Welcome to our first ever official Copy Tuesday!
Today’s update is going to be quick. In part, because I don’t have a lot of time to get it in. But also, because I want to make sure you get the point. So I’m going to keep it direct.
Let’s talk about your swipe file.
This is your collection of ads, headlines, and ideas you can “swipe” to use in your advertising.
I’ve heard copy teachers — including some very well-known ones — essentially tell you to rip off other people’s copy to use for your own.
I recently even saw a piece of my own copy, blatantly stolen with only minor edits.
This is lazy, lame, weak copywriting.
Maybe you’ve heard of the so-called “A-list” of copywriters? These are the best-of-the-best, top-of-their-game copywriters who get the big bucks to write copy for the biggest mailers in the world.
They don’t do this.
Sure, they may borrow a phrase here, and get an idea there. Never whole sentences… Or worse, whole passages!
(I was hiring copywriters for a client a while back, and had one guy copy and paste in some old financial copy from one of the top copywriters. The worst part about it? The copy was about a completely different market condition than the one we were currently in. It made the guy sound like an idiot. That’s what this lazy approach does. When I called him out on it, he told me it’s what all the best copywriters do.)
You will NEVER be an “A-list” copywriter by “swiping.”
Let me tell you what “swiping” CAN get you, and why it’s taught.
– It can help you build your business in the “minor leagues” of direct marketing — which is just about any field where the major mailers DO NOT play. There’s nothing wrong with playing on these fields, and swiping headlines and copy elements may actually help you succeed in these markets. (I believe this is why some folks like Dan Kennedy regularly teach it — because MOST of their students are selling to “virgin” markets compared to financial, health, and similarly saturated markets.)
– It can help you rise to the level of about a “B-minus” copywriter. Compared to an “A-list” copywriter, you’ll never get the best gigs. Your promotions will never do as well. And you probably won’t work with the best of the best clients. But you can get by for a lifetime as a “B-minus” copywriter. Which, if you swipe regularly, will likely be the height of your career.
But… You’ll never play in the “Big Leagues” if you build your copy on swiping.
Here’s what to do instead…
If you DO want a chance of rising beyond “B-minus” you MUST think for yourself.
YES, you should study great copy. YES, you should use previous winning ads for inspiration. YES, you can even “adopt” a phrase here or there. (My most common guarantee text of “You’ll receive a prompt and courteous full refund of every penny you paid” is a mutt offspring of a few great copywriters’ work.)
But then, be yourself. Throw all that copy into your brain, jumble it up, and let your brain spit it back out from memory, and in your own voice.
And when you are looking directly to your swipe file for inspiration, don’t look for phrases to copy, or formulas to fill-in-the-blanks.
Think about the PSYCHOLOGY behind the copy.
What is John Caples really doing when he says, “They laughed when I sat down at the piano… But when I started to play!”
There’s the setup: they doubted me.
Then there’s the reveal: I triumphed!
When you step back and understand the psychology, you could come up with a headline like this…
“She told me it was time to go back and get a ‘real job’ again… But then I showed her the check I’d just pulled from the mailbox!”
Imagine that for a business opportunity pitch! Or maybe a day trading program.
It’s the exact same story as Caples was using.
Only it feels fresh.
If you don’t want to get laughed out of their office, this is what you need to do…
The major mailers don’t have much patience for “swiped” copy. Particularly if it’s one of the top 50 or 100 formulas that every copywriter learned in their first 3 months of study.
You will get laughed out of the office. Shamed. Ridiculed. Or just ignored if you don’t bring something fresh.
And in the sophisticated markets they play in, that type of formulaic swiping may have worked a few decades ago.
But it doesn’t work today.
YES, the prospects don’t know all the formulas like we do as copywriters. But they’re not dumb. They’ve “seen it all.”
And if you want a breakthrough, you’re going to have to come with something that feels new.
Even if it’s the same deep psychology that’s been used over and over and over again.
Most copywriting teachers won’t teach you these straight facts.
Frankly, many of the so-called gurus don’t know any better.
That’s part of what makes these emails — and my upcoming workshop — radically unique.
It will be a truly one-of-a-kind, transformative experience for the serious, dedicated copywriters who grab one of the few spots that will be available.
Later today, I’m touring the hotel I’ll be using.
The announcement won’t be far behind.
If you’re serious about becoming a high-level direct response copywriter, this workshop is designed to take you one huge leap forward.
I’m looking forward to it — and I hope you are too!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets