8 Copy Mistakes that Sabotage Results

Direct-response expert Lee Marc Stein pinpoints eight common writing mistakes that hurt response:


Writers of business-to-business and financial services mail often forget that people respond to advertising with both their heads and hearts, Stein says. A mailing package or a print ad is not simply a logical sales presentation. A 100% logical creative product lacks reader-engaging warmth and emotion and lacks interesting surprises that grab the reader’s attention.

“Generic” sells.

Effective marketers specify exactly why the products they are promoting offer more and richer benefits than other products.

Overestimating your reader’s I.Q.

Most copy veterans warn against underestimating your audience’s intelligence. Yet erring the other way also can weaken results. Give your readers product background that help them understand about what is being sold, how it can help them, and how to buy it.

Not varying your volume

Constant high noise in a promotion piece drives prospects to buy earplugs.

Assuming readership

The first job of every copywriter is to provide the reader with an answer to “Why should I bother reading this? What’s in it for me?”

Benefit glut

Many marketers fail to distinguish between primary and secondary benefits. So they use the kitchen-sink approach and throw 50 benefits at the prospect all at once—which almost guarantees that the reader will not respond.

Phony Testimonials

Don’t use testimonials that read as if they were written by you.


Prospects can sense when your enthusiasm for what you are promoting begins to flag, and it leaves a sour taste in their mouths.

See also:

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