Pumping "Copywriter" Iron with David Garfinkel & Johannes Brahms
What do the world’s greatest copywriting coach David Garfinkel and master German composer Johannes Brahms have in common?
Actually, several things. But I’m thinking of 1 in particular.
Do you listen to David’s weekly podcast, the Copywriter’s Podcast?
If not, I HIGHLY recommend it to you. It’s fantastic!
I’ve paid hundreds of dollars, even thousands of dollars for copywriting courses that don’t teach as clearly or as thoroughly as David does in his Free podcast.
This week’s episode is called “Muscle memory in Copywriting.”
David explains why the 3 typical methods of improving your copywriting skills are not enough. Most people who want to improve their copy use the following methods:
Just read and study: learn everything.
Handwrite sales letters.
Just do it — “natural”
”Only one problem. If all you do is any one of them, that won’t work.
“If you do all three together, they work — but i't’s a tremendous amount of work, and you reach a point of diminishing returns pretty soon.
“What works better… Muscle memory technique.”
Johannes Brahms on Composer Muscle Memory
In David’s podcast he talk about coming up with a regular routine to work on your copywriting skills.
He quoted on of his clients, an Agora Financial copywriter who’s father was a high school band teacher.
As any good band teacher would do, he taught his students to do daily work on the fundamentals of playing their instrument.
This story reminded me of one of my favorite Classical Music composers, Johannes Brahms.
Brahms is known for, among other things, his amazing musical craftsmanship.
In music, one of the fundamentals of great writing is counterpoint. Counterpoint is the interplay of multiple melodic lines occurring simultaneously.
Here’s a modern-day example. Do you know the song “I’ve Got A Feeling” on the Beatles album “Let It Be”?
Paul McCartney starts the song with a tune to the words “I’ve got a feeling…a feeling I can’t hide…”
After a couple verses, John Lennon takes over and sings his own melody over the same music in the band to the words “Everybody had a hard year…everybody had a good time…”
Then, Paul and John sing each of their unique melodies at the same time and it works! That interplay of multiple melodies is what we call counterpoint.
It’s a classical music composer’s most crucial skill.
So Brahms, this German composer who was such a great craftsman, he didn’t come out of the womb writing great counterpoint. He worked on it every single day.
Most great composers leave daily counterpoint exercises behind at some point. It’s the kind of stuff you do in school to learn the basics.
Every morning, even as an old man, a distinguished master composer, Brahms did fundamental counterpoint exercises.
He’d wake up at 5 am, get some coffee and pick up his latest scratch paper counterpoint exercises. Every. Single. Day.
Then he’d play through a Fugue by J.S. Bach, the greatest counterpoint master of all time. He knew these fugues by heart by the age of 25. Yet even as a 65 year-old man, he began his day returning to the master’s fundamentals.
Only after his coffee, his counterpoint, and revisiting a fugue by Bach would he begin his composing for the day.
One of David Garfinkel’s suggestions is to pick 1 part of copywriting (Headlines, bullets, storytelling, offers, etc.) and focus on it for a whole month. Read a bit about it, write, re-write, try things out, experiment, refine. In other words, get back to fundamentals.
So, I’m starting a new routine and I’m following David’s suggestion.
October will be a month devoted to Headlines. In November I’ll focus on Bullet Points. December will be a month of working on Storytelling. That’s as far as I’ve planned, but I’ll keep it going. And I’ll add a little something to the blog each day that I’m learning.
How Does This Apply to Product Launch Formula?
“But Doug” … I hear you thinking … “What does this have to do with Product Launch Formula? You say on your home page that you’re a copywriter who helps PLF Owners. I don’t see the connection.”
Don’t forget, PLF is just a system, it’s a method of selling your products and services. It’s not the “be all” or “end all” solution. It needs to be infused with great copy to work properly.
So, even if you don’t hire a copywriter like me, even if you decide to write your own copy, you need to develop these skills.
“But I don’t have time for that along with everything else I’m doing in my business.”
It’s my strong opinion you can’t afford NOT to do this.
Without persuasive forms of communication, your business will fail before it gets off the ground. Good copy is the lifeblood of good business.
Pick a fundamental part of copywriting. Set aside 15 minutes every day. Read something about it. Write a few samples. Try out a few suggestions.
If you spent 15 minutes a day for 30 days working on your Headline writing, I guarantee, you’re going to get better at it.
If you don’t, I promise, you won’t get better at writing headlines.
And if your headlines stink, you won’t sell much of anything.
Here is my initial pile of resources I’m using for my October “Headline” month. I’m not consuming the entire product. I’m picking out the bits about headlines and zooming in.
David Garfinkel’s “Copywriter’s Podcast” — episodes about headlines.
“Advertising Headlines that Make You Rich” by David Garfinkel.
“Breakthrough Copywriting” by David Garfinkel.
“How To Write Copy That Sell” by Ray Edwards.
“The Copywriter’s Academy,” a complete course by Ray Edwards.
“Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel” by John Carlton.
“Simple Writing System” by John Carlton.
Gary Bencivenga’s Retirement Seminar DVDs.
“Breakthrough Copywriting” by Eugene Schwartz.
“Tested Advertising” by John Caples.
“The Copywriter’s Handbook” by Bob Bly.
“The Ultimate Sales Letter” by Dan Kennedy.
“Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley.
“Copy Slacker,” a course by Ben Settle.
“Email Players Playbook” by Ben Settle.
Ben Settle’s Podcast episodes about Headlines.
Gary Halbert’s “Killer Advertising Secrets — 349 Great Headlines”
“The Advertising Solution” by Craig Simpson and Brian Kurtz
“The Ultimate Fill-in-the-blanks Headline Swipe File” by Ryan Levesque
“The 100 Greatest Headlines Ever Written” by Jay Abraham
I’m sure there are other good resources. And I’m sure I won’t get through all of this in 1 month. But it’s the stack I have to work from, and at a glance, it’s lookin’ pretty good.
To follow my progress and join in the fun, click the button below to subscribe to the blog and I’ll send you a freebie. It’s a PDF that shows how my own Copywriting Framework, the M.A.E.S.T.R.O. Copywriting Framework works together with Product Launch Formula to make it sing like Sinatra.
May your copy ever be melodic and harmonious!