This Word Technique Helps You Become a Copy Genius

I’m going to tell you about a certain type of “word-smithing” copy technique used by many of the best copywriters in the business. I’m talking about copywriters such as Mike Palmer, Clayton Makepeace, Paul Hollingshead, John Forde and a host of others.

But, before I do, I want to apologize to my colleague and long-time AWAI mentor, Bob Bly, for using the term “wordsmith.”

Bob is a very successful copywriter, and telling you he’s great doesn't really do him justice.

I had the pleasure of working with him on several copy projects during my early days at Agora, Inc., which has grown to become the country's largest publishing company and a marketing behemoth.

Bob was (and still is) among the select few "go to" copywriters publishers turned to knowing his copy would provide stellar results.

Now, you're probably wondering why I’m apologizing to Bob in this letter. Well, at last year’s FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair, during Bob’s keynote speech, he said he wasn’t a fan of the term “wordsmith.” It's probably because a lot of people take its meaning for granted.

So, let's take a few minutes to talk about what it means.

The technical definition is someone whose vocation is writing, such as a novelist or journalist.

But, copywriters aren't novelists or journalists. Our vocation is the art of persuasion.

How does word-smithing apply to copywriters? It forces us to be particular about the words we use. And, since the words we put on paper are what ignite a response from a prospect, every word counts.

Herschell Gordon Lewis would agree. If you’re not familiar with his name, he’s a legend among copywriters and direct-response marketers. And, if you’ve ever heard him speak (he's done so several times at AWAI Bootcamps) or read any of his books or essays, you know he’s a big advocate of picking just the right word.

While I call it word-smithing, Herschell refers to it as “word sequencing.” Doesn’t matter what you call it, the point remains. Getting the right words and phrases can make a dramatic difference in response.

But, what happens when you can’t find just the right phrase?

Well, you can make one up.

Hold on. Before you run off and start coming up with a bunch of gibberish for your next project, let me explain a little more what I mean.

I’m talking about coming up with phrasing and terminology your prospect hasn’t heard before.

Let me give you an example.

In 2005, the financial newsletter, Complete Investor, struck gold with these words in the headline of their sales letter:


What is Chindia? You won't find it in the dictionary. That's because it was "word-smithed" by a copywriter. It's a combination of the words “China” and “India.”

The sales letter offers investors a way to save their wealth from the devastating effects of oil prices by investing in companies that benefit from the economic growth of China and India.

I don't know the actual stats on how well the letter performed, but it was mailed over and over again. Knowing how the marketing team at Complete Investor jumps on successful promotions, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume it was mailed to millions and millions of people.

There's a neat thing that happens with your prospect when you create unique phrases and terminology. You make him feel smarter, because you've just taught him something new.

We know people buy with their emotions, and if you can make them FEEL with your copy, they're more inclined to BUY.

Using this technique comes with a double whammy too. While prospects buy with their emotions, they still need reason and rationales to satisfy their logical side. Coining a phrase fills this need as well.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. If you haven't tried this technique, you should. When you use it, your clients will think of you as a copy genius.

And, if you haven't attended an AWAI FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair, you should. (And here are the details on how to reserve your spot plus get an early bird discount).

Bootcamp is where you'll hear more about these types of copy techniques. It's also where you'll get to meet top copywriters like Bob Bly and Herschell Gordon Lewis.

That, in itself, is worth the price of admission.

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Published: March 14, 2016

3 Responses to “This Word Technique Helps You Become a Copy Genius”

  1. This article was engaging and informative! It has further whet my appetite for this field! I pride myself on being a "wordologist©", and can't wait to become part of this world!

    Guest (Christine Webb)

  2. Yes this article was informative. However, I believe that when it comes to choosing words: either you have it or you don't. It comes naturally like a gifted athlete. Yet a Writer's life is what I choose and AWAI is the best in the publishing business for Writers.

    Guest (Chuck Howard)

  3. Like professional athletes who will "KEY" off fundamental moves and sequences which are critical to success [hand - eye coordination / muscle memory programming / balance - timing rythmns] writing and addressing specific circumstances lends itself to a higher calibrated sense of crafting. The first time an athlete executes a new move - usually they are terrible. Writing appears to be similar in context. That would also explain technical expertise and mastered niches for writers.

    Guest (tj)

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