© 2005 by Bruce Carlson
Master copywriter and marketer Dan Kennedy, in his highly popular and successful copywriting seminars, likes to tell his students that "sometimes good enough is good enough" when it comes to a piece of sales copy.
What does Dan mean by this?
Simply put, you don't need to reinvent wheel in order to write successful copy. What has worked in past can and will work again.
Learning to effectively "swipe" from winning sales letters is one of most important skills you can develop as a copywriter. And, contrary to what you may sometimes hear, there is nothing "unethical" or "sleazy" about it. Every great copywriter employs swipe techniques to some extent.
The key to writing good swipe copy is awareness. By keeping focused on a few key areas you'll quickly develop a sense of what can work for you and your market.
Here are a few tips for writing swipe copy that works.
1) Be on lookout for parallel markets
Parallel markets to your own niche offer great opportunities to borrow elements for your own purposes.
For example, let's say you're writing a piece for a website that sells dog toys.
Your first possibility for a parallel market would be any website that sells pet toys (other than dog toys). You'd also want to look at sites that sell children's toys (although I certainly don't want to imply that dogs and children have a lot in common!) :-)
After this you could stray further afield and look at sites that sell other pet accessories. Keep in mind that you are looking for successful sales elements that might work for you. Anything and everything that looks like it could work for your own campaign needs to be taken into consideration, as long as it's been proven successful. Parallel niches offer a golden opportunity because of their similarities to your own niche.
How do you determine if a parallel niche site is successful?
Use Alexa to see what kind of traffic they get. Search around Web a bit and see how often their name pops up. More than anything though, just use your marketing instincts to sniff out quality of what they're doing in terms of direct response.
If you think they may be doing OK then sign up for their newsletter or f.ree report or autoresponder series. Study their marketing diligently.
If you get even one idea for your copy from a parallel marketer then you've done well.
Occasionally marketers hit jackpot and find a full letter that fits their market's purposes to tee (with a few alterations needed here and there). But more often it's an approach or an element of sales letter that proves useful.
2) Know your target market's level of awareness
As you know, you need to be on a very intimate level with your market. You need to know their wants and needs inside out.
For freelance copywriters this can be a particularly troublesome area, because freelancers often have difficulty just jumping into prospects' shoes at drop of a hat. Thus many freelancers choose to specialize in a few select niches whose target markets they do have a good understanding of and/or can learn about without an inordinate amount of work.
But beyond a good working knowledge of your market's wants and needs there's also a knowledge of its level of awareness or sophistication.
You'll want to determine how much knowledge your prospects have of techniques used standardly in sales copy which targets them. With our dog toys example, online market's level of awareness would be fairly low. New ads for this market could be brought in from other parallel areas without much fuss.
But with a market like online marketers, for instance, level of awareness would be quite a bit higher. Copy aimed at this audience needs to take that higher level into consideration and not make mistake of using worn-out copy from past that every marketer has seen a million times.
Over time market's level of awareness will increase (and with Internet we find that online shoppers' levels of awareness in general are increasing, thus making some of techniques seen even a few years ago less effective). And so you need to stay in tune with what's going on in whole marketing arena for your product or service.
After all is said and done, testing and tracking will show what's working however. And in some cases marketers are genuinely surprised at how much higher their market's level of awareness is than they had imagined.