Whose work made the biggest impact in your development as a copywriter? Who gave you the biggest breakthroughs? Whose copy do you currently study?
Dead or alive, name your top 5 in any order. Also share a comment/thought on what you appreciate.
1. Harlan Kilstein -- To me Harlan is the master of simple and clear writing. Just read his emails! Short punchy sentences that use few words yet tell you everything you need know. I believe part of it comes from mastering the use of presuppositions (among his other techniques).Reminds me of the great salesmen Elmer Wheeler's quote "Don't write -- telegraph!" I have Harlan as the best email writer alongside Matt Furey. Also his negotiating techniques for closing clients is brilliant too.
2. Carl Galletti -- arguably the ONLY copywriter who taught AIDA as its supposed to work. Also love his lecture on a what a REAL benefit is. A fully written one, not the partial sloppy benefits so many copywriters lazily try to get away with, myself included previously. Another master copywriter.
3. Gary Halbert -- Legend. Appreciate all his wisdom, including his take on bullets. Gary said he writes bullets first, even before the headline. And when writing bullets he beats down the fact there's no need for hype. Start off with a truth - a powerful truth - and THEN twist that into a bullet. Effective way to never need to use hype-y words.
4. Gary Bencivenga --Appreciate his Persuasion Equation and the Bencivenga Bullets. Also treasure the book he recommended on selling: Harry Browne's "The Secret of Selling Anything". Gary said it may be the best book on selling ever made.
5. Eugene Schwartz -- my favorite thing I learned is his 33.33 method. Basically you set your timer for 33 minutes and 33 seconds and WRITE without any distractions. You can take a break after the time is up. But for 33.33 you need to be on work mode with 100% focus. This changed my life. I measure my productivity on how many blocks of "33.33" it'll take to finish an assignment.
Another gem from Eugene Schwartz is when he makes the distinction that it is the PRODUCT, not the copy, that gets people to buy. So many people think all you need is great copy and get caught up word-smithing rather than selling. But it's knowledge of the product that gives you the persuasive tools to make people buy.
Eugene Schwartz's speeches to Phillips and Rodale publishing are gems too if you can find them.