Who Wins In A Fight: Copywriters Or Marketers?

by NickN
38 replies
Got this controversial, potentially explosive email in my inbox today. Comes from Ben Settle. You can see the full blog post here.

[Reposted with permission of Ben Settle... who said I could only post this if I left Mr. Subtle's name in. ]


"A couple years ago I saw a funny cartoon.

Basically, it was from Mr. Subtle — the guy who has designed a few of my book covers — and he was making fun of how copywriters think compared to the rest of the marketing world (specifically, people who actually understand the principles of direct response).

Anyway, it went something like this:

He put up a cartoon image of two human brains.

One of the brains was a copywriter’s brain.

And the other a marketer’s.

Both brains were sectioned, like pie slices, with each “slice” being representative of what’s most important by the size. So, for example, in the copywriter’s brain, it had the copy being a big piece of the marketing pie, while the offer and list were smaller slices.

And the marketer’s brain was the opposite.

His brain showed the offer and list being most important.

(With the copy being much smaller.)

Anyway, kinda funny stuff.

And very true, too.

It’s amusing how many copywriters think they’re little “gods”, responsible for “millions of dollars in sales” when, in reality, their client’s offer, product, list, etc had FAR more to do with all those bags of money than their little lame killer headlines or whatever were.

Not saying copy isn’t important.

But it’s not the sales “panacea” it’s hyped up to be.

This is why I teach both email writing AND marketing in “Email Players”.

The one without the other is like a car without a steering wheel.

(Which is why so many emails crash & *burn*…)"
-----------------------------------------------------------
What ch'all think? Is Ben right?

I think most copywriters would agree that the list and offer are more important than the copy. But this line particularly stuck out to me:

It’s amusing how many copywriters think they’re little “gods”, responsible for “millions of dollars in sales” when, in reality, their client’s offer, product, list, etc had FAR more to do with all those bags of money than their little lame killer headlines or whatever were.

Copywriters always tout their copy made their client millions of dollars. But, really, how can a copywriter actually prove it was his or her copy that did most of the selling?

Feel free to agree and disagree. From what I gather, Ben loves haters.
#copywriters #fight #marketers #wins
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Originally Posted by NickN View Post


    It’s amusing how many copywriters think they’re little “gods”, responsible for “millions of dollars in sales” when, in reality, their client’s offer, product, list, etc had FAR more to do with all those bags of money than their little lame killer headlines or whatever were.

    Not saying copy isn’t important.

    But it’s not the sales “panacea” it’s hyped up to be.
    Huh. I expressed a similar idea in an old post here on the
    copywriting forum.

    http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...ng-skills.html

    So many copywriters express their skills in terms of who
    they wrote for and the money that came in. Not every
    skilled copywriter gets to write for famous marketers
    and often the marketer's reputation in the market place
    means more than the copy.

    With reference to the blog post though, I'm surprised that
    Ben didn't just show the cartoon rather than describing it.

    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author NickN
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      Huh. I expressed a similar idea in an old post here on the
      copywriting forum.

      http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...ng-skills.html

      So many copywriters express their skills in terms of who
      they wrote for and the money that came in. Not every
      skilled copywriter gets to write for famous marketers
      and often the marketer's reputation in the market place
      means more than the copy.

      With reference to the blog post though, I'm surprised that
      Ben didn't just show the cartoon rather than describing it.

      -Ray Edwards
      That's a great post you linked to, Ray.

      Hopefully Mr. Subtle sees this and shows us this mysterious cartoon.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
        Originally Posted by NickN View Post

        Hopefully Mr. Subtle sees this and shows us this mysterious cartoon.
        Your wish is my command NickN. : )

        I've done a couple along these lines over the years, but this is the one I think Ben is referring too:



        Along the same lines, but no marketer version:

        how copywriters view their importance

        .
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        • Profile picture of the author NickN
          Yay! Now that I know I can summon Mr. Subtle on command, I'm that much closer to world domination.
          Signature

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  • Profile picture of the author Ray Wilson
    Hey Nick,

    Yeah, it's so damn funny, I agree with Ben 100%. Having a few internet "guru" friends is not a slight edge, it's the golden egg.

    Ray
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    • Profile picture of the author Headstart
      Originally Posted by Ray Wilson View Post

      Hey Nick,

      Yeah, it's so damn funny, I agree with Ben 100%. Having a few internet "guru" friends is not a slight edge, it's the golden egg.

      Ray
      This.. I had people tell me copy means everything when
      it comes to launches (even WSO's) when in reality
      having a network is by far the biggest aspect to a launch.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheSalesBooster
    Copywriters vs marketers? You're telling me they are two different things? Why would you separate the two? If you claim to be only a copywriter or marketer, you're only hurting yourself.

    How can you be a good copywriter if you don't know who you're marketing too? How can you be a good marketer if you don't know how to get your idea across to someone with your words?

    To me they are the same thing. If this is how most copywriters think about marketing it's no wonder you don't see many copywriting millionaires. They are all locked up in a basement writing copy for "marketers" who make all the money. If you can't learn to become both, you're destined to be a slave to who ever pays you that week. That's no better than a 9-5 job.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      It's a non-issue. Copywriter's know the importance of the list and the offer.

      They talk about results to position themselves, that's all.

      Yawn.

      Alex
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      • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        It's a non-issue. Copywriter's know the importance of the list and the offer.

        They talk about results to position themselves, that's all.
        Exactly.

        And positioning himself is what Ben was doing in that email.

        Contrarians always eat.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        Copywriter's know the importance of the list and the offer.
        Please clarify for the NOOBs in the room what you mean by "the offer."
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      • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
        Banned
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        It's a non-issue. Copywriter's know the importance of the list and the offer.

        They talk about results to position themselves, that's all.

        Yawn.

        Alex
        Copywriters know that there is no apostrophe between the "r" and the "s".
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        • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
          Banned
          Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

          Copywriters know that there is no apostrophe between the "r" and the "s".
          Copywriters also know when to put a full stop at the end of a sentence.

          Don't ask me to find it. It was weeks ago. I watch your grammar like a hawk just waiting to pounce on the first mistake I find.

          So watch it old man.

          Smoking hot,


          Mark Andrews
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          • Profile picture of the author Thomas_Banks
            As a marketer (who also happens to be a decent copywriter), I can say with absolute certainty that the list/offer combination accounts for the largest piece of the success pie. Good copy certainly can bolster results, but anyone who can follow the structure of a good piece of copy can write decent copy IF they understand the audience (the list).

            I hired a copywriter for $7,000 to write a sales presentation. It didn't convert any better than my original control. (Ok, to be fair, it boosted response by around 2.5 %, but I could have boosted it that much or more with a a simple split test that wouldn't have cost me any more than $2,000.)

            I agree with what one poster stated...Most copywriters DO understand marketing, but they also need to peddle their wares just like everyone else, so why not sell it as well as you can?

            That being said, if I were to make a suggestion to someone who wants to learn a valuable skill, I would suggest (strongly suggest) that they learn the foundational principles and methodologies of direct-response marketing first. Then learn the fundamentals of writing copy.

            Truth be told, you need both to make your business successful, but good list/offer selection will make up for some pretty mediocre copy and design.
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          • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
            Banned
            Originally Posted by Mark Andrews View Post

            Copywriters also know when to put a full stop at the end of a sentence.

            Don't ask me to find it. It was weeks ago. I watch your grammar like a hawk just waiting to pounce on the first mistake I find.

            So watch it old man.

            Smoking hot,


            Mark Andrews
            I'll put my missing period (stet) up against your erroneous apostrophe any day - you van-living hippie.
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            • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
              Banned
              I'd rather be a van-living hippie than an Australian French frog any day of the bloody week.
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        • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
          Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

          The shy away from unneeded quotation marks, too.
          Y?

          The shy want to know.
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        • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
          Banned
          Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

          The shy away from unneeded quotation marks, too.
          Hilarious. "The" or "They"?

          And who says they're not needed Cleverdick?
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          • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
            Banned
            Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

            Hilarious. "The" or "They"?

            And who says they're not needed Cleverdick?
            It's clever Dick actually NOT Cleverdick.

            Sorry to be so pedantic.
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  • Profile picture of the author Thomas Michal
    If great copy isn't seen - no one can buy.

    If great products aren't sold - no one will buy.

    I'd say equally important.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Bratcher
    Here is the thing.

    Without a great list, no one sees the copy.

    Without a great copy, no one sees the product.

    I do agree that copywriting and marketing go hand in hand though even in a team environment.
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  • Profile picture of the author wrcato2
    I am not getting in this fight but I will say, I am not a god nor a guru, I have been in the background and not the foreground. I am a Copy & Content writer and not to shabby one either.

    There are 3 things that I study and use every day in order to make the Internet pay:

    *Content Creation. This includes articles, blog post, forum posts, answers at yahoo answers, and research findings.

    *Copy Writing. Studying and most importantly actually writing copy. Even if it is a classified or listing, doesn't matter, Just Do It!

    *Test everything. You have to test for maximum conversions. Even articles in the directories. Make changes and test everything.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
    There are 3 legs to support success. One is not more important than the other. But without all 3, the long-term success of any product is not viable:

    1. Quality product
    2. Qualified Traffic (in whatever form including DM, PPC, list, SEO, space ads)
    3. Copy

    Take away any 1 and you will fail long-term.
    Why does this $hit continue to come up?
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by Bruce Wedding View Post

      There are 3 legs to support success. One is not more important than the other. But without all 3, the long-term success of any product is not viable:

      1. Quality product
      2. Qualified Traffic (in whatever form including DM, PPC, list, SEO, space ads)
      3. Copy

      Take away any 1 and you will fail long-term.
      Why does this continue to come up?
      Simple... because people are married to their beliefs.

      It's beyond dispute that all three are needed. And because all three are needed, claiming one is more important is ridiculous.

      And yet it continues.

      Folks... if you want to slice and dice... get a Veg-O-Matic.

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author maximus242
    Well the list is obvious but putting that aside I think the product is the biggest determinant of success.

    If everybody around you is selling horses and your selling a car, you dont need good copy to sell the car.

    Just tell the simple facts and people will buy. The source of great copy is a great product.

    "A Gifted Product Is Mightier Than A Gifted Pen" - Gary Bencivenga

    In terms of response that the list is important it seems so obvious that its hardly worth talking about. Offering bra's to men isnt going to sell well no matter how much bigger you promise to make their breasts.
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    Good copywriters have very nice condos and a nice table top wine collection.
    Good marketers have mansions and a wine cellar.

    Except for a few like Max50.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
      Originally Posted by gjabiz View Post

      Good copywriters have very nice condos and a nice table top wine collection.
      Good marketers have mansions and a wine cellar.

      Except for a few like Max50.
      Actually, most of the "mansion living" marketers are great copywriters. For example: Frank Kern, Dan Kennedy, Yanik Silver, John Reese, Perry Marshall, Eric Louviere, Jason Fladlien, Ryan Deiss, etc
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
      Originally Posted by gjabiz View Post

      Good copywriters have very nice condos and a nice table top wine collection.
      Good marketers have mansions and a wine cellar.

      Except for a few like Max50.
      I didn't receive this memo...
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    My transmission guy tells me that the most important
    thing to make my car run well is to use the right
    transmission fluid and don't abuse the transmission
    by towing overweight loads.

    My tire guy says that the most important thing for
    a comfortable ride is to have properly inflated tires,
    well aligned and not worn down.

    My oil and lube guy tells me that I should change my
    oil every 3,000 miles and use the best quality oil.
    In this way the car would last me a lifetime.

    My exhaust guy tells me that I should wash the car
    under-body often during the winter months because
    of all that salt on the road.

    I wonder who is really right?

    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author max5ty
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      My transmission guy tells me that the most important
      thing to make my car run well is to use the right
      transmission fluid and don't abuse the transmission
      by towing overweight loads.

      My tire guy says that the most important thing for
      a comfortable ride is to have properly inflated tires,
      well aligned and not worn down.

      My oil and lube guy tells me that I should change my
      oil every 3,000 miles and use the best quality oil.
      In this way the car would last me a lifetime.

      My exhaust guy tells me that I should wash the car
      under-body often during the winter months because
      of all that salt on the road.

      I wonder who is really right?

      -Ray Edwards
      You usually stop wondering after your car has broke down, blown a tire or rusted out.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    Originally Posted by NickN View Post

    It's amusing how many copywriters think they're little "gods", responsible for "millions of dollars in sales" when, in reality, their client's offer, product, list, etc had FAR more to do with all those bags of money than their little lame killer headlines or whatever were.

    Copywriters always tout their copy made their client millions of dollars. But, really, how can a copywriter actually prove it was his or her copy that did most of the selling?

    Feel free to agree and disagree. From what I gather, Ben loves haters.
    I think Ben is right... with an exception...

    (Most) good copywriters know this fact - and would probably agree with Ben, too.

    Wannabe copywriters like to think they know... and are a perfect example of what Ben is talking about.

    Like the saying goes: A little knowledge is dangerous.

    And it's no different with copywriting.
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    We're all looking for that perfect client, the guy with
    a giant customer universe, access to viable lists,
    capital to mail, fulfillment in place, and a dazzling,
    life-changing product... and he has to be a bumbling,
    clueless boob about copywriting so he's in desperate need
    of copywriter to rescue his business.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
      Originally Posted by Loren Woirhaye View Post

      We're all looking for that perfect client, the guy with
      a giant customer universe, access to viable lists,
      capital to mail, fulfillment in place, and a dazzling,
      life-changing product... and he has to be a bumbling,
      clueless boob about copywriting so he's in desperate need
      of copywriter to rescue his business.
      Good point.

      However...

      I would prefer to have a client who knows everything about marketing and copywriting...

      ... but prefers to do what he does best - running his business - and leave that side to me.

      That way when I do his marketing and copywriting, he knows enough to see whether or not I'm doing a good job...

      ... and leave me to it when he does.
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  • Profile picture of the author eugenedm
    There's no fight. We have to work with each other and achieve big results.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Ten
    I do not think that a fight is needed. Cooperation and harmony are better.
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