Behind Every Good Idea is Great Research

Sandy Franks

It's only day two and this year’s Bootcamp has been absolutely wonderful. I am meeting so many AWAI members … even people I met several years ago are back again.

I’ve been encouraging everyone to make sure they don’t miss Mike Palmer’s speech, The Secret Psychology of Becoming A Great Copywriter: Understanding this all-important cycle will give you an enormous edge over 99% of the copywriters out there.

Most people don’t know this, but I worked with Mike before he became one of the best financial newsletter copywriters in the business. We worked together on a membership product. He wasn’t even a copywriter back then; he was the editor of the monthly newsletter for the membership.

He was a good writer, but an even better idea person. He always came to meetings with tons of ideas that could easily be turned into strong promotions. You’d think he was born this way. But there really isn’t such a thing as natural born talent (something I’ll talk more about in tomorrow’s issue).

What Mike was exceptionally good at was research. That’s how he generated so many ideas. It’s part of the reason he’s so successful as a copywriter. He can take the smallest “nugget” of an idea and turn into a BIG IDEA for a sales letter.

Let me show what I’m talking about with a sales letter he wrote for a value-oriented financial newsletter several years ago. Value based newsletters are often the hardest to sell because the types of investments recommended have a tendency to be boring. There aren’t “good stories” behind the stocks, making it difficult for most copywriters to find something exciting to say.

In this instance, the editor recommended an agriculture-related stock or more specifically timber. I’m sure you’d agree that on the surface there’s nothing exceptionally exciting about investing in trees.

However, Mike found a way to make it not only intriguing but also brand new. In fact he did it so well, his sales letter sold over 20,000 subscriptions within a few days.

So what nugget of an idea did he come up with to make timber resonate with readers? Through his research, Mike found that Gifford Pinchot, a renowned American forester, also served as the first Chief of the United State’s Forest Service.

Mike took that little tidbit of fact and made timber-investing sound like something brand new. His headline read:

Wisconsin Paper Mill Worker Uses “Pinchot Retirement Plan”
to Collect $18,850 in One Day

I can’t tell you how many days or weeks it took Mike to find that nugget, or whether he found it online or through reading books (though I suspect it’s the latter because Mike is a book reader). But whatever time it took was worth the effort because his package was a million dollar success.

Like the old saying that the secret to finding good real estate is location, location, location … the secret behind million dollar controls is research, research and research.

The bottom line is that becoming a great copywriter doesn’t exist without great research.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or if you have specific questions for me or any of the AWAI staff members and writers, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line below.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s issue of The Writer’s Life as I’ll explain why there is no such thing as natural born talent.

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Published: October 15, 2015

6 Responses to “Behind Every Good Idea is Great Research”

  1. I truly appreciate you all having faith in me but it's all about i'm having faith in myself. After all i am not the greatest writer. I may say a lot of things but to put it onto a piece of paper mmmm not so great. I'm an highly analytical type of person. All what I have observed and analyzed are happening. For example the banking industry. I told them it was a bad risk loans, immediate revisions on loan contract to greatly cut chaos and economic turmoil. And yet they did it at a later time. Incompetency as well as greed. Enough said. Once again thank you much.

    Guest (Gordon Alameida)

  2. Dear Sandy,

    I recently published a book 140 pgs. in Spain. They sent me 50 books, I need a company to translated to English, and put it to every web pg. so I can make a profit. Now the books a got I can sell right a way to libraries and frienda but I would need at least 1000 books. Now if it is on Barnes and Nobles, they keep 80% I have three books ready to be published.
    One is Poetry, I know for a fact that Poetry doesn't sell. The others are fiction. I will appreciate any feedback. Jaime (408)714-9181

    Guest (Jaime)

  3. I enjoy doing research and like what you had to say about how a person can do will in being a Writer, I have not ever thought of myself of being a writer.

    Guest (Bill Wilson)

  4. Research is not my most favorite thing to do, but I AM glad that I've gone through that experience in college, and know how to do it well. Thanks for the reminder! :-)


  5. Sandy, Enjoyed your articles & larned from them. This on research certainly hit home. It's invaluable. I learned its importance when working in marketing for a large newspaper and research was the foundation of every ad, every promotion & every presentation. Whenever there was a question, we were able to answer it - and substantiate it. Thank you for emphasizing it's importance!


  6. I enjoy research and I love writing. So those things are not a problem for me. My problem is that I don't know where to start. I have subscribed to The Barefoot Writer but it seems that the thing that kickstarts this career is enrolling in the bootcamp. As a retiree, living on a pension and bringing up five grandsons, spending money on a bootcamp is really not an option. How can I earn money writing to pay for bootcamp? Any advice would be greatly welcomed.

    Guest (Beryl)

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