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Episode 047 - Direct vs. Indirect Leads

Published by: David Garfinkel on 03-12-2018

As a journalist, I was trained to do “news stories” and “feature stories.”

A news story started with a quick, curiosity-provoking sentence hinting or outright telling what the story was about.

A feature story would start with an anecdote, or a startling fact, or something other than the direct subject of the story.

Same as direct / indirect leads. What we’ll talk about today. Because which one you use can have a dramatic impact, positive or negative, on your sales. You need to know which one to use, when, and that’s what we’ll cover.


Copy is powerful. You’re responsible for how you use what you hear on this podcast. Most of the time, common sense is all you need. But if you make extreme claims… and/or if you’re writing copy for offers in highly regulated industries like health, finance, and business opportunity… you may want to get a legal review after you write and before you start using your copy. My larger clients do this all the time.

Direct vs. Indirect Leads


Direct: Where you present a Big Promise or a Problem-Solution that has to do DIRECTLY with what your offer can provide your prospect.

Indirect: Where you start on a topic or subject that’s different than what your offer is really about.

Both are legitimate. The thing is, there’s a lot of confusion about which is which, and when to use each type. We’ll clear that up today and it may change some minds on how to use each type.

Before we got there, let’s look at an example of each type.

Simple Example

Say I was promoting a new course on copywriting

Direct: If writing’s too hard, takes too long, or is not getting you the results you want, here is a way to make it easier, faster, and much more profitable.

Indirect: First time I met Jim Camp…

Both are legitimate

Classic Way The Difference Is Described

From Great Leads, published in 2011

Key point: The less aware the audience is, the more indirect you want your lead to be.

The situation is not that simple today, and we’ll explore and explain that in this episode.

Take A Look at Real Life

When are we direct in a conversation with a friend?



When are we indirect in a conversation with a friend?

Delicate situation


“Shooting the breeze”

To get clarification in our own minds (side note: coaching)

Writing sales copy should be like talking to a friend. So maybe, just maybe, we should look at direct vs. indirect leads that way.

And, with that in mind…

2018 Version of The Difference Between Direct and Indirect Leads

Great Leads: Indirect lead focuses on clarification for the customer who doesn’t know much about your offer (or the problem it solves).

But there’s a much more important and widespread use for indirect leads these days… and that’s for persuasion.

Especially when you’re selling the kind of offer that everyone is real clear about, as well as the problem it solves… but the offer is so overpitched that a direct lead would immediately get deleted or thrown away.

So – direct lead

You already know the prospect – or, at least, they know you or your business

Especially, when they’ve bought from you before

Particularly, when you have a high-end upsell offer… either immediately after the sale, or later on down the line

And, most of all – WHEN THEY HAVE A PARTICULAR, URGENT PROBLEM that they haven’t been able to find a satisfactory solution for. And you have a unique and appealing solution that of course they haven’t seen or heard of before.

How to Do A Direct Lead

Get right to the point

Big Promise

Or, Problem-Solution

Example: conversation at a marketing conference about critiques

How to Do An Indirect Lead

Probably the best single way is to start with a story or a metaphor – or, best of all, a story that’s also a metaphor.

Example – conversation at a marketing conference. Start w

How to Transition from an Indirect Lead to Your Body Copy

“Just as... ”

“I mention that because… ”

“Suppose you were to do the same thing with… ”

Keywords: great leads

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