10 Things Legendary Copywriters Wish You’d Know

Have you ever heard about copywriters like David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz, Joe Sugarman, or Gary Halbert?

Well, these legendary copywriters would probably punch us in the face for the things most of today’s copywriters are doing.

Just imagine that a copywriter like David Ogilvy would be reading your copy.

How would that end up?

Probably not too good. And even I make a lot of mistakes…sometimes. That is why I want to show you 10 things best copywriters wish you’d know.

And believe me, one of the things that I will show you will be your copywriting “ah-ha” moment.

I am no longer going to make you wait. Let’s dive in right away…

1. It Is Not About Creating Desire

This is so important to understand that you should read this quote from Eugene Schwartz super-carefully…

“Let’s get to the heart of the matter. The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy. Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exists in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copy writer’s task: not to create this mass desire – but to channel and direct it.”

 Eugene Schwartz

You have to understand that the desire is not created by you in the copy. Your copy is only gasoline that you already pour into the burning desire that exists.

And that is what makes people act.

However, unless you understand your audience and you know what they secretly, ardently desire themselves, you will fail.

Your copy is designed to strengthen the desire that already exists.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s say that you are writing a copy that is targeting entrepreneurs. You are selling some sort of seminar that will show them how to double their revenue.

In the copy, you will not try to build the desire about making more money. That ALREADY EXISTS.

What you are going to do is show them you can fulfill their desire in an incredible way…and that will make them want to go to the seminar.

You are not talking about why money is important, why they need more revenue, etc. They already know that.

What you will talk about is how much money your seminar is going to make them. Why? Because that is what they care about.

Got it?

If you didn’t, read the example once more. If you do awesome! You now know what you should do as a copywriter.

An incredible amount of copywriters are just focusing on the wrong thing. And that is why they fail. However, you now know better.

2. Don’t Give A Damn About Being Creative

I am going to tell this straight away, and it will probably offend you…

…CREATIVITY SUCKS if your copy does not sell. And David Ogilvy thought the same thing.

“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”

– David Ogilvy

Do you want to discover if your copy sucks or not? I will show you exactly how.

Print it, go to the local café or bar, show it to different people, and ask them what they think. There are three possible answers that you are going to get.

The first one is that your copy is crap. Then you know that you have to improve your skills as a copywriter.

When the person tells you that it is crap you have a problem.

The second answer is, “This is amazing! I love it.”

Do you know what that means? That your copy is worth sh*t. If they tell you that it is amazing or that they found it really ‘creative’, it doesn’t mean a thing.

What you want is the third answer. And that is, “God, this is fantastic! Where can I buy this?”

That is when you know that you got something. People buy with their wallets and credit cards.

When you get a response like this…CONGRATULATIONS! You made it.

You see, writing a great copy has nothing to do with creativity unless the person that reads it is so interested that they want to buy the thing you are selling.

If you want to be creative you should be a novelist or writer of stories for newspapers.

Copywriting is about making money – not about being creative. However, I don’t want you to get me wrong. I don’t say that you should get rid of creativity. That would be a massive mistake.

What you should do is to be creative only when it is necessary and in alignment with proven techniques.

Because then you will be able to sell. But if you judge your copy based on how creative it is, you will fail.

Understood? Alright…

3. Make Sure That You Find The Unique Personality Of The Product Or Service

This is more than essential because the world is flooded with competitors that are selling the same thing as you.

And for that reason, Joe Sugarman said…

“Every product has a unique personality and it is your job to find it.”

– Joe Sugarman

The thing that he is telling you is that you should crawl the thing that you are selling through and through to make sure that you know EVERYTHING about it.

Then you will be able to find something unique and make it your USP or Unique Selling Proposition.

Without a USP the competitors are going to run over your head and crush you.

Well, maybe you are asking – “How do I find my unique selling proposition, Filip?”

It is not that hard. You just have to think and that is what most people hate. Just answer this question and you’ll be fine…

“Why should I – your prospect choose you instead of every other option available?”

When answering this question, you have many options available to make yourself unique. The first one is obviously, emphasizing a unique benefit of the product that you are selling.

It is easy and effective.

But when the product or service does not have anything like that you have to opt for option 2. And that is a unique demonstration of a benefit that is already known.

For example, Lays did it amazingly with their “Strong” edition. They fantastically demonstrated the benefit of the hot potato chips and that made their product unique.

After all, positioning is what it is about, right? There are many other ways to do it, but these are the best.

Now, if you have your USP let’s use it as the main differentiator in your copy.

4. Become A ‘Student Of The Markets’

I already mentioned it before, but I will emphasize it even more. You have to study your market…

“The very first thing you must come to realize is that you must become a “student of markets.” Not products. Not techniques. Not copywriting. Not how to buy space or whatever. Now, of course, all of these things are important and you must learn about them, but, the first and the most important thing you must learn is what people want to buy.”

– Gary Halbert

You, as a copywriter, just have to know what your target audience wants, how they feel, what are their problems, and so on.

There is no way that you can write a great sales copy unless you know who are the people that you are writing to.

I have created an amazing infographic that will help you with the studying process. You can download it below…

Studying audience

Just follow it step-by-step and you will be able to write an amazing sales copy that will make them buy like crazy!

Now, let’s move to another thing…

5. Take The Reader By The Hand

You always have to make the copy extremely readable and tell the reader what to do. Gary Halbert said it right…

“What I am doing here is taking the reader by the hand and leading him exactly where I want him to go. It seems like a small point and, maybe it is, but is the little touches like this that keeps the letter flowing, the reader moving along, and, it relieves him of the burden of trying to figure out what he is supposed to do when he finishes reading a particular page.”

– Gary Halbert

You need to make it flow.

Nobody likes to read a vague sales copy that looks like a big block of text. That is not worth it. What everybody likes to read is something that flows and is natural.

But how are you going to accomplish that? Well…

Break The Copy Into Smaller Paragraphs

Nobody likes to read 100 sentences per paragraph. And it is not even appealing.

You can easily lose the reader’s attention because they will feel like, “This will be a damn hard reading.”

And then they leave.

Your copy should have a maximum of 2-4 sentences per paragraph. Everything that is longer will hurt you.

For example, turn your copy that looks like this…

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Lacinia at quis risus sed. Felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo vel orci porta. Ridiculus mus mauris vitae ultricies leo integer malesuada. Magna fermentum iaculis eu non diam phasellus vestibulum.”

…into this:

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Lacinia at quis risus sed. Felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo vel orci porta. Ridiculus mus mauris vitae ultricies leo integer malesuada.

Magna fermentum iaculis eu non diam phasellus vestibulum.

Which one looks better? I believe with all my heart that it is the second one.

Write The Copy About Them, Not About You

The biggest mistake that beginner copywriters make is that they write copy that is all, “me-me-me.”

Who cares?

You have to write a copy that is about them. Copywriters call it the you-orientation. Using the word “you” often and making every single thing about them will change the way how your copy performs.

Pay attention to it.

Use Commonly Used Colloquialisms

Using colloquialisms is a great way to make your copy sound like a human and not a robot. Nobody likes to do business with robots.

However, I want to warn you when it comes to using local colloquialisms. The colloquialisms that are used in your county or city may not be understood by people that are outside of that place.

And that is not good when you are on the Internet.

The Internet is an international thing and that is why you want to avoid using local things at all costs. It will confuse the readers that don’t understand it.

Use Contractions

Contractions are normally used when one person is talking to another. Turn ‘you are’ into ‘you’re’ or ‘you will’ into ‘you’ll.’

It is an amazing way to make your copy more communicative.

Write The Way You Talk

Writing the way you talk is one of the best things that you can do. When you are authentic and you write the way you talk, the copy sounds automatically natural.

And chances are that you’ll instinctively do all of the things that I have mentioned above.

Alright, is your copy readable? Fantastic, let’s move on…

6. Every Element Is Designed To Do One Thing – Make You Read The First Sentence

Understanding this is incredibly essential.

Your job as a copywriter is to get them to start reading the sales copy first and persuade them later. Joe Sugarman said it well…

“All the elements in an advertisement are primarily designed to do one thing and one thing only: get you to read the first sentence of the copy.

– Joe Sugarman

It all makes perfect sense. Why? How can you as a copywriter persuade somebody when nobody reads your sales copy?

That is why every skilled copywriter will tell you the same thing as Joe. Every element is designed to do one and one thing only.

And that is making them read the sales copy.

The headline, images, layout, paragraph length, etc.

Everything is here for that purpose. That is why you shouldn’t pay attention just to the content and what you write into the copy, but you also have to pay attention to the context.

Most copywriters are not able to do that, but if you are, you will be able to make some massive results.

7. What matters isn’t storytelling. What matters is telling a true story well.

Ann Handley said it fantastically…

“What matters isn’t storytelling. What matters is telling a true story well.

– Ann Handley

Storytelling is a fantastic thing. There are only a few more powerful techniques than storytelling.

However, it is not about telling the story. It is about telling the true story as well.

If your story is fake and it has never happened, it can hurt you a lot. And that is why you have to be honest and tell the truth.

Honesty is the most powerful tactic in whole marketing.

Well, now you know that you need to be honest – but you also have to tell an effective and engaging story – and you can only do that by knowing the techniques.

Here is an infographic that will show you what to do (you can download it below):

how to tell a great story infographic

I hope you like the infographic. Now, let’s move on…

8. If The Headline Doesn’t Stop People, Write Greek

I already mentioned that before, but I will say it one more time. The headline is everything.

“What good is all the painstaking work on copy if the headline isn’t right? If the headline doesn’t stop people, the copy might as well be written in Greek.

– John Caples

If your headline sucks, your whole sales copy sucks as well – no matter how good it is. The headline is the major element that matters when it comes to making them read your sales copy.

And as I told you before if it sucks, nobody will read your sales copy – and that means that nobody will buy.

According to Copyblogger, on average, a whopping 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the rest.

You must pay an incredible amount of attention to it. Here are some amazing tips for writing a killer headline.

Use The Words “How To” (Pure Magic In Copywriting)

Words “How To” are pure magic when it comes to writing astonishing headlines. Many successful copywriters say that when you put the words “How To” into your sales copy headline you can’t fail.

And maybe they are right.

The words “How To” immediately show the reader that there is a reward for reading the sales copy.

10 out of 50 headlines begin with these words. And that is not an accident. IT WORKS! And it works like hell.

Here is an example of a How-To headline:

“How To Put In Your Own Personal Sweet Spot…In Just 7 Minutes! Result: Gorgeous, Laser-Straight Drives Every Time You Tee Off 40-to-50 Yards Farther Than You Ever Dreamed Possible…”

So, if you can’t come up with some great headline, use the words “How-To” and you have an immediate foundation…

Leverage Curiosity Gap

Leveraging the curiosity gap is one of the most powerful things that you can leverage.

According to Copyhackers, breaching a curiosity gap can increase click-through rates by 927%.

This gap is the space between what you know and what you need to know.

Your prospect wants to fill the information gap, and your job as a copywriter is to delay filling the gap for as long as possible to keep your readers engaged.

That will bring you an unfair advantage.

9. Put Your Offer Into A Brief Simple Language

You want to make your offer as simple and clear as you can. John Caples said it well…

“To impress your offer on the mind of the reader or listener, it is necessary to put it into brief, simple language…No farfetched or obscure statement will stop them. You have got to hit them where they live in the heart or in the head. You have got to catch their eyes or ears with something simple, something direct, something they want.

– John Caples

If your offer is confusing, your prospects are going to be scared and they will leave. That is why you want to make sure it is clear.

Remember one thing:

Confused prospect ALWAYS SAYS NO.

10. Stick To What Has Worked For You Before

This one should be treated like royalty. It can change your life…

“When I find what seems to be the right course I always wish to keep it. There may be another way to success, even to greater success. But the chances are against it. The ways to great success in any line are not numerous. When a certain method has proved itself profitable I hesitate to drop it, until I have found and proved a better method by some local tests. The best way found to sell a product to thousands is probably the best way to sell other thousands.

– Claude C. Hopkins

If you have already written a sales copy, and it works, you should understand that sticking to the techniques is a great idea.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test new things. You should always test something new to discover if you can do better.

However, when you already know what works, you should try to test different versions of the model and don’t change it heavily.

Claude Hopkins nailed the point and you should stick to it.

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