Direct Response Copywriting Tip – Contrast To Convince

by Sarah on December 29, 2015


“You’ve got potato bug picking duty.”  At these words, my daughter’s face transformed into a grimace.  As if she had just eaten one of these striped rascals.


It’s Saturday morning and we’re starting out our weekend chores.  The kids moan and groan a bit – almost out of obligation – and then we get going.


But this morning my daughter kept the groaning going. “Mom, it’s so hot.  And Ihate picking potato bugs.” Complaint tagged after complaint, ending with the usual “Do I have to?”


Several years of chores like this one have helped turn these squeamish kids into reasonable farm hands.  But there are some things that still just get to them. Picking potato bugs is one.  I have photos from when they were ages 5 and 8, taking on these spud leaf nibblers.  They geared up like they were taking on toxic biohazards.  Not only did they put on gloves, but they also had on full rain gear – coats and pants – big boots, and goggles to top things off! (BTW it was in the high seventy’s that day!)


I guess I’ve spent enough time messing with grubby stuff and grubs that it doesn’t faze me anymore.  And with a big to-do list on my mind, I was in no mood to back down.  I figured, she just had to get over this one, too.  But I knew there had to be a way to send her off to the potato patch with minimal cajoling.


Copywriting technique saved the morning . . .


“Okay, you can either pick potato bugs . . . or clean out this pig barn . . .”  Ellie looked beyond me to the mess of straw, dirt and pig manure, made into a noxious stew by two weeks of rain.  Her face wrinkled up even more, like she had swallowed two potato bugs frosted with swine sludge . . .


“I’ll do potato bugs . . . ” she sighed, turned around and headed over to the garden.


I just used one of my essential copywriting techniques.  A standby that million-dollar health copywriter, Clayton Makepeace, revealed to me.  Something that should always go into your copy at some point, but most strategically towards the end:


Compare and contrast buying the product with other outcomes and with other uses of your money.


Basically, no one wants to spend money.  And now especially, getting someone to open up their wallet is like pulling teeth.  So your job as a copywriter is to create a context for this distasteful act.  A context that transforms it to being palatable if not delightful.  


You want your prospect (who’s feeling that anxiety about shelling over money for a book or supplement or services) to relax, feel confident.  Not feel that cramp in her stomach of “Ooh, do I have to spend this?”  Am I going to regret it?


The best way to do this is a two-step process:


One, keep your focus on the benefits of your product.  Reiterate the image your prospect should have of how your product will change and improve their life.


As part of this image, contrast it to the yucky-muck alternative.  Perhaps it’s spending lots of money on doctor’s visits and prescription drugs.  Perhaps it’s never having the energy to visit friends or get that pile of laundry folded. Perhaps it’s the frustration of watching jeans after pair of jeans go into storage as you go up another size.


Contrast the life you offer with the unsavory alternatives.


Two, contrast the expense to other expenses.  Minimize the amount your product costs in the context of how much your prospect is spending on other items without even blinking. You see this all the time in sales materials. Simply because it works.


The usual contrast is to a cup of Starbucks or a gallon of gas . . .


The cost of a newspaper subscription . . .

The cost of orange juice . . .

The cost of a bagel and cream cheese . . .

The cost of cable each month . . .


Essentially you’re positioning your product in the context of your prospect’s hopes, fears, dislikes, habitual comforts and more.


You’ve got something that can make your prospect’s life better, so let them know about it.  And just like it’s your job as a copywriter to explain the benefits, it’s your job to diminish the pain of parting with some of their increasingly-precious money by placing the purchase in a context.


Just like forty minutes picking potato bugs can turn into an easy – relativelypainless – Saturday morning chore.


Now if I could just find a way to make the pig barn palatable . . .


======== Resource Review ===================


Last week I told you about a great course that will help you find those overlooked SEO niches that can really help your business thrive.


It’s a course by Nick Usborne, one of the masters of writing for the web.


I recommended the course as a great way to learn about strategic key word research and SEO.  But it’s so much more . . .


The course is actually about how to create a money-making website that can become a source of passive income.  Nick wrote the course after his own experience in creating two information-rich websites – one on coffee-makers and one on web writing – that bring him over $5000 monthly.  Without him doing much work at all.


He writes a few articles, develops a few angles for monetizing it.  But it doesn’t really take a lot of work to keep them growing and paying him back.


Now, plenty of programs offer keys to making money on the web in relatively painless ways.  Nick delivers.  It’s not some overnight scheme, mind you.  It can take some time.  But it’s guaranteed to work.


I’ve worked with Nick as a coaching student.  He’s deliberate and thoughtful.  And he has a wealth of experience behind him.


But that’s not all.  When I read through the course, I knew that this made sense.


I’ve got a copy and I’m busy working on my website on family fitness.  And I’ve got a couple of other ideas simmering in the background as well!  Essentially, Nick’s course offers a great way to turn sharing your passion into creating an income.


Now this course will be around for a while – but right now there’s a special offer on it that would be terrible to miss.  Nick offered it on his recent free teleconference – and he’s been kind enough to extend it to people who weren’t on the call as well.


But it’s only good through Thursday July 30.


So I wouldn’t wait on this.  It’s a rich resource no matter how you look at it.  You can find out more about the course and the additional bonues (and discounts) here:


======Industry News, Tidbits and More . . .=============


Despite all the economic turmoil – and maybe because of it – people are still investing in their health.  Nutrition Business Journal just reported that in 2008, the supplement industry grew 8.7%!  You can read more about this here:


You might also want to check out my latest article for NBJ on emarketing.  It has a special section online about SEO and FDA, drawing from an interview with Marc Ullman, one of the most knowledgeable attorneys within the supplement industry.


You can see the online article here:


And you might want to check out this recent article on FTC enforcement prioritiesfor the supplement industry.


Also I’ve come across a couple nice free tidbits online:


One, from the Hartman Group, talks about marketing superfruits and provides some super food for thought.


And if you’re trying to figure your way around social media – a great tactic for this recession – you might want to check out this free report from Oneupweb.  It’s a good overview of the different formats out there as well as provides an extensive glossary.



======The Question(s) of the Month =================


How is this recession affecting you, your work, your business?  (We have a spectrum of readers here – copywriters, business-owners, marketing managers, etc.).  Some businesses I’ve spoken to are experiencing growth and trying to keep up while others are feeling the pinch hard . . . what’s going on with you?


__We’re experiencing growth.

__We’re feeling a bit of a slowdown, but not so bad.

__We’re feeling the pinch and it’s beginning to hurt.


What are you thinking is your most tactical form of marketing right now?


What would you like to learn more about so you can implement it or improve your implementation of it?


Just put some x’s in and hit reply – but add more if you can.  I really like to hear the more extensive answers in your own words but even if you can just get to the first question that would be great!


And BTW, please tell me what you think of this newsletter – is this too much stuff?  Or just right.



======== Final Notes ===========================


I know how you’ve been holding out for this salad dressing recipe.  I would too – I’m a sucker for recipes.  And believe me, once you taste it you will be wondering why I’m not selling this.  But some good things are just good to share.  And in any case, I’m not up to figuring out how to manufacture it, bottle it, distribute it, etc.  I’ll stick with the writing part . . .


This makes enough to fill up a pint mason jar . . .and  a little more that I eat right away out of the Cuisinart.  We go through a pint every 3-4 days since we have it on everything – rice, potatoes, greens, chicken – not just salad!


  1.  Combine in food processor:

8 cloves of garlic

8-12 anchovy filets

4 t Worcestershire sauce

ground pepper

1/2 c. cider vinegar

2-3 T honey

1/3 c. lemon juice

1/4 c. pecorinho cheese

large bunch of fresh parsley, basil

  1. Blend thoroughly


  1. With food processor going, slowly drizzle in 2 cups plus 3 T olive oil.


You can add or subtract a little vinegar to taste.


So get some great summer greens from your garden or farmers market and go to work!  Just thinking about it has gotten me antsy.  I might have to take a break and make some right now.


Last But Not Least


Should you be looking for some expertise in revitalizing your website, creating a new mailing, etc., send me an email and we can set up a time.  All initial consults are gratis.


And pass this newsletter along.  Your friends and colleagues will thank you for it and I will too!


Best to you all,




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