This Put Me on the Map as a Copywriter

I shared with you earlier about how I turned an initial massive "flop" into a 10-year joint supplement control. Well, there's a bit of a pattern here. That wasn't the only time early in my copywriting career that I flopped right out of the gate. Luckily, my client--just like the one I told you about earlier--gave me a second chance. And that second chance is what helped put me on the map as a copywriter...and I never had to worry about getting booked up with clients again. I mentioned before that when I was first starting out 20 years ago, I took all kinds of copywriting jobs. Mostly short-form, like 4-page inserts, subscription renewal and back-end mailings, and emails (yes, emails! We actually had those back then, too...) I knew I had to work my way up the "copywriting ladder" if I wanted to write long-form promos with royalty potential and play in the big leagues. So when one of my former Phillips Publishing colleagues referred me to a financial publishing company, I eagerly accepted any and all projects that came my way. (Note: Even though I had primarily established myself in the health and supplement niche, it was way too early to niche myself. Had I done so, I would have severely and needlessly limited my options...and I've found getting experience writing for a wide variety of products invaluable.) The company, KCI Communications, was one of the biggest financial publishers at the time (they've since changed their name to Investing Daily). Their flagship newsletter, probably the biggest in the industry at the time, was called Personal Finance. I took on copywriting assignments for renewals, emails, and other promotions targeted to current subscribers. And I shined. One "price rise" renewal campaign for which I developed the strategy and wrote the copy became their best-performing one ever. After seeing what I could do with these smaller assignments, they finally gave me my big break. They hired me to write a front-end magalog to bring in new subscribers for Personal Finance. I'd never written a financial magalog before. And guess who held the current control that I had to go up against? None other than the late, legendary Jim Rutz. He of "Read This or Die" fame and many other highly-successful promotions that made him well worth his $100k copywriting fee. His control promotion was brilliant. It featured an official-looking White House seal on the front (which later got him a "Cease and desist" letter from the White House...I'm still jealous to this day.) So what did I do? I thought I'd take a "fresh" approach...and put a Godzilla-like dinosaur on my promo's front cover. Something about the "Change Monster that Ate the Economy" as the headline, as if anyone knows what the hell a "Change Monster" is. The inside copy was pretty good. But that cover? It pains me just to think about it now. I'm too embarrassed to even show it (though I did share it and got into a lot more of the backstory and what I learned from it in my Virtual LA Boot Camp Intensive). However, my client approved this monstrosity anyway, and decided to fork over the dough to print and test it. So what happened? Ka-boom. BOMB!!! Now, I could have hung my head in shame, packed it all up, and decided to move to an island in the Caribbean and make jewelry from shells I found on the beach (I still have that fantasy now and then, I admit, especially with this cold weather...) But my client was still talking to me. We talked about our risky test that went awry. And six months later, he hired me to write an all-new promo for Personal Finance, with an all-new copywriting fee with royalty potential. Chastened by my earlier failure, this time I decided to go with a much more conservative, proven approach--a "faux issue" that looked similar to the actual newsletter. The copy was all marketing copy, but it had an editorial look that made it look valuable, instead of like "junk" mail. Here's the front cover of that initial Personal Finance "issuelog"...

So how it'd do? It won! It beat Jim Rutz's control (which he had had to change to a different cover, due to his receipt of the "Cease and desist" letter for the previous White House seal version). I was very modest about even mentioning this to anyone else at the time. But word got out. Brian Kurtz, who was Executive VP with Boardroom at the time, attended a Financial Roundtable meeting not long after I got this hot new control. When meeting with the other marketers and publishers there, he asked my client who wrote their latest control. When he found out it was me---and that I had beat Jim Rutz---he couldn't call me fast enough. He hired me to write a promotion for Tax Hotline, which went on to beat Parris Lampropoulus' 7-year control. (This also made me the first female copywriter to get a Boardroom control. Hear that glass ceiling shattering?) I never would have gotten that chance at Boardroom at this early stage in my career if it wasn't for beating Jim Rutz and getting on the map as a copywriter. There's a footnote to this story, which makes it even better. My Personal Finance control mailed strongly for another year or two. Each time it mailed, I came up with new headlines and leads to test to keep it alive, since even then timeliness was critical for financial promos like it is now. Then the editor/"guru" of the newsletter, Stephen Leeb, decided to part ways with the publisher. They decided they needed to re-launch their flagship newsletter with a new editorial team. And for this re-launch, they re-hired Jim Rutz and paid him another $100k to write a whole new promo. They mailed this initial promo without testing anything else against it. My previous control had been retired. Make that prematurely retired. That's because the new re-launch promo wasn't performing as well as the publisher liked. So they hired me to completely rework my previous control (something they should have done in the first place, and that I only charged a fraction of Jim Rutz's fee to do). I took my previous control and freshened up the copy and introduced the new editorial team. Guess what happened? I beat Jim Rutz again! You can grab a downloadable PDF of this highly-successful financial promo right here (plus see the other past and current controls I've made available so far..) The half-price sale on ALL of the promos featured there ends tonight at midnight PST. You can get as many as you like at 50% savings when you use this discount code: HALFJAN19 Better yet, you can buy 'em all...and get free automatic updates whenever I add more promos (I just added two more past controls last night for Boardroom and Soundview). That 50% off deal applies to the unbelievably bargain sale price for this complete swipe file when you use HALFJAN19 at checkout. (I think it makes each promo swipe come out to just $7.56 can't even get an individual pizza for that.) It's the best and most affordable way to study what you know are successful controls...and see what you can learn from them to take your copywriting skills and results to the next level. Yours for smarter marketing, Kim P.S. Those half-price savings actually end at 11:59 pm PST won't want to be a minute late. Actually, why wait till then? Do it right now, while you're thinking about it. Use your HALFJAN19 discount code while it's still active and check out these successful controls now.

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