Best Copywriting Books
Yeah, I know...
There are thousands of posts on this EXACT topic.
"What are the "best copywriting books?"
So I'll keep it short.
To be honest, I haven't read a lot of "copywriting" books.
I've read a lot of promotions and a lot of good copy, but not books ABOUT copy really.
Of course, there are the classics that EVERYONE ON THE WEB lists (Cialdini, Ogilvy, Schwartz, etc.).
But I wrote this post to alert you to four books that typically fly under the radar (in my opinion). Each one helped me when I was first getting started (and I refer back to them from time to time also).
Anyone who asks me for the "best copywriting books" always gets these 4 unexpected answers:
- "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug
- "Made to Stick" by Chip Heath
- "Letting Go of the Words" by Janice (Ginny) Redish
- "Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator" by Ryan Holiday
They aren't copywriting books.
But they'll help you be a damn fine copywriter.
Direct Response Marketing... the List, the Offer, Or the Copy (Which is Most Important)?
Have you heard of the 40/40/20 rule?
It's a good rule of thumb you need to heed when running, creating, or evaluating any direct response campaign.
It's not new and there are COUNTLESS blogs, articles, and videos about it.
It means this: the three things you need to nail to make money online as a direct response marketer are...
... the list, the offer, and the copy/creative.
- 40% importance goes to the list...
- 40% goes to the offer...
- 20% goes to the copy/creative...
"As a direct response marketer who happens to specialize in direct response copywriting, you'd guess that I think "creative" is the most important..."
But you'd be wrong.
Because the real "difference maker" is in the list.
I'd say it's slightly MORE IMPORTANT than 40% even.
John Carlton told a story about this somewhere (I forgot where I saw it, but I remember the story).
In a nutshell, it goes like this:
If you were trying to sell a hamburger and so was I, there's ONE THING I could use to guarantee that I'd sell more hamburgers than you...
... even if your hamburger was objectively BETTER (i.e. your offer)
... even if the way you pitched your hamburger was factually more effective (i.e. your creative)
The ONE THING?
...a starving audience.
"If I can fill a room with people who are starving, I can sell them a shitty hamburger with relative ease..."
That's because they already want what I have.
On the contrary, you can have a better offer (e.g. your burger has onion rings, grass-fed beef, gluten-free buns...) and present your burger in a better way.
But if your audience isn't starving, you'll lose.
Or worse yet, if your audience is vegan... oops.
This is why people will buy a shitty offer with shitty creative (design, copywriting) all day long.
Nail the list and you can make money.
Nail the copy, design, and offer with a BAD LIST... you lose.
Nail all three - now we're talking!
And of course, you want to nail all three to maximize profit:
- Your list needs to be vetted, screened, highly targeted...
- Your offer needs to be irresistible to that list...
- Your copy/creative needs to present your offer in the most effective (i.e. persuasive) way possible...
Don't use this an an excuse for bad copy and a less than irresistible offer though.
It'll work, but not for the long-haul.
instead - go for all three.
...because bad marketing *that makes money* isn't what we're after.
P.S. Speaking of the power of story, click here to get my eBook on storytelling (no need to opt-in to anything, just click & download it).