Recent Posts From Ray Edwards/Writing/Warning: You’re Losing Money by Not Using Copy Cosmetics

Warning: You’re Losing Money by Not Using Copy Cosmetics


Monday, December 12, 2022


Ray Edwards

Copy “cosmetics” matter. But probably not in the way you think. Most entrepreneurs want to produce sales copy in a way that doesn’t look like sales copy.

Most wouldn’t be caught dead sending out a “sales letter”, but are happy to send out a “brochure” or a “prospectus”…

In their minds, copy is made better if it was designed by an artiste, and had won some sort of award for aesthetics. Often, such works are very pretty to look at, but impossible to decipher for any practical or usable meaning. You know, meaning such as: asking someone to buy some of your products or services. Crass commercial messages. And yet…

Proven again and again, time after time: “ugly” copy that looks like copy-you know what I’m talking about, or soon will-almost always wins the day.

Think it won’t work with modern day, 2.0 style companies? Think the old-style “direct marketing” school of copywriting is not fitting for today’s eco-friendly, sensitivity-conscious, “enlightened entrepreneur” crowd? I’m sure you and I can agree that one of the primary retail establishments that cater to this group is Trader Joe’s. Well-known and much beloved, this little “market” somehow defies many of the rules of retail and does a bang-up business.

And they do much of it through “cheesy” Direct marketing style promotions. Take as example of such Exhibit A. This is from the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer”, which is really little more than a catalog with much brilliantly-written copy.

TJ-AD webp

What’s more interesting to me about this example: the fact that it employs “copy cosmetics” pioneered in the direct response marketing field. How many pieces of direct mail have you received which has been apparently “marked up” by a red or blue pen?

Now, you and I both know that no human being marked up those sales letters. And we certainly know that is true of the sales letters we see on the Internet that employ this very same device. I mean, really, did someone sneak in with a red Sharpie and mark up the screen of my MacBook Air? Of course not.

We all know this. We know those marked up, “doodled on” sales letters are a mere affectation. They fool no one. Yet…this old-fashioned, hackneyed, clichéd and artificial device has been proven over and over again to boost conversions… yes, even on the good old-fashioned inter-webs. (My friend Mike Capuzzi, by the way, offers a great service that allows you to use just such devices at

Here, we see Trader Joe’s using selfsame “copy doodles” in their cleverly written (some would say TOO clever) catalog.

My point is simply that the tried-and-true principles of direct response marketing seem to stand the test of time.

Despite our various attempts to bypass or circumvent them with some newfangled “social media powered” system, it would appear human psychology doesn’t really change.

Not that I’m against social media or the Internet. If it weren’t for these things I would not have a business, at least not business such as the one I enjoy today. So you can officially put me down as a fan of Al Gore’s infamous invention, and a devout capitalist in pursuit of mining its riches.

But for those who would say that this kind of stuff “won’t work in my business” because of their really–tired–by–now claim that “my business is different”… no, it’s not.

In the words of the Talking Heads: “same as it ever was.” Witness the ad in Exhibit B, one of the famous series of direct response ads from Hume.

Hume-Ad webp

This one was, I believe, written by Gary Bencivenga. Note the use of devices we have grown accustomed to on the Internet: headlines, sub heads, testimonials, product shot, response device (order area with dashed box, still in use online) etc.

Presented for your perusal and approval, and for your edification and reassurance that “this stuff works”. Same as it ever did.


Ray Edwards

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at


Hi, I'm Ray Edwards

Bestselling Author

I teach thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners how to write the words that sell their products, services, and ideas.



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