Seven Take-Aways from AWAI 2017 Boot Camp

I recently attended a conference for direct response copywriters in Delray Beach, Florida. There was about five hundred people there (or at least that’s what they tell me).

  1. Trip-wires:

Trip-wire. Offer something where you may take a loss just to get them on your list or create an account with you. As an example, Perry Belcher of Digital Marketer said people would look at your price on your website and then go to Amazon to see if it is available because they already had an account with Amazon.

I could totally relate to this because I do that all the time. The one thing I hate to do is create an account on some odd-ball website. I don’t know them and I don’t trust them. If I can find the same product on Amazon (even it cost more) I would still buy it from Amazon because it is so easy.

So, Belcher says you have to overcome this by creating an irresistible offer—even if it means you lose money on the deal.

One example he used was giving away very nice cufflinks to get people on their list, so that they can later be sold expensive suits. Because who wears cufflinks? People who buy expensive suits.

Another example, Belcher used was selling a lighter for survivalists at way below costs. They lose a dollar for everyone they sell, but 13% of those survivalists will buy a $300 generator.

Perry Belcher is the co-founder with Ryan Deiss of


  1. After Effect

Mike Palmer of Stansberry Research talked about the after effect of a pitch. In other words, What would happen if you took action on this offer?

If you make statement like “Oil prices going to $500!” be sure to show what this would be like in the future. What would this do to the world. How would this affect insurance rates, electric cars, suburbs becoming a wasteland and so on.


  1. Stupidest Mistakes in Copywriting Career

Well regarded copywriter, Richard Armstrong, talked about the ten stupidest mistakes he ever made in copywriting.

My personal favorite was having too much success too soon. He got very lucky on some of his early success and started to believe in his own success.

He said he won a lot of advertising awards in the beginning of his career and started to get a big head about it. He won the Caples Award in 1982.

I can relate to this—not the awards part.

My other “mistake” that Armstrong related was trying to be too creative instead of following what works. Sometimes it’s good to be creative and try something new, but usually the best way to go is to follow what’s working and build upon that.

I could relate to this. When I was a web designer, I wanted so much to be different that no one really understood my designs. I didn’t have some success until I followed the rules.

Now that I am a fulltime copywriter, I make sure to follow the proven methods before going off and trying some new and creative.


  1. Richard Viguerie—Conservative HQ

Richard Viguerie is the founder of Conservative HQ, a political website that uses classic direct response copywriting strategies to advance their agenda.

The best thing I took from what Richard talked about was to differentiate yourself by NOT being like everyone else.

One example Richard Viguerie used was the founding of Fox News by Rupert Murdoch. The Fox News channel was founded on the principle of NOT being CNN or MSNBC.

Another example is of how Jet Blue and Southwest airlines differentiated themselves by NOT being United, TWA or American airlines.

And the greatest thing I learned from (or about) Viguerie is that he is 84 years old and still rockin’ it. It just goes to show that if you work for yourself and have a sustainable career like marketing and sales copywriting, you can do it as long as you like.


  1. Justin Gershwin—Stansberry Research

Justin Gershwin of Stansberry Research talked about how to look at direct response copywriting as a door-to-door salesman.

You have a ten-second window in which to get your foot in the door. He said you should imagine the worst-case scenario for a sales knocking on the door.

The occupants inside are watching the Super Bowl. I can think of no worse scenario than this for a salesman.

You have ten seconds that will make them stop in their tracks to listen to you. One example Gershwin used was: “I’m rich and you’re not.” I would definitely say this would get someone’s attention—more so than saying, “I’d like to sell you some insurance.”

Another headline he used was “How I Use Penny Stocks to Date Women Half My Age.”


  1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Formula for Success

Mike Palmer of Stansberry Research (mentioned above) talked about the formula used by the creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

He said that those creators set out to create a comic and they studied what was popular at the time. Their research came up with Mutants, Ninjas and Turtles.

The lesson here is to research what’s popular at the time and mash them up into something new.


  1. Six categories of copywriting

This was one of my favorite take-aways. There are six categories of copywriting:

Guru: Expert who knows a special technique

Prediction: “I predict next year…”

Secret: “Why I’m finally sharing…”

Story: “My wife stole everything and…”

System: “U.S. Government tip sheet details…”

Direct Offer: “You can get 50% off…”

If you don’t stick to one of these, you’ll be in alphabet soup—you’ll be all over the place.

P.S. I didn’t proof this post, so if there are any grammatical or spelling errors, try your best to ignore them and think of them as intentional rather than accidental or as a result of ignorance. Thank you.