If you want to be great at something, you need to take a look at the best players.
It's the way we've always proceeded in order to progress in a field.
Here are the list of the top 5 copywriters in history:
- Eugene Schwartz
- Gary Halbert
- David Ogilvy
- John Caples
- Claude Hopkins
And I strongly believe that studying them will help you to understand what copywriting is all about.
1. Eugene Schwartz
This is my favorite copywriter and I keep on reading his great Breakthrough Advertising on and on. I like especially how cautious he was to identify the level of awareness of his prospects before writing anything.
First, we start with a huge headline instantly qualifying the men of over 50.
Then our eye is drawn to the box with an impressive picture of an old man lifting a 200-pound man.
This instantly proves what the hardly believable idea claimed in the headline.
If at this point you're still not convinced to start reading the copy body, a quick glance at the subheadings should make you switch.
How's this for a new definition of youth? Stronger at 70 than you were at 30! With more pep and energy than your own son or daughter!
With this sub headline, Schwartz goes even further than the initial promise: we're not about to know how to win a 35-year-old body but to get stronger at 70 than a 30yo man! He adds the last part to play on the frustration of old men when they see they have less energy than they used to and probably wish to be able to compete with their son at sport.
You start with wonder-working health secrets 4,000 years old!
This sub headline is here to overcome the objection: "I don't believe you". The authority is given by the fact that it's something old and for some reason we always give more value to very old truths: "If it's been around for 4,000 years, then it must be true". Note the use of the word "secret" that spices the headline with just enough curiosity.
Old age is a disease, says Cerutty. And therefore it can be prevented and possibly even reversed!
Now we go even further than the initial claim: we're talking about reversing aging. This plays one of the most powerful fears people have—the fear of death. Note again the use of "says Cerutty" which both adds curiosity and authority to the headline.
I won't go into the analysis of the copy body itself (isn't it enough to already give all this valuable content for free?).
At this stage, you must have understood how good Schwartz was to capture prospect's attention, build trust & authority in seconds and by small successive slips convince us to go ahead with the purchase.
2. Gary Halbert
Gary Halbert is one of the greatest copywriters of all time. He is mostly known for his book *The Boron Letters *which is a collection of the letters he sent to his son when he was in prison. In the course of the letters, Halbert teaches his son about how to make money, copywriting, family life, philosophy or health.
The headline plays right away on curiosity: "secret", "mystery". It lets us think that we will learn the mystery man's secret to win blackjack if we read the article. But notice how the title doesn't explicitly say that and just let your brain come to those conclusions.
There is also this smart subheading: "Now! Revealed for the first time ever!" which adds both urgency and scarcity to make you read now and not tomorrow.
Look at the picture of the man with a black rectangle to remain anonymous. This element has 2 functions: to catch your attention and to add credibility to the speech.
3. David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy is mainly known as the "Father of Advertising". He's the founder of the very successful Ogilvy & Mather agency. He is also the author of the great book Ogilvy on Advertising that you must read if you're into copywriting.
This one of my favorite headlines ever.
"At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock"
You can instantly feel what it's like to drive this luxury car. Plus it is ultra specific, adding a lot of credibility to the copy. You will also notice the use of quotation marks to add more authority and social proof.
The picture depicts a superb new black Rolls-Royce on a port implying the Rolls-Royce is for globe-trotters—and therefore rich people. In people's mind, an immediate association is being done between being rich and successful and owning a Rolls-Royce.
It's no coincidence the image takes two thirds of the copy: Ogilvy wants to purposefully play on emotion first to create the desire to own the car.
Then he uses numbered bullet points to list rational arguments that are necessary to give reasons to the prospect to buy the car.
This is a perfect example of the old saying: we buy on emotion and justify it with logic.
4. John Caples
This is probably its most famous advertisement... and there is no wonder why.
The ad plays on a very deep paradox most of us have: we would like to play music but we fear the gaze of others that may mock us.
This copy is the perfect example of how well told stories can convey powerful emotions, feelings to your audience to capture their attention and never release it until the close.
With his clever dialogue, Caples overcome every objection one can have when it comes to learning music remotely, without a teacher.
Also note that all the titles put together tell their own story. You can understand what it is all about without even reading the body copy.
Thousands of successful students never dreamed they possessed musical ability until it was revealed to them by a remarkable "Musical Ability Test" which we send entirely without cost with our interesting free booklet.
Wow. That sentence is pure genius. There is nothing to throw away. It conveys social proof, benefits, buried desire, curiosity and free... all in one single remarkable line.
5. Claude Hopkins
Claude Hopkins has always been seen as a master by the copywriter themselves. At his time he had understood stuff that few people really understand until now. He was a visionary and discovered many concepts still used by every marketer today (ex: A / B testing).
In this advertising, Hopkins plays on a desire that every human on earth has: to have white teeth.
But we are all bludgeoned by a lot of marketing to buy this or this other dentifrice. So how does Hopkins differentiate himself from the crowd to sell his "Pepsodent"?
Well here again another excellent example of doing an irresistible offer. You're offered to receive a ten-day tube of Pepsodent and to compare it with your usual dentifrice.
This offer pushes 3 psychological triggers. First we love what is free. Second it leverages the reciprocity principle which makes us feel indebted when we receive something for free. Therefore people will be more inclined to change their habits and go buy some Pepsodent tubes after the 10-day trial has ended. Third, the way the offer is presented lets us think the author is pretty confident in his product which adds even more trust.
Hopkins is also fond of specific numbers to demonstrate social proof and authority for his product. Let's take an example.
Leading dentists everywhere advise it, and millions of people have been led to employ it.
With such a sentence, you immediately plant a seed in the reader's mind: if experts and millions of people use it, it must be a really good product.
If you study the work of those 5 amazing copywriters, you will tremendously improve your copywriting skills.
But as you may have noticed, those copywriters are sadly all dead.
So if you want to take a look at the work of living copywriters, here is a non-exhaustive list:
- Drayton Bird
- Joe Sugarman
- Mike palmers
- Parris Lampropoulos
- Gary Bencivenga
- Dan Kennedy
- John Carlton
I strongly encourage you to read and try to analyze for yourself how these great copywriters craft their copy to influence people.
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