow a logical sales path? Are objections dealt with early? Disjointed or unorganized copy frustrates readers and encourages them to stop reading. The copy needs a strong start; smooth, informative sailing in the middle and a powerful call to action at the end.

Were your questions answered? As you read and form questions about the product or offer, does the copy anticipate those questions and deal with them in a positive way? Every reader forms some type of question as she reads. Good copy anticipates the potential buying hurdles and deals with them.

Do you think, "I think this offer would be better if it had ___"? As you read, think about what may be missing. What could sweeten the pot? A better price. Another premium. A stronger guarantee. An expiration date. A discount. Free shipping. Another insert or copy block that strengthens the sales argument. Those small things can affect response in a big way.

Is it easy to read? The average American reads comfortably at an eighth-grade level. Does your copy avoid long words? It is compelling yet easy to understand? Does it flow from sentence to sentence and from paragraph to paragraph to lay out a carefully crafted sales pitch, with an easy-to-understand call to action at the end? Clever words, long words, big words or seldom-used words act as stumbling blocks for readers.

Are you proud of it? Does it represent the benefits of your product, service and/or offer? Your creative should be the best foot forward for your company. Do you think it is the best representative for your company? It should extol your virtues and benefits and explain why you rise above your competition. It should educate and help readers understand why they should act now. If you think it doesn't portray your company/product in its best light, ask for a tweak or rewrite.

If you can breeze through these seven questions and the new copy still makes you smile, chances are you have a potential winner. If not, go back to the writer and share your thoughts. After all, it's your money.


As Printed in DM News:

With Americans Tightening Their Belts Today, Direct Mail Packages Need This More Than Ever …

After writing well over 1,000 mail packages in 14 years, I've been asked many times, "What’s the ‘most important part’ of a direct mail package?" The offer ... the headline ... the P.S. ... the envelope ... price point ... design? And my answer is that's it's ALL important! Especially in today’s market, with Americans tightening their belt even more, no mail offer can afford not to be perfect. You can't afford to let ANY of the parts fail!

However, if forced to pick ONE element that often causes a mail package to "fail," it's lack of personal connection. What I mean is that it fails to connect with the reader. It comes across as a sterile, corporate, non-personal communication that fails to get one step in front of the reader, and know before-hand, what their thoughts, feelings, ideas and hesitations are about your product or service.

A direct mail package is supposed to be a PERSONAL letter from a real person. Yet, so many simply aren’t. It has to go way beyond simply adding a signature at the end of a sales letter! It has to be an emotional mail package. It has to be written with emotion so it causes emotion from the reader. So yes, the offer has to be red- hot and appealing, too good to pass up ... the headline must be bold, specific, powerful and intriguing ... the P.S. must make the reader want to go see what they’ve missed if they only read the P.S. ... the envelope HAS to make them want to tear it open to see what's inside ... the price has to make sense and be affordable for the audience ... and the design has to be pleasing to the eye and help them walk down the intended path to the Order Form.

But beyond these crucial elements, personality, common sense and intuition are too often missing. When the various parts of a mail package come together correctly, connectivity is the big part that makes it a great piece of advertising. Any copywriter can go down the checklist and make sure all the "parts" are there, but today, adding a big dose of personal emotion is a “must-have” to make a sale.

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