Defeating Copywriting’s #1 Copy Killer

Last week I promised to tell you about copywriting’s #1 Copy Killer.

I’m going to do this by having you meet somebody who’s had a huge impact on your career — even though this person was writing over 100 years ago!

I learned about this copywriter when I was working on Module 5 for the new Masters Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.

This Module was originally going to talk about only three pioneering copywriters. After discussing them, it would tap into the wisdom of contemporary masters.

I was sure when we started, that all the “good stuff” would come from the modern gurus — Master Copywriters like David Ogilvy, Ted Nicholas, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Bill Bonner, Michael Masterson … and seven others.

Was I ever wrong!

The more I researched the three pioneers, the more I needed to know about the early days of copywriting. And not just because their history makes fascinating reading. But because these trailblazers are the ones who “invented” copywriting the way you and I know it today.

It wasn’t long before the list of the original three pioneers for Module 5 grew to 10. Each one of these early masters developed many of the advertising and copywriting secrets you’re learning from AWAI — and most particularly in the new Masters Program.

One of these pioneers — the one I’m going to introduce you to today — is responsible for understanding how to defeat copywriting’s #1 Copy Killer.

A giant among men …

Please meet the first of the great women copywriters in history, Helen Lansdowne Resor.

A little background about Helen …

She was the youngest of nine children. When she was 4 years old, her mother left her husband and took the nine children with her. She got a job as a clerk to support the family, and impressed on all of them — especially the girls — the importance of self-sufficiency. “You’re never going to get caught the way I was,” she told Helen. “You’re going to learn how to work.”

And did Helen work! In 1908, Stanley Resor — the man who would later become her husband — hired then 17-year-old Helen Lansdowne for J. Walter Thompson as the agency’s first female copywriter. At that time, JWT was one of the largest ad agencies in the world (and still is).

As was typical in advertising until after the Mad Men era, Helen worked exclusively on “women’s products” — soaps, toiletries, food, food products, and the like.

Helen figured out early the key to making sales was knowing her prospects intimately, as she might know a personal friend. And because her prospects were women, she understood them more intimately than the men at JWT did.

But she didn’t depend solely on herself as the model for the woman she wrote to. She insisted JWT do extensive research into their female prospects. She, herself, interviewed women, talked to her friends, and hired other women to write to them.

She made sure her ads reflected the woman’s point of view — in the promises she made, in the words she used, and in the look of the ads she wrote and supervised.

An example is how she revolutionized endorsement advertising. She persuaded society leaders and royalty who appealed to her female readers to appear in her Pond’s Cold Cream ads. This approach brought advertising a tone and elegance it had previously lacked. An elegance that appealed to the prospects she knew so well — women.

She’s even credited with being the first copywriter to bring sex appeal into ads — the famous Woodbury Soap ad “A Skin You Love to Touch” being her first.

Of course, her approach was mild by today’s standards. Had it been more extreme — like we see today — it would have repelled her prospects. She understood this intimately … because she knew her prospects intimately.

Just one story out of 10 to learn from …

Helen Resor was so good at what she did — and so successful doing it — the New York Herald Tribune described her as the greatest copywriter of her generation. Not the “greatest woman copywriter of her generation” … the greatest copywriter.

All because she understood the #1 Secret of Master-level Copywriting: Know Your Prospect.

I personally learned this lesson the hard way when John Forde critiqued some of my early writing. I’m sure if I’d known Helen Resor’s story back then, 13 or 14 years ago, I would’ve understood this crucial secret more thoroughly.

And my copy wouldn't have succumbed to the #1 Copy Killer — not knowing your prospect, intimately.

And this is why — well, one of many reasons why — I feel you’ll get so much from AWAI’s new Masters Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.

Helen Resor is just one of the 10 pioneers I told you about earlier. Each of their stories reveals what advertising was like before a pioneer introduced a revolutionary new idea. And it shows how that idea transformed copywriting.

Like how John E. Kennedy forever altered copywriting by introducing “reason why” advertising. Before him, ads were like news stories. Just dry facts and no benefits. After he came on the scene … well, the ads he created — some of which we’ve included in his story — show how radically he changed advertising and copywriting. All within three short years.

I learn so much when I write. That’s why writing is my second biggest love. (After my family.) Writing these pioneers’ stories has taught me more about copywriting than any single thing I’ve written before.

I’m confident you’ll learn from these pioneering masters, too. More than the fascinating biographical details. More than the historical viewpoint. I’m confident you’ll learn about the skills you need to write powerful, successful copy from a new and riveting perspective.

That’s why I hope you’ll take advantage of AWAI’s unbeatable offer for the completely revamped Masters Program. Why “unbeatable”?

First off, if you sign up now, you get 45% off the list price.

And even more exciting to my way of thinking, Katie promises that if you haven’t at least doubled your freelance writing income (or aren’t well on your way to a six-figure income if you’re just starting out) — AWAI will give you a full and complete refund. No questions asked. No hoops to jump through. For TWO years!

Two years! This is unprecedented. And it shows how much they — and I — believe in this program.

So if you’re serious about learning the Masters secrets and strategies that will propel you rapidly to A-level copywriting, click this link.

One last thing. I have a favor to ask. After you’ve read Module 5 of The Masters Program, please let me know which of the 10 pioneering copywriters inspires you most. What have you learned from him — or her — and how has it impacted your copywriting?

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: April 30, 2012

2 Responses to “Defeating Copywriting’s #1 Copy Killer”

  1. Copywriting is a creative field.

    So, it is important to read inspiring stories. Thank you for sharing your point of view. We appreciate it here.

    It is important to find a role model early on in your career.

    Somebody you can lean on; somebody who can help you to learn the ropes.

    A mentor-mentee relationships can work wonders for you career if it is a good fit. However, they need to be on the same page--pardon the pun here.

    Maverick copywriters can be a source of motivation for youngsters.

    Archan MehtaApril 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm

  2. am still very new to the business.... but i am liking what i see it really sounds promising. i cant wait to start earning some real cash!!!!

    ambassador IssieApril 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm


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