People have come to be very skeptical about the advertising and direct mail they read.

No matter who you are or how hard you try, there are always a certain percentage of people who just won’t believe you.

For good reason too. There are so many products and so many offers and so many claims that are just too good to be true. Who could blame them?

So when you are faced with a copywriting assignment, you know you’re starting off with a certain level of skepticism. How you should you deal with this? How can you make your ads and direct mail more credible?

First, be realistic about your message. Are you making extraordinary claims or promises that are hard to believe? If so, acknowledge it and then go on to show, explain or demonstrate how this is possible.

It might help to insert a paragraph or two of copy that explains why can deliver on this promise. Set it off with subheads like “How is this possible?” or “Why are we able to offer such incredibly low prices?” Of course, your explanation also needs to be plausible.

Second, be realistic about who you are. This is where the big-name companies have a real advantage. People know them and, for the most part, are more willing to trust them than lesser know businesses.

If you work for yourself or you represent a relatively unknown company, you will need to work hard to build credibility. You will need to show your credentials, licenses and professional affiliations. You should also include books, papers or articles you’ve written, awards you’ve won and clients you’ve served. You don’t want to lead with this information, but it should be in there.

Testimonials help too – but for them to have any real impact, you need real testimonials from real people with their real names.

If you work on your own, use a photo of yourself. It is always helpful to put a face to your message.

Finally, if you want to build your credibility, make sure you are providing the reader with specific information – and not just a lot of advertising puffery. Advertising that is filled with generalities does very little to set you apart from the competition.

For example: Copy that reads “we provide quality service” says nothing. But copy that reads “our licensed technicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week” has real meaning to your reader.


Written by Bob McCarthy

This article may be reprinted without permission as long as the article includes the following credit: Bob McCarthy is a freelance copywriter and consultant specializing in direct marketing and lead generation. His website is He can be reached at 508-473-8643 or by email at

About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."