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The key to great marketing isn’t found in the latest hack. But you’ll probably find it in a newspaper from the 1930s…

You see, even though media has changed, the words you use determine whether a customer buys from you or not.

“Old school” principles from 90 years ago to sell soap are still used today to create videos, emails, and social media campaigns.

Your words have the power to show your customers the pathway to their future life.

That’s why everything you create – or ever will create – in your business is copy… and why copywriting is such a timeless skill.

In our previous discussions, we established the vital role of marketing in achieving the kind of lifestyle, income, and impact we aspire to make in the world. This includes supporting our families, helping people, or a combination of all these. Marketing is a core competency that we must all master. We should be able to discern good marketing and ideally, create it ourselves.

Good marketing is essentially a guide for your client. It's sharing the path of transformation for the client, depending on what you are selling. You are either alleviating some kind of pain or delivering a degree of pleasure, effectively transforming their lives. Through marketing, you tell the story of your client's future life – a life that is better, with less pain and more pleasure. This is the gist of marketing when looked at from a 50,000-foot perspective. Developing this core competency is crucial.

Among the myriad of skills required in marketing, I believe copywriting is the most fundamental. Copywriting involves creating the words that will help persuade people to deepen their relationship with you and, in the long run, make purchases from you. The art and science of copywriting have been around for over a hundred years. It began with advertisements in magazines and newsletters, then progressed to direct sales letters sent via mail.

When I started online in 1996, nobody was teaching marketing. I quickly realized that the skills I needed were the same ones developed for direct mail marketing, beginning in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. I immersed myself in studying these techniques, which translated quite easily to the online world. From there, I wrote every day.

My routine involved sending out an email about the stock market each day it was open, which was 252 days per year. Each email contained a marketing message, and I was able to see the impact of my message within a few hours. I tested and tweaked my approach daily. After sending out over 10,000 email broadcasts, I learned a lot about copywriting. It's become a core strength of mine, and I firmly believe it should be the same for anyone wanting to run an online business.

I started with emails, then progressed to blog posts and eventually to writing online sales letters. Some even went through the mail. The key takeaway here is that the fundamental skills of copywriting can be applied across all these mediums. Nowadays, it even translates to video scripts. Arguably, some of the most successful copies I've written have been for online video scripts.

The thing to understand is that everything you put out to your audience is copy. The principles that allowed people to sell via direct mail in the 1930s are the same ones that can work in a sales video or live broadcast today.

If you're not a great writer, that's okay. With the advent of video marketing, even those who struggle with writing can effectively communicate their message. Most of us can talk pretty well and convince others verbally – like suggesting a movie to a friend. For many, speaking on video will come more naturally than writing. However, the principles of copywriting still need to inform these videos or live broadcasts.

Eventually, I plan to create a training course on copywriting. This isn't an official announcement, just an intent. Copywriting is something I hold dear. It has enabled me to sell over $100 million of my products, starting from the most humble beginnings as a stay-at-home dad. It has also allowed my students and clients to sell over a billion dollars worth of products. I love good copy and moving people to improve their lives. You can't make that kind of impact without effective copywriting.

This is Jeff Walker, encouraging you to leave a comment and start mastering copywriting today. Let's go get them this week.

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9 Replies to “The Old-School “Newspaper Ad” Approach (That Still Works!)”

  1. Your words, had the right hook and sucked me in. And great to see the video about a few ‘how to’ tips to understand what your passionate about, what copy is and why we should be interested in pursuing it.
    Bravo! Subscribing now. Thank you.

  2. Yes. I am in rush to learn copy writing to get to the next level with my business!

  3. So what is the 1920’s selling soap technique? Are you saying it’s okay everyone copy each other and everyone is doing way more than in the past?

  4. Harmien Bargeman


    Hi Jeff
    Can you please come to Amsterdam with your family … I’ll cook you a meal, take you for a trip on a boat in the heart of the city … I need you at my kitchen table to learn this PLF thing .
    Best Regards

  5. Yes, I am in a rush to learn copywriting skills. Thanks! With kind regards, Ahamed

  6. Lorna Macintosh


    Jeff Walker is an amazing copywriter.
    Listen and follow. You’d be learning from
    one of the best. Listening to these mini-videos
    is a good relaxing start by seeing his passion
    for writing masterful copy.

  7. Jeff, you are a great teacher. Although I hope to enroll on your school. I have been following up with your deliverables. I wish to know how you started your marketing journey and how you grew bigger.

  8. Roger Maxwell


    Thanks Jeff.
    I’ve been writing for many, it’s been my passion since high school (44 years) and found copywriting a natural career move.

    I’ve been studying the old ads and copywriters, including Halbert, Carlton and Deutch. And now I’ve found you. By learning from you I’ll be able to land my first client.


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