173 episodes

This podcast reveals the insider secrets of advertising copy that makes money.
Insights into the highly profitable world of direct response marketing.
Hosted by the World's Greatest Copywriting Coach, David Garfinkel.

Copywriters Podcast David Garfinkel

    • Business
    • 4.9, 67 Ratings

This podcast reveals the insider secrets of advertising copy that makes money.
Insights into the highly profitable world of direct response marketing.
Hosted by the World's Greatest Copywriting Coach, David Garfinkel.

    The Four Corners of Getting Attention, with Roy Garn

    The Four Corners of Getting Attention, with Roy Garn

    The number one thing you’ve got to do as a copywriter is first, get people’s attention.

    Sounds obvious, I know. But how many times have you had to write a headline and you spent hours, not knowing where to start?

    It happens to all of us.

    I found an old book in my personal library that can help you out. It’s called “The Magic Power of Emotional Appeal,” by Roy Garn. It was a best-seller, way back in 1960.

    And so this is part of our Old Masters series.

    And it turns out the author boiled it all down to four specific ways that get attention. After doing a lot of research and field testing. We will reveal all four ways today and give you some ideas on how to weave these emotional appeals into your copy.

    This is a book about what makes people tick.

    And once you have deeper insights into what makes people tick, it’s one hell of a lot easier to figure out how to get their attention.

    Here’s an important quote from the book:

    “The people with whom you live, work, and interact rarely want to think; they emotionally enmesh with what they feel. These individualized feelings are emotional activators, as well as barriers to communication.”

    Now, let me add, when you can tap into the right feelings for the right reasons, you can own the attention of other people, including your prospects.

    This may be the best book I’ve ever read about human nature.

    It’s out of print, so if you hunt it down, I ought to give you a heads up:

    If you are very analytical and/or you’ve had a lot of advanced education, you might find it tedious and/or rambling. I’ve taken that part out and slanted it hard towards copywriting. It wasn’t as simple as it sounds. But once you get below the surface, you realize it’s actually pretty deep and insightful.

    Just not presented in the book in a structured and logical way. It’s extremely conversational and emotional.

    Here are some hints about what we cover in today’s show:

    1. The first attention-getting emotional appeal speaks to the primary unconscious objective of every living being.

    2. They’ve written songs about it, they’ve got huge buildings and institutions devoted to it, they even made a movie with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise about the color of this emotional appeal.

    3. People with dirty minds only think of one or two things when they hear this emotional appeal. But it actually goes much further than what they’re thinking of.

    4. This one’s so obvious it’s easy to overlook. But it’s reasonable to say that this appeal has sold more expensive goods and services than anything else in the world.

    The Magical Power of Emotional Appeal, by Roy Garn: https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Power-Emotional-Appeal-Situation/dp/B000FJEPRU


    Spy Secrets, TV Tricks, and Copywriting

    Spy Secrets, TV Tricks, and Copywriting

    Our guest today has lived the kind of life most of us only see on TV and movies. He worked as a specialized contractor in Iraq in PsyOps, which in a way is like the military version of persuasion or direct marketing. Of course, much of what he did is classified, but he’ll share some insights that don’t compromise sensitive information today.

    He’s also worked at the heartbeat of world media, as an editor for CNN, NBC, Sky, CNBC and MTV.

    Our guest is Christian Dixon, and these days, he’s pursuing copywriting with a ferocity I see only in the most obsessed practitioners of the craft, and I would include Nathan and myself in that group.

    We invited Christian to come on the show to talk about what he learned in his other professions that would be interesting insights for copywriters.

    And while this is NOT the most interesting insight, what I am about to say IS nonetheless important. And that is this:

    Copy is powerful. You’re responsible for how you use what you hear on this podcast. Most of the time, common sense is all you need. But if you make extreme claims... and/or if you’re writing copy for offers in highly regulated industries like health, finance, and business opportunity... you may want to get a legal review after you write and before you start using your copy. My larger clients do this all the time.

    Here’s what we covered:

    PsyOps lessons:

    1. In terms of the actions people will actually take in life, people will do more / give more / take bigger risks for a cause they believe in than they will do for themselves alone, or even for their families.

    2. People being interviewed/interrogated will give up more information when the questioner uses sincere empathy and a gentle approach than they will when the questioner uses a tough and confrontative approach.

    TV editing lessons

    3. People tend to believe what they see more than the words they hear.

    4. Sequence is more important than content in determining what meaning or conclusion a viewer will come away with (the magic of editing).

    5. A single powerful idea or theme, well illustrated, communicates and convinces more than a complicated idea with a lot of data.

    6. Finally, with all your skills, talents, and experience, what was it about copywriting that made you want to get really good at this craft?


    What Other People Think

    What Other People Think

    I’m in a book discussion group with a client and two of his friends. The only problem is, both of his friends are also podcasters, so you can imagine how hard it is to get a word in edgewise.

    The book we were discussing last time was Jonathan Haidt’s A Righteous Mind. This is an especially important book because it offers some concrete ways to bridge the big political divide going on in America and really much of the rest of the world right now.

    I want to focus on something else in the book that’s not political, though. Several times the author makes a point of emphasizing that people are very concerned with what other people think about them.

    We talk about that idea and break it down in today’s show. For now, I want to say this is something that a lot of copywriters and marketers miss the mark on. Which is a shame, because it’s a powerful selling tool. You could hardly say it’s unknown, but it’s not very well understood, either. Once you see what I’m going to show you, I think you’ll understand it a lot better.

    We start by looking for the deep underlying message in a TV commercial for the prescription drug Linzess. Though the spoken words and words on the screen are all about the medical condition and the drug, the story portrayed by the actors and scenery are quite different. We look at how the advertiser used the concern about what other people think to sell a drug designed to help people with belly pain and constipation.

    Then, we review with Jonathan Haidt said, as well as two little-known parts of Vic Schwab’s “How to Write a Good Advertisement” and Gene Schwartz’s “Breakthrough Copywriting.” Both of these Old Masters knew the how-other-people-think element of copywriting extremely well, and have some really important things to say about it.

    Finally, we look at how we, as direct marketers, can use this sales angle. Obviously we don’t have the wherewithal to set up, hire for, and film a commercial like Linzess did. Fortunately, there’s a much simpler way to use the what-people-think angle, subtly, in your copy. We’ll share an example with you.


    Copywriting in Low-Trust Times

    Copywriting in Low-Trust Times

    I was watching TV last Sunday, and since we record a few episodes ahead, I was watching TV on the last Sunday of May.

    The show was “Meet the Press,” and it always starts with the announcer starting by pointing out that this is the longest-running show on TV. Of any show.

    From a marketing point of view, that’s an enviable place to be. Usually, when you’ve been on the air since 1947, that lasting power alone simply radiates trust. People tend to trust anything that’s been around a long time.

    So it really caught my attention when in the waning seconds of the show, the moderator, Chuck Todd, said something I’ve never heard him, or anyone else on TV, say before:

    “Thank you for trusting us.”

    The reason this caught my attention really doesn’t have much to do with Meet the Press, which is by far not one of my favorite shows, nor what it might have said about Chuck Todd, who, to be honest with you, is not my favorite TV personality.

    I was a little stunned by the words “thank you for trusting us” because I don’t think anyone in Chuck Todd’s position would utter words like that unless he, and a lot of very nervous people around him, were worried about keeping the trust of the viewing audience.

    And don’t think for a minute this rising tide of distrust is limited to that moderator, that show, or that TV network. It is widespread. It is, frankly, everywhere. And as a marketer and copywriter, this is something you need to be aware of and to adjust your marketing message to.

    I have handpicked three emotional triggers from my book Breakthrough Copywriting. I have never shared these three before, because, frankly, they are pretty intense.

    But I think they are good medicine for the distrust that ails us.

    (first) Trigger 2: Empathy through shared misery

    When people are hurting, scared or mistrustful, showing them that you know how they feel will bring down barriers and make them much more open to what you have to say.

    I’ve heard that empathy is easier for some people than for others. I have also heard a theory that either you’re born with it, or you’re not. I don’t know if that’s 100% real, but I do know that some people have natural empathy and others have to work at developing it. Right now I would say it’s simply one of the most important qualities and assets you can have, as a copywriter and as a business owner.

    (second) Trigger 6: Sour Grapes to Vintage Wine

    Sometimes severely underpromising the results you know your product can get, can increase sales.

    If you go too far past what people think is real and possible for them, even if you know that much more is real and possible, you’re going to lose a lot of sales. This, again, is why it’s so important to know your customers.

    (third) Trigger 11: From Desperation to Salvation

    Trace the path of from complete helplessness to an amazing turnaround, that you can actually deliver with your product.

    A lot of people are feeling pretty desperate right now. If you have a legitimate offer that will help them out of the quicksand, this is a great format to use to tell your story.

    All of these are from Chapter 10 of Breakthrough Copywriting.


    Lifetime Lessons from Claude Hopkins

    Lifetime Lessons from Claude Hopkins

    We’re back with another show in our Old Masters series. A return visit for the ideas of Claude Hopkins, but completely different material since last time, when we pulled out some key points from his book Scientific Advertising.

    As I said before, and it’s worth repeating,

    When I first started learning how to write copy, everybody told me “read Scientific Advertising.” It’s a book written in the first part of the 20th century, over 100 years ago, by Claude Hopkins, who many consider the father of direct-response copywriting.

    I did read the book. I read it again. In fact, I read it 15 times.

    But for today’s show, on the advice of my friend and previous Copywriters Podcast guest Don Hauptman, I looked into an excellent book from long ago called “Masters of Advertising Copy.”

    The book has 25 chapters, and each is written by a different copywriter. I knew we had to start with the one by Claude Hopkins. His chapter is humbly titled, “Some Lessons I Have Learned In Advertising.” But to give you an idea of how eternal every single one of Claude Hopkins’s lesson is, I couldn’t find one that is not in active use today.

    Five lifetime lessons from Claude Hopkins

    1. Demonstration and samples

    Sampling and demonstration, which are different forms of the same thing, make up the best way to sell anything.

    Features by themselves usually don’t sell. Features + benefits work some of the time. But demonstration, where the customer gets to sample the product personally, usually works best of all — because people know from direct experience what they’re getting and what the benefits will be.

    2. Free gift and curiosity

    You can get people interested by offering a free gift, and you’ll do even better if the gift is a mystery until they get it.

    People always like to feel they’re getting “the better end of the deal.” This is a proven way to operationalize that desire on the part of prospects into a way to get more sales.

    3. Power of drama with a boring product

    Drama will help you sell a lot more products, and if you dramatize a boring product, you can sell it when you couldn’t sell it before.

    This is similar to the idea in Jeff Walker-style launches. The drama adds to interest in the product in a way that’s hard to match with anything else, when you do it right. It’s hard to get this right, but when you do, you’ve got a gold mine on your hands.

    It’s hard to get it right because it’s like marketing entertainment. Publishing a best-selling book, or releasing a hit song or a movie, is usually much chancier and harder to do than simply making a lot of money with a good product.

    4. Test everything

    Test small before you scale up.

    Early on in his career, many companies came to Hopkins with product ideas they were certain would be winners. Hopkins says he made “several great mistakes by relying on my judgment and on theirs.”

    5. Seeking out the details that convince

    Your USP can be buried in trivia (or so it seems to many business owners and execs). But that “trivia” can be a detail the decides the prospect to buy from you, and become a customer.

    Gene Schwartz even developed a category of copy to label this kind of description: Mechanism. The key is not just using a mechanism in your copy, but using it convincingly to make a customer see why you are the preferable choice in the marketplace.


    Masters of Advertising Copy, Edited by J. George Frederick:



    Facebook Compliant Copy

    Facebook Compliant Copy

    Our guest today is Harlan Kilstein. He’s a copywriter, an entrepreneur, and a whole lot more.

    Here are 7 facts you probably didn't know Harlan.

    1. John Carlton and I took turns humiliating his copy when he got started. Unlike most people, he took the feedback and turned himself into a great copywriter.

    2. He's an ordained rabbi.

    3. His sidekick, who we hope you don't hear in the background is named Kalba. She's a Pomeranian. He name means Bitch in Hebrew.

    4. He lost over 60 pounds doing Keto practicing what he preaches.

    5. His office is a mega shrine to the singer Meat Loaf.

    6. He has nearly 2 million followers on social media.

    7. He would do anything for love but he won't do that.

    I don’t know what “that” is, and hopefully we won’t find out on today’s show.

    Harlan, welcome. And Kalba, please keep it down.

    Here are the questions I brought to Harlan:

    1. Big-picture, what are you doing for business on Facebook?

    2. When did you first learn about Facebook compliance rules, and how did you find out?

    3. What difference does it make — that is, how much more latitude do you have in your marketing — when you’re posting or advertising inside your own group?

    4. What would you say are the two-three most important changes you’ve made in copy, both on and off Facebook — as a results of compliance rules? Could you give at least one before-after example?

    5. What would you say are the biggest mistakes you see other people making regarding Facebook compliance?

    6. Tell us about the Keto project I helped you with.

    7. What additional advice do you have for copywriters and marketers, especially re: Facebook compliance?

    If you're having issues with Facebook compliance and you can't figure out if it's your ad, your landing page or just that Mark Zuckerberg doesn't like you, just send Harlan a message on FB.

    Harlan on Facebook


Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
67 Ratings

67 Ratings

Jonathan526 ,

The Copywriter’s Podcast warped my existence

The Copywriter’s Podcast has changed how I see the world of advertising, in the best way. I can’t read an advert without dissecting the angle taken by the writer. The Copywriter’s Podcast has transformed me into an intelligent consumer and continues to deliver the hope that I can change my life through writing copy. Thank you David and Nate.

Donor Doctor ,

Great Teacher

Along with the late Herschell Gordon Lewis, and perhaps Richard Armstrong, David Garfinkel is the best direct mail teacher I've ever had. I got tired after 60 podcasts, but you have real endurance. Keep it up! -- J. Newberry

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I am a very novice copy writer and marketer. I’ve recently realized that all of the other skills required to operate a business are fairly straightforward and inexpensive to outsource. Copywriting tho... is expensive to outsource and requires a ton of tweaking. So, I’ve decided to learn how to do it. This is the best resource that I’ve come across.

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