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The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman – 5 Stars

The full title of this book by Joe Sugarman is

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters“.

I my review at Amazon.co.uk, I gave this book a rating of FIVE STARS. This means I think it is excellent.

Here is my book review.

A true marketing classic and packed with charm

Some copywriters work for clients and charge a fixed fee. Others charge a fee and ask for a percentage of the revenue generated on top so they gain financially if the item sells well. Neither of these groups of writers lose out if the copy flops all together.

Some copywriters, like Joe Sugarman, made their reputations by going out and finding interesting products to sell, writing their own copy and buying advertising space. These copywriters had the opportunity to win big but also to lose. The lessons they learn can be brutal but they strike home quickly.

This is a great book. It is based around an expensive course ($2,000 in 1977) that Sugarman gave to the people who wanted to understand how he did what he did to make a fortune and develop a cult following for JS&A space age products. Once he even sold an aeroplane from a magazine advertisement when he decided to flog off the third corporate jet that he used least often.

At its core is copywriting for display advertisements in newspapers, magazines and catalogues. A headline, sub-heading, photograph, copy and the JS&A symbol people learnt to look for. Towards the end of the book, he explains how the ideas can be transferred to other types of marketing including the Internet.

It’s strange to think of a business book as charming but this one is packed with Sugarman’s panache. The book is based around his 15 axioms, 3 emotion principles, 10 graphic elements, 23 copy elements and 31 psychological triggers. 30 of those triggers are covered well here but are explored more extensively in Triggers: 30 Sales Tools You Can Use to Control the Mind of Your Prospect to Motivate, Influence, and Persuade. These factors are all neatly summarised at the back of the book when you want a quick reminder.

What makes this book even better is that Sugarman picks some advertisements written by other people and analyses them with you, explaining exactly what the copywriter is doing and why. He also includes the full text of some of his own advertisements including that plane he sold.

I read a lot of business books but this is one of the few that I have as a physical book and as a Kindle book. That way, I can carry it around with me. It really is that good. Note to self, re-read the best of the best more often.

It is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


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