Does Old School Copy Writing Skills Still Work in 2015?

28 replies
It has always been of interest to me, how people believe that old skills in copy writing are no longer effective in this day and age of technology.

I've been rereading John Caples, How to Make Your Advertising Make Money and the 4th edition of Tested Advertising Methods, the past 2 weeks.

John never believed that just because more mediums were invented that natural human appeal would change.

So I went hunting for any proof that the old ways of copy writing were indeed dead in 2015.

To my surprise I didn't have to look very long or very far. Inside my September 2015 edition of National Geographic magazine, second page after the front cover is a full blown ad.

Headline reads:

Famous Volcano Has Strange Effect On Women

Now wait...

...This is 2015

...Old copy writing skills aren't working anymore

...Right????

Well you be the judge...

Here is the link to the pdf I scanned and uploaded to my server.

Famous Volcano Has Strange Effect On Women
#2015 #copy #school #skills #work #writing
  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    Originally Posted by ThePromotionalGuy View Post


    ...This is 2015

    ...Old copy writing skills aren't working anymore
    And that newspapers are on their last breath.

    Those who do both online and offline marketing
    have found those who came in offline have
    a much higher lifetime value than those who came in online.

    This newspaper advertorial generates a 4 to 1 return on the front end...



    It's blurred to stop it being swiped.

    Best,
    Doctor E. Vile
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Originally Posted by ThePromotionalGuy View Post

    It has always been of interest to me, how people believe that old skills in copy writing are no longer effective in this day and age of technology.
    Do you hear that a lot? Occasionally some numskull will babble on about it, but I never hear experienced, knowledgeable copywriters make such a ridiculous claim.

    Nice headline swipe, btw.

    Alex
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    • Hi Alex,

      Over the past year, I've been hearing it more often than I use to. Primarily emails from novices. I simply attribute it to those who do not know or practice our craft.

      Glad you liked the swipe.

      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      Do you hear that a lot? Occasionally some numskull will babble on about it, but I never hear experienced, knowledgeable copywriters make such a ridiculous claim.

      Nice headline swipe, btw.

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author Darro
    It's like saying: "Copywriting doesn't work in other languages".

    And that's NOT true.
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  • Profile picture of the author Samfakroon
    Old Copy Writting skills of Legends like Frank Kern and Dan Kennedy are Gold as the saying goes "Old is Gold" today written sales pages have lots of fancy graphics that I believe are for the quick time marketers who Launch courses every week.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Old school copywriting will stop working when we have new people.
    When these new people are not motivated by the same things like
    he older generation--wealth, health, beauty, power, security ...

    -Ray Edwards
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    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    If you don't subscribe/buy the USA Today newspaper, you may want to consider it.

    I opened up last Friday's (?) issue... and in the first section alone, there were 7 copy-dense, direct
    response sales pieces... each with a very good headline that caught attention, and then went into
    dense line after line of copy.

    7 huge sales letters all in the first section.

    The USA Today is a gold mine of swipe worthy material... cause you can bet if you see
    an ad in there multiple times, it's working well enough to break even at least.

    I swear, I can pull out this quote every year when it comes to something about copy...

    "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." - Mark Twain

    But in all honesty, the more things change... the more they stay the same.
    Sure... length, medium, layout and design may change a bit over time... but a great
    pitch is a great pitch... whether 1912 or 2015.
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    • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
      Originally Posted by shawnlebrun View Post

      But in all honesty, the more things change... the more they stay the same.
      There's the medium and the message. The message (the persuasion, copy principles, etc) doesn't change. The medium is always changing. Tactics like Flogs of fake news sites get warn out quickly, but those are the mediums which carry the message.

      Basically, the message never changes, the medium never stays the same, is how I'd put it.

      I was agreeing with Shawn here, just putting it in a slightly different way.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    There's something about old magazine ads that just make you want to mail in the order form ASAP.

    The old comic book ads were always enticing... Yes, I once owned Sea Monkeys.














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  • Profile picture of the author onehalf
    I believe that old school copywriting skills still work in 2015. I agree with cam connor the medium is always changing, but the basic principles of copywriting still applies.
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  • An analogy for you.

    From the album "Countdown to Ecstasy" by Steely Dan released in 1973 the standout track was "My Old School"

    It's as fresh today as it was then.

    Same goes for top notch OS copy.


    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author splitTest


    Such false advertising... But good marketing -- kids aren't going to make a stink.

    The original ad:

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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      There was a lot of snake oil being sold back then.

      Read some of the ads written by Gene Schwartz during that period... he sold a bunch of it.

      Alex


      Originally Posted by splitTest View Post



      Such false advertising... But good marketing -- kids aren't going to make a stink.

      The original ad:

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      • Profile picture of the author Enfusia
        The real question has nothing to do with the copy. But, instead everything to do with why.

        People have not changed the reason why they buy.

        So, old school is still cool when your copy makes 6 X ad spend on the front end.

        Patrick
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
        Every time I hear comments about "old school copy" no longer working, it makes me grin. I grin because it reminds me of a John Caples quote I heard when I was just breaking into the industry.

        "Times change. People don't." - John Caples

        The medium used to deliver a sales message might change but the techniques and methods used to craft the sales message are still "old school" copywriting.
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        • Profile picture of the author splitTest
          Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

          Every time I hear comments about "old school copy" no longer working, it makes me grin. I grin because it reminds me of a John Caples quote I heard when I was just breaking into the industry.

          "Times change. People don't." - John Caples

          The medium used to deliver a sales message might change but the techniques and methods used to craft the sales message are still "old school" copywriting.
          Yep. "Human nature is perpetual. In most respects it is the same today as in the time of Caesar. So the principles of psychology are fixed and enduring. You will never need to unlearn what you learn about them" - Claude Hopkins
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  • Profile picture of the author ChadHaynes
    I'm not even sure how you'd define "new school" copywriting.

    New school mediums and delivery, sure, but what's different about the writing?

    Is it no longer advisable to show benefits in a compelling way? To speak in the language of your prospect? To make your copy interesting, readable and relevant?

    What are people teaching copywriters these days? BuzzFeed headlines, content writing and hashtag spamming?

    - Chad
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    • Chad,

      Here in Tallahassee we have 2 large universities and 1 large community college. I get emails from the advertising and marketing students asking me questions about copy writing all the time.

      This past school year, 2014-2015 I probably saw a surge in copy writing questions primarily wanting to know if 'old school' copy writing skills still work in 2015.

      I've not looked into it, but from the dozens upon dozens of emails I get asking me, I have 2 theories:

      1. Students are being taught copy writing is different and the old persuasion methods don't work in today's marketing.

      or

      2. Students learn how tedious and demanding copy writing is and are looking for an easier way to write copy and simply don't believe what really works.

      Btw I emailed a small student writing group the Famous Volcano Has Strange Effect On Women ad. Haven't heard back or gotten any feedback from them yet.

      Should be interesting to learn what they thought coming face-to-face with "Old School" copy writing in 2015.

      Originally Posted by ChadHaynes View Post

      I'm not even sure how you'd define "new school" copywriting.

      New school mediums and delivery, sure, but what's different about the writing?

      Is it no longer advisable to show benefits in a compelling way? To speak in the language of your prospect? To make your copy interesting, readable and relevant?

      What are people teaching copywriters these days? BuzzFeed headlines, content writing and hashtag spamming?

      - Chad
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    • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
      Originally Posted by ChadHaynes View Post

      Is it no longer advisable to show benefits in a compelling way? To speak in the language of your prospect? To make your copy interesting, readable and relevant?
      That stuff's way outdated. It's all about offering a push-button solution for making all of your prospects dreams come true while being generally vague about how it actually works... Or have I just been browsing the WSO forum again?
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  • Profile picture of the author ChadHaynes
    Haha!

    I must admit, I can see the appeal in the notion that you can make millions from skilled tweeting.
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    • Holy Cow Chad!

      You gave me an idea to write copy for the newest...

      "Thumb Repair Kits"...

      Originally Posted by ChadHaynes View Post

      Haha!

      I must admit, I can see the appeal in the notion that you can make millions from skilled tweeting.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Did this about 6 years ago ...

    -Ray Edwards
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    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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  • Profile picture of the author splitTest


    Just a thought -- I like the way this ad lists "Our famous GROWTH GUARANTEE IN WRITING" prominently among the stuff you get for "free".

    That's a pretty clever way to address customer objections prominently (with the "famous" guarantee ) -and- add an item to the "free" bonuses...

    Certainly not right for every market & product, but perfect for this one...

    In fact, that "FREE!" box is a pretty clever device in general...
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
      Banned
      Originally Posted by splitTest View Post



      Just a thought -- I like the way this ad lists "Our famous GROWTH GUARANTEE IN WRITING" prominently among the stuff you get for "free".

      That's a pretty clever way to address customer objections prominently (with the "famous" guarantee ) -and- add an item to the "free" bonuses...

      Certainly not right for every market & product, but perfect for this one...

      In fact, that "FREE!" box is a pretty clever device in general...





      There's something personal about those old magazine ads with the cut-out contact forms. Maybe the dashed border lines are also a mind trick, lol (cut me out, mail me ASAP)? The order form is even selling (IT SOUNDS GREAT!).

      ...and don't forget to add $0.50 to SUPER-RUSH ORDERS. How can you refuse something SUPER & all uppercase text while the lowercase extra text is suggesting very little money?
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  • Profile picture of the author jessegilbert
    Banned
    copywriting is still the most important skill imo.
    all the technology in the world aint worth a dime if you can't communicate person to person with written words in the most persuasive way possible. Technology only gives you the ability to get more reach.
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