Quick Tip:
Is Your Swipe File Missing Something Important?

When you get a DM package in the mail, stop being a copywriter for a moment and step back into the role of naïve consumer. If the piece is so bad that you're ready to toss it, DON'T.

Add it to your swipe file.

Every serious copywriter needs a swipe file. But many beginning copywriters have swipe files that are missing some extremely important samples.

Samples of poor copy.

You can learn a tremendous amount about how to craft a strong DM package by examining – and physically copying – the work of masters.

But you can also learn a lot by analyzing the dogs, the pieces you see in your mailbox and email inbox that leave you cold.

Analyze those bad DM packages carefully – from the image and words on the envelope, through the headline and lead, and all the way to the end.

Was the envelope copy strong enough to get you to open the letter? Were the words and images on the magalog convincing? Did the headline bring you into the package and make you want to read more?

Where did you stop wanting to read?

It is always easier to see someone else's mistakes than to see our own. So when you read copy that isn't working, the blunders are going to jump off the page. And they could be the same blunders you've been making without realizing it.

When you're able to see common copywriting mistakes in this new light, you begin to understand how to strengthen your own writing.

One warning: Do not write out bad copy in longhand like you've been advised to do with great copy. You want to train yourself to copy that isn't working … but you don't want to practice writing it.

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: June 18, 2007

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