Issue #124—March 22, 2021
We’re starting our Monday morning with a recap of the rest of the “golden” nuggets shared at last Thursday’s epic Clayton Makepeace tribute event.
It’s a whole issue’s worth–and then some–which is why this week’s issue is coming out TODAY (why would I make you wait for this till Friday?)
Also, if for some reason you weren’t able to make it to the event…hosted by my friend and top A-list copywriter Carline Anglade-Cole (who was close friends with Clayton and mentored by him for years)…or if you want to review the recordings…you’re in luck!
Carline just posted the link to part 1 of the recordings this morning. You can find it here. (It includes just the first two speakers and an introduction before that…my presentation will appear at the beginning of part 2, which I’m sure will be released soon.)
But don’t go running off just yet…you’re not going to want to miss the rest of the brilliant copywriting lessons I’m about to sum up for you. (If you missed Friday’s issue with the first set of lessons, or the ones I shared over the weekend from Gary Bencivenga and yours truly, you’ll find them on my blog now if not soon).
So let’s get started!
Cindy Butehorn: Cindy had one of the toughest slots on the event schedule: following Gary Bencivenga! But man did she deliver. I’ve known Cindy for nearly 3 decades and met her when we worked together at Phillips Publishing. She now co-runs a marketing agency that works with some of the top direct response clients in the industry.
Here are some words of wisdom Cindy shared about Clayton, who she got to work with closely on many projects over the years…and they’re ones you can apply/model yourself after, and prosper from:
#1: Clayton was always open to any idea that could improve his copy (lesson: don’t be a “prima donna”)…and if he disagreed, he would ALWAYS tell you why (he was always teaching, even educating his clients when need be).
#2: Clayton was always interested in others and what they were working on. This was something many others shared as well, both speakers and in the chat during the event: he never had “airs” about him. And when he was talking with you, you had his full attention!
This ties in with something I learned during a Dale Carnegie class years ago: if you want someone to like you, show interest in THEM. Think about this the next time you’re tongue-tied when meeting a potential client!
#3: The guy who had it all–the dream client (Weiss), all the trophies and high pay, walked away to take a big risk with another company, to be surrounded by people who just might know things he didn’t, because he wanted to keep learning and breaking new ground (she referred to this as Clayton’s “Tom Brady” move.
Lesson: one of the keys to greatness is to constantly push yourself, keep learning, and take risks. Don’t get complacent…ask yourself, “What’s your “Tom Brady” move?
David Deutsch: During my talk before David’s, I held up one of my most treasured promos in my swipe file. It was written by Clayton, and it was one of his most-mailed promos ever.
David referred to it as one of his most favorite promos as well: Clayton’s chelation supplement promo for Health Resources–which helped build that company.
As David said, “One must read this promo!” It has examples of dimensionalization and dramatic story-telling you won’t find elsewhere. (You can find me talking about it on my blog in some emails I sent out in March 2020.)
David’s key point is this: The job we have as copywriters is to bring that product to LIFE…and help people understand its uniqueness. So write like you CARE…Clayton always did!
Tiara Cole: Tiara is a copywriter and designer and, as she described herself, Carline’s “daughter #2”. She also helped co-host the event…and she has the biggest, million-dollar smile that lights up a room you’ve ever seen!
Here are Tiara’s biggest lessons she shared:
#1: When opportunity comes, you just have to take your shot (don’t wait around for that “perfect timing”, it may never come!)
#2: Grab, learn, and grow from any opportunity you get!
#3: Show gratitude to everyone who helped you along the way once you get there!
I LOVE all 3 lessons. They don’t just apply to copywriting, they apply to LIFE.
Brian Kurtz: Brian spent much of his earlier career helping to build Boardroom into a direct response behemoth. While doing so, he had the chance to work with some of the most legendary copywriters on the planet, including Clayton Makepeace.
Here are a few super-valuable things he shared about Clayton you can learn from:
#1: Clayton always taught pure gold with concrete examples of winners…his own as well as his competitors’. He taught not just from his own wisdom, but also from that of others. Point being, keep your ego OUT of it…no matter who you are. The true teacher always does.
#2: Clayton was a “triple threat”–he knew lists, he knew offers, as well as copy. This is something that A-list copywriters have in common. You need to understand the marketing and strategy side as well as how to write killer copy.
#3: Clayton had all the characteristics of a successful copywriter. He was hungry, he would show/not tell, he matched message to list, he was curious, he didn’t settle when it came to research, he was always improving his copy, he had a supreme passion for whatever topic he wrote about, and he had confidence without arrogance.
Note: at this point, I noted there were so many stories in the chat about how when people met Clayton, he always made them feel special. It reminds me of that famous Maya Angelou quote:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Alright, pardon me while I tear up a bit…okay, let’s keep rolling…
Richard Viguerie: Richard was a close friend and colleague of Clayton’s for years, and he mostly shared warm, vivid stories of Clayton (well worth listening to if you want some insights into who Clayton was).
One story that got the most laughs was the fact that throughout much of his career, Clayton worked from 4:30 am to noon. At least, according to Richard, when Clayton was a young (single?) man living in California, he kept those hours. And the reason was because starting at noon, that’s when all the girls got to the beach! (Priorities!)
Marcella Allison: Marcella is a top A-list copywriter and founder of the women-only group, The Titanides, of which I am a member. Marcella had some great wisdom she gained from the many times she got to work with Clayton and get his copy chiefing:
#1: See copy critiques as a GIFT–no one will show you how to take mediocre copy and turn it into A-list copy like Clayton did, line by line. Learn from it rather than get your panties in a bind when getting feedback.
(Marcella described getting her copy back after Clayton reviewed it as looking like a “murder scene”, covered in red…she wasn’t the only one who shared that with us.)
#2: Create a “lessons learned” document from every marked-up edit. If you don’t understand a change that was made, ask why. Have it add to your education and use it as a stepping stone to becoming an A-list copywriter. Use it to build your own copywriting “bible”.
Kevin Rogers: Kevin quickly climbed to the top of the copywriting heap years ago after being a comedian. Since then has run a fantastic copywriter training and support community called Copy Chief. Here are some lessons Kevin had to share…
#1: You have to be smart and curious to be a successful copywriter. Find ideas and creative ways to implement them, and you’ll never want for clients.
#2: You need to be able to write a good, personal letter. It’s really what’s at the core of it all: the ability to communicate an idea clearly in a sincere way…and to do so with empathy.
Great lessons, Kevin, I couldn’t agree more! (It IS a lot harder than “writing a simple letter” as a certain copywriting training promotion–NOT Kevin’s–likes to say though.)
Lori Haller: My good friend and top direct response graphic designer Lori had the chance to work closely with Clayton many times in recent years. She had lots of great insights to share that will help copywriters work more effectively with designers. This is a CRUCIAL partnership when it comes to successful long-form sales pages and direct mail promos…
#1: Clayton would give “design notes” with his ideas, but always left an open loop because he wanted the designer’s input…he valued it. Takeaway here is don’t dictate things to the designer. You want them to bring their ideas to the table. You also want to give them the freedom to take risks…like the rotten tomato Lori put up near a headline on one of Clayton’s promos (the promo became a huge winner!)
#2: Whenever Clayton had something suddenly blow up and become a crisis…OR a big opportunity or project land in his lap…it could be EITHER situation…he would send an email to Lori with the subject line: HAALLLLPPPPP! It always got her immediate attention…which could make it a great subject line for your next email!
#3: Clayton’s favorite fonts to use were IMPACT and Aachen…he found they were the hardest-hitting ones for his headlines. Also, he referred to something in Lori’s headline design once and she didn’t know what it was at the time: “Take the ‘slammers’ off the headline”. Turns out “slammers” are exclamation points!
#4: Every mountain top is within reach…if you just keep climbing. (That’s a great thing to keep in mind no matter where you are, and where you want to be.)
And last…but certainly not least…
Carline Anglade-Cole: Carline was mentored by Clayton, and they remained close friends (their entire families were friends) for many years. So she has a million lessons she’s learned from him…but I’ll share a few of the ones she shared here.
#1: “Good” copy was never good enough…it had to be GREAT. Clayton pushed Carline so hard she said she wanted to punch him sometimes, but it worked. Him pushing her made her copy come alive.
#2: Imitation leads to mastery. Carline, at least initially, learned to write stronger copy by imitating everything that Clayton did with his promos. She studied his approach, and then just mimicked it…until she got to the point that she made her copy her own.
#3: Clayton’s leads would often be attacking a common enemy…and he often used “in your face” headlines (always in IMPACT font). If this will work with your audience, try it!
#4: Great ideas don’t just come from A-list copywriters. Believe in your OWN ideas. Carline shared a great story of how she had a test idea that Clayton agreed to test against his own control…mentee versus mentor. I won’t divulge how that turned out. You’ll have to wait until that part of the video recordings (if you missed the event!)
That’s just a summary of the brilliance that was shared last Thursday. Be sure to check out the recordings if you missed it.
And if you’ve got any key takeaways from the event that I haven’t mentioned the past few days, send them on over to me at Kim@kimschwalm.com and I may share it in a future issue or email!
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. I’m going to be doing live copy critiques at the April 7-9 TCC (n)IRL event…all those initials stand for “The Copywriter Club (not) In Real Life”. It’s one of my favorite events each year and it’s one you’re NOT going to want to miss it!
Not only will you get to hear from fantastic speakers like Carline Anglade-Cole, Joana Wiebe, Todd Brown, Joel Klettke, and many others, you’ll get the chance to meet and mingle with other copywriters and potential clients…and get to step safely out of your Covid “bubble”. And since it’s virtual, no travel costs or hassles, either!
Go VIP at the reduced price now (while there are still spots available) and you’ll also get your own hot seat with Rob Marsh and Kira Hug, private coffee/”bevvie” breaks with select speakers, recordings and transcripts of each presentation, exclusive implementation and bonus sessions, a super-cool “swag” bag, and more.
The ridiculously low “early bird” pricing ends TONIGHT. So check out all the details at this link and make your decision soon. Hope to see you there!
P.P.S. Here’s the official speaker photo from the event…what an amazing group!