Keep your eyes and ears open when you’re around people who are great at what they do — you can pick up tips and tricks to improve your own efforts. It’s what I kept telling myself when I worked in the advertising and marketing agency world, surrounded by writers who produced great marketing copy.
One of the tricks I saw these pros using time and again was a swipe file. A swipe file is simply a collection of great examples you can reference to influence and shape your own writing, and it’s simple for anyone to create. When you see ads, direct mail pieces, emails, or any other marketing communication you like, clip it or print it out. Collect these examples using a file folder, scrapbook, or any small storage box and voilÃ – you have your own swipe file.
How can a swipe file be a powerful tool for small businesses?
You’re required to wear many hats while running your business, so you probably don’t have the time to dedicate to becoming a pro copywriter. At the same time, your marketing copy needs to be strong, attention-grabbing, and tuned to your customers. A swipe file will spur your creativity, give you useful starting points, and let you reference the work of professionals. In short, it will help you become a better marketing writer, and the result should be obvious.
Start your swipe file, and begin utilizing it
You’ll most likely be clipping a lot of print ads, cataloging direct mail pieces you receive, and printing some email from your inbox. If you come across online ads you like, write them down on a piece of paper or card and file that away too.
But what specifically should you be looking for? Here are some marketing communication pieces your swipe file can help you with:
- Emails: subject lines, headlines, and body text
- Direct mail: headline text and body text
- Print advertisements: headlines, body text, photo styling, and overall creative composition ideas
- Online ads
Remember, the object here is not to copy things directly from your swipe file, but to use it for inspiration. Look through the pieces you’ve collected. How do they position products, offerings, sales, and incentives to the customer? What words and writing styles are effective and captivating? Is there a specific tone you like that’s a great match for your business and brand?
Your swipe file should help you shape the tone you want to come across, and it should help you choose the right words to communicate your message. On top of that, it should generally help you become a better marketing writer.
Pro copywriters and creatives at the advertising and marketing agencies use swipe files all the time, and with good reason. But there is no reason the pros should be the only ones with access to them. It is a professional tool to which we can all have.Like it does for the pros, a swipe file will help you track ideas you love, collect them in one place, and reference them when you need ideas and direction.
Email marketing and direct mail are great ways to acquire and engage customers.
To learn more about email marketing with pbSmartConnections, click here.
To find out how you can conveniently create, mail and track direct mail campaigns with pbSmartMarketer, click here.