Drayton Bird

Digital marketing is a dynamic and progressive field. If you as a business owner try to stay in the know of all recent Google algorithmic updates, guidelines and search result page transformations, the chances are you don’t have enough time on your hands to actually do you business. 

What if I am to tell you that there is a better approach to it all and that you can manage the intricacies of the digital marketing field with ease?

Our guest today is a distinguished authority in the marketing world: his absolute forte is Direct Marketing and he is a genius copywriter, public speaker and author of Marketing bestsellers like Commonsense Direct & Interactive Marketing.  You’d better listen to the “man who knows more about direct advertising than anyone else in the world,” as the Godfather of Advertising,David Ogilvy, puts it, and understand this key thing: “Hardly anything except the changes in media differs from what was written in 1926 by Claude Hopkins in Scientific Advertising. If people want to invent new names for old things and make money as a result, good luck to them.”

In other words we tend to paraphrase and pick new names for already well-established industry terms and advertising tricks, but the truth is the fundamentals remain the same regardless of our sincere attempt to ‘reinvent’ them. So if you pay attention and learn the Marketing evergreen truths you will eventually excel at promoting your business even in an environment as turbulent and competitive as Google.

Read through the wise guidance of Drayton Bird’s words and adapt what you’ve learned to your own niche and marketing strategy!


Nevyana: When talking about publishing a book on direct marketing you’ve once mentioned in an interview that “if you can define something, you own it to a degree.” If direct marketing is “your thing” then how do you feel towards people who try to redefine it nowadays. What is the major weak spot in their theories and how would you remind them of what is truly important and ever-lasting in the field?

Drayton Bird: Hardly anything except the changes in media differs from what was written in 1926 by Claude Hopkins in Scientific Advertising. If people want to invent new names for old things and make money as a result, good luck to them. In many if not most cases they tend to focus on just one aspect of marketing. For example viral marketing is just a variation of member get a member which has been around forever.


Nevyana: Competition Research vs Innovation – what’s better to steal like an artist from your competitors in terms of keywords, content, ads or to try to reinvent the wheel and come up with a unique message/channel/approach to reach out to your audience?

Drayton Bird: “I never tried to be original in my life” – WA Mozart. “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” – Isaac Newton “Originality is the greatest sin in the advertiser’s lexicon” – Rosser Reeves (stolen and quoted by David Ogilvy).


Nevyana:  The Cold Contacting dilemma: selling by phone or by email – which one proves to render better results. Which should be the first reach-out technique and which one the second (i.e. is it the mail outreach the one to be used first to introduce the lead to the company, followed up by a phone call for more close talk, or it’s better if the salesman calls first and then follows up by mail)?

Drayton Bird: “The golden rule is there is no golden rule” – George Bernard Shaw. All businesses and situations are different. You must test and see what works best for you. Also you have missed out email. So you could do email – letter – phone call. And anyhow you don’t stop till you are sure you can’t get a response that gets more revenue than it costs to communicate.


Nevyana: You share that a good salesman gives every good reason for buying, he forestalls objections, and he is not brief. A good copy should do the same, but where to draw the line of addressing all possible objections in an improvised monologue in order to avoid sounding overly defensive?

Drayton Bird: If you sound defensive your copy or script is bad.


Nevyana: You say that the long copies render better results in converting customers, could you give us, let’s say top 5 tips for writing an interesting long copy, that is how to keep engaged your readers for longer periods of time?

Drayton Bird: 1. Gain attention with the promise of a big benefit or of avoiding something painful or nasty.

2. Dramatise the nastiness or the benefit with an emotional example.

3. Go into detail.

4. Prove that what you are saying is true.

5. Ask for a reply at least three times and emphasise what the prospect will miss by not replying and gain by replying.


Nevyana: You underline the importance of testing the campaigns you implement, the messages you communicate and even verifying that your target customers are indeed the customers who buy your products. Is there a special guidance that you can offer as to how to successfully conduct a proper testing (i.e. defining which sample would prove to be representative enough, how much to prolong a given test as to render unbias results, how many variables to research for, how often to reapply the test, etc.)?

Drayton Bird: Essentially the lower the anticipated response rate the greater the test numbers needed and vice versa. But this is too complex to explain briefly. Read my Commonsense direct marketing book. Or join AskDrayton where I answer questions for subscribers. This is too complex to explain briefly.


Nevyana: How would you advice local SMBs to conduct thеir internal sales trainings: should they sign up their sales people for a sales course, should they give them literature to educate themselves, or they should simply tell them to avoid the mistakes the previous salesmen have made and to leave them strategize the rest on their own by trial and error?

Drayton Bird: All three. Repeatedly.


Nevyana: You share that in school you were bright but lazy. Today you preach that marketers should study and read a lot to learn from previous campaigns and to brainstorm for future projects. How would you comment on this change in your attitude – is it simply because the subjects in school were of no interest to you as compared to the fascinating world of advertising that you’ve entered afterwards; or the fact that with time you’ve developed an affinity to studying that you’ve once lacked?

Drayton Bird: I was desperate. But also I was always reading things I found interesting – remember ploughing through Winston Churchills huge 200,000-word 4 volume biography of the Duke of Marlborough.


Nevyana: Is the good copywriter a good psychologist as well?

Drayton Bird: Of course. You are appealing to people, so you must understand people.


Nevyana: You say that you’ve sold the movie rights of some of your books, even though as of yet you haven’t had the opportunity to see your work filmed. Can you share with our readers a movie that reflects the industry in its true colors – either a documentary or a fiction feature. For instance, how would you comment on top rated TV series like Mad Men or the French picture – 99 francs, if you’ve seen them?

Drayton Bird: Mad Men was relatively accurate, though the main character was far too heavily involved in too many things to be totally credible. But there as a hell of a lot of sex, drugs and booze around in my agency!


Nevyana: What are your tips on selecting a good copywriter? Nowadays one of the most important factors in the ranking game in Google is good, relevant and long engaging content, but not all small and mid-sized business owners have the ability to communicate properly with their target clients and they prefer to outsource the copywriting task to ‘professionals’. What should they be looking at when deciding on which copywriter to hire for their on-site and off-site content?

Drayton Bird: 1. Can they write well in plain language?

2. Are they extremely interested in people?

3. Are they curious about everything?

4. Do they like to argue?

5. Are they interested in business?

6. Are they a little eccentric

7. Are they desperate to make money?

Oh, and do you like them?


Nevyana: In a video of yours you define a landing page as the ultimate destination where people stay without being redirected to other pages. Do you believe that this page should again be supported by a long page copy or it should present a condensed offer with a clear CTA – all within a single screen – that is – no scrolling down is needed to read the whole thing?

Drayton Bird: Absolutely not. Long copy will almost always beat short. If people are interested and your copy is interesting they will keep reading. The longer you keep saying interesting things, the more sales you make. This landing page has 2008 words. Of course, it is harder to write long copy than  short.


Nevyana: “Successful salesmen are rarely good speechmakers,” is said in Scientific Advertising, the book you recommend to every marketer. A “plain and sincere” salesman is the one that the customers trust most. Does this mean that the salesman should definitely believe in the product he sales, or you’d say that a good salesman could sell anything irrespectively of his actual attitude towards the product/service?

Drayton Bird: A professional can sell anything, though some things are easier than others – if for example you’re interested in the subject. I usually lie it if someone asks me to sell something I know nothing about. It is an opportunity to become more educated.