The Secrets that Made “Retire This Year”
A 10-Year Control

How would you like to have sat beside Master Copywriter Paul Hollingshead while he crafted one of AWAI’s most successful promos?

To understand his thinking? To see how he came up with the Big Idea? And see how he fleshed out the compelling promise that most likely brought you into AWAI?

Just imagine what it would have been like to eavesdrop on the peer review for this copy. You could have seen how Paul’s AWAI associates took copy that was already top-notch and turned it into an unbeatable control. Do you have any idea how much you could have learned just from that?

Turn back the hands of time and sit in on the creative process …

These were exactly my thoughts when Katie told me about a new resource AWAI is preparing.

It’s a special edition of The Professional Writers’ Alliance’s already remarkable First to Final: Evolution of a Successful Sales Letter. I love this part of PWA. Even as a professional copywriter who’s been doing it for 17 years myself, I’ve learned so much from this series of web seminars (aka “webinars”).

It’s easy to think when you look at masterful, finished copy to imagine it sprung full born from the mind of a genius. Well, even if the copywriter were a genius (and none of us are), this just isn’t how it happens.

Successful copy comes at the end of a long road … first from conception … through rewrites and revisions … into peer reviews … and finally to finished copy. That’s what First to Final is all about.

It’s where top writers share with you their experience writing a winning promotion. They tell you in these webinars about how they conceived of the Big Idea and take you through all the handwringing and revelations that happen to every copywriter along the way to a finished promo … right down to the smallest detail.

For example, have you ever seen a successful copywriter’s handwritten copy and copy notes? You do in First to Final! And you get to hear the copywriter talk about those notes while she points out exactly what she did and how she thought along the way.

Want to find out what brought you into AWAI?
Let Paul tell you himself …

What brought you into AWAI?

There’s a really good chance it was Paul Hollingshead’s “Retire This Year” promo. After all, some version of this letter has mailed for almost 10 years! That puts it up there with the very most successful promotions of all time.

If you still have that letter, go back and reread it. (After you finish reading this, please!)

It seems effortless, doesn’t it? It seems as if the words just flowed from Paul’s remarkable copywriting mind.

Paul will be the first to tell you that he had to work at it to find the right Big Idea. Just like you’re doing on your AWAI or copywriting projects right now.

Just like you, Paul had to face the “tyranny of the blank page” at the beginning. How’d he overcome it? By coming up with a great, compelling persuasive idea.

That may sound easy, but it wasn’t! Paul will show you how he started on his quest for a compelling idea with his in-depth study of the market and his prospect. And then he’ll tell how he used his environment to formulate the winning idea — and how you can do the same thing to find strong ideas for anything you’re selling. To my mind, this one, single strategy is worth the cost of the entire program.

I wouldn’t call Paul’s strategy of “using your environment” exactly a shortcut. But it sure helps you focus. And if you use it, you will come up with compelling ideas faster.

How important is this process of coming up with the very strongest, most compelling idea possible for a project? Here’s what Paul says …

“When you’re working with a strong idea, a letter can practically write itself. When you have a weak or poorly-developed idea, your letter will become bogged down … and even the best writers will struggle with the writing process.

‘Retire This Year’ was a classic example of this. Once I had the idea, it was clear sailing. I was able to write the first draft in a matter of days. From there, it was just a matter of showing it to some very talented people and improving it with their great ideas.”

To be honest, I haven’t seen Paul’s special edition of First to Final yet. AWAI is polishing it right now. Just like Paul and the AWAI team polished the first and every subsequent version of his “Retire This Year” letter. You’ll get to sit in on that process, too, when they dig into AWAI’s extensive archives to show you the mis-starts, almost-theres, and the final successes.

I can’t believe they’re giving it away!

Katie tells me that when the final version of Paul’s First to Final case study is ready to go, AWAI is going to sell it as a stand-alone product in their catalog. Anyone will be able to buy it for an insanely low price of something like $200. For such a detailed — and success-building — resource, this is practically giving it away.

But AWAI really is giving away Paul’s “Retire This Year” First to Final case study. And you can get it … free.

AWAI is including it along with all the other First to Final case studies … as well as all the other many perks of membership … when you join The Professional Writers’ Alliance.

I’d love to tell you about the many benefits of PWA membership. (I know; I’m a member!) But that would violate Mark Ford’s “Rule of One.” (You probably know Mark by his pen name Michael Masterson.) So, if you want, you can click here to find out about those many benefits.

But I know you’d like to save some of your valuable time. Once you read about all those benefits — and knowing that you really want to be one of the first to learn from Paul’s First to Final case study — why not click right here to be taken directly to the sign-up form.

But do it right now … because AWAI has a special price for new PWA members … but it expires today.

So don’t put it off until “I can get around to it.” I’d hate for you to suddenly remember such an important step in your copywriting career … when it was too late. Do it now!

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: October 1, 2012

1 Response to “The Secrets that Made “Retire This Year” A 10-Year Control”

  1. Thank you for contributing this article and I want you to know that I really enjoyed reading it.

    I think it is a wise choice to learn what you can from the masters of copywriting.

    These masters have attended the school of hard knocks and dug through the trenches and they know what it takes to succeed in the art and craft of writing.

    Their guidance can prove to be an invaluable asset for newbies and seasoned practitioners alike, who want to progress on this road.

    It is to their advantage to seize such opportunities with open arms and model their work on what AWAI provides them.

    Archan MehtaOctober 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm


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