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The Total Flop That Became a 10-Year Control

Last night I shared with you the story behind my very first magalog. It was my first big break--and it got me my first magalog sample. I didn't totally bomb out...my client actually mailed it as his control for a while. (Not that I got any royalties; I got paid a flat fee that's a fraction of what I charge today.) In any case, that precious sample is what got me my next big break: the chance to write a magalog for a supplement company. It not only got me in the door, it allowed me to negotiate a copywriting fee that was three times what I had charged for my first magalog. Plus it would pay me royalties if it became the control. Finally, after more than two arduous years of freelancing, I was going to be a royalty copywriter. But...wait. Damn... Things don't always go as planned, do they? The client loved the copy platform idea, so I ran with it. I gathered all my research...interviewed the doctor behind the product...and wrote what I felt was sizzling sales copy. The client printed it and sent it out. Guess what happened next?

It tanked. My client was still talking to me afterwards, thankfully. (Actually, he approved it and agreed to print and mail it, so he was partly on the hook.) We put our heads together to try to figure out what went wrong. We even got on the phone with another copywriter I knew to get a second opinion. It was then that this copywriter suggested we'd been way too general with what this supplement could do. It could do everything...but what was working then (and pretty much always works) is to focus on solving one specific problem. I went back to the drawing board and came up with a big "A-ha!" This nutrient had several studies supporting joint health claims, and the doctor behind it had his own story about using it to cure his knee pain. Oh, and it helped that he was a sports MD and had worked with Olympic athletes. So we would reposition the supplement as a joint health supplement! My client was as excited about my new idea as I was...and even paid me an additional partial copy fee to do a complete reworking of the promo. The result? This complete "do-over" and revamped positioning (even the product name changed) led to a super-successful control promo...

This tabloid-sized magalog promo mailed to millions of names (I don't have a complete total). It ended up mailing as a control for 10+ years. (We tested different formats and headlines over the years, but most of the original promo copy continued to be used during that time period). So I was able to turn my "total flop" into a 10-year-control...and become a royalty copywriter at last. (And even though my royalty rate then was lower than what I charge now, it earned me at least a few hundred thousand dollars over that 10-year span.)

Even though you might think this promo is ancient, it's well worth studying. I've been using the same copy techniques here for dozens more supplement controls since--and still use them today for online as well as offline promos. You can get a downloadable PDF of this highly-successful joint promo here (and check out the other swipes that are available). You'll save 50% when you use this discount code at checkout: HALFJAN19...but these savings expire tonight at midnight! For a complete no-brainer decision, check out my "Buy 'em All" Complete KKS Swipe File here. Use your HALFJAN19 code to save half off the sale price...and whenever I add more swipes to this file (I just added a few more last night), you'll get them for free automatically. I don't think it gets any more no-brainer than that. Yours for smarter marketing, Kim

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