Success Story:
AWAI Member Peter F. Tells Us How He Beat Our Control

In issue #19 of The Golden Thread, AWAI member Peter F. told us how he landed a test mailing against AWAI's current "Can You Write A Letter Like This?" control. The original control - written by Paul Hollingshead - has been unbeatable and successfully mailing for the past 4 years – UNTIL NOW! Peter's promotion (mentored by Bob Bly and Don Mahoney) just recently beat our existing control and all of us (including Paul), congratulate Peter on this major achievement.

When we told Paul of Peter's success he had this to say: "Many have tried, including some of the industry's most seasoned pros. It's not often a new writer can knock off a long-established control – but it's only appropriate that the person who does be an AWAI member. But just remember … I won't go away. I'll be forever here … lurking in the shadows. And when the time is right, I'll pounce and take back what is rightfully mine. Mine, I tell you – MINE! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha (fade out)."

While Paul recovers, we asked Peter to tell us more about this very exciting experience…

TGT: Peter, you got started on this promotion at last September's bootcamp. What made you decide to attend?

PF: I've always gravitated towards learning from successful people, so I went to the bootcamp to meet the people who "walk the walk and talk the talk." I figured that Katie, John Forde, Justin Ford, Don Mahoney, Bob Bly, and Michael Masterson know what goes into making a successful six-figure copywriter, and I wanted to hear everything they had to offer. (An unexpected bonus was that I also became friends with some of my fellow students there, and we continue to keep in touch with each other.)

TGT: You've said that you feel that your copywriting career was born at the bootcamp. What do you mean?

PF: Before I went to the bootcamp, I was just a student sending in my practice letters to AWAI for critiques. But while there, I not only learned from the best, I was also able to show my passion for the craft. When Katie made the announcement that AWAI was offering everyone an opportunity to get a real paying assignment, I decided – right then and there – that it was going to be me.

Understand that I hadn't yet finished the basic copywriting course. But at the bootcamp, you receive not just a crash course in the basics, but also lots of info on master-level copywriting. You have to be prepared to learn – and I hung on every word the masters were teaching.

TGT: It takes time to write a letter like yours. What motivated you to stick with it?

PF: AWAI came through with a great opportunity. The fact that they were so supportive helped motivate me to get started. I am also a very tenacious person. Once I start something, I finish it … no matter what.

TGT: While writing this promotion, you worked one-on-one with Bob Bly and Don Mahoney. What was that like?

PF: At the bootcamp, I was teamed with Bob in the beginning – and he set me on the right path for my first draft. (When he corrects your writing, you know exactly what he wants and why he gave you that suggestion.) Because I was writing this sales letter in Don's voice, he took over from Bob for the other drafts. We did everything by e-mail.

It's interesting that Don and I were in exactly the same place when we decided that we were fed up with our careers and needed to make a change (to copywriting). In one section of the letter, I wanted to use "our" frustration to show empathy with our prospect. Don liked what I wrote and didn't change a word of it.

TGT: Why do you think your letter works?

PF: I studied the control and tried to take it in another direction. I got into my prospect's head (his wants, needs, desires, core beliefs) and dug deep for a USP (just like Michael teaches you to do). Believe me, I went way beyond fear and greed! I also made sure I responded to any objection my prospect might have about opening up his wallet and whipping out his credit card.

TGT: How did you feel when you learned that your letter beat the four-year-old control?

PF: I had mixed emotions. Thrilled that I came through for AWAI (and myself). And then concerned that because of the royalties I will be earning, my family might ask me for money. (Just kidding!)

TGT: After getting this assignment under your belt, do you feel more confident about getting clients and completing projects on your own?

PF: I think if I can be mentored on another project or two, I'll have that edge soon. You really get good at this when you have a master working with you.

TGT: How has this whole experience affected your budding copywriting career?

PF: It's definitely opened some doors. I've been in the entertainment field for over 20 years. To be a success in that, you have to be real luckyThis experience proved to me that with copywriting you have a lot more control over your own destiny (and financial future). And isn't that what everyone wants?

To find out more, visit:

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: August 19, 2002

2 Responses to “Success Story: AWAI Member Peter F. Tells Us How He Beat Our Control”

  1. Frankly, i was expecting a bit more from this interview... Like his process, his thinking, the questions he asked himself before he started etc etc.

    Unfortunately, this did not deliver, but congrats to Peter... I loved Paul's response. Its all in the AWAI-family, so its all good! :)

    Donald C Obii

  2. It's really inspiring to read pieces like this. Way easier to grind every time success stories like this comes out.


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