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Create A Marketing "Swipe" File

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/20/2006 | Home Based Business
Direct marketing's a tough way to make a living but if you can master certain skills it can be extremely lucrative. It takes on many different forms, some of which are easily translatable to the web.

Although the term may bring to mind door to door salesmen pushing their wares to housewives in robes and curlers, it also has roots in print ads such as classifieds and space ads and direct mail.

The internet has created a massive opportunity for the skilled direct marketer to thrive without doing the customary legwork and engaging in personal contact with their prospects, basically expanding on the concept of direct mail.

So what skills do you need to hone in order to succeed at direct marketing?

The top priority of anyone interested in making money on the internet should be their copywriting skills. This is simply putting your sales message into words.

Since the face to face encounter has been eliminated you need to be able to convey your pitch through the words on the pages that your prospects are reading.

A great way to polish your copywriting skills, even if you've never written a single word of ad copy before, is to create a swipe file. This is just a file of already successful ad campaigns.

Swipe files are incredibly useful tools. Every major player in direct marketing keeps a swipe file and for good reason. Everybody gets stuck for words and ideas at some point. When this happens it's good to have an example of past successes to go to and freshen your creative juices and get the words flowing again.

What should your file consist of?

You should gather any material that has spurred you to action, whether its purpose was to get you to buy something or just leave your name and email address. Copy the good stuff and study it. Realize what was in the ad that made you act on the offer.

Look for layout designs (bulleted lists are a big direct marketing tactic), action words, headlines and sub heads. You'll notice certain words popping up along with questions and statements that are all fairly alike but are tailored to specific products and services.

That's the key to a good swipe file. Gather a wide array of different styles and mold the message to your particular target audience. Study the material and write out many different versions of the same ad. Practice your art and perfect it.

A word of caution though. Never copy an ad word for word. That's plagiarism and it's illegal. Use your swipe file as an aid only, to sharpen your copywriting skills and make you better at direct marketing.