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7 Quick Copy Starters from John Caples - Old Masters Series

Published by: David Garfinkel on 12-05-2022

For a lot of us, the hardest part of writing copy is getting started. Today we’re going to dive into some very handy tips from Old Master John Caples.

He is, of course, famous for his ad which has the headline, “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano… but When I Began To Play… ”

Caples was what we would call today a data-driven marketer. He made his choices based on test results as much as anything else. He was highly successful and author of some of the best books every written on direct response marketing.

In “Tested Advertising Methods,” he has an entire chapter devoted to seven proven ways to start your copy. Imagine how much easier it will be to write if you have some sure-fire ways to get started. That’s what today’s show is about.

Now, to come up with these seven techniques, John Caples didn’t brainstorm a bunch of ways to start copy. He didn’t even draw on his massive, successful experience as a copywriter and a copy chief for six of them.

No, for this chapter, he did something better. He found the best source of leads where the words HAD to work. And that was the Reader’s Digest.

Now you may not be familiar with Reader’s Digest, but if you are as old as I am, you probably are. If for no other reason that you remember copies of the magazine lying around the waiting room of the dentist’s office.

Reader’s Digest was the largest-circulation magazine in the United States until 2009. Millions and millions of people would read these articles each month. And so the editors had to make sure that every word counted. They couldn’t take risks or allow flights of fancy.

Every article needed to make sense to every reader. From the first word, and all the way through. When you’ve got millions of readers, you’ve got to be a simple, straightforward and yet as compelling as humanly possible.

It was against that backdrop that Caples began his research. He thought: If editors use something to start articles in the Reader’s Digest over and over again, it’s not by accident. They have to KNOW that it works.

So he started cataloguing and counting the different ways the articles started. He figured, if it will work in editorial, it will also work in advertising. I think he was absolutely right, and it was a brilliant way to show copywriters proven ways to start their copy.

He came up with six ways that were repeated over and over, and added a seventh one. All of this is from Chapter 9 of “Tested Advertising Methods.” I’m going to summarize what he found and then we’ll bring it into the 21st Century.

And, along the way, give you a little toolkit to get your copy started faster and with more confidence.

Link to get “Tested Advertising Methods”:

Keywords: John Caples copywriting leads

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