Are You Writing for Spiders?
I have spent the past 50 years as a copywriter. OK, I also ran book clubs, started a newsletter about junk mail, wrote eight books of fiction and nonfiction and launched this publication.
But my bread-and-butter has always been writing copy. I learned to start with a headline that grabbed the reader by the throat, and then create copy that won’t let up until I get the order, inquiry or donation.
Look at the Google entries IN THE NEWS at the right. Search Engine Optimization is the current rage—grabbing the attention of spiders and crawlers in the hopes that the message will surface all over the Internet.
Yet it’s flesh-and-blood people that want information, spend money on goodies and give to charity—not emotionless, pre-programmed electronic robots.
Go ahead, fascinate robots. But if your message is a bore, you are a mouse click away from oblivion.
Call me Luddite or troglodyte, but I will continue to write headlines and copy for people, not robots.
And I’ll study the work of the great copywriters, such as Mel Martin.
“Mel was one of the world’s greatest copywriters, and nobody has ever heard of him.” —Brian Kurtz, Vice President, Boardroom, Inc.
Mel Martin, master of Fascinations.
Fascinations. Teasers. Taking an old-fashioned teaser—usually found on an envelope—and stuffing an entire mailing full of them, nakedly appealing to the emotions that scare people and drive them to action.
The tortuous trek of Mel Martin from laborer in the vineyards of advertising and publishing to rarefied heights in the pantheon of the greatest direct mail copywriters who ever lived began modestly enough at the Sussman & Sugar agency and, thereafter, at the Friend-Reiss agency.
It was at Friend-Reiss in the late 50s that he used to be called on by Martin Edelston, an aggressive young advertising salesman for Max Ascoli’s now defunct Reporter magazine. Two decades later, that meeting would be to newsletter publishing what Ben & Jerry were to ice cream.