He’s known as the “Godfather of Gore,” because he pioneered the splatter film genre.
(Cult movie fans may know him from the film Blood Feast, released in 1963.)
But Herschell Gordon Lewis also had another career: direct response copywriter.
Now, I don’t mean we can learn direct response techniques from some scene in one of his movies. Or that we can learn about sales from some clever way he promoted one of his movies.
I mean he was literally a copywriter, one whose client list included Omaha Steaks.
He also wrote books like Power Copywriting, Effective Email Marketing, and On the Art of Writing Copy. And he wrote a lot of controls over the years.
Weird, huh? I only knew him from the copywriting world, because of the book Million Dollar Mailings. In the book, there’s a breakdown of one of his campaigns for Omaha Steaks, a product that’s famously expensive.
In that campaign, Lewis did something clever…
He didn’t position Omaha steaks as better than the supermarket steaks.
He didn’t say Omaha steaks were better than what you can get at a butcher shop.
Instead, he compared the cost of an Omaha steak to the cost of eating in a fine restaurant.
And suddenly, the high price point wasn’t much of an issue anymore.
Lewis also wrote with great precision, choosing every word carefully. (In fact, his book Power Copywriting is full of hundreds of techniques for making every sentence stronger, more readable, and more persuasive.)
For instance, in the book, he says the word understand is weaker than figure out. And the phrase I understand is passive and therefore less powerful than I figured it out. Figuring out also implies more active participation than understand, which suggests acceptance.
Does that level of detail really matter? It depends on what level you’re playing at (or want to play at).
As Lewis said, “Nitpicking does pay off in a business that measures effectiveness the right way, by fractions of a percent response.”
Kinda hard to believe that’s the same guy who made a movie about a homicidal maniac who cuts off limbs as a feast/offering to an ancient Egyptian goddess.
But here we are.