I keep too much stuff…
Way too much stuff. And I’m not nearly as organized about it as I’d love to be. I AM proactively trying to deal with it. But just keeping it real, I’ve got a long ways to go.
File cabinets too full of things that should’ve been thrown away long ago. Old electronics stashed in my office. Too many papers on my desk.
And my email inbox — ouch.
Last year, before we went off-grid for summer vacation and our trip to Yellowstone, I very briefly had my work email to the lauded “Inbox Zero.” (Gmail has a nice little graphic for when you hit it — you should see it!)
I haven’t been back there since we got back from the family road trip. And now we’re talking about where we’ll go this summer.
Thankfully in most areas of our house — other than my personal space — I’m better about it. And that’s definitely helped by my wife, who has much better de-cluttering habits than I.
Sometimes though, keeping things can be a big advantage…
Why copywriters should hoard in at least one area of their life…
I’ve been developing a couple big ideas for a couple financial promos.
Drastically different messages.
And so I’ve been deep in research.
Now, I’m ALWAYS researching. Always reading the news. Always pursuing interesting topics.
When something strikes my fancy, I save it. In my case, the current tool of choice is Evernote.
I have all kinds of notebooks in Evernote.
What I typically do is when I get excited about an idea or start researching it at a client’s request, I create a new notebook.
Then, I add it to my radar. Our brains actually have a structure called the Reticular Activating System, or RAS. The RAS is what directs our attention. While your brain takes in millions of pieces of sensory information every day, the RAS filters what to draw your conscious attention to.
(This is what’s at work when you buy a new car, and suddenly notice all the same cars on the road. Or you always notice when someone’s wearing apparel from your favorite sports team. Or when you hear the song playing that was stuck in your head yesterday, even though you’d been ignoring the radio up until that point.)
Once an idea is on my radar, I see it all the time. And I throw all the relevant, interesting research I can find into that Evernote notebook. So that when it comes time to develop my narrative, I have a whole pile of ideas, plus the abundant sources of proof, credibility, and believability that are REQUIRED to write a high-level control.
I don’t know what of the research I’ll use when I’m collecting it. I don’t know if it’ll be useful. In many cases, I’ve collected a ton of research around ideas that I never wrote a promotion on.
And yet, when I need it, having ready access to all the best ideas I’d found before is a shortcut to writing really compelling, research-backed narratives, fast.
I also have another powerful Evernote notebook.
It’s called Financial Promo Ideas.
All it takes for me to throw an article into that notebook is for it to be compelling and new, and something I’ve never seen a promotion written about before.
Something that suggests a future trend that will present an opportunity or problem to investors. (Basically, anything that suggests one of the three big idea types taught in High-Velocity Copywriting.)
I can sort through there, at any time, and trigger an idea or direction for my next promotion.
Having a pile of research like this is a secret weapon…
ALL the best copywriters I know have a similar collection of research.
Others are more organized. Others are less.
As long as you can find it and use it to trigger ideas, you can use what works for you.
But having it is absolutely the first step.
Whenever you find something compelling, save it. Store it.
The fact that everything is digital makes it far faster, easier, and cheaper.
The fact that you can get started with a free Evernote account, software, and Chrome Web Clipper extension makes it a no-brainer.
(I have a similar system for these essays. I’m constantly saving information and ideas that I think would be relevant.)
This is your secret to success as a copywriter…
I have a colleague who is a publisher at a 9-figure direct marketing company.
That is, they do over $100 million per year in sales, through sales copy.
They’re a massive employer of copywriters — one of the biggest in the industry.
They have training programs for copywriters. They’ve hired top talent, and ambitious rookies off the street. At various points in their business, they’ve let writers figure things out largely on their own, or they’ve held hands.
They’ve tried it all, and seen it all.
And they’ve asked why some copywriters succeed, and others are out about as fast as they’re in, because they never get traction.
A rough quote…
“The one thing that predicts whether a copywriter will be successful is their idea flow.”
This IS NOT about copy skills, tactics, or anything like that.
It’s about having a LOT of ideas, and hopefully being able to prioritize them based on quality.
And what does that have to do with the “hoarder” approach to research?
If you follow the process I have above and save any interesting and potentially relevant article, all it should take to come up with a handful of ideas to throw out at your next brainstorming session is a quick gander through your Evernote.
And when it comes time to develop the narrative behind any one of those ideas, you’ll either have much of the research you need already, or have a proven process in place for gathering a lot more on the topic, quick.
Sure, it takes knowing what to look for (see those links above). But once you do, it’s really dumb not to be grabbing, holding onto, accumulating, even hoarding as much research as you can.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,