Copywriting Horror Story: Marketing “Guru” Mails It
“Ted” is a biz owner who shelled out big bucks to hire an established “copywriting guru.”
The deal was for the copywriter to produce an entire marketing campaign for Ted’s business—a landing page and email autoresponder sequence, plus a 2-postcard campaign to drive traffic to the landing page.
According to Ted, he followed the guru’s instructions to the T. Even used his recommended vendors to buy the mailing list and get the postcards designed.
The campaign was a complete bomb. Ted didn’t even get a single visitor to that costly landing page, much less an optin.
Now I don’t fault anyone for a failed campaign like this—it happens sometimes. That’s why you plan to try 5 things, knowing one will probably work.
But from what Ted told me, it sounds like he’s done everything the copywriter said, and it didn’t work.
Ted invested a lot of money into this, and the hired gun “expert” just shrugged and walked off with the gold coins jingling in his pocket.
When Ted showed me the postcards, I was outraged.
Total hack job.
The headline is limp and generic.
The offer is vague.
There’s no proof to back up the over-the-top claims.
There’s nothing in the postcard that speaks directly to Ted’s market.
Here’s what I think went down.
Once upon a time, this guru ran a campaign for a client in a desperate market that had been ignored for years.
And they responded—the campaign did well.
Ever since then, he’s resold that same campaign over and over, using that initial success to show that he has a “proven system” and justify his sky-high fees.
For each client, he makes a few tweaks to the copy and calls it done. Probably spends less than a couple of hours total—while billing out thousands of dollars.
Now—there is NOTHING wrong with this, IF the campaign actually works.
But it’s rare that you can take a boilerplate campaign, switch out a few words, and dance around as money rains from the sky.
If that worked, there’d be no need for copywriters in the first place.
There are universal principles that work across different markets, but you can’t just copy/paste something that worked for a specific product in a specific market and expect to get the same results.
Ted got taken—his “guru” mailed it in and left him holding the (empty) bag.
How do you avoid making a mistake like this?
Really the only solution is to arm yourself with knowledge.
As a business owner or entrepreneur, marketing is your most important job.
If you try to hand over that job before you understand it yourself, you’re asking for trouble.