Where to find “hidden gold”

May 24, 2021

Convos with Kim

Over the past few decades as a freelance copywriter, the vast majority of projects I’ve taken on have been acquisition promos: sales pages, magalogs, VSLs, etc.

Acquiring new customers is the lifeblood of any business. It’s a formidable challenge to convince “cold” prospects to buy from you for the first time.

It’s why once you become known for being able to write successful acquisition promos, you become that “unicorn” that clients want to hire again and again.

But there’s one thing I’ve noticed, even when working with some of the top direct response companies. And it’s costing them tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars that they’re leaving on the table.

It’s the fact that many of them become so fixated on their acquisition promos and funnels, they ignore the “back end” of their business.

By “back end” I mean everything from welcoming new buyers to reconfirm their purchase decision and stimulate produce usage (crucial for consumable products like supplements, shakes, or skin care)…to strategically introducing/cross-selling other products…to getting them to reorder (or stay on the autoship program they joined).

And everything in-between…because there is SO much “hidden gold” in that back-end. There are opportunities in the box the product arrives in (we used to call them “bouncebacks”…when I was running the Healthy Directions supplement business we would get as high as 8 to 10% response to offers we put in the fulfillment box).

There’s the concept of “hotline buyers”, where people who’ve just bought from you are the MOST ripe and likely to buy something else from you (that first 5-7 days after they first ordered…not just the first five seconds, like with upsells).

So much of this gets ignored in the conquest to get that first order AND garner as high of an AOV (average order value) as possible right out of the gate. Obviously these tactics are crucial in order to scale an offer online or in the mail.

But one must also build out the back-end “funnel” so to speak, not just the front-end. That’s where you have the ability to dramatically increase lifetime value (LTV) and build relationships with customers that last.

And those are the folks you can go back to whenever you have a new product that could interest them, or with special offers that bring in boatloads of revenue. And it’s far less risky than the ad spend required for cold offers…

Back when I worked at Phillips Publishing and was running the Healthy Directions business, every once in a while the company management would have us do a “dash for cash”. All the marketers had to come up with campaigns on the spot to bring in extra revenue before the end of the quarter.

It was one of those “dashes for cash” that had me come up with the idea of a “stock-up mailing” for those folks buying Dr. Julian Whitaker’s supplements. We had an autoship program, but a lot of the older folks on our list didn’t want to sign up for it.

So we sent out a hastily put-together mailing to people who’d bought Dr. Whitaker’s core supplement program…and it brought in hundreds of thousands in revenue right off the bat. It became something we repeated for other products and doctors.

And now, at least a few decades later, there’s an entire department at Healthy Directions that ONLY does “stock-up mailings”.

If you’re an offer owner or oversee marketing efforts…or if you’re a copywriter…it can be hugely profitable to think beyond getting that initial order (and then shaking your new buyer down for as much cash as you can right out of the gate, potentially hurting your future relationship with them and causing you to constantly churn through new customers).

From the time your prospect says “yes” to your initial offer, your subsequent upsells, welcome emails, product fulfillment, and subsequent communications and offers should be designed to create a positive customer experience, and keep them engaged with you and your product.

That’s how you build a successful and highly-profitable business. It’s the strategy and tactics my team and I used to grow Healthy Directions to more than $23 million ($38 million in today’s dollars) in sales within its first 3 years.

I had a great interview with SuperFastBusiness founder James Schramko last year about this very topic. You can listen to it here (there’s also a transcript of the entire interview)…you’ll find lots of “hidden gold” you or your clients could be ignoring.

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. If you’re a copywriter, understanding how to leverage the “back end” of a client’s business can give you a huge leg up over other copywriters as it puts you more into an “advisor” or consultative role, not just an “order taker”.

It can open the door to working with a client when you don’t already have a proven track record of controls. It’s how I got started working with many of my initial clients when I first went freelance…writing the not-so-glorious but “workhorse” back-end promos. It’s a part of “climbing the copywriting ladder” that I like to talk about.

P.P.S. If you want to become that highly-sought-after and highly-paid “unicorn” that can write successful acquisition promos, you’ll find tons of valuable A-level insights and “hidden gold” in my Million-Dollar Control Breakdown Master Class.

I take you through detailed breakdowns of some of my longest-running, highest revenue-generating promos and share my entire process for writing them. It’s a masters’ class in copywriting that can benefit veteran copywriters and “newbies” alike.