Brad Callen
Tuesday . 7 min read
Copywriting Swipe Files

Hey guys–so although this chapter is a short one, it’s got important stuff in it. Today I’m going to be talking to you about swipe files. If you haven’t heard the term before, a swipe file is just a collection of proven copywriting ads, emails, headlines, sales letters, and so on.

Basically, you can consider it a way of storing the very best ads you find, so you can refer to them later for inspiration when you’re creating your own ads. Copywriters use swipe files all the time–whenever they find really great examples of copywriting, they store them away for future reference.

For example, the Wall Street Journal ran the same sales letter from 1975-2003, and that sales letter generated over $2 billion in newspaper subscriptions. Today, it’s widely considered the greatest sales letter of all times.

You may have heard of it–it starts out with a story about 2 young men who came from similar backgrounds but when they returned for their college reunion, one was a manager of a small department and the other one was the president of that same company. The president obviously read the Wall Street Journal.

Although that sales letter was a huge success, there’s strong evidence that it was actually based on a similar story structure found in earlier ads.

Apparently, the copywriter who wrote it had a swipe file of his own. That’s a great example of why you want to maintain a swipe file.

To create your swipe file, you can make a digital one online, or you can have an actual physical file where you put aside clippings from newspapers and magazine ads. While you may find it helpful to have both, it’s not really necessary.

What is important, however, is that you do a good job organizing your swipe file. If it’s so cluttered that you can’t find what you’re looking for, then you’re not going to find it very useful.

I’d recommend organizing it into several categories like:

  • Headlines
  • Intros & Openings
  • Body Copy
  • Closings, Guarantees, & Offers
  • Email Promos & Autoresponders
  • Inspiring Ad Graphics & Images

I won’t get into too much detail on this, but I am going to briefly touch on how you can store digital swipe files. Mostly, it comes down to a matter of personal preference. For myself personally, I like to create a swipe file folder in Gmail where I can store emails.

You could also just use Google docs and create folders and files for each of your swipe files.

Finally, another tool a lot of people like is Gimme Bar. With Gimme Bar, you can store items you’re finding online in the cloud, link to tweets or videos, back items up to Dropbox, and share the stuff you’re finding with the members of your team.

Honestly, it’s not too important which tool you use–the important thing is that you create the file, so just pick one and get to it.

Now, in addition to tracking the best, most inspiring ads you find, I’m also going to suggest that if you have a main competitor in your industry whose doing really well, you also swipe all the materials they create.

This is a tip I shared in my Profit Mining Masterclass, and while it’s probably more relevant there, I think it’s helpful here too.

The reason I suggest doing that is because if your main competitor is selling more than you, they’ve probably tested their copywriting so they could design the highest-converting sales pages, emails, video sales letters and so on.

Assuming you’re targeting the same prospects, you can create similar ads using similar messaging so you can improve your conversions and level the playing field.

So, what are some of the things you should be keeping track of?

You should be keeping track of… Everything. I’m really not kidding when I say everything–I’m talking about the copy on their website, their sales letters, their Facebook ads, AdWords ads, upsell pages, their promotional emails, and the emails they send that are triggered by behavior like order confirmations and cart abandonment emails.

Are they using video sales letters or other video on their site? If so, I suggest you have them transcribed so you can also save those to your swipe file. You can use a service like rev.com to get the videos transcribed.

By keeping these things in your swipe file, you’ll have a great source to return to every time you need to create copywriting for your sales funnel–and again, that source has already been tested and likely proven to work by your competition.

Then when you do need to create copy, you can match your competitor’s tone and style so you can maximize your conversions. Once you’ve reached your competitor’s level of success, THEN you can start coming up with your own ideas to improve the existing sales copy.

I go into this in greater detail in my Profit Mining Masterclass but basically, I’ve done this time and time again, and found that this competitor mirroring strategy works really well.

Anyways, that brings us to the end of this chapter. In the next one, I’ll be discussing Storybranding, another important piece of successful copywriting. See you there.

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Brad Callen
About The Author

Brad got his start online back in 2002, and is the founder of Bryxen, Inc. The Bryxen team has built 30 online businesses over the past decade. Ranging from eCommerce products, to information products, to Saas products. His life mission is to help small to medium-sized businesses experience dramatic and consistent growth, no matter how successful they already are.

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