From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Copy Platforms

Dear Pat,

I am taking AWAI’s 6-Figure Copywriter’s Program as we speak (just received the 4th installment), and want to take you up on your offer to ask a question.

When you are submitting work to a client, whether it’s on spec or for a paying assignment, would it be best to submit more than one piece of work (copy), each one showing a slightly different angle or perspective? Or would it be best to stick with only submitting one piece – this one piece being what you consider to be the best example of what you have at the moment?

Dean O.

Hello Dean,

Thanks for your question.

You should discuss this with the client when they hire you to write the letter. You should also discuss things like how many revisions you will do at no charge, kill fees, and how you’ll be paid.

Some clients may ask you to submit a couple of copy platforms (a copy platform is basically a headline and lead) to give them an idea of the direction you are planning on going in with your copy. Other clients will schedule a creative call to discuss various ideas before you start. Either way, you probably won’t submit more than one complete letter.

Hello Pat,

I need advice.

What are the ethical issues and the protocol involved in using elements (headlines, concepts, subheads, etc.) from letters/packages in my swipe file?

Joseph E.

Hello Joseph,

Good question!

Copywriters borrow elements and concepts from each other all the time. In fact, there are specific headline “archetypes” that get used over and over and over again because they work so well.

Obviously, copying something verbatim is off limits … not to mention, it probably wouldn’t work with or make any sense for the specific product you are writing about, leaving you with a letter that misses the mark.

But, using the idea behind an existing promo to create one that works for your product is perfectly fine. Just be sure that you put a twist on it to make it your own.

Thanks to one and all. Keep those emails coming!


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Published: June 12, 2006

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