If Thomas Jefferson had been a direct response copywriter…
The Declaration of Independence. Sure it’s an important document. Ahead of its time. Revolutionary. The foundation of American democracy.
But would it fly today?
The Declaration of Independence: Useful content or old media relic?
Think about it. In a search engine-optimized, metric-driven era, would the Declaration of Independence (DOI) build relationship, strengthen social community and amplify word-of-mouth?
I’m not so sure. See, Thomas Jefferson wrote for a tightly targeted niche of affluent, Enlightened users.
If the Author of Democracy had to speak to a broader demographic, things would’ve been different. And surely Jefferson would’ve used the most effective communication possible: direct response copy.
DM copy tips for the DOI
Thomas Jefferson would’ve known his DOI needed to…
- Grab patriots’ attention with sexy, benefit-focused headlines
- Be a scannable parchment
- Rely on Whig-friendly bullets and numbered lists
- KISSSOS—Keep it Simple Stupid Secretary of State—with short words, sentences and paragraphs
- Drive Minutemen conversion with a strong call-to-action
How to turn the Declaration of Independence into a lead-generating, conversion-driving machine
As I see it, DOI copy would’ve read something like this…
Who Else Wants Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?
My Fellow Countrymen:
Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. To some folks they’re just words.
But not you.
To you, those words represent the American dream. Your American dream.
Merry Olde England wasn’t so merry, was it?
You know the truth: Back in Britain, you weren’t like the other yeomen. Bowing, scraping and brown-nosing—for what? A stingy strip of land? A place at the Huddersfield Bobbin Factory?
You wanted better.
And you found it in America. As soon as you walked off the plank and on to the shore, you knew. You could smell it. It was in the air: Freedom.
But that was then. What about now?
It’s a different ball game under the thumb of Mad King G.
You played by the rules—but they didn’t: King George and his fat-cat, milord cronies. The Tory tyrants made up their own rules.
Exactly how has the King abused us? Oh, let me count the ways.
12 reasons why you need to declare your independence
As an American you’ve watched with dismay as King George…
- Gouges us with sky-high taxes
- Rigs Parliament and boots our reps
- Sets up Colonial kangaroo courts
- Appoints My-Way-Or-the-King’s Highway judges
- Jacks up taxes
- Forces us to “host” army thugs
- Hires strong-arm goons to destroy our ships, burn our homes and rough-up our husbandmen
- Calls for meetings in impossible locations—Molly Murray’s Olde Mutton ‘n Malt was the last straw
- Hems, haws and refuses to pass laws vital to us
- Shuts down global trade
- Did I mention taxes?
- And much, much more
You parley—and the King pooh-poohs.
We tried. God knows we tried to be reasonable with the King and his Parliamentary sidekicks.
Talk? We talked until we were blue in the face. When our British brothers crossed the legislative line, we petitioned. We pleaded. We practically begged for justice.
His Highness’ response? Not to give an inch. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch.
Time to give Britain the boot
To everything there’s a season and all that.
There’s a time to stick with the old. And a time to embrace the new.
A time to put up and shut up. And a time to take tyrants to task.
A time to talk—and a time to fight.
Our time has come. Declare your independence.
We don’t have to live under the King’s heel. Ever again.
We can fight the Despot, break from a corrupt system, and declare ourselves free men.
Yes we can.
You may not think we can root out the evil and oppression in our fair land.
Yes we can.
You may not believe that thirteen little colonies can break the back of Great Britain’s Royal Bully.
Yes we can.
You may not feel sure that we can create a government founded on the belief that all men are created equal. Or sustain a country that upholds every man’s right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Yes. We. Can.
But we need your help.
While we’re confident of victory, we can’t do it without you.
Spread the word. Tell everyone you know about the DOI. Join the Militia. Support our Patriots with your donations—sheep, eggs, ale and scrap metal gladly accepted, along with cash.
Most of all we need your commitment. We urge you to pledge to us and to each other:
- Your Lives
- Your Fortunes
- Your Sacred Honor
Yes you can. As we the undersigned have…
John Hancock, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott, Matthew Thornton
Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans!
Photo of Declaration of Independence courtesy of WhyTuesday.