Join usMarketing online and offline events is one of the things copywriters are often asked to do.

A good example is the invitation to Drayton Bird’s ‘final fling’. As the acknowledged expert in direct response copywriting, you’d expect it to demonstrate best practice. And, of course, it does.

if Drayton can’t sell an event, no-one can.

Let’s unpick the various sections to see what you can learn from it.

Warning, it’s a long-copy invite, so it’s a long-copy interpretation. All the research I’ve seen shows that long-copy sales pages get a higher response than short copy. And that long-copy blog posts and articles demonstrate more gravitas and help with website ‘stickiness’.

Urgency and scarcity

At the top of the page is a countdown clock. It’s moving. Movement attracts the eye (it’s the fight-or-flight response, we can’t help it). Tick tick tick! The seconds are ticking away. The unwritten message is: “Better book soon, before time runs out”.

The headline (the name of the event) is preceded by the word ‘Announcing’. This is one of the words recommended by David Ogilvy as a ‘power word for headlines’ way back in 1963. He’s known as the ‘father of advertising’ and his advice is as relevant today as it was then.

As a side note, I applied years ago for a job at the Ogilvy & Mather ad agency. I didn’t get it, but they told me I was a good writer, which is praise indeed.

Under the headline, the urgency message is reinforced by scarcity. It shows: “Only 70 seats”, highlighted in red.

So there’s limited time, and there’s limited seating. Ooer, the pressure is already on.

Social proof

Next, there’s a quote from a copywriter with an intriguing name, Doberman Dan. Apparently, he’d “crawl naked over broken glass to be there”. I had to Google him. Having done so, I feel I ought to have known him before. Anyway, his quote is succinct, unusual and compelling. At a glance, you get the idea that this event is not to be missed.

When and where

The dates and venue. Yes, right up top. Key things that people need to know in order to decide if they can (a) be available (b) get there.

The lesson is to put the most important information where people can see it without scrolling. You can add less important details further down.

Visual imagery

There’s a picture of the venue, looking rather lovely. And it’s got a caption. An interesting one. A tease.

In print, it’s known that people look at the picture then look below or to the right to see the caption which explains what the picture is about. We can’t help it. It’s how our brains work.

This is a technique which is often omitted online. The alt text (alternative text for visually impaired people who use a screen reader) ought to say what the image is about (and maybe include keywords if you’re optimising the page for search engines). But you can’t see that unless you hover your cursor over the image (even then it varies depending on which browser you use). Adding a caption for everyone to read is a brilliant idea.

This one says: “Like the view? Wait until you see the line-up…”

It’s a cliffhanger. Like the EastEnders duff-duffs.

Intro to explain the headline

Now we learned who is Doberman Dan. Yay! It’s not just me, other people don’t know who he is either. Now I feel better.

Clever copywriting answers the questions that are in the mind of the reader.

Remember, this is an invitation from a copywriter to copywriters. So the copy name-drops other famous copywriters. These are names I do know – Dan Kennedy (I’ve met him). Gary Halbert (I haven’t met him).

Clever copywriting makes a feature of inside information.

And then there’s an Ogilvy quote. (A hero to all copywriters.)

Writing to be read on screen

Note that no paragraph is more than two lines.

Reading online is harder than reading in print, especially when people are reading on a small screen. This means you need lots of white space.

It also means you can break away from the traditional rules of grammar. Perhaps even using a two-word paragraph.

Like this.


People skim-read online, so you have to make it easy for them to navigate.

Here, there’s a sub-heading: ‘And who will inspire you?’

Rather than reading: ‘ Speaker line-up’ or similar, it’s a question. It starts with ‘And’ (breaking another traditional rule of grammar). And it’s you-based.

Starting a sentence with And or But was almost a hanging offence when I was at school. But it’s allowed in marketing and advertising. In fact, it’s practically compulsory.

A question makes the reader answer it in their head.

And using the word ‘you’ makes it about them, not about the event host, or even the speakers.

Speaker intros

The intros each have a headshot. Eye contact is important. Especially online. It breaks that cold glass barrier of a screen that’s between the writer and the reader.

They are each headed with a red, handwritten font, which is more eye-catching.

They’re not written as a CV or bio, rather, each is a personal (and personable) endorsement from Drayton about the speaker.

At this stage, we don’t know what they’re going to talk about. We don’t care. They all sound amazing.

I can personally endorse at least two of them.

Bryony Thomas – I know her, both online and offline. We got drunk together at one of my book launches, and I’ve heard her speak on several occasions. The work done by her team is so amazing that I’ve even referred her to my own clients. I’m thrilled that Drayton recognises her skill too.

The other name that jumps out to me is Rory Sutherland. I’ve never met him (although I think we’re connected on LinkedIn), but I’m always recommending his YouTube videos to the copywriters I mentor.

BTW, I’ve met Drayton too, and heard him speak a couple of times. Once, he said the best copywriters learned their craft writing catalogue copy. That’s me, that is! As you may know, I started my copywriting career at Freemans. With print catalogues, there’s not much space to get your point across, so you have to ‘sell’ using the fewest possible words.

Still not convinced?

After scrolling down past all the speaker intros, the next sub-heading takes us back into the territory of ‘I know what you’re thinking and I’m going to answer it’.

Here, there’s a 5-minute testimonial video. Using video online is key. We like to watch a moving image on screen more than we like reading. If you don’t use video in your marketing, you’re missing a trick.

Once again, Drayton is tapping into the power of social proof. Getting other people to do his selling for him.

This is because what other people say about you is more convincing than anything you say yourself.

It’s also why I often convince clients to let my team interview their customers to write case studies and testimonials before we get stuck into the web copy. When we know what their customers say about the, we can reflect the same core messages and language in order to attract more of the same.

At last, what’s Drayton going to talk about?

Remember, this is Drayton’s final fling. But, so far, he hasn’t mentioned himself. Here, under all the other speakers and the video, we get an idea of the information and entertainment he promises.

Creatively presented, as you’d expect. And without a headshot, because it’s safe to assume that people reading this invitation already know what he looks like, or don’t care.

Benefits, benefits, benefits

You’ve probably heard me (or other copywriters) go on about turning features into benefits. That’s what Drayton does next, in the section headed: ‘What these two days will give you’.

It’s another you-based sub-heading. It doesn’t say ‘Agenda’ or anything equally boring. It’s all about what attendees will get. And it’s written in the singular, not the plural, because people read one at a time.

More endorsements

For readers who are still unsure (yes, that concept is spelled out again), there’s another string of quotes.

Aha, the CTA!

You’ve scrolled down this far. At last, you can see the cost to attend and click the ‘book now’ button.

The Regular deposit is £150. The Golden ticket deposit is £500.

The Regular full price is £3,264. The Golden ticket full price is £4,368.


Yet again, Drayton is inside your brain, knowing what you’re thinking and addressing your concerns upfront.

He addresses the price objection by immediately giving you a 100% money-back guarantee. And tells you that only one person has ever claimed on it (because that person went to the wrong seminar). That’s more authentic and believable than telling you no-one has ever claimed.

Then you get more value. The ticket price includes posh accommodation. Now you’re thinking, oh, maybe the price isn’t so excessive after all.

And then we get another mention of Doberman Dan – one of my favourite copywriting techniques is topping and tailing a piece with the same idea. It’s like tying up a gift with a nice bow.

And there’s more

I won’t dissect it all. But there follows information about the Golden ticket, with a picture, and added value, and more name-dropping, and, and, and…

And finally

The sign-off with Drayton’s signature.

Oh, and a P.S.

This is another technique that’s not often translated from print to screen. In print, the P.S. and the headline were known to be the most-read part of any letter. Why would it be any different online? Sum up your main offer at the end, and there’s more chance people will notice it.

Here, there’s a group discount offer and a contact form.

And the ‘small print’ about VAT. Even that has been written to make it more interesting. Micro-copy, that’s called. And it’s just as important as the macro-copy.

What this means to you

You might not be a fan of the layout. You might think it looks rather dated. That’s fine. it’s an event being run by an 87-year-old, so what do you expect? Also, it’s a tried-and-tested long-form style of selling. He knows what he’s doing.

Tell stories. Add third-party quotes. Lots of them. Break it up with sub-headings and images. Promote the benefits. Make it eye-catching. Use ‘you’. Spell out the value. Show eye contact. Offer a guarantee. Express your personality. Include video. Write to be read on screen. Scatter CTAs throughout. And sell, sell, sell…

P.S. If you’d like help with your own invitations, let me know. Sarah is a member of my Inner Circle team who specialises in writing about automotive, transport and motoring topics and is also excellent at promoting events and webinars.

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