Swipe Files — How to Easily Develop a Killer Marketing Headline
Professional marketers use a thing called a “Swipe file”. Would you spend hours developing a new approach if there was already many proven methods at your fingertips? And the best way to learn to become a master at anything is to learn from the masters.
When I was in grade school I took years of art classes, yet by the time I was in 8th grade I couldn’t hardly draw a stick figure or a tree, at least one that was recognizable. But sometime around the 8th grade I was watching a Saturday morning TV progam that was showing stroke-by-stroke how to draw a sailboat. Then they showed us how to make a lightbox.
A lightbox is a lightbulb under glass. You place a blank piece of paper on top of a print, both are placed over the glass and lightbult. With the lightbulb turned on you can see the print right through the blank paper, and then you can trace the outline of the print on your paper, color it in, and have a pretty good looking copy of that print that I DREW!!!! Well sort of.
Within a couple of weeks of learning how to create a certain item stroke by stroke, and copying from the lightbox I had developed a new skill. NOW, I could create a pretty decent scene, or even a person even without the lightbox.
The reason I had not been able to learn to draw, even with years of classes, was that I had been taught that “you NEVER copy”. I was told that was plagiarism, a no-no. And that was a mistake I’ll never repeat again, and that I help my coaching clients overcome.
It’s a simple principle.
You can’t learn to create a masterpiece . . . until you’ve learned how the masters do it. That means learning stroke by stroke how they do it, and to do that you’ve got to copy what they did stroke by stroke.
It’s only after you know what the masters did stroke by stroke, and can duplicate it that way (copy it) that you can learn to start becoming creative with what you learned. THEN you can be unique and creative. You can’t be creative before you know how.
And that’s what I was doing wrong, and why I couldn’t learn to draw for all of those years, and why within a couple of weeks after breaking down that belief of “copying is wrong” that I started to actually be a decent artist.
I’ve applied that principle to marketing, to writing articles and books, learning from the masters, and other coaches, and now have developed my own unique, and VERY productive business of marketing, copywriting, and coaching (showing others how to copy what I’ve done and helping them become uniquely successful.)
In any case, back to the swipe files. I’ve discovered that by following a specific format, a formula, for writing headlines in my article writing, article marketing, ebooks, that my writing seems to be getting about 5-10 times more readers than my nearest competitive author.
The reason for that is to create a compelling, eyeball catching title that follows this general formula.
Calls out to the target market by name — I call it a Hey You statement. If someone says “Hey You” near you in a crowd, you, and many others stop dead in their tracks and pay attention to what you say next. That’s the idea of a good headline. It stops your target market dead in their tracks and they start reading what follows.
Problem-Solution –List a pain, and a solution in the same headline. Your target market is interested only in whether this article is talking about HIS pain, and whether it’ll give him a solution. So, get his attention in the headline over what he wants help with.
VALUE — This may be THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. After listing a problem-solution, then tell him what the value of that solution might be. People make decisions based on finding the one most valuable answer to their problem. They will almost always choose the most valuable, so why don’t marketers tell their prospects what the value they will get if they move forward to read this article, or if they do what is said within the article.
Don’t Talk about you — The title should never be about you, your products, or your services. No one cares. That’s a waste of very valuable real estate within your title. You only have a very few characters to say what you want. Don’t waste it. Your reader ONLY wants to know whether you know about his pain, have a solution for it, and how valuable the solution is. Also, I know how easy it is to get into the mode of “I have something to say” and then you say what you want to say. Before you go there, take what you want to say and turn it around into the formula above so that you are talking about what the reader wants, not just what you want to say.
Back to the swipe files. I’ve attached a copy of one of my swipe files on headlines.
Check the swipe files out here. Best Swipe File Titles Be sure to come back often as I’ll update this file frequently. It’ll always be the most and best that I have at the time.
These are headlines that grabbed my attention, and most are from some of the top internet marketers, and these headlines have a track record of “getting attention” of readers scanning by.
I’ve taken the basic headline and created a formula that you can use to plug in what you do to the headline. Now it’s on top of the lightbox for you to take what you do while drawing over a masterpiece print. You can turn this headline into something you can use that creates a real “grabber” of a headline.
But test it. Try this formula-created headline to see what you get. Then tweak it with the “hey you — problem-solution — value” approach to tweak it even further while putting your own value statement into it. Test it again. Which ones produces the most readers? You’ll become a great copywriter of your own marketing materials.
Now you have some VERY VALUABLE tools. You have a formula to tailor your own headlines for marketing materials, for articles, for your blog, for your business card, for your 30-second elevator speech. And you are becoming as good as some of the great copywriters.
Create your own swipe file. As you find headlines anywhere, marketing, articles, books, that “really grab your attention” save them. I create a spreadsheet where I can write them down, and sometimes I create a physical file folder with a copy of the original in it. Keep only the top 10.
As you stick another one in, ask yourself “does this belong in position 1, 2, or what position?” Don’t just stick it in and walk away. You must put it into a position that it “owns.” When you are forced to have only 10, and have to decide does this replace the one in position 2, and everything else drops down a position with position 10 falling out of the folder for good, that means that you have to UNDERSTAND why this one is better than the one it replaces. You’ll be forced to look at 5-10 variables, and how they impact your marketing results (make sure you are using RESULTS and not gut feel. Pretty marketing pieces don’t necessarily sell.)
After a while you’ll have a VERY good understanding of the principles that make up good marketing. And you’ll have 10 templates to use to create your own marketing from, like putting your new marketing material over the light box with the top 10 marketing pieces underneath.
A swipe file isn’t meant to steal someone else’s work, but for you to learn from the masters.