Why Copywriting Doesn't Work

by Ben Settle - Date: 2007-01-18 - Word Count: 410 Share This!

Once upon a time I had an ad critiqued by one of the world's few copywriting geniuses.

Not a freelance copywriter.

But someone who makes millions writing ads only for his own products and services.

In other words, someone who really does work without a net -- and who doesn't have the luxury of a fat copywriting fee to fall back on if his ads fail.

Anyway, after reading my sales letter he said something I'll never forget.

Something brilliant and simple that completely changed the way I wrote my copy.

He said (paraphrased):

"This letter has a lot of original thinking in it. It has a great story. And it looks fascinating. However, it reads like a sales letter -- and that's its downfall. Write, don't copywrite."

So true.

So very, very true.

And I immediately removed all the "ad style" promises, ditched the flashy "National Enquirer-like" headline, stripped away the turn-of-phrases that impress other marketers and copywriters...and just told the story.

The result?

Instead of an ad that screamed "sales job!", it said, "hey, I got some fascinating information about how to solve your problem. Wanna hear it?"

This is extremely important.

Because when you write your ads this way, instead of sounding like a used car salesman jacked up on hype and fake excitement, you sound like a regular person.

Someone people can relate to, bond with and believe in.

Frankly, when this is done right, you don't feel like you're even being "pitched."

You feel like someone's sharing interesting information with you that's completely relevant to you and your problem.

Trust me, the difference -- in both appearance and actual results -- is night and day.

One person I showed some ads like this to said the effect, "is almost under radar."

And that's exactly right.

Of course, this is nothing new.

The late (and brilliant) copywriter Eugene Schwartz taught this publicly in a speech to Phillips Publishing:

"You are presenting a showcase for your product. Just like a store showcase on Fifth Avenue. You want the person to be able to look through the copy like the person is able to look through the glass in the showcase and see the product inside. If that glass becomes dirty, reflective, or calls attention to itself in any way, you have failed."

Powerful advice, isn't it?

And yet, I doubt one copywriter in ten really does this -- not even the ones who preach it to everyone they talk to.

Anyway, here's the bottom line:

The next time you are tempted to mimic the "hype-and-scream" style of your competition...consider what the genius copywriter I mentioned earlier said:

"Write, don't copywrite."

Related Tags: marketing, copywriting, copywriter, web copy, ad copywriting, eugene schwartz, freelance copywriting

Ben Settle is a direct response copywriter and author of "The Copywriter's Cheat Sheet" -- which contains over 300 pages of advanced copywriting secrets and rare swipe file ads not easily found anywhere else. You can get a free copy of his book and read his latest copywriting ideas and tactics at http://bensettle.com

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