Direct Response Copywriter on Good Swipe and Bad Swipe

Direct Response Copywriter on Good Swipe and Bad Swipe

By Scott Martin, Direct Response Copywriter

I have around 1,000 pages of “swipe” which is a direct response copywriter’s term for copy that’s already been published – online or mail. Most of my colleagues have a swipe file. Some swipe files are more organized than others. I also have a book of winning headlines plus manuals with excellent examples of direct response copy … even more swipe.

Outright copying of copy is, of course, illegal; it violates copyright laws. However, it’s almost always acceptable to use swipe for inspiration and ideas. Ultimately, as a direct response copywriter, you have to follow the usual formats or you just won’t sell anything. I use headline templates … 99% of copywriters use the same templates.

The other day, I read a golf promotion which was total swipe. It combined the ultra-famous “They Laughed When I Sat Down to Play the Piano” headline with a John Carlton golf headline. Carlton wrote the most outlandish golf copy I’ve ever seen. Here’s an example of a Carlton headline.

“How One Simple ‘Magic Move’ (Which You Can Easily Feed Into Your Current Swing In Just 9 Minutes, Even If You Stink At The Game Right Now) Instantly Uncorks So Much Hidden Raw Power, Balance And Accuracy… That You Can Go Out Tomorrow And Launch A Pin-Point 230-Yard Tee Shot With A 3-Wood… From Your Knees!”

Quite frankly, I would never write a golf headline so outlandishly false. Golfers are intelligent and they know they’re not going to hit a 3-wood 230 from their knees.

So the headline I read, which I won’t fully reveal to protect the innocent, was an exercise is swipery.

Swiping is NOT copywriting. The job of a direct response copywriter is to get into the soul of the potential reader and discover what they really want … then present the product or service that satiates their need or want. The presentation must be believable.

One problem with swipe … there’s almost always a disconnect between the copy and the product. The copywriter thinks, “that’s a great headline so I’ll swipe it!” instead of thinking, “what does the potential customer really, really want?”

In my experience with extensive testing, simply swiping away does not beat controls. I will always defer to testing results but swiping famous headlines rarely works.

Look – I understand the technical elements of direct response copywriting. And this requires using tried and tested headline formats and templates. And I understand using one of the 10 or so direct response formats. But simply bolting two classic headlines together and then offering a promise the product cannot keep is not copywriting. It’s slack and shoddy and unlikely to persuade anyone except really stupid people who will believe anything.


I'm a direct response copywriter. I specialize in providing direct response copy for the direct marketing environment for clients around the planet. I specialize in sales page copy ... copy that persuades readers to pull out their credit card and buy. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

I'm also a Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers.


Disclaimer for the above.

The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study of preparation for such copywriting. This Certification has not been provided by an accredited education institution. It does not constitute endorsement of or liability for any individual copywriter by Mr. Kennedy or any companies or organizations affiliated with Mr. Kennedy. The client's relationship is solely with the individual copywriter retained via any agreement.