If you want to become a master copywriter then you should stop reading this right now and find out how to get a copy of the classic book, Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. Then read, study and obey it.
Seriously, if you want to look it up in your local library’s website or purchase a copy on Amazon or eBay I’ll wait while you go do that. (You might want to start with the library because even the second editions still sell for around $300 used on Amazon.)
Let me tell you a little about this legendary copywriter.
Eugene Schwartz was one of the highest-paid copywriters of the 1950s and 60s. In fact Rodale Press once paid him a commission of $54,000 for four hours work. And the book I just mentioned, Breakthrough Advertising, has a reputation of being the most stolen book from public libraries (I have to admit I was tempted. But I returned it lest I receive “The Curse of the Schwartz” and never write a winning ad as long as I live).
He also lectured and taught extensively, built one of the most famous collections of modern American art in the world, and was a respected Biblical scholar.
The Schwartz is Strong with this One
So what were some of the tactics, strategies and secrets Schwartz used in his copywriting? That’s the million dollar question isn’t it?
Today I want to focus on just one important truth Schwartz taught. It’s something I think about every time I get ready to write copy now. And I believe it’s one of the reasons why my copy has been so successful, which has led to most of my business being repeat business these days.
But before I share this million dollar idea with you I want to say something.
You see, I know you’re busy. Like most of us you’ve been programmed with a microwave mindset. You spend two minutes on something then your ADD mind jumps to the next thing. But do yourself a favor.
Let what I’m about to share sink in.
Meditate on it. Write it down and talk about it with someone this week. Basically, make room for it in your busy life; otherwise it will not benefit you.
This idea has the power to revolutionize the way you approach copywriting, marketing and business in general. And if you really master this concept you’ll see how it can affect just about every other area of your life too.
OK…so what is it?
It has to do with the most powerful force on the planet – human desire. Think about it for a moment.
Desire is really what marketing and copywriting is all about. You already know that but do you know what to do with that knowledge?
You see, the average copywriter makes the mistake of thinking that desire can be created through effective marketing. But nothing could be further from the truth!
Before you label me a heretic allow me to explain.
I like real life examples. And since copywriting deals with the realm of the practical and not the theoretical let’s consider a real desire experienced by millions.
The desire for significance
Millions of people make buying decisions every day based on their desire for significance. Now as a copywriter you must understand that you play no part in creating that desire in your readers.
Now, there are those who already feel significant. You have little to entice them with.
But the masses crave significance. And as a copywriter it is your job to understand this mass desire and learn how to channel it toward your product.
You can identify the desire, discover how people attempt to meet that desire, what past marketing campaigns have succeeded (and failed), and then create copy that connects the benefits of your product with the thoughts of your reader.
You can do all the above but one thing you cannot do is create the desire itself.
I don’t care what others say. It’s impossible. And your efforts will be in vain if you try. Besides, even if you could somehow create desire, why would you go through all that extra effort instead of simply channeling the desire that’s already present in millions of people?
I can already hear some of you thinking…this is a little too deep for me. Too much psychology Josh. I thought you were going to give me a “practical” tip, not theory.
Legendary copywriters understood human behavior
Understanding human behavior is very practical. When you sit down to write your copy one of your primary responsibilities is to join the conversation that’s already going on in your prospect’s mind. When you try to interrupt their thinking by starting a new conversation you’ll be ignored.
And when your livelihood depends on your ability to sell with words I would say that possessing an intimate knowledge of human behavior, especially desire, is of the upmost importance.
I know most people reading this will think, Oh that’s interesting, and move on to the next shiny thing. Does that upset me? Absolutely not.
Because I know not everyone seeks excellence. Not everyone wants to be in the top 5% of copywriters out there. If everyone was amazing then there wouldn’t be a great reward to be remarkable. If every basketball player had the skills of Jordan then every player would make an average income.
Same holds true for copywriters.
But if you’re on a journey to become one of the best then these types of lessons are priceless. And when you realize that those who have gone before you have wisdom far beyond your years then you’ll do whatever it takes to learn from them.
That’s because the most powerful force, human desire, is at work in you too. Don’t underestimate the role of desire in your career. It has more to do with your success than the economy, your experience or even what you know.
So get a copy of Breakthrough Advertising and leave a comment below to let us know what nuggets of wisdom you extract from it.
About Josh Monen
Josh is a direct response copywriter and marketing strategist who makes a living by achieving remarkable results for his clients. His unique understanding of human psychology and marketing principles make him a valuable asset to the clients he serves.
Okay, admission time…I have never read this book! Am I seriously missing out? Is the copywriting information really that timeless?
If I want to go old school I usually re-read my favorite, Napoleon Hill. Otherwise
Hey Jenny, yes the principles he shares are truly timeless. And I would even say they’re needed now more than ever (a blog post for a later day). They have to do with people and their desires which fundamentally don’t change. But I’m not the only one who believes this… Brian Clark and Robert Bruce of Copyblogger (I’m sure you’re familiar with their blog which is now a $5 million/year company) hold Mr. Schwartz in high esteem. I would certainly recommend this book to any copywriter or business owner… yes even at $100.
Eugene Schwartz is a god. And I am quite annoyed that there is so little info from him available on the internet. I read breakthrough advertising, I read it a second time and I learned probably 400% more than the first time. I take notes every time i read it.
But here’s what really has helped me see what Eugene Schwartz means with everything he writes about in the book.
I downloaded a huge 100+ collection of his advertisements and I am writing then all out by hand. And from doing this I notice exactly what he means by what he said, but more importantly, how he uses his advice in real-world examples.
This is why the third time I read the book I learned even more! After copying his actual advertisements…well…copying and reading his ads is the most important part when it comes to learning from this copywriting legend.
I play piano and to learn piano I had to play beethoven, mozart, chopin, all the greats. And I spent years working on single pieces from these greats! Same goes for copywriting. Studying the greatest advertisements from legends is far better than reading alone
Alphonso, thanks for sharing. I think copying and studying the great ads is a great way to improve your copywriting skill. I also found an audio lesson from Eugene Schwartz on hardtofindseminars.com. I’ve listened to that about 4-5 times and plan to listen to it several more times.
I’m curious, where did you find Scwhartz’s ad collection? I have a lot of his ads but I’m always looking for more to ad to my swipe file.
Amazing poooossst!!!!!! Thankkksss fooooor beinggg yaaawesome by sharinggg this timeless and highly elite knowledge from this legend and not hogginggg it to yourself….. Muuuuccchhh thankkksss agggain!!!