The Only Person Who Can Assure Your Copywriting Success

Today I’m going to tell you about the single most important strategy for writing compelling, successful headlines.

In fact, it’s the single most important secret behind all successful advertising. I talked a little about it recently when I told you about Helen Resor. But it bears repeating … and more details.

Before I get into the secret, I want to tell you what prompted me to write about it today.

You see, I just got exciting news from Denise Ford, news I’ve been eagerly waiting for. AWAI is starting up a new round of its Circle of Success Headlines Targeted Learning Program next month.

Whenever we start a new round of a Targeted Learning Program, it reminds me to review our current materials and make sure they’re up-to-date. This means keeping up with new books on copywriting, reading blogs, and, in general, investigating copywriting websites.

A flood of websites …
A drought of useable information

There’s a lot out there, to be sure. Some of it’s pretty good. Most of it, just plain bunk. When I look at what’s out there about headlines, these so-called experts astound me. I can’t believe how they really don’t say anything useful.

Things like (as one site said) your headline contains three things: “The Problem,” “Before and After,” and “Hooks and Stories.”

Who could argue with these three components of a successful headline? But after reading the single, short paragraph following each idea, I was left with a big “so what?” Nothing you could take away and use to write a winning headline.

Or you can find sites offering “349 Greatest Headlines Ever Written” or “Headline Swipe Files You Can Start Using Now.”

The trouble with these sites — and with the headline swipes — is they never tell you how to adapt them. Or which headlines work best with what products. Or — most seriously — which work best with certain prospects.

It’s this great shortcoming that really bothers me. And that brings me to the secret I’m going to share.

One size can never fit all …

Not all types of headlines — or promotional copy — work with all types of prospects. The missing first step in the sites I’ve investigated is this: They don’t tell you how to get to know your prospect so you feel like she’s a good friend.

They don’t even tell you this is the most important single secret in successful copywriting!

I might sound like a missionary about this. But I’m not the only copywriter who believes so strongly in this crucial first step in successful copywriting. From the time Helen Resor was writing, right down through the last 100 years, copywriters like David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz, Ted Nicholas, Dan Kennedy, Bill Bonner, and Michael Masterson have preached the same gospel.

But that’s not why it’s been so important in my own copywriting. I didn’t become a good copywriter — not to mention a successful one — until I learned this lesson. And I learned it the hard way.

A wake-up call from a Master …

I’d been writing copy for about two years when Master Copywriter John Forde critiqued one of my assignments.

“It’s not bad,” he said. “You’re a competent copywriter. But you’re never going to be a great one.”

You can bet I did not want to hear that. I wanted to be great. And you want to be great. But fortunately, John didn’t leave me dangling. He told me how to change my copywriting.

“You’ll never be great if you don’t learn the most important secret of copywriting: Love your prospect.”

How do you love your prospect?

“Love your prospect.” Sounds easy in words, but what does it really mean?

An old Phil Spector song, sung by the Teddy Bears in 1958, gives the answer:

To know, know, know him,
Is to love, love, love him …

You can’t love your prospect — and you can’t write successful headlines or promotional copy — unless you really know what makes your prospect tick. You have to know him as if he were a living, breathing person. Because he is!

When Denise and I first designed the COS Headlines Targeted Learning Program, we decided that “Know Your Prospect” had to be one of the first secrets members learned. It’s that important.

In fact, you learn how to “know your prospect intimately” in the first live, interactive Headlines Targeted Learning Program session with a working copywriter — like me.

Each of us professional copywriters who teach these Targeted Learning Programs isn’t simply teaching theory. We’re teaching from personal — and successful — experience.

I love teaching this secret. It’s made a huge difference in my own copywriting … and in my life. It has made me a successful copywriter. Period!

I honestly feel that mastering this one secret is well worth the cost of the entire COS membership. Knowing and using this secret can boost your success that much. But, it’s only one of dozens of secrets you can learn in the Headlines Targeted Learning Program.

Or in the Leads Targeted Learning Program.

Or the Architecture of Persuasion Targeted Learning Program.

Or the Getting Clients Targeted Learning Program.

But membership in the Circle of Success doesn’t include just the Targeted Learning Programs. It also includes — at no additional charge — access to any and all products in the AWAI Library of Resources … lifetime free admission to AWAI’s FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair … plus a whole lot more.

I know I sound excited about the Circle of Success. I am. I’ve made many friends in my COS Programs and at Bootcamps. But even more important than that, I’ve seen the impact it has on those who are part of it.

If you’re curious about what Circle of Success can mean for you, I hope you’ll join us tomorrow for an “Open House” Katie’s call put together to tell you more about COS than I can here.

I’ll be on the free call with Katie, along with Steve Roller, Mindy McHorse, and Cindy Cyr — all successful freelance copywriters who credit COS for letting them live the writer’s life of their dreams.

You can sign up for the free Circle of Success Open House right here.

Hope you join us!

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 »


Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: May 14, 2012

1 Response to “The Only Person Who Can Assure Your Copywriting Success”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story here.

    It is great you can find mentors to critique your work.

    Making mistakes and learning from your mistakes is what makes you grow as a writer.

    The first thing that captures a reader's attention is the headline. So, you are right on the money about the fact.

    But I see too many insipid headlines these days that just don't cut it with the reader.

    You then feel like ignoring the article, although it may be a good one.

    You have to draw the reader in. Thanks.

    Archan MehtaMay 15, 2012 at 7:32 pm


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)