What’s the best way to learn? This deceptively simple question haunted me while putting together this book. Is it better to just ‘tell’ you how to improve your copy, perhaps through detailed explanations of the data behind persuasion? Or is it best to ‘show’ you examples of copy that works and copy that doesn’t? Or, perhaps, it’s best to just explain how I do it personally. Point is, there’s a lot of different ways to learn, and just as many different ways to teach… and there are pros and cons to all of them.
I’ve slowly collected stacks and stacks of books on the subject of learning & teaching, because, well, understanding “how to teach” is incredibly valuable. If I can effectively hand you the tools to write better copy, I’ve accomplished the mission of this book. To do that I need to best understand how to best share them with you! Learning how to do this effectively has driven many revisions of the structure of this guide, and completely changed how I look at both the learning and teaching process in general ( I definitely underestimated how difficult a job my teachers had.).
Not to spoil the surprise but here’s what it all boils down to... most everyone learns better through action vs. just taking in information. Active learning goes beyond just memorization or comprehension of information, it gives you the needed experience to transform that information into practical strategies. Put more tastily, making a cake is the best way to learn how to make a cake… book knowledge of the recipe will only get you so far.
The process is straight forward: 1. Follow a set of step by step instructions, 2. Create something, 3. Review what you’ve created by referencing it against examples and ideally get feedback on what you’ve created*.
This is why I’m starting the book with the ‘action’ learning parts first instead of a blanket break down of the different parts of copywriting, or it’s history, or my story. The introduction you just made your way through was designed to inform you about WHY copywriting is so important; what it means to you personally, and the following “Methods” are designed to show you HOW to do the actions of writing copy.
The WHY & HOW of any subject is just about as deep as most people need to go to apply a skill. To learn how to drive you need a clear understanding of how the different pieces of the car work, along with a broad understanding of ‘why’ you need to follow certain rules and when. But you don’t need to understand how the car mechanically works unless you plan on being a mechanic.
A “working knowledge” of how to drive will get you from point A to point B, however, there is a deeper level of knowledge that sparked the second part of this book - a whole half that I at first did not consider adding because, well, action is the key to learning… right? Mostly right.
The most important take away from this book isn’t just how to write better copy; though that is what it will give you if all you do is examine the “methods”. The bigger goal is to give you access to the deeper principles behind what makes great copy fundamentally work. By doing so you won’t create soul from a place of wrote memory, but from the genius that’s created by complete immersion into a subject. I’ve designed the three sections after ‘the methods’ to give you just that.
The methods are designed with specific steps and techniques to get you “on the road” as fast as possible. Follow these steps and do the exercises, even if you’re not actively working on a specific piece of marketing. These early “wins” will help you stay motivated on your journey to learn and create copy that sells. Once we get you driving, which can happen rather quickly, you can reference these methods regularly as you create, then we’ll move onto the ‘mechanics’ of copywriting, the arts of persuasion… and last but not least I will share with you how to take these skills even further into the world of product development and refinement; a holistic approach to creating value in both your marketing and what you’re selling.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” - Kurt Vonnegut