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How To Write Amazing Copy That Sells, Like Mad Men's Don Draper

How To Write Amazing Copy That Sells, Like Mad Men's Don Draper

Tony Cooper  
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How to write amazing copy
Last Updated
September 09, 2016

Writing compelling copy that rivets your audience to their seats and guarantees their full attention for the duration of your piece is a finely balanced high wire act.

Too many clever words obfuscate and bewilder the audience whilst keeping it too simple runs the risk of falling into the net where all the other dunce blogging failures have landed.

The middle road is filled with acts that walked the tightrope but never quite captivated or engaged their audience. They just went through the motions in the expectancy that it was “enough”.

Writing Excellent Copy Is A Specialist Discipline

Expensive newspaper and magazine adverts have to have a return on investment or the money is wasted. You can't get to be clever without understanding the basic rules of customer engagement.

However we can't all afford to employ the Don Draper's of this world.

The fictional “Mad Men”characters' success was based around his charismatic customer presentations and tireless pursuit of the killer headline.

His Copy Writing?

Don didn't really do copy writing but what he did do brilliantly was to tell stories.

It doesn't matter how good or bad you are at writing. When you tell your story and tell it from the heart everyone listens.

"There is nothing to writing – all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed"

WriterErnest Hemingway

Last June I got made redundant after ten years working for a property company. In that time we built the company up from a small property workshop company into the market leader and I managed all of the digital marketing.

Getting laid off was a serious blow. The owner decided he wanted to go in a different direction and I wasn't part of the plan. Ten years of self employment meant I wasn't entitled to any redundancy and although I'd been dabbling in affiliate marketing over the years there wasn't any serious income from it to support my family.

That Was April 2014

In May 2014 I got a contract to work for a few weeks at a kitchen company in Birmingham and it paid the bills but the reality was that I needed to find employment and quick.

That's when Yvonne suggested that we sell the house and put the money into starting my own business.

I was dumbstruck. There I was moping over a pint in the sunny beer garden when my partner of 20 years offered to put everything on the line for me. Sell the house? Are you sure?

We put it on the market in July 2014. Initially the prospect of selling looked good as we had a steady trickle of viewers but then all of a sudden the viewer tap was turned off and the prospect of a quick sale evaporated. The market dried up.

I did a few interviews confident that my extensive experience would see me through but for some reason I didn't quite have it. Was I too old? Were there genuinely better candidates than me?

The leaves started to fall off the trees when I took the dogs for a walk. The days got shorter. The nights drew in. The money started to run out.

I applied for a job doing the digital marketing for a hotel about 5 minutes drive away. The agency didn't even consider me for interview.

I Asked Them Why I Wasn't Considered For A Job I Could Do With My Eyes Closed

I would be reporting to someone 25 years younger than me and they didn't think it would work.

That old “too much experience” chestnut. I would have far more knowledge and experience than my prospective manager.

In November I started enquiring about factory work. No factory experience? No chance.

The agencies weren't prepared to consider me for factory work. The reason given was that I wouldn't be capable of standing on my feet for long periods of time and or I'd get bored. £7 per hour was out of my grasp.

It was one of the lowest points of my life. A highly skilled digital marketer couldn't get a job because he had too much experience and couldn't get a factory job because he didn't have any. All the time the mortgage payments were starting to be missed.

After many phone calls I found an agency that would take me on - First 4 Staff and they gave me a contract to work at Wrapfilm.

After my first twelve hour shift I came home with blistered hands and feet. Shattered I went to bed. I remember sitting in the canteen at 3am and glancing around at all the Polish and Ghanian workers.

They're not taking our jobs. They are just doing the jobs we Brits are not prepared to do.

After the third 12 hour shift I was a walking zombie. Trying to blog wasn't even a consideration. All I did was sleep to catch up with what I had lost. 12 hour shifts are no fun.

I got laid off from my contract on the 16th December.

Christmas 2014 Was A Frugal Affair In The Cooper Household.

In January 2015 I got more agency work at Mahle but by now I'd run out of money to run a car so cycling to work was the order of the day.

I would get up at 4.45am and leave the house at 5.15am getting to work ready for a 6am shift.

Cycling to work in the snow and ice and then being told there wasn't any work because they had changed the tooling overnight. Zero hours contracts anyone?

These were my darkest days. The prospect of the house being repossessed was growing bigger by the day.

Then in February 2015 the house was sold. We just had to sweat on it being completed.

In March 2015 we went to view a rental property and we absolutely loved it. The problem was that because we didn't have a completion date the landlord wouldn't accept our application.

I vowed that we wouldn't look at another property until we got a completion date.

By the end of April both parties started to wonder if this sale was ever going to happen. Solicitors seemed to be dragging their feet and there were endless forms going backwards and forwards.

Then on May 4th we got the completion date – May 11th.

We started looking for a rental property but there was a problem. Landlords would not accept pets! Then they wouldn't accept self employed and they certainly wouldn't accept anyone with a CCJ.

Finally on May 7th we found somewhere to move to. Only for the application to be rejected as I didn't have any proof of accounts.

So there we were with just three days till we had to vacate and nowhere to move to.

It was Thursday afternoon. The new owners were going to be moving in on Monday. We had nowhere to go. I managed to find a local bed and breakfast that would put us up until we found somewhere.

I sat down with Yvonne and we discussed getting rid of the dogs. It was going to be the only way we could find accommodation so quickly.

I said I'd take them out for a walk and clear my head. Whilst I was out she started phoning around madly trying to find somewhere for us to move to.

On Friday 8th we finally found a landlord that would accept us – only two days before completion date!

Telling your story is a method of copy writing that doesn't base itself on how good or bad you are at the words. It's all about your experience.

I can see Don raising his whisky glass to me at the bar in that way of his before he makes his excuses and leaves.

Great Copy Writing Isn't Always About The Words. It's About Telling Your Story.

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