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Direct Response Marketing Glossary

 Direct Response Marketing Glossary

ACTION DEVICES: Copy planted throughout a direct mail package that urges the reader to respond immediately – typically by calling a toll-free telephone number or completing and returning the response device (order form).

ACTIVES: 1) Members or subscribers who have not yet expired. 2) Customers who have made purchases within a given time frame. In many companies, active customers are defined as customers who have made a purchase in the preceding 12 months.

ACQUISITION COST: The cost associated with generating a new customer. Example: If we spend $500 to mail 1,000 pieces and get a 1% return, that’s 10 customers – so our Acquisition Cost is $50 per customer.

ADVERTISING MEDUIM: Refers the specific way in which your ad is delivered to the prospect. Examples of different mediums are the mail, TV, radio, the Internet, billboards and more. The medium in which your ad is run plays a huge role in everything that you consider in the process of creating a promotion.

ADVERTORIAL: The process of blending advertising with free information. The term is literally a synergy between the words ‘advertisement’ and ‘editorial’ – and it developed when advertisers realized that if they made their ads look like editorial articles, and provided the prospect with valuable free information, readership would be increased. And not only readership but response increases, because the valuable information drives the prospect deeper into the ad. This makes him more likely to buy.

ADVOCATE: When you stand up for your prospect, or when your editor or spokesperson stands up for him, this is referred to as advocacy. Clayton is a firm believer in the editor or spokesperson being an advocate for the prospect – that he demonstrate a commitment to the prospect’s needs, feelings, challenges and well being. For example, Dr. Martin Weiss and Dr. Julian Whitaker – two spokespeople Clayton has written for – are strong advocates for the prospect. Both are extremely committed to the prospect’s safety and success, even if it means going up against some of the strongest, most powerful institutions in the world.

AFFILIATE: An Internet marketing term used to designate a company or individual who promotes your product for a percentage of sales. For example, a company may put one of your banner ads on their site, and then collect a percentage of the sales that ad leads to. Or an affiliate may send out e-mails for your product launch to their list, and collect as much as 40-50% of the sales from the product. Affiliate marketing is powerful precisely because it’s so win-win: You get to access large quantities of target prospects without paying money upfront. And you only pay after you make sales. So there’s little or no risk to you – and your affiliate partner gets to sell your product without the cost of product development, overhead or any of the other expenses that go along with running your business.

APPEAL: Another way of talking about a benefit. Some of your benefits will have stronger appeal to target prospects than others.

ASSIGNMENT: A term for a copywriting job or project.       

ATTRITION: A reduction in response to a promotion or mail list due to repeated use.

AVERAGE UNIT OF SALE: (Also Average Sale or AS) The total revenue divided by the number of orders generated by a promotion. Also abbreviated as “AUS,” this number is often used by marketers to gauge the effectiveness of copy in selling prospects on placing larger orders.

AWARENESS: – Refers to how aware the prospect is of his desire for the benefits your product offers. This idea was introduced by Gene Schwartz, because your ad – especially your headline – must address the prospect’s level of awareness.

BACK-END: The sale of additional products after a new customer has made his first purchase.

BANNER AD – A small ad–with a visual component and headline – that’s placed on a website. A banner ad can and should be carefully tracked for how many clicks it produces, as well as the percentage of those clicks that actually results in sales or opt-ins. Which raises another point: The goal of a banner ad is usually to drive a prospect to a sales letter/landing page with the hope that the sales letter will convert him into a buyer. But other times, it may be used to send the prospect to a squeeze page, where the copy attempts to get him to provide his name and e-mail address.

BANGTAIL ENVELOPE: An envelope with an extended flap or extra flap containing the response device.

BELIEFS: The beliefs your prospect holds that influence his buying decision. He may believe strongly in natural health … he may believe that drugs are inherently destructive … he may believe that Wall Street is dishonest and out to rip him off … the list could go on forever. This is a key part of understanding your prospect, because what he thinks and how he acts will strongly influence his response to your promotions.

BENEFITS: What your product or service really brings to the prospect’s life. A benefit is all about the positive impact your product has, one of the many ways his life is improved by buying and using your product. Fundamentally, people buy things because they benefit them in some way. The process of clarifying and then showcasing your benefits goes to the very heart of direct response advertising.

BIG SELLING IDEA: The powerful, unique idea that drives your promotion. There are virtually an infinite number of possibilities for your Big Selling Idea. But it’s purpose is simple: If you can get your prospect to believe in this idea, it’s much easier to get him to buy your product. Some examples that have worked well … Natural “Pennies-a-Day” Cures that Make Expensive Drugs and Medical Procedures Obsolete …Billions of Dollars in Free Money Is Being Given Away by the Government – And You’re QUALIFIED … and so on.

BILL ENCLOSURE: Promotional material enclosed with a bill, an invoice or a statement.

BILLBOARD: As in billboarding your benefits. This is a loose term for when you showcase a group of related benefits on the cover of your promotion. For example, many magalogs have groups of connected benefits on the front cover, and the purpose of these cover benefits is to pull the prospect into the promotion.

BINGO CARD: Reply card inserted in a publication. Used by readers to request literature from companies whose products and services are either advertised or mentioned in editorial columns.

BIZOP: An informal expression for the “business opportunity” market. This is the market where prospects are sold on the possibility of making more money through some kind of new venture – whether it be real estate or Internet marketing. 

BODY COPY: The middle part of your promotion, between the lead and the closing copy. This is where you make your argument … expand on your benefits and then prove them … keep your prospect’s attention and interest in a peak state … until he’s ready to make a buying decision.

BONDING: The process where you establish trust and rapport with your prospect. This takes you OUT of the role of a salesman, and into the role of trusted friend and advocate. The premise is simple: People always prefer to buy from those they like and trust.

BOTTOM LINE: The name that runs through Boardroom’s main newsletter publications: Bottom Line Health … Bottom Line Personal … Bottom Line Retirement. You may have heard Clayton mention these publications before.  That’s because many of the top writers in the world have written for them.

BOUNCE BACK: A flyer or other promotional material designed for insertion into a package in which products are delivered.

BRC: Business Reply Card.

BRE: Business Reply Envelope.

BREAK-EVEN: The amount of revenue a promotion must generate in order to offset marketing costs. In some cases, direct marketers may also include fulfillment costs in the break-even calculation.

BREAKTHROUGH: This is a loose term that marketers use for a big discovery or “aha!” that heavily impacts their success or results.

BULLETS: Marked by the little symbol that separates them from running text, these are little sentences (or series of sentences) that present a benefit, and often tease the prospect with an element of intrigue and curiosity. Bullets play a huge role in Information Publishing and Information Marketing, because they enable you to sell the benefits of the information in a much more exciting and fascinating way.

BUMP: The process where you attempt to get the prospect to buy a more expensive version of your product, or another product – at the point of sale. For example, imagine you are buying something online. The page where you’re finalizing your order asks you if you’d like the ‘deluxe’ version for another $39 – or if you’d like to try a related program for 30% off the normal price. This act of making an additional offer to bring in more revenue at the point of sale called a ‘bump,’ because you’re bumping the prospect up to a higher level of purchase.

BURST: A graphic device often used next to photographs of products or premiums, containing value or offer statements: “A $39 Value, FREE!”

BUYING BEHAVIOR: Observable patterns of behavior you see in your prospects that govern their buying decisions. For example, you might see that your customers buy more from e-mail campaigns than sales letter pages. Or you might observe that your customers are looking for more in-depth, higher ticket programs that do much of the work for them. There are a million possibilities, but any time you see consistent purchasing patterns in your prospects or customers – you have an example of buying behavior.

CALL TO ACTION: An informal term for when you push your prospect to act on your offer. You could use expressions like … “Send for your free trial offer, TODAY” … “order today and you’ll receive 5 free gifts” … “call now before you forget” … and many more.

CELL(S): A portion of a promotion used for testing purposes. When testing several headlines for example, each headline is mailed to a set number of names. These names are referred to as a cell.

CHARTER OFFER: This is the name for first time a company offers a new product or service to the prospect. The product itself may not be new, but it’s the first time the prospect has had a chance to buy it. It’s used most often in the newsletter industry, but applies elsewhere.

CLAIM: Another word for promising a benefit. The advantage of using the word ‘claim’ sometimes is that makes it clear that you need to back it up with proof. Many marketers simply think they can present a benefit and then that’s all. But when you realize that a benefit is just a claim, you understand that you must immediately back it up with proof for it to be believed.

CLAIM DENSITY: This is the term Gene Schwartz introduced – it refers to the depth of the promise or claim you’re making. And ‘depth’ is when your promise is well targeted to his desires … it’s quickly followed or joined to proof … has a strong emotional component … and fits well with every other aspect of your promotion.

CLOSE: The final stage of your promotion, where your copy pushes for the sale. The goal of the close is to take all of the interest and desire that’s been activated in the prospect, and then get him to take action on the offer. This process mimics what good salespeople do in person, they carefully guide the prospect to making a purchase decision that’s in his best interest.

CLOSING COPY: The copy that’s used in the close. 

CODING: A series of letters and or numbers printed on response devices that tell the marketer which list and/or creative test cell generated each order.

COLD: As in ‘Cold List’ or ‘Cold Prospect.’ This refers to when the prospect or list has no prior relationship to you, your product or company. The term ‘cold’ is another way of saying that there’s no bond or rapport between you and the prospect. As you might guess, this type of prospect is much harder to sell than a ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ one. See also ‘Hot’ or ‘Warm.’

COMPETITION: The name for any company or product that offers the same or similar benefits that you do. To truly be considered ‘competition’ they must be a viable alternative to what you offer, and they must advertise in the same or similar mediums that you advertise in.

CONTINUITY OFFER: Very similar (often identical) to the ‘Negative Option,’ a continuity offer is one where the prospect gets billed each month. Sometimes it can simply be for a defined period of time, such as 12 months. Other times, it will keep going indefinitely unless he cancels.

CONTROL: This is the direct mail, space ad or Internet promotion performing best for a company right now. It’s the benchmark against which variables and new promotions are tested against to measure response rates, average sale or return on investment. When a new promotion performs better than the control that promotion becomes the new control.

CONVERSION: An Internet marketing term that describes the process of converting a website visitor into a customer. True to the fundamental tenets of direct response advertising, this process is entirely measurable using tools like Google Analytics and others. For example, if you know that you have 50,000 unique visitors each month, and you make 500 sales to new customers each month, you’re converting 1 out of 100 visitors. In other words, your conversion ratio is 1%. 

COPY: The sales message used by direct response marketers to compel prospects to purchase their products and services.

COPYWRITING: The process of writing advertising. As a Total Package reader, you’re already familiar with this term. Still, it’s good to be able to accurately describe what you do to others who ask (especially because they’ll assume you do some sort of legal work!). ANY wording that takes place within an advertisement, whether it’s direct response advertising or otherwise,  is considered ‘copy.’ And the process of creating those words is called ‘copywriting.’

COST PER INQUIRY (C.P.I): Total cost of a lead production promotion divided by the number of leads or inquiries generated.

COST PER ORDER (C.P.O): Total cost of promotion divided by the number of orders generated.

COST PER THOUSAND (C.P.M): 1)Total cost of a promotion divided by how many thousands of impressions were made. A mailing costing $100,000 that mails to 200,000 prospects has a CPM of $500/M ($500 per thousand). 2) CPM is also applied to components of total promotion cost, such as mail list rental, printing costs, postage costs, etc.

CREDIBILITY: Anything you do that increases the feeling of legitimacy and overall trustworthiness in your prospect. With so many companies promising the moon and then under-delivering (or sometimes outright lying), prospects have become increasingly skeptical of advertising. Many times, they begin with the assumption that you’re NOT telling the truth. But the proper use of credibility elements – such as testimonials, track records, endorsements, a guarantee, and many more – helps readers to believe and trust in what you’re promising.

CROSS-SELLING: Selling a promotion across the board to other demographic lists within the house.

CUSTOMER ACQUISITION: The type of promotion that has the direct goal of acquiring new customers. The goal of a customer acquisition promotion is NOT to make a profit, it’s to bring in as many new customers as possible at break even or less – and then let the backend products make the profit.

For example, many of the top direct response information publishers – such as Phillips, Agora, Healthy Directions and others – have introductory newsletters written by experts. Some of them give financial advice, others give health advice, certain ones are focused on retirement and saving money, and so on.

These newsletters usually range from $39 to $199 – and they’re not designed to immediately make money. The promotions selling these newsletters are called “Customer Acquisition” packages because they get sent out to new lists, in order to bring new customers into the company’s pipeline. Once the prospect buys that first newsletter, the company usually begins selling them progressively higher priced items (also known as the ‘backend’).

Many top copywriters spend much of their time writing these kinds of promotions. That’s because the markets they sell into are highly competitive, the cost to acquire a customer is high and only the very best copy will do.

On the Internet, an example of a Customer Acquisition promotion would be a very low-priced product – such as a $19 e-book. It’s hard to make any real kind of money on such a product these days, but bringing a new customer into the company’s database creates wonderful backend opportunities to sell products for $99 … $299 … $499 … or more … monthly continuity programs and more. These can be VERY profitable.

CUSTOMER FILE: This is your company or client’s list of customers. Many companies do little or nothing with their customer file, which is a tragedy. That’s because using the proper breakdown and promotional strategy with your customer file can make you an absolute fortune. The top direct response marketers break up or ‘segment’ their customer file according to purchasing patterns, so they can modify their promotional strategies accordingly. This is what allows highest response on backend promotions, and leads to explosive growth and profits for the company who does it.

CUSTOMER RECORD: A computerized record of a customer’s name, address, telephone number, credit card numbers, buying history, etc.

CUSTOMER SURVEY: This is where you poll your customers, often through the Internet, to find out their interests, desires, problems, concerns, hopes, dreams, objections and more. The goal of such surveys is to get to know your customers on a much deeper level, create products and advertising that better matches them, and make much more money in the process. One great resource for doing this online is

DATA CARD: Most major direct response mailers store information about their target prospect on what’s called a data card. This card contains relevant information about their average age, sex, habits, buying behavior and purchases, income and more. If you choose to work for a company that uses direct mail, be sure to ask them for the data card.

DATABASE: A collection of customer records containing vital information about each customer or prospect.

DATABASE MARKETING: Also known as House File Marketing. Promotions that are sent to existing customers.

DE-DUPE: A process by which duplicate names are removed from a mail list prior to mailing. De-duping is also called a “merge-purge,” as names from all lists to be used are merged into one large file and then the duplicates are purged in order to cut postage costs.

DECK COPY: The copy right below the headline, which … expands on the headline … further stimulates his interest … and attempts to drive him into the heart of your promotion. Sometimes deck copy is followed by teaser bullets, other times the promotion goes right into the “Dear Friend” type of salutation.

DEMOGRAPHIC: The characteristics of human populations and population segments that contain key facts such as age, education, income and sex in order to identify consumer markets.

DESIRES: What your prospect wants, related to product and area of expertise. For example, if you sell nutritional supplements, you will consider your prospect’s health desires and how your product fits in. If you sell gardening books, you will consider your prospect’s gardening desires. And so on. As human beings, we literally have an infinite number of desires – but for the purposes of copywriting, only the relevant ones count.

DIFFERENTIATE: When you hear the word ‘differentiate’ in marketing, it’s referring to the act of making your product or service appear different. It first came from a classic book written by Jack Trout called, Differentiate or Die, and the premise was that only the companies who differentiated themselves well enough to stand out would survive.

DIMENSIONALIZE: Not a word you’ll ever find in a traditional dictionary, rumor has it this term was invented by marketing guru Jay Abraham. It refers to the process of drawing out and expanding on something. For example, to ‘dimensionalize’ a benefit (see the term ‘Dimensionalized Benefit’ below) would be to take it and expand it in vivid detail. To dimensionalize a fear would be to expand and flesh it out on a much more graphic and impactful level.

DIMENSIONALIZED BENEFITS: This is the specific category of benefits, where a vivid and compelling picture is painted. The purpose of doing this is so that the prospect can better imagine and mentally experience a key benefit of your product or service – BEFORE he orders it or tries it out. The goal of this kind of benefit is to put your prospect into a world where he vividly and seductively experiences the amazing effects of using your product or service.

DIRECT MAIL: The type of marketing and promotional strategy that uses mail to acquire new customers, and sometimes uses mail to sell backend products to those customers.

DIRECT MAIL PACKAGE: This is another name for a product promotion that’s sent out via direct mail.

DIRECT MARKETING: Promotions that target a specific audience based upon demographic and/or psychographic traits.

DIRECT RESPONSE MARKETING: Promotions that solicit an immediate, measurable response from recipients.

DOMINANT RESIDENT EMOTIONS – A term Clayton invented and popularized, which refers to emotions found in the prospect that are both ‘dominant’ and ‘resident.’ By ‘dominant,’ he’s talking about the strongest emotions that prospect is experiencing, relevant to the product he’s selling. And by ‘resident’ – he means that which is deep and long-standing in the prospect. An example of dominant resident emotions in a health prospect would be anger and betrayal anytime an authority lies or misleads him (like the FDA or pharmaceutical companies) and the feeling of freedom and power that comes from being in charge of one’s own health and body. The word ‘resident’ applies because these feelings are not fleeting, they’re predictable and constant – and can be harnessed for explosive results in your advertising.

DOUBLING DATE: The date at which a marketer typically has received half of the total revenue a promotion will produce. Doubling dates are used to predict the final result of each list and creative test cell in a mailing, thus enabling marketers to plan subsequent promotions more quickly.

DOWNSELL: This is when you make an lower priced offer to prospects who failed to take you up on your original offer. For example, imagine that you had a list of 50,000 of people that you promoted a $1,000 Internet marketing product to. 1,000 responded and you made revenues of approximately $1 million. If you went back to the 49,000 people on your list who DIDN’T buy with an reduced version of your product for $197, that would be considered a ‘downsell.’ The advantage of downselling is that you’ve already done lots of work in attempting to convert your prospect into a customer … why not use that work and momentum to see if he’ll take a lesser version of what you’re offering. The beauty here is that you often make a bunch of money that you would have otherwise left on the table.   

DUMMY NAME: A name inserted into a mailing list that enables marketers to track how the list is being used. Marketers will typically plant dummy or “seed” names on their own customer files to ensure that list renters are using the file in accordance with list rental agreements. Marketers will also plant dummy names on competitors’ files in order to monitor how competitors are promoting to their customers as well as the promotions sent to the file by other list renters.

EDGE: A loose term for any kind of competitive advantage. For example, The Total Package gives you a distinct ‘edge’ over other writers who don’t have access to this info. Building proof and credibility into your product gives it an edge over others selling similar things.

EDITOR: The person who writes and oversees a newsletter. Because newsletters and newsletter promotions are such big part of our industry, certain editors have become very famous and we use their names a lot. If you were to write sales copy for a large company like Boardroom, Agora, Phillips, Healthy Directions, Weiss Research and others – you may end up promoting a newsletter. In that case, you’d need to get to know the editor, his or her viewpoint, tone, beliefs, style and more.

E-MAIL LIST: Direct response is very much about list marketing. And a big part of what we do online is build e-mail lists of targeted prospects through squeeze pages, joint ventures and more … establish a relationship with people on that list … and then sell them our products and services. Building a list on the Internet is a science in and of itself.

E-MAIL MARKETING: This is the process by which you communicate and promote to your target prospects via e-mail. It works best when you’re able to build a large list of qualified prospects and then make offers to them, based on your knowledge of their psychology, feelings, buying behavior and more.

Often times, you may ask them to place their order directly from the copy within the e-mail. Other times, you may use the e-mail to drive them to a landing page. Then the landing page will attempt to sell them on your product or service.

EMOTIONAL BENEFIT: This is the positive feeling that a prospect gets from buying your product or service. It can be anything from the desire to feel cool … feeling superior to his buddy … the greed of making a killing in the market … and more. Emotional benefits are often the strongest reasons why someone makes a buying decision, so it pays to carefully study how your product’s benefits impact the prospect emotionally – and how you can trigger these emotions throughout your copy.

EMOTIONS: It’s often said that “People buy on emotion, and justify with logic.” Which means it’s crucial that your sales copy always trigger the strongest, most relevant emotions for driving your prospect to action.

ENTREPRENEUR: The term we often use for a business owner. While The Total Package is targeted more to copywriters and marketers, entrepreneurs can use this information to better recognize good copy … refine and enhance existing promotions … help the copywriters working for them to improve … and more.

EXCHANGE: An agreement between mailers to exchange an equal quantity of mailing list names.

EXPIRE: A customer or subscriber who is no longer active.

FASCINATION: See also the definition for ‘Blind Bullet.’ This is a term that I believe Gene Schwartz invented to describe how certain bullets are designed to fascinate the prospect so intensely, he’s forced to respond.

FEATURES: The specific trait or attribute of your product. Every feature is worth noting, and the point of listing out your features is to convert them into benefits. Remember also that not every feature will have a benefit to the prospect. For example, one feature of a book may be that it’s 75 pages long – but there’s not really a benefit to that. But another feature may be that it offers twelve 30-day meal plans. That one has immense benefit to the prospect.

FEELING: Used most often to describe what the prospect is experiencing on an emotional level. Because people are so often governed by what they’re feeling in the moment, understanding what you’re prospect feels is key to your success.

FIRST CLASS MAIL: This is a higher grade of mail than many bulk mailers use. Clayton often advises his clients mail their promotions via first-class mail because it allows the copywriter to list the full dollar value of the premiums.

FLAT BENEFIT: An occasionally used expression that describes when a benefit fails to excite or intrigue a prospect. He reads it and has little no reaction – it’s ‘flat.’

FORMAT: This is the way in which you deliver your advertisement. In direct mail, some of the most common formats are the standard envelope … the jumbo envelope … the magalog … the tabloid … the bookalog … and sometimes the flyer, postcard or brochure. Obviously, the format you choose for your advertisement is going to heavily impact your writing process and overall strategy. For example, a magalog or bookalog requires much more copy than a 8-12 page sales letter.

Another format possibility is a space ad that runs in magazines or newspapers. The size you have available for your space ad is going to determine what you’ll be able to say, and how much you can say.

On the Internet, you can deliver promotions via e-mails … landing pages … using a more traditional website.

The more clear you are in the format you’re going to be using, the better you’ll be able to adapt and adjust your writing process accordingly.

FRONT-END: The opposite of the ‘backend,’ this is another way of talking about customer acquisition. Front end products are usually cheaper and not designed to make a profit; rather, their purpose is to bring in new customers that can be profitably sold backend products.

FULFILLMENT: The delivery of the product or service to the customer.

FUNCTIONAL BENEFIT: This is type of benefit that’s worded in terms of what itdoes for the prospect. This is a very important stage in your benefit writing process because it’s the point at which your product comes to life. For example, some nutritional supplements contain an ingredient called enzymes.

It actively brings value to the prospect.

GEOGRAPHIC: Selection or division of a mail list or other advertising medium along geographic lines. Geographic selects may be by state, county, metro area, city or zip code.

GUARANTEE: Typically a promise to refund a customer’s money if he or she is less than satisfied.

HARD OFFER: An offer where payment is required upfront. Most offers fall into this category. For a contrast, see the definition of a ‘soft offer.’

HEADLINE: The gateway into your ad.  This is what many advertising gurus throught history believe is the most response-impacting aspect of what you do. There have been times, in major advertising campaigns, they’ve seen a lift in response by up to 15-20 times just from a change to the headline. The purpose of your headline is simple: a) to grab your prospect’s attention … and b) to get him to read the next sentence in your ad. Obviously, this is much easier said than done and coming up with the perfect headline is something writers spend days – even weeks – working on.

HEADLINE "BLOCK": – A term for when you struggle to come up with a winning headline.

HEALTH AND HEALING: The most famous natural newsletter in existence. Written by Dr. Julian Whitaker, it was the first heavily promoted natural health letter. Clayton launched it in 1991, and it became one of the biggest successes in direct response history.

HOT LIST: This term sometimes refers to you or your client’s list of hottest customers or prospects. If you’re talking about a ‘Hot List’ of customers, you’re talking about the customers who’ve purchased the most from you – and who’ve made the most recent purchases. If you’re talking about prospects, your hot list would consist of prospects who’ve demonstrated the most interest and qualified themselves best. For example, people who sign up for an early notification list of a product release are much hotter than others. In contrast to a ‘cold’ prospect the term ‘hot’ signifies how much more likely and ready this prospect is to make a purchase with you. It’s important to remember that prospects don’t stay ‘hot’ forever, so you must capitalize on them being in this state as quickly as possible.

HOUSE FILE: A mailing list containing records of all active customers, expired customers and inquirers.

HUMAN NATURE: Used in our industry to refer to common, predictable patterns of human behavior. When marketers talk about human nature, they’re referring to how understanding people increases your success in selling to them. And it’s true: The more you understand people and how they act, the better you can predict and guide their actions.

INBOUND TELEMARKETING: The process of handling incoming calls from customers or prospects.

INFORMATION MARKETING: The process of selling information-based products. Many of the greatest opportunities for copywriters and entrepreneurs are in creating and selling information products. There’s no relationship between the cost to product them in the price – CDs that cost $2 to produce could be sold for $200 or even $2,000. This provides the opportunity for outrageous profits. Also, there’s an art to selling these kinds of products – one that involves the use of a lot of bullets and fascinations.

INFOMERCIAL: A direct response ad that plays on TV. Usually about 30 minutes long, infomercials are designed to look and feel like a ‘show.’ Throughout the show, information about the product and its benefits are delivered to the viewers. And about every 5-7 minutes, a more condensed sales pitch for the product – whether it’s an ab roller, magic cookware, a miracle chopper or anything else – will presented with a call to action and an 800 number.

While there are some key differences between writing an infomercial and a print or Web promotion, much of what you’re learning in The Total Package still applies. You’re going to need to grab your prospect’s attention … sell him on your benefits … prove those benefits … keep him interested long enough to reach the point where you get him to act on your offer. Just watch some successful infomercials and you’ll quickly recognize many of the techniques you’ve read about in The Total Package.

INQUIRER: A prospect who has requested more information about a product or service.

INSERT: Promotional piece placed in an outgoing package or invoice.

INSTALLMENT BUYER: A person who has ordered goods or services, but pays for them in periodic installments.

INSTALLMENT OFFER: This is the kind of offer where the customer is allowed to make payments rather than pay the full cost of the product in advance. Installment offers mean the prospect has to fork over less money upfront, reducing his risk, and often boost overall response.

INSTITUTIONAL ADVERTISING: This is the kind of advertising you DON’T want to run. It attempts to build up the name or brand image of the company, rather than elicit a response. Institutional advertising is never tested, and therefore is almost always a complete waste of time and money. Many advertising agencies will attempt to convince unsuspecting companies to run these kind of ads, because they’re more “creative.” The good news is that simply reading The Total Package all but guarantees you’ll never be able to use this kind of advertising, ever.

INTEGRATED MARKETING: A combination of two or more forms of marketing used to sell a product or service (e.g. a direct mail campaign combined with a series of television commercials).

JOINT VENTURE: This is where you partner up with another person or company who has access to prospects for your product or service. For example, if you’re selling a joint health supplement and you know of a website that has compiled a large list of people who are interested in joint health, you could joint venture with them. By partnering with them and send a promotion to that list, you’ll take advantage of their relationship with prospects. You’ll make much more money in the process – and they’ll usually get a cut of the sales or profits you make. So they benefit as well.

You can use joint ventures to build up your list and acquire new names,  or you can directly send promotions to someone else’s list and give them a percentage of the sales. There’s quite a bit you can do in this area. If you Google the term “joint ventures,” you’ll come across some very good resources on the subject.

KEY CODE (KEY): Group of letters and/or numbers, colors, or other markings, used to measure the specific effectiveness of media, lists, advertisements, offers, etc.

LANDING PAGE: The is the term Clayton and his clients use for a long copy sales letter on the Internet. You’ll recognize these pages by the headline on top of the page, and then the long scrolling page that ends with the guarantee and order button. Much of the direct marketing that’s done on the Internet is an attempt to drive prospects to a landing page. The landing page (sales letter) is then supposed to convert that prospect into a customer by getting him to buy the product.

LETTERSHOP/MAILHOUSE: Company which performs the mechanical details involved with mailing including addressing, imprinting, collating, inserting materials into envelopes, etc.

LIFETIME VALUE: The total revenue a customer will generate for a company. May be expressed as total gross revenue or total net revenue.

LIFT: A simple term used to designate an increase in response. Sometimes, by making a simple change in your copy, you can get a ‘lift’ of 10%, 20% or more.

LIFT LETTER: Usually a smaller note or letter inserted along with the main sales letter as a way of emphasizing a particular sales point.

LIFT NOTE: The little additional inserts that go inside a direct mail envelope. They’re designed to increase the selling power of a direct mail promotion. Your lift notes can be based on your guarantee, testimonials, a personal message and many other possibilities. The process of writing lift notes is valuable, even if you don’t write direct mail, because it can be easily adapted to the Web for greatly increased success.

LIMITED TIME OFFER: This is an offer made with a strict time deadline. This adds urgency to the offer, and often increases overall response.

LIST: This is one of the most essential aspects in direct marketing. In fact, copywriting legend Gary Bencivenga has demonstrated that the list is the second most crucial part of a direct response promotion, behind the offer. You see, the list is the group of prospects your promotion gets mailed to. In direct mail, list selection is an elaborate and highly scientific process that involves entire departments and list brokers. Targeted lists get mailed the promotion and then response is measured.

On the Internet, lists are gathered using joint ventures, opt-in boxes and squeeze pages. Then that list is marketed to using e-mails and landing pages.

On an advanced level, marketers will ‘segment’ their list, separating prospects according to what they’ve purchased … how recently they’ve purchased … and how much they’ve purchased. This allows you to be much more systematic in your promotions, and often leads to dramatically higher response.

When writing your promotion, studying your list is a big part of knowing your prospect. You must carefully consider the list your copy is going to before getting started.

LIST SELECTS: Processes of segregating smaller groups within a list. Typical list selects might be by sex, geographic selects, or other selects based upon the amount customers have spent, largest purchase, etc.

LONG COPY: The is the term for extended direct response promotions – often going 12, 16, 24 pages or even more. There’s often a debate, especially on the Internet, about whether long copy works better than short copy. In the mail, most tests have shown that long copy outperforms shorter copy. On the Internet, it’s contextual. There are times when long copy works best – especially when the prospect has no knowledge or awareness of the product. But other times, when the prospect is more aware of the product and its benefits – shorter, offer-driven copy works better.

MAIL DATE: The date a mailing is delivered to the post office for processing.

MAIL ORDER BUYER: Someone who orders and pays for a product through the mail.

MAIL PREFERENCE SCHEME (MPS): A service where consumers can request to have their names taken off or added to lists.

MARGIN: The gross profit on sales derived by subtracting the cost of goods sold from gross revenue.

MARKET: The group of target prospects for your product or service. It requires significant research and analysis to fully understand your market, its trends, what’s working best right now, and any other factor that influences it.

MARKETER: We use this term most often to signify someone who works professionally as a consultant or business builder – not merely a copywriter or entrepreneur. A marketer generally doesn’t write copy himself, he works to apply tactics and strategy to a business in order to increase its performance. Still, we’re all marketers in one sense – because it’s impossible to write copy or grow a direct response business without a certain level of marketing understanding.

MARKETING INTUITION: This is the process of being able to instinctively know how a prospect is going to think, feel and respond. While not something you can consciously practice, marketing intuition comes from experience in working with prospects, markets and the principles taught in The Total Package. And the advantage is HUGE: It allows to instinctive recognize winning products and ideas before others … to avoid wasting time on things that aren’t going to work … to be more accurate in all your advertising efforts, because you intuitively know what the prospect wants and needs. Clayton is a perfect example of this in the investment market right now, he’s so in tune with the prospects and so on top of what’s happening on Wall Street each day, that he can instantly recognize whether something will succeed or fail with his prospects.

MASS MARKET: When a product is almost universally appealing to people, or at least is desired by a large percentage of the mainstream population, then marketers will often refer to it as ‘mass market.’ To understand what this looks like, think about the difference between a self-help course that uses hypnosis and brain wave therapy and one created by Anthony Robbins. The one using hypnosis and brain wave therapy is going to appeal to a much smaller group of people who are interested in that – a ‘niche market.’ Whereas the Anthony Robbins product is based on basic motivational stuff – it’s so widely appealing that it can be sold effectively on infomercials.

MATTE FINISH: Dull paper finish without gloss.

MATURE MARKET: This refers to a market with lots of competition, and highly sophisticated prospects. Mature markets are much more difficult to sell products into because the prospects have heard all the claims and have become more distrustful of advertising. With all the competition, it’s much harder to stand out. For example, health and financial markets are so mature and difficult, companies are forced to hire top copywriters in order to defeat the competition. See also the definitions for ‘Maturity’ and ‘Sophistication.’

MATURITY: Designates how evolved a market is. The weight loss market is the perfect example of one that’s highly mature. Over the last century, prospects have been hit with virtually every possible type of promise, and every possible “new discover.” And because of that, the burden of proof and uniqueness is much, MUCH higher than it would be in a less mature market. You must understand the level of maturity or ‘sophistication’ in your market before you can conquer it.

MECHANISM: Also referred to as Mechanism of Action, this is the unique vehicle by which your prospect can achieve your benefits. A new dietary system is a mechanism for delivering the benefit of weight loss. The same goes for an herbal “fat blocker.” Same benefit, but different mechanisms. Revealing the mechanism adds overall believability to your promise, because it gives your prospect a glimpse into exactly how he’s going to achieve the benefit. Mechanisms are especially needed in competitive markets, because it’s what allows you to stand out and appear unique to your prospects. Looking back to the example of weight loss, new diets and weight loss products can succeed if they promise a strong and exciting enough new mechanism.

MERGE-PURGE: See “De-Dupe.”

MOMENTUM: The amount of power and intensity found in your body copy. Copy that reads quickly and easily … copy that’s harder to put down than to just keep reading … this is copy with momentum. The advantages of writing body copy with high levels of momentum are that your readership increases, more of your prospects make it to your order form … and you sell more product as a result.

NEGATIVE OPTION: A buying plan in which a club member or customer agrees to accept and pay for products or services announced in advance at regular intervals. The customers can stop the company shipping the products only if they notify them, within a reasonable time after announcement, not to ship the merchandise.

NESTING: Placing one enclosure within another before inserting them into a mailing envelope.

NET NAME ARRANGEMENT: An agreement where the list owner agrees to accept adjusted payment for less than the total names shipped to the list user (e.g. pay for total names mailed after duplicates are eliminated).

NET SALES: This is a little different than profits. ‘Net sales’ usually refers to the total revenue generated by sales of a product, minus fulfillment and marketing costs. That means that if you’re selling a course on the Internet for $500 … you sell 500 in a month … production and fulfillment costs you $25,000 … PPC advertising costs you $50,000 … your net sales number for the month is revenue ($500 x 500 = $250,000) minus costs ($75,000). That means net sales for the month is $175,000. As a copywriter working under a typical Internet royalty arrangement, you would have made about 10% of that, which is $17,500.

NEW CUSTOMER ACQUISITION: Promotions designed to attract new customers.

NEWSLETTERS: Often used as vehicle for customer acquisition, this is a publication direct response companies put out in order to build relationships with their products … and then sell them further products down the line. Many print newsletters delivered in the mail also come with other offers from the company. Take Alternatives newsletter written by Dr. Dave Williams. It often comes in an envelope filled with other offers for natural products and supplements – items the reader of the newsletter is qualified and likely to buy.

NICHE MARKET: The opposite of mass market. A niche market is a narrowly defined, specialized subject of interest that you can sell products into. The term ‘niche marketing’ has become something of a cliché in recent years, but the overall concept is solid: Pick a well-defined group of prospects … understand them on a deep level … create products specifically tailored to their most urgent desires … and then sell to them, outmarketing your competition. Many of the opportunities you’ll have as a copywriter will be to write for markets like this.

NIXIE: Undeliverable names on a mailing list.

NTH NAME: Method of selecting names from a larger file to create a smaller but geographically similar file. If a large file has 100,000 names and a mailer wants to test only 20,000 of them, the list would be sorted by zip code and every fifth name would be selected for testing.

OFFER: All of the factors included in the proposition being made to a prospect or customer – including price, quantity, length of subscription or membership, discounts, free gifts, guarantees, etc.

OPT-IN: This is the act of a prospect choosing to get on your e-mail list. It’s an essential step in direct response marketing on the Web, because it allows you to build a qualified list … legally. Sending out e-mails to prospects who have not officially opted in to your list and given you permission to contact them is called spam, and is against the law.

OUTBOUND TELEMARKETING: Calls that are placed by a marketer, as opposed to inbound telemarketing where the customer calls in first.

PACKAGE: A direct mail promotion piece. Can refer to an envelope containing several components or a self-mailer.

PACKAGE INSERT: Any promotional piece included in a mailed offer. It may be for different products from the same company, or for products and services from other companies.

PACKAGE TEST: A test of one or more elements of a promotion piece against another.

PAST PROMOTION: This is a term for a former test or control promotion that’s no longer running.

PAY UP: When you make a ‘soft offer’ (see the definition) to prospects, you’ve got to wait and see how many people actually end up paying for what they ordered. The amount of money that comes in relative to what should have been paid, is called ‘pay up.’ For example, if 1000 people ordered and 710 paid – the pay up would be 71%.

PERSONALIZATION: The use of the prospect’s name, address or other information in the text of a promotion.

PERSUASION: At the very heart of the advertising process, all serious marketers study the process of persuasion. Knowledge of what moves people and how to best persuade them not only makes you a great salesperson, it makes you a much more effective, powerful human being.

PIGGY-BACK: An offer that hitches a free ride with another offer.

POLY-BAG/POLY-WRAP/PLASTIC WRAP: See through plastic bag used instead of an envelope for mailing.

POP-UP: A Web page that pops up on top of the page a prospect is viewing.

POP-UNDER: A Web page that appears beneath the page a prospect is viewing and become visible when that page is closed.

POSITIONING: How you set up your product or service to be mentally perceived by your prospect. The term originally came from a legendary marketing book called, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It explains how people naturally categorize products and services in their mind, for the sake of simplicity and convenience. Because of this, they tend to only remember the leader in each category – the company or product that establishes itself as FIRST. For example, Coke is the leader in soft drinks … Xerox is the leader in copiers … Red Bull leads the energy drink category … and so on.

This is a concept Clayton has used to make himself and his clients a fortune over the years, by establishing new categories when necessary – and then placing his client’s product at the top of that new ladder. He did this for Dr. Julian Whitaker, who became the leader in revealing natural cures – and with Dr. Martin Weiss, who became the #1 guardian of investor safety.

The term ‘positioning’ can also be used very similarly to the idea of USP, where 1-2 sentences help describe where the product, spokesperson or company stands in the marketplace – and what makes him or her unique. Positioning is something that happens, whether you want it to or not, so it pays to think carefully about how you can control the process. Figure out how you want to position your product, your company and you as an individual for maximum uniqueness and overall impact. 

POSITIVE ACCEPTANCE STATEMENT: A recitation of the product’s most compelling benefits, often used at the beginning of response device copy.

PREMIUM: A free item offered to a potential buyer.

PROBLEM: Refers to the problem a prospect faces, which will hopefully be solved by your product or service. Looking closely at the problem(s) your prospect wants solved can be one of the most powerful things you do – because it helps tell you what his strongest, most urgent desires. Then, when you position your product or service as the solution that problem – the single best way to fulfill his core desire(s) – your chances of success are exponentially increased.

Nearly all of the most successful direct response promotions, both online and off, address urgent problems the prospect faces. When your product is clearly the best possible solution to that problem, you’re off to the races.

PRODUCT: Whatever you’re selling to the prospect. It can be physical – like a book, a nutritional supplement, or a DVD player … it can be digital – like an e-book or an audio recording … the possibilities are endless. The key things are that you always select great products to work with, and that you thoroughly study your product inside and out.

PROFITS: The difference between you overall revenue and costs. Sometimes profit is calculated purely on the basis of a product or a promotion. For example, you might sell $2 million worth of supplements and your overall cost – between mailing/advertising expenses and the cost of fulfilling the orders – is $1.3 million dollars. So that’s $700,000 in profit. However, this is not your bottom line profit number, as there are usually many other costs involved to run your business and operate. So you’ll need to differentiate between the net profit per promotion numbers and your end of the day or end of the year profit numbers.

PROJECT: Another word for the advertisement you’re writing. It can also be called an ‘assignment’ or ‘work.’ Use whatever terms helps you to be most productive.

PROMOTION: The word used throughout The Total Package for an advertisement. It comes from the verb ‘to promote’ – because you’re essentially exposing as many qualified buyers to your product or service as possible. You’re getting the word out, and closing sales in the process.

PROOF: The process by which you back up and support the claims you make in your promotion. Advertising is much like making an argument. It’s one thing to claim something is true that supports your case … but where’s your evidence? Why should the other person believe what you’re saying is true? To win an argument, you need proof for each key point. That’s your evidence, and to the extent that you can prove desirable promises in your sales copy – the more successful you’ll be. Copywriting legend Gary Bencivenga believes proof is the single most significant factor in increasing response these days, given how skeptical prospects have become these days. Read his bullets ( and you’ll find wonderful accounts of the power of proof.

PROSPECT: A potential buyer for a product or service who has yet to make a purchase.

PSYCHOGRAPHICS: While demographics describe objective facts about customers such as age, educational level, marital status, etc., psychographics describe preferences, interests, hobbies, and buying patterns.

PURGE: The process of removing duplicates and other unwanted names and addresses from a list or lists.

QUALIFIED PROSPECT: This refers to someone who has demonstrated that they’re an ideal candidate for your prospect or service. Some direct response companies use ‘bait’ – like having the prospect send in for a free report or gift – so that they know he’s qualified. Once he’s demonstrated that he’s qualified (by taking action on his interest), it’s easier to justify spending money to further him along in the sales process. For example, a TV commercial might advertise a free book for people looking to invest in real estate. Prospects can call and get it within days, all they have to do is pay the $2.95 for shipping and handling.

Of course, this company’s goal is not to simply give away free books. It’s real goal is to get people to come to a $2000 real estate seminar. They have a more elaborate promotional kit that’s expensive for them to produce, as well as live salespeople dedicated to closing prospects who are interested in attending the event. The goal of giving away the free book is to generate a solid list of highly qualified prospects – so that they waste as little time and money as possible sending kits and sales people after those who would never buy anyway. What makes those who respond to the book qualified? Well, first of all, the book is about the same subject as the seminar – is address the key problem facing the prospect, which in this case is the desire to make more money with less work, using real estate. Prospects who respond to this have displayed an interest that also makes them automatically interested in possibly attending the seminar.

Plus, having them pay for shipping can be a brilliant addition to this kind of strategy. And that’s because people who pay for something – even if it’s just a tiny fee – are much more serious about it. This helps weed out the people who’d never buy anything but love getting free stuff. And it makes those who respond better qualified for the offer to come.

There are other ways to look at the issue of qualification. For example, let’s say that you’ve got an Internet marketing product that’s designed to increase conversion on a website. And you’ve got a friend with a large list of prospects who’ve purchased a product on getting more traffic to their website.

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to see that prospects who’ve bought something about getting more traffic are going to naturally be interested in converting that traffic into paid customers. Which means that list highly qualified for your product.

RATE CARD: This is a sheet where you list the fees and conditions for the various services that you offer. You may list your rates for writing direct mail promotions … Web copy … e-mail campaigns … consulting … website makeovers … and anything else you offer. This should list what the client will be getting for the money he’s spending, along with some basic info about time and availability.

READABILITY: If you want to enjoy maximum response, you need to make your promotion as ‘readable’ as possible. This means that it must be easy to read, the copy must flow smoothly and stay interesting. Another expression writers use for this same concept is ‘slipperiness’ – where the reader just easily glides through your promotion from beginning to end. Some of the factors that contribute to your copy have this quality are the graphic design (the layout, colors, font choice, margins and other design choices should all make your copy easier to read) … the quality of your sales argument (faulty reasoning will stop a reader in his tracks) … smooth transitions … good word choice … and a few other factors.

"REASON-WHY" ADVERTISING: This is a term popularized by David Ogilvy, and it refers the advertising practice of systematically giving the prospect the most important reasons he should buy your product or service right now. This could include but is not limited to … reasons why the product will benefit him … reasons why it will solve his problems … reasons why he can believe what you’re saying … reasons why you’re different and superior to the other options he has access to … reasons why he needs to act immediately … and more.

RECENCY: The latest recorded information about a company or customer on a customer list, in relation to purchasing or other recorded activity.

RELATIONSHIP: One of the most overlooked principles in direct marketing, the relationship you have with prospects can literally make or break your success. You see, buying something entails risk and involves a certain level of trust. This is especially true with direct response marketing, because you’re selling products sight unseen. It requires a leap of faith on the prospect’s part.

But when you establish a positive ongoing relationship with your prospect – often times by bringing him immediate, FREE value … being an advocate and watchdog for his best interests … showing you’re similar to him …and staying in contact … an intimate relationship develops that makes the selling process dramatically easier.

This is one of the chief benefits of marketing on the Internet these days. With little or no cost to contact prospects, you can build a relationship with your prospects. Clayton and others have done it via a free e-zine, delivering exceptional value for free … and then transitioned into selling products. Other marketers do it via their blogs and extended product launches. However you accomplish this, the point is that there’s no stopping you or your clients from figuring out ways to deliver amazing value to your target group of prospects, and then creating paid products that help take them to the next level.

All this is made possible by the power of relationship.

RELATABILITY: This is a word I coined for how well a prospect can relate to your sales message – specifically, your Big Selling Idea. That means that the idea you convey must be something the prospect can quickly and easily relate to.

RELEVANCE – A powerful and underused term in marketing, this is the idea that your research of your prospect and market should always be relevant. In other words, your prospect has a million and one desires … thoughts … beliefs … feelings … and behaviors.

But only a handful of them are actually relevant to your goals in writing a winning promotion. And there’s really only one way to judge relevance: The extent to which that factor you’re studying influences the prospect’s likelihood to act on your offer.

The more you understand your subject matter, and the better you get to know the prospect, the more you’ll naturally laser in on his most relevant thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors. 

RENEWAL: A subscription that has been renewed prior to it expiring or within six months after that date.

RESEARCH: The process of gathering relevant data and information in order to better sell your products or services. But the research process certainly doesn’t end there! You’ll be gathering information all throughout your writing process – your proof elements, points for your argument, and much more. In fact, any time you run into a wall and feel like you need an additional fact … a better benefit … an improved bonding element … or anything else, you’re going to jump back into the ‘gathering’ process until you find what you need.

General Douglass McArthur once said that “An old soldier never dies, he just fades away.” Well the same could be said about research. You never really stop doing it, it just fades into the background as you complete and finalize your promotion.

RESPONSE RATE: Number of responses received as a percentage of the total number of advertising impressions or pieces mailed.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI): Total net profit of a promotion divided by the cost of the promotion. An ROI of 100% indicates that the mailer broke even.

RFA: Acronym for Recency, Frequency and Amount. RFA codes are used to select small groups of buyers on a larger file. A marketer may choose, for example to mail only to customers who have bought within the last 90 days (Recency), have bought three times in the last year (Frequency) and who have spent a certain amount of money with the company or on each sale (Amount).

ROI: Stands for return on investment. In direct response – and especially in direct mail – the ROI of a promotion is one of the most absolutely critical numbers. This represents the percentage of the campaign’s cost that is recovered by sales that result from it, or more simply, the profit-building power of the campaign. The ROI can be calculated by subtracting the campaign cost from the profit from sales that resulted from the campaign, then dividing by the campaign cost.

For example, pretend that a campaign with advertising costs of $10,000 generates $30,000 in total sales. Let’s also say that the product itself costs $8,000. The total cost would be $18,000 and profit from these sales might be $12,000 (subtracting both the advertising and product costs). The campaign profit is thus $12,000 - $10,000 = $2,000. The ROI is thus $2,000 / $10,000 = 20%.

Calculating the ROI provides a way to compare different direct marketing campaigns or to compare a DM campaign with other marketing efforts. The higher the ROI, the more effective that campaign or technique is for generating profit.

ROLLOUT: After testing a campaign, to continue it. Rollouts are typically larger than the test mailing and include promotion to larger list segments or entire list universes.

ROYALTIES: A fee generally paid to give incentives to copywriters, based on number of direct mail packages mailed. Typical royalties vary between $10/M and $50/M.

RUNNING TEXT: This is another word for the Body Copy of your advertisement. It’s the text from the lead all the way to the close, and does not include Sidebars. It’s called ‘running’ because it runs from the beginning of your promotion all the way to the end.

SAFE MONEY REPORT: This is the newsletter publication written by Dr. Martin Weiss, Ph.D. that Clayton helped explode in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Safe Money Report was Weiss Research’s (the name of Dr. Weiss’ company) front-end vehicle for acquiring new customers – and as a direct result of Clayton’s guidance and promotions, became the #1 selling $99 investment letter in the country. This allowed them to make a fortune selling high-end investment services ranging from $1,000 … all the way up to $25,000 … and helped Weiss Research reach annual sales in excess of $100,000,000.

SALES: Whenever someone spends money with you, it’s considered a sale. Often you’ll hear direct marketers talk about “growing your sales and profits” and in that sense, ‘sales’ is another word for ‘revenue’ or total sales. You’ll also often hear writers and marketers use expressions like, “as a result of this program, you’ll make many more sales.” In this sense, the word ‘sales’ just means orders. See ‘Salesmanship In Print’ for more.

SALES ARGUMENT: The series of points you make in your sales copy, with the goal of persuading your prospect to buy. For example, in your research process you may discover that there are six main reasons why your prospect should buy your anti-cancer supplement product.  Those reasons might be something like this:

  1. Studies from Harvard show that selenium is chief nutrient responsible for cancer prevention. People with an abundance of selenium in their system are 80% less likely to contract cancer.
  2. The problem is that selenium is completely deficient from US food supply. You can’t get it in your daily diet.
  3. The problem is further complicated by the fact that most selenium supplements are useless – too large for your body to absorb.
  4. But a revolutionary new technology has created a new type of selenium supplement that’s 100% absorbable by your body.
  5. That means you can reverse your selenium deficiency in a matter of minutes.
  6. Bottom line: You can help prevent cancer simply by taking this revolutionary new selenium supplement!

See, this is a logical argument that helps you make the sale. Hence the term, “Sales Argument.”

SALESMANSHIP IN PRINT: When John E. Kennedy was asked the question, “What is advertising?” His response was simple: “Salesmanship in print.” And Kennedy’s meaning was simple. The only purpose of advertising was to sell goods. And with that purpose in mind, the ad should do everything a good salesman would do in person. It should stimulate the prospect’s interest … get him excited about those benefits … make everything believable … and then motivate him to take action.

This simple expression cuts right to the heart of direct response advertising. For more on the story of John E. Kennedy and the history of direct response marketing.

SALES PITCH: An expression that’s used in reference to the sales argument of your copy. This term is usually used less formally, it’s almost “slang” for what master copywriters and salespeople do naturally when selling a product.

SCANNER – This is term for the kind of person who doesn’t really read the copy word-for-word, rather he scans over it looking for a main idea, the price, the offer or anything that interests him. Scanners tend to have shorter attention spans, and because they invest less in the reading process, are often more difficult to turn into actual buyers.

SEED: A name inserted deliberately into a list to monitor list usage. See also “dummy”

SELF-MAILER: Any promotion that is mailed without a carrier envelope.

SELLING VOICE: If you’re a copywriter, you’ll need to develop a “voice” – a specific tone and style – that you use in your sales copy to sell product. This is called a “selling voice” because it’s very different than the voice used in other forms of writing. Yes, it needs to be friendly and personal – but it also needs to be extremely “you oriented” and focused on the benefits awaiting the prospect. It takes time to develop your own unique selling voice – with the tone and style it takes to persuade prospects who read your copy. But it’s worth it.

SERVICE: – Used most often in the expression “product or service” – this usually refers to the process of selling something other than a physical product. Some examples of services are consultations, cleaning, evaluations, lawyer work, doctor visits and much more. Pretty much anything you do for the prospect would be considered a service.

SIDEBARS: Sidebars are the little blocks of text that you so often see in magalogs and Internet landing pages. The purpose of a sidebar is to present copy that’s entirely distinct from the ‘running text’ of a promotion. Sidebars allow you to present benefits, proof elements, testimonials and ‘calls to action’ that don’t quite fit into your running text, yet are vital to your success. Sidebars also allow you to support and reinforce key elements of your running text, at exactly the right time.

SOPHISTICATION: The more ‘mature’ a prospect and overall market is, the more ‘sophisticated’ it’s considered to be. The term really refers to the level of exposure the prospect and market has received to advertisements for products like yours. And it makes sense when you think about it: Someone who’s seen little or no advertising for products about health supplements is going to much more naïve, trusting and less skeptical than the person who’s been exposed to countless advertisements for those kinds of products.

It’s just common sense. When you’re repeatedly promised something, over and over again, you see that many of those promises don’t hold up. Also, you see that while everyone is claiming to be unique, they’re all essentially saying the same thing. So who do you believe? This process forces you to become much more discerning about what you believe and who you trust … you tend to “read between the lines” much more than unsophisticated prospects … and, consequently, it becomes much more challenging to reach this kind of prospect.

Knowing this, it’s easy to see why you MUST address the sophistication of your prospect in every piece of copy you write. Otherwise, you won’t be speaking to him in a meaningful way, and you’ll be dismissed in a matter of seconds.

SPACE AD: This refers to a shorter type of direct response print ad that is placed in newspapers, magazines, and other print publications. The ‘space’ aspect of the name comes from the fact that these ads are often priced and sold on the basis of the space they take up on the page – the bigger the ad in the magazine or newspaper, the more expensive it is.

SPECIAL REPORT: This is a document that’s absolutely critical to the success in creating and selling information products. Special reports are compilations of valuable free information – specifically tailored to solve a problem, and provide immediate benefit to the prospect. Here are some examples of some Special Reports: In the financial market, The Beginner’s (and Expert’s) Guide to Safe & Simple Overseas Investing … in the health market, How to De-Plaque Your Arteries … for financial opportunity seekers, How to Get Free Money to Quit Your Job … for Internet marketers, The Internet Business Manifesto (why most Internet entrepreneurs fail, and how to thrive online while working less) … the possibilities are endless.

Special Reports can be used in many, many ways. Online, they’re often used to entice the prospect into opting into the e-mail list, which then allows the marketer to develop a relationship and sell the products via e-mail. They may also be used as value-added free gifts and premiums, which sweeten the appeal and overall value of the offer. In direct mail, you could see up to ten Special Reports given away free on a single offer. The cool thing about these reports is that they can be easily changed according to the prospect and the times, so that they stay current and address his most pressing problems.

You see this most often in the financial market, where topical events are constantly causing shifts in the market, prospect psychology and everything else. For example, financial newsletters change every single month and it’s difficult to sell the information inside the newsletter itself. But when you offer highly compelling Special Reports that show the prospect how to get rich – this information can be sold effectively. In this sense, the Special Reports become the stars of these newsletter promotions.

SPLIT TEST: Representative samples from the same list, used for package tests, or to test homogeneity of the list.

SPOKESPERSON: This is the person who stands behind the product or service. Often times, it’s either the founder of the company, or someone brought on board to be the face. A mainstream example of a spokesperson is Michael Jordan for Gatorade. In direct response, celebrities are rarely used as spokespeople. One exception is a Vanessa Williams, the face for the direct response giant, Proactiv.

The role of a spokesperson is several-fold: 1) to bond with the prospect, by making the advertising message more fun and likeable … 2) to lend credibility the product, company and overall offer – through the stature and expertise the spokesperson has developed in the related field … 3) to humanize the sales copy, making it come from a passionate advocate rather than a faceless corporation.

Having powerful, likeable, trustworthy expert in place as your spokesperson makes your sales copy much stronger because then it’s written from one person to another – and we’re hard wired to respond better to this form of communication.

The process of finding the right spokesperson is often critical to the success of a direct response company. If the owner of the company – or the creator of the product – is not ideally suited for this role (either he’s boring, unqualified, ugly or unfitting in another way), then you need to seek out a qualified face. Again, the criteria is simple: 1) as highly qualified/renown as possible … 2) as likeable and charismatic a personality as possible … 3) good looks never hurt (because, according to Dr. Cialdini, good looking people are more persuasive) … and 4) a passion for the subject matter.

SPREAD: In direct response, this term most often refers to the two pages running together in a magalog or bookalog. For example, if the cover of a magalog is page 1, then pages 2 and 3 would be a single spread. Sometimes, it’s helpful to think of the spread because you can stretch your headline across the top of a spread.

SQUEEZE PAGE: This is a webpage that’s entirely dedicated to capturing a visitor’s name and e-mail address. This is what allows direct response marketers to build a list on the Internet … develop a relationship with that list … and then sell products and services to the prospects on that list.

STATEMENT STUFFER: Printed piece inserted in an envelope carrying a customer's statement of account.

STEP UP: Special premiums used to get a mail order buyer to increase his unit of purchase.

STRATEGY: Strategy is the backbone of your marketing efforts, the overriding plan of attack that guides everything you do. Different from a ‘tactic’ or ‘technique’ – which is a specific action you take in order to increase the results you’re getting – ‘strategy’ is the higher level vision, the 1,000-foot view.

Understanding and being able to operate on a strategic level is absolutely critical to your success, because no ‘tactic’ will work in the long run – unless guided by the proper strategy.

SUBHEAD: The little bolded sentences you see, usually every 4-8 paragraphs. The purpose of subheads is fourfold: 1) To give the prospect “eye-relief,” because reading large blocks of text without a subhead can be intimidating and straining … 2) To catch a ‘scanner’s’ attention and bring him back down into the copy (this is why your subheads should be intriguing and benefit-oriented … more on this in a second) … 3) To help the reader mentally categorize the various sections of the copy and make more sense of it … 4) When done properly, to increase the tempo and impact of your copy – increasing the likelihood that he’ll read to the end.

Good subheads typically (though not always) contain a benefit and an element of intrigue. And in that sense, they’re very much like the process of writing ‘blind bullets.’

SUCCESS RATE: See Track Record

SUPPLEMENTS: The word used to collectively refer to vitamins, minerals, and any other nutritional-based product. Nutritional supplements are so often sold via direct response because a complete argument can be made for the product. This is especially critical with so many different supplement products available on the market. Using long copy, you can show … all the benefits of your product … what makes it unique and different … prove everything extensively … make a compelling offer, with added bonus value … and then urge your prospect to act now.

SWIPE FILE: A collection of successful promotions, ads and sales letters you use to get ideas from. Swipe files are a great way to study the copy techniques and approaches that are working in a particular market. And a great resource to see how to write strong sales copy.

SWIPING: The term used for when a copywriter ‘borrows’ the words from another winning promotion, changing them to suit his own needs. Headlines are probably the most commonly ‘swiped’ copywriting element. For example, many Internet copywriters have taken John Carlton’s famous one-legged golfer headline: 
“Amazing Secret Discovered by One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards to Your Drives … Eliminates Hooks and Slices … and Can Slash Up 10 Strokes from Your Game Almost Overnight!”

TACTICAL: Considered to be the flip of side of ‘strategic’ – the term ‘tactical’ refers to the ground level, nitty-gritty actions you take in order to improve your results. Examples of tactics might be upselling, referral strategies, testing, or other concrete steps you can take.

On a copywriting level, tactics may include specific things like bullet writing, guarantees, tweaking your body copy and that sort of thing. It’s different than the big picture, overview stuff that guides your overall promotion.

Tactics are absolutely vital to the success of a business and to the success of a copywriting promotion, but they must be guided by strategy. Most marketers focus all their efforts on tactics, because tactics are often easier to understand and sexier, and neglect the strategic stuff.

TARGET: This term often refers to the ideal prospect or market that you seek out. A ‘target prospect’ is one who is well qualified for your product or service, he’s the person you want your marketing efforts and sales copy to reach. Also, you’ll often hear the term ‘target market’ used to refer to the ideal group of prospects to go after.

For example, these are some of the first things you want to ask yourself as a copywriter, “What’s my target market? Who is my target prospect?” The more accurately and specifically you can answer these questions – based on the research you’ve done about your product or service – the better you’ll be able to guide your writing process. Remember, effective copy is not about being showy, entertaining or exciting. It’s about accuracy – matching what you promise and prove up with exactly what your prospect and market is looking for. The closer you get to a bulls eye in this area, the more successful you’ll be.

TEASER COPY: This is very related to the process of bullet writing, it’s just that teaser copy is usually a little longer. Used extensively in the process of information products, this process is about building up the value of your information WITHOUT revealing the secret.

TECHNIQUES: Much like the word ‘tactic,’ this term refers to any specific thing you can do to increase the overall performance and impact of your marketing and sales copy.

TELEMARKETING: Using telecommunications in sales and marketing efforts.

TEST PANEL: A term used to identify each of the parts or samples in a split test.

THEME: This the guiding overall vision for your copy. In conjunction with your Big Selling Idea, your Theme directs your copy. Your theme determines what you say in your copy … how you structure it … how you build up your problem and present the solution … and much more.

Most beginning copywriters spend very little time thinking about their theme, while advanced “A-list” copywriters spend a significant amount of their process on the theme. In fact, most top writers conduct their research with the hope of discovering the blockbuster Big Selling Idea and theme – and do not write a single word of copy until they’ve uncovered it.

TILL FORBID: An order by a customer which is to continue until the customer advises you to stop. Till forbid can also be abbreviated to "TF.”

TOKEN: An involvement device, usually a removable sticker or perforated order card. Prospects are directed to move the token from its original location in the promotion to the order device to signify they want to buy.

TOPICAL: Topicality is a very important consideration when you’re designing a promotion. You see, whatever’s in the news – especially news that affects your market – is almost certain to affect your prospect’s psychology and desires.

In the financial market, topicality is everything. Prospects are constantly watching the news … reading the Wall Street Journal … checking financial websites … and in order to meet them psychologically, you need to know what they’re thinking and feeling about.

Whatever market you’re writing copy in, the key is to find out what kind of events … trends … people … and concerns are affecting your prospects. What kind of conversations are your prospects having … what are they thinking about? The more you can get in touch with them and the events that are impacting their ability to make a purchase decision, the better off you’ll be.

TRACK RECORD: This is the documented record of performance experienced by you, your editor or spokesperson or your company. Though it’s most often used in the financial markets (referencing the advisor’s performance in selecting winning stocks) … track records can be used in the health market (a doctor’s record at curing patients) … the marketing arena (a consultant’s record of performance in helping companies) … and many other industries.

Track records are one of the strongest forms of credibility – if you can make it well-documented and specific, because it tells your prospect the realistic probability of success. For example, if you’re a consultant who’s produced a significant profit for over 90% of your clients, that tells the prospect there’s a VERY good chance he’ll make more money with you.

In order to effectively tap into the power of a track record, you (or your client) MUST carefully document what measure of success you’re using – whether it’s customer satisfaction … profits … health recoveries … or anything else. This requires a system of monitoring success so that you can use it in your promotions.

TRUST: Trust is a big part of the selling process. People tend to buy from people they trust. And there are a variety of ways to enhance the relationship you have with prospects, including their overall level of trust with you.

Some of them can include … showing that you’re similar … being vulnerable and showing weakness … displaying genuine care and empathy for them and their problems … giving them value BEFORE asking them to buy anything … and much more.

It’s also crucial to consider the trustworthiness of your spokesperson – making sure you have the right face standing behind your product or service. People need to identify with the person they’re following, and the more they do this, the more they’ll buy. In certain markets, like with doctors selling supplements, prospects can develop such trust that they will buy almost any product the doctor offers. They trust his advice over all others.

TWO YOUNG MEN PROMOTION: This is the famous Wall Street Journalpromotion, considered by many to be the most successful advertisement of all time. It’s estimated that this one piece of copy has generated over a billion dollars in sales.

ULTIMATE OUTCOME: This is a term sometimes used for the optimum picture and result your prospect wants to experience. For example, the Great Gary Halbert used to say that the overweight prospect just wanted to pop a pill … sit on the couch and watch TV … and then wake up slim in the morning. This is the ultimate outcome, and the closer you can come to promising and proving this for the prospect – the more excited he’ll be.

The key is NOT over-promising or misleading him anyway, just because you know what he wants. Rather it’s structuring your product or service in a way that it actually delivers the ultimate outcome he’s looking for. This way, you can promise it in your copy in a believable and honest way.

UNDERSTANDING: The process of understanding – whether it’s your prospect, your market, your product or company – all this is absolutely essential to your success.

UNIQUENESS: This idea is absolutely fundamental to advertising. If you can’t make your product or service come across as unique, the prospect will not buy. It has no value to him and he simply moves on.

UNIVERSE: Total number of those who might be able to be included in a mailing list; all of whom fit a single set of specifications.

UPSELL: The act of asking the prospect to buy something else – at the point of purchase. The reasoning behind the upsell process is that he’s hot for your product … he trusts … he’s got his wallet out and is in “full buying mode” … so why not ask him to get something else. Even though many prospects say no, a good percentage will often say yes. Especially if you offer them something valuable, appealing and highly complimentary to whatever they just purchased.

USP: Stands for Unique Selling Proposition. This is the condensed explanation for why you’re different and superior to the competition. It showcases the unique advantages or benefits that you offer your prospect, in a concentrated compelling way.

VALUE: One of the most overlooked principles in advertising, your success in selling the value of your product or service is everything. The prospect must feel he’s getting adequate value for his money – meaning the impact your product’s benefits have on his life well exceeds the cost.

Infomercials are often exceptional at convincing the prospect of the value they’re offering. For example, they’ll present the prospect with a supersonic blender that replaces all kinds of other appliances … is high powered … saves the prospect time … gives them a whole new world of food prep options … and then costs less than anything available in stores. On top of that, they often offer the prospect a second one absolutely free – along with 1-2 valuable bonuses.

So much value is being offered for the price, the prospect feels like an idiot if he doesn’t order. You want to do the same in your advertising. Sometimes it’s a matter of emphasizing the right benefits … other times you might need to bolster the offer and bonuses. Both are great ways to ratchet up the perceived value of your product or service.

THE VALUE SALE: The ‘Value Sale’ is the term Clayton coined for the process of building up the perceived value of your product or service. You see, whenever the prospect is considering buying something, he must convinced of its value. And it must be convinced that his has greater value than the other options he has in that same product category and price range.

VIRGIN: as in Virgin Prospects or Virgin List. When a prospect or list has not yet been marketed to (or very little) then we often call them ‘virgin.’ Virgin prospects – by definition – are much less sophisticated and are easier to sell to. Your promises are going to be met with less skepticism – and the burden of proof when selling to them is much less.

WARM: The term ‘warm’ refers to how qualified and ‘ready’ a prospect is to buy. Warm prospects are typically those who already knows and trusts you … who’s expressed interest in your product or service (or something very similar) … and who’s taken steps to find out more about what you’re offering.

WHITE MAIL: A response to a promotion, complaint, comment or other mail that does not contain a key code and therefore the test panel is not known.

WINNER OR WINNING PROMOTION: This is the term used for successful copy. Not always synonymous with the word ‘control’ – this is usually used to describe a promotion that has done very well, and made lots of money by the client’s standards. It goes without saying that the more winners you have under your belt, the more attractive you become to potential clients.

WINNING PERCENTAGE: See also Track Record or Success Rate. This term is used to describe how often your copy becomes the control when it’s tested against others. Not many writers keep a strict record of their winning percentage, but it’s rumored that Gary Bencivenga’s copy beat others about 7 out of 8 times. In other words, his winning percentage was approximately 85%. If your copy does start to get tested against other quality competition, it’s a good idea to document how you do. That’s because – should your numbers become impressive, you will have a very powerful selling tool when promoting yourself.

WRITER’S BLOCK: When you want to write, but you can’t think of anything to say – the feeling is often called ‘writer’s block.’ Things just seem to be stuck and no matter how hard you try, it’s difficult to get a flow going in terms of getting words out onto the page.


The above glossary is borrowed from Clayton Makepeace and The Profit Center