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Letter: Direct Marketing: Love It or Leave It

As someone who has written hundreds of direct response letters, postcards, catalogs and Web sites over the years, my interest was piqued when I received an envelope with the teaser headline, “Can You Write A Letter Like the One Inside? Answer ‘Yes,’ and you’ll be in big demand!” I opened the envelope and received a slap in the face.

The package is from the American Writers & Artists Institute of Delray Beach, FL, selling Michael Masterson’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting” for the low price of just $492.

Apparently, when I was a freelance copywriter, I was working way too hard. According to Paul Hollingshead (allegedly a freelance writer), copywriting is easy, low-cost and offers huge returns. “How huge? How does 1 million percent sound?” Paul says he’s used his new copywriting skills to earn more than $1 million. And he says, “The crazy thing about it is, I’m nothing special – in fact, I flunked high school English.” Today, he never has to work if he doesn’t want to and he starts his day whenever he pleases. Why? Because “there is literally thousands of dollars worth of work waiting for me anytime I want it on any given day. Checks that are mine to accept or turn down. Not a bad gig!” I’ll say!

The package also contains an eight-page letter from Bill Bonner of Agora Publishing just begging anyone to take the course because “there simply aren’t enough people to write the letters I need to mail each month.” (Current freelancers take note!) Bill is equally reassuring about the cushiness of this new career: “The work is infinitely easier! A computer or typewriter is all you really need! We’re not after literary prizes. We don’t even care much about punctuation or other ‘rules’ of proper writing!”

Is the state of direct response creative such that the only way to attract writers is to pitch the profession as a get-rich-quick investment? And more importantly, is the state of the direct response industry such that we can tolerate slamming ourselves as hacks and losers whose most recent jobs were “stocking the dog food aisle at a local grocery chain?” (Hollingshead’s prior job.)

Here’s some creative copywriting for Paul Hollingshead, Bill Bonner and Michael Masterson: Go away. (And if you need a good freelance writer, I can hook you up with several who care about punctuation and “proper writing.”)

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