September 27

WYODC CONFIDENTIAL #32: Two Copy Mistakes that Got Me Fired (Pt 2)


Hey Sup!

Ideally you should read this email only when you have read Part 1 (which is the last email)

In my last email, I shared how it’s important to ensure that your promise is well-supported with proof. 

Because in the world of Copywriting, it’s extremely easy for us to get carried away with our claims and promises. At least, this was true for me two or three years back.

That gave my former boss a not very good impression. 

In this email, I wanna share about the biggest mistakes I made as a copywriter… 

Once again, I think this is gonna be stuff that most gurus don’t share… 

Cause you only hear about how most marketers and copywriters generally only talk about the good stuff… e.g. How much money they’ve made for their clients.

It’s like how most trading gurus will only talk about how much they’ve made in the stock market. Hardly anyone talks about their failures and bad trades. 

The reason why I wanna share this is because… 

I foresee that there will be increased regulation on the IM industry as a whole.

If you’re in this space, you can probably tell that your copy has to comply with stricter rules as compared to the good old days in 2016-2017.

I predict that it’s only gonna get worse from here. Regulation will become a far bigger bitch in 2022-2023.

Plus, consumers are becoming much more educated and smarter than ever before. 

These are the obstacles I see lining ahead for the DR industry as a whole. 

And that’s briefly why I’m sharing this… 

Lemme get back to where I left off from part 1:

Back then in 2019, I was still kind of green. I didn’t know how to consult. Neither did I know how to assess my client’s brand direction and personality.

I felt that these factors were irrelevant as long as the copy I wrote made money.

In fact, there’s a saying in the Direct-Response Space… 


I thought:

“If David is right… the inverse should also be true…” 

That means… if it sells… it should also be creative.

While the copy I wrote works really well at generating leads… the other thing that didn’t sit very well with the CEO was that my copy was creating a lot of enemies… 

Here’s the context… 

One of the techniques I applied was to create a Strawman Enemy… where I explained how a certain person or a group of people is responsible for the problems of your target market.

Now while the strategy worked and the email performed well… it made my client a lot of enemies. 

In that email, I blasted financial advisors for their tendency to “make themselves richer”, not their clients. And how we should all learn how to invest to get more bang for our buck. 

Now naturally, I got what I wanted – a Us vs Them scenario where I portrayed financial advisors as the bad guy. 

This pissed off a lot of people in the insurance space and it created a major forest fire for my company’s founder to fight. 

Of course, my CEO wasn’t too happy about it.

And my contract was terminated shortly. 

When I did this… there were a few things I felt that I should have considered back then but I didn’t.

These are ideas like:

  1. Running through my copy angles and strategy with the CEO himself to ensure that it’s compliant and factual. Not making any sweeping statements. In one of the emails, I wrote a sweeping statement which got my company into hot soup. My boss had to take care of the mess I created. 
  2. Checking the idea of creating the “Strawman Enemy” with him to see if he likes it. Asians have the tendency to avoid controversy and hence they are less direct when it comes to criticism. Although this strategy may work well in a Western context (perhaps Clickbank products), it didn’t sit well with my CEO at all because my copy created a lot of backlash and enemies. Moreover, the market my company was in was very small… and it’s an ecosystem where everyone knows each other. 
  3. Just being very careful with Major and Minor Claims. We often see Major Claims in the headline or lead… but we often ignore Minor Claims because the devil is in the details. E.g. When you say… we are better than competitor XYZ… we have to prove our case… “How are we better?” If not, it’s just an unsubstantiated claim. And even though it’s minor, it may create problems for you down the road. 
  4. Big Picture vs Tunnel Vision. Back then I didn’t have a big vision or plan to help my company grow. Instead I was more focused on the tactics which were extremely short-sighted in hindsight now I look back at it. 

The truth is to do marketing well…  complex and there are a lot of moving parts you have to manage.

Your products/offers. Your message. Your target market. Your clientele and the various stakeholders. 

This is even more true if you’re running multi-million dollar marketing campaigns because usually the bigger the business… there will be more stakeholders… and the bigger the scrutiny as well.

This is why Agora hires an army of lawyers and legal experts to defend them from regulation.

It sounds kind of ironic… but even as a marketer… you need to have a broad, bird-eye’s view of your client’s business if you want to add more value than the average Joe. 

If you’re a copywriter or a marketer, if you can think outside the lens of a copywriter or marketer for your client… and more of an entrepreneur or business owner… 

Your client will definitely thank you and keep coming back for more…




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