The legions of lessons from the epic Clayton Makepeace tribute event this past Thursday continue.
And as promised, I’m going to attempt to sum up the 10 brilliant copywriting and marketing maxims that the legendary Gary Bencivenga shared at the event.
So let’s get right into it…
Maxim #1: Make your advertising itself valuable.
This is something I remember learning from the late Bob King when I worked at Phillips Publishing (perhaps he learned it from Gary, who wrote several successful magalogs for Phillips). Always leave your prospect a little better off for reading your promo. Provide something of value, whether they order or not. By doing so, you actually strengthen your sales “pitch” by helping to demonstrate what your product can do for people.
Maxim #2: Aim your headlines and subject lines at the heavy users.
Know who your “heavy” users are, and what they want the most…and show them how your product or service helps them get it. It’s the classic 80/20 rule: 20% of your buyers will typically generate at least 80% of your sales. This is why your headline or subject line needs to call these heavy users out directly and make its appeal to them.
Maxim #3: It’s easier and much less costly to KEEP a customer than to get a new one.
Deliver the most excellent customer service possible…and make your entire customer experience the best it can be. Don’t give this crucial aspect of your business short shrift!
Maxim #4: A gifted product is more valuable than a gifted pen.
The magic is in the product…you can’t “invent” this. As a copywriter, it’s important to spot and get assigned to “faster horses” so you can write more winners. Turn away projects for products that you feel you can’t passionately believe enough in…because it would difficult if not impossible for you to write compelling copy for them.
Maxim #5: Advertising is multiplied salesmanship.
The copy you write can close hundreds, if not thousands of sales with one promo…compared to a salesperson who can close one sale per call. Find clients who have the ability to let your promo scale to bigger audiences and who will pay you for these multiplied results.
Maxim #6: Great ads are built on great research.
Make sure you dig, drill, and chip away until you have carloads of “ore” before you write your promo. Gather at least 7 time more research than you think you’ll need. This kind of hard work pays off!
Maxim #7: Develop a process for writing copy.
Always ask yourself the following three questions from the prospect’s perspective:
1) Why is this product superior to everything else?
2) Why should I believe you?
3) Why should I act now?
Be sure you can clearly and convincingly answer all 3 questions before you begin writing.
Maxim #8: Polish your skills daily.
The greatest musicians practice every day. You, too, should make sure you write each day. Nurture it, develop and improve it. Study, read, and analyze other copy as well. Treat your writing like the love of your life it is. (And, I’ll add…if you don’t love it, why are you doing it?)
Maxim #9: Collect maxims like this to augment your ever-growing knowledge and review them daily.
This will help you in those times when you face a looming deadline…they will come to your rescue and help ensure your success.
Maxim #10: Compete with the immortals.
That last maxim is actually a quote from David Ogilvy. It’s actually a challenge you should give yourself each time you write a promo. Do your level best each time. Put your “all” into it every time you go up to bat.
As Gary mentioned near the end of his talk, Clayton Makepeace is now one of those immortals you’re competing with.
Learn everything you can from his vast body of work…study his promos and approaches to copy…hand copy his promos out and “reverse engineer” them.
You will develop far faster as a copywriter, no matter what level you’re at now.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Enjoy your Saturday, and I’ll be back at you tomorrow and/or Monday with my own presentation I shared at the event, along with key lessons shared from the rest of the speakers.
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. Quick reminder: the “early bird” pricing for the upcoming TCC(n)IRL event ends this Monday. I’ll be there doing live copy critiques, and there are other speakers like Carline Anglade-Cole, Joana Wiebe, and Todd Brown who you’ll want to hear and learn from. It’s also a great way to meet other copywriters as well as potential clients without the costs and hassles of travel.Check out all the details at this link. Hope to see you there!
P.P.S. If you want to learn more from Gary, you can read the archive of his famous “Bencivenga bullets” at this link: https://marketingbullets.com/archive/ Enjoy!