Do You Make These Mistakes In English?

Advert for Sherwin Cody's English Course
             The ad that put Maxwell Sackheim’s name in the all-time Copywriters Hall of Fame

Don’t you just love the old classics? I know I do.

Be they cars, buildings, or movies: I think something is lost with technological advances. Sure there are positives and negatives in both, but I feel technology has made us lazy.

Anyhoo, the classics I’m talking about here are the old adverts.

And, if you’re anything like me, you may have heard of an ad written by Maxwell Sackheim for the Sherwin Cody English course.

The headline for this ad was

Do You Make These Mistakes in English?

This ad out-pulled all others for the product and ran for around 40 years.

In fact, see what Sackheim himself said about it:

That ad was one of the determining factors in putting my name in the all-time Copywriters Hall of Fame…Other copywriters compared its results with a lot of other ads but ‘Do You Make These Mistakes In English’ always came out best.

Let’s take a look at why this advert was so successful.

The first thing you might notice is that it just looks like something you might want to read. It doesn’t look like so many typical adverts might do. It’s a story.

If you look at the photograph of Sherwin Cody, there’s a quality about it that seems to draw you in. He just looks authoritative; someone who may have something of importance to say.

And, the thing which stands out most to me (and maybe to you), is the value the copy provides. There’s information in there that could be worth taking the time to read.

And, if you continue to read, you find that, indeed, the information is of value to the target audience.

You get the impression the writer really knows his market. As if he is the market.

Now let’s get down to specifics.

The headline, Do You Make These Mistakes in English? is speaking directly to the intended audience.

First, it addresses him or her by the use of You, making it personal to the reader.

Who is the reader? The one who makes Mistakes in English.

Then it states, specifically, These Mistakes, highlighting the fact there’s information of value in the body copy.

Take a look at this last part again, the word these grabs the readers attention. It points to specific mistakes in English. This alone makes you want to read on to find out what ‘these’ mistakes are.  The curiosity value: one of the most powerful headline types.

The question is literally directing you to the answer, which is in the body copy.  If you want to find out what these mistakes are, you have to read on.

And, when you do, you get a free lesson in English, which pulls you in, ensuring you read the rest of the ad. In fact, it doesn’t even seem like an ad: Just some valuable information.

Then, after you’ve had a taste of what’s to come, the ad has set you up to go further.

But it makes it even easier for you.

You can even order a free book and a 15 minutes test, which are the perfect components to get you to sign up and make the order.

A perfect close.


P.S. New to copywriting? I suggest John Carlton’s program. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but it’s all you’ll need to get good – John Carlton’s Simple Writing System

P.P.S. Already writing decent quality copy, but want to get better? Then get your hands on everything by Drayton Bird. It’ll change the way you write copy for the better – All Products by Drayton Bird



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