In this clip from a marketing John Carlton and Harlan Kilstein say that in order to get good at writing copy you have to do a lot of reading. Read critically and find out which pieces resonate with you. See what the great copywriters in your niche are doing.
Harlan: The first step, I would say, is to just start reading financial copy. Print out financial copy and just read it.
John: Read it critically, too, which means, as you are reading it, if something lights up a part of your brain, make a note and start thinking about this. Most people read passively, and the difference between a sales letter and fiction and everything else is you want them to read critically, in a state of acceptance.
It’s not that hard of a dance to do, once you understand it. Most people read passively. It goes in the eye and out the back of the head. You want it to stop and jar them. That’s where power words come in.
Harlan: Read it out loud. Let it get into your ears so it resonates with you.
John: The good stuff
Harlan: Right, the good stuff. Chuck the bad stuff. But, what happens after a while, if you pay enough attention to John, John can basically go into “I’m into my copy trance now”. And you stick a pin into John and copy comes out…word for word, perfect copy. It comes from years of experience and from reading a zillion pages of copy. Now, you can do the same thing, but you have to start reading copy. Open a new gmail address, where you get all this stuff from.
Set up filters, so you can see what the Motley Fool is sending every day. What ETR or Agora is sending you every day. Break it down so you get the various voices in your head. What resonates the most with you? The old pros said copy the sales letters that really resonate with you, so it builds that mind-body connection.
John: This shouldn’t be an onerous job for you. It should be joyful. I didn’t check, but are you happy being in this biz? Does it give you a charge of joy when you wake up every morning…”Oh boy, I get to dive in…”
Eric: I think it’s exciting, yes.
John: Good. OK, that covers that.
Harlan: And you didn’t waste your time building that. You built a great entryway for people who are coming in. You didn’t waste any time. You just need an entryway for people to get in. And you have to see what’s working today.
John: This should be a joy. To sit down and say “I’ve got an hour of reading…” and, as Harlan said, you get really good at saying “I don’t need to be reading this because, critically, I know that this is a piece of s**t”, and push it aside… “I’m not going to waste time reading it. I’m not going to have to trudge through it. I am going to absorb this stuff. I am going to read it critically, and this is going to help me write what I need to write.”
So that is Monday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, if you just spend a couple of hours, if you just focus on this. If you don’t watch any TV…you just put your social life on hold for a while, by Tuesday evening you will be twice as informed as you were, and probably four or five times as informed as the average guy in the market…even the guys you are going up against.
So, that is one thing. Excellent, excellent piece of advice.
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