A few years back I wrote some copy for a ‘pick-up artist.’
He was one of those higher-class pick-ups artists, helping single men find ‘the one.’ But I won’t sugar-coat him to avoid complaints.
He was a pick-up artist all the same – with many one-night stories from the trenches of singledom.
He sounded amazing down the phone.
I’m as straight as you can get, and even I felt charmed. But I was fascinated too.
Tell you the truth, I’ve never been a bar-room Don Juan. I met my wife when I was 19. It’s been 10pm bedtimes and Netflix ever since.
“Well here’s the secret to attraction, Alex,” he said…
“Attraction between men and women already exists. That’s nature. That’s biology. The problem with a lot of guys is they fuck it up…by trying to create attraction.”
That’s why they come out with dumb lines.
That’s why they get needy and desperate.
It’s like the late, great Eugene Schwartz once said about copywriting:
Let’s get to the heart of the matter. The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy. Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exists in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copy writer’s task: not to create this mass desire – but to channel and direct it.
It’s THE most important lesson in his book Breakthrough Advertising. And that is one of THE most important books in the history of copywriting.
You must understand your prospect’s existing desires.
Otherwise you just look like the another night-club neanderthal – hitting on women with lines they’ve heard a thousand times over.
You probably understand this if you’ve ever tried selling face-to-face
I remember walking all over the city, clutching a pile of portfolios, trying to get ad agencies to hire me.
The creative directors were always RIDICULOUSLY busy.
Sometimes I used to think, “Man, I wish I could somehow slot myself into this guy’s life. I wish I could understand the ONE thing that’s bugging him and make myself the solution.”
But I couldn’t.
I was just a stupid kid holding a pile of crappy portfolios.
I was maybe 20, but looked about 15. You could tell the receptionist didn’t give a damn.
Then I tried flattery…
…And I don’t mean flattery in a brown-nosing way. I mean tasteful flattery – based on what I knew about the prospect.
When I read Drayton Bird’s books, it was clear how much he admired David Ogilvy. So I uttered his name in the same sentence as Ogilvy, Hopkins and other masters he respected.
You can read the letter here if you like. It’s pretty old – and not perfect – but it worked. Because it wasn’t trying to drum up desire.
It was connecting an existing desire with what I had to offer.
When you understand your prospect you’re saved from going overboard
You needn’t use hyped-up copy.
You needn’t turn to desperation.
You’re just the cool, James Bond-esque player, sat quietly at the bar with a Vodka Martini. You don’t have to ‘create’ anything in your prospect, because everything you need already exists within them.
And if you’re single? Well I’m told it can help you there too. But that’s not my line of work.
Writing words that sell is – and if you’re looking to add some more profits to your coffers this New Year, here’s a good place to start.