Copywriting,Writing Formats, and Open Source

Copywriting and Other Writing Formats

As you probably know, I read what the daily posters say at Clayton Makepeace’s “Make Total Package”. I remember in one post, Clayton mentioned working with a successful novelist, a PhD writer, and a journalist. None of the three made the grade (in his mind) to copywriting. Who is at fault here – the trainer or the trainee?

On the other hand, writers bring much to the table. A journalist has the skills to interview people, and check facts. They would excel at case studies and white papers. It’s said that popular tabloid writers can command seven figures. They would be perfect headline spinners for direct response. A novelist has skills to write effective dialogue. They would do well at direct response, where you talk in a conversational style – like talking to a friend, over drinks in a bar. I don’t know about the PhD writer. But I do know cases where folks with a PhD in literature became popular novelists. I even remember where a British welfare mom became known for kids attending a witchcraft school. How much is that person worth now?

One element you will find in all types of writing is editing, as the writing is perfected. In the poem “The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot, it was Ezra Pound who made significant cuts and changes. Eliot dedicated the poem to Pound. Or you can spend years perfecting a piece, like James Joyce did with “Finnegan’s Wake”. You’ll pull your hair out, trying to figure out the language twists and turns.

What Constitutes Copywriting?

You can find a good article on copywriting at What is copywriting? Legendary copywriter John Kennedy called it “salesmanship in print.” Wiki calls it “the use of words to promote a person, business, opinion, or idea.” I say it’s being a “persuasion artist for marketing communications.”

Persuasion is nothing more than the art (and sometimes, science) of steering someone else towards accepting and embracing an idea and/or taking a specific action through appeals to his intellect and/or emotions.” – Clayton Makepeace

Persuasion = Solve an Urgent Problem + Unique promise + Unquestionable proof + User-friendly proposition ” – Gary Bencivenga

There are two general approaches prevalent in copywriting:

  1. You identify with the psychological triggers of your target audience (I.E. – What causes them pain, what gives them pleasure, what are their hot buttons, etc.). The better you do this, the better the copy is.
  2. Benefits orientated approach. A good definition comes from copywriter Daniel Levis from Canada

Features – The attributes of your product or service.

Advantages – What the attributes of your product or service do.

Benefits – How people feel when they have the advantages of your product or service.

I heard that David Ogilvy said every copywriter should read “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins at least 7 times. Every good copywriter making seven figures in royalties attributes their success to studying the methods and approaches of the great ad legends of antiquity. My favorite ad of Ogilvy was the Rolls Royce commercial, where the only noise heard is the sound of the electronic clock.

I remember Claude Hopkins was working on a brewery account. Claude was attempting to distinguish how that brewery differed from others (USP). They have him a tour on how beer was made. He wanted to use that in the advertising. The brewery said that all breweries use the same process. But a flash of insight came to Claude. Nobody described the process before, and he was the first to do so.

Is Open Source the Best Content Management?

I’m a big fan of open source software, if it’s an established project, and has been around for years. Examples of established projects are Linux, Apache, Open Office, Perl, PHP, Firefox, Mysql and Postgresql. One main benefit of Open source is an international brainpower you can tap into, for fixing bugs. The price is also excellent.

Project’s like Open Office and Firefox can consume resources. If the hardware is sufficient, then it minimizes the issue. Let’s look at the browser world. Microsoft Internet Explorer has the market share, while Firefox comes in second. Google Chrome is also an option, and it loads very fast. If you go to Windows task management, and examine the resources on all three (mind you, this is my PC only), Chrome and IE are about equal, while Firefox has an added 20% resource consumption.

I would use the word free, which is what I use. Let me give an example of home security. You can run the Microsoft firewall, with Avast anti-virus free home addition. I also throw in the residential Spybot Search and Destroy (for Spyware), with a backup of Malwarebytes  and Windows Defender for Spyware scanning. You just need to update the anti-Spyware programs once a week. For version checking, I use Radar Scan free edition.

Sometimes we have little choice over matters. If you own a PC, it’s either some flavor of Windows (where most applications run), or some Linux version. Or you can opt for an Apple. I’m more “pragmatic”, in that I run a combination of open source, freeware, and commercial ware (if I can’t find a free or open source alternative, that’s worth using).





5 thoughts on “Copywriting,Writing Formats, and Open Source

  1. Interesting points. So a USP can be something that everyone does but no one has describing. That’s intriguing. I’ll read Claude Hopkins’ book (at least once).

    I think the legendary copywriter you mean is Dan Kennedy, rather than a former US president 😉

  2. Dan Kennedy is a contemporary marketer, author, and copywriter. John Kennedy (also the name of a president) was the legendary copywriter a while back, who defined copywriting as “Salesmanship in print.” In fact, that’s how he got the job. He went to an agency, and left a message, that he could give a definition of copywriting.

  3. Another lesson learned. You can see I’m new 🙂

    Thanks Randy.

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