This article originally appeared on the Copywriter Collective blog, How to be a Copywriter.
Ever heard this quote:
“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”
Dale Carnegie wrote that in his 1937 classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People.
Almost eight decades later, his words still ring true — a frank reminder that human psychology does not change: People have always enjoyed venting their frustrations, talking about their achievements, and hearing their names spoken in conversation.
And they always will.
As copywriters, we MUST use this to our advantage.
How to Win Friends & Influence People is not a copywriting book. It won’t teach you how to write a headline or sculpt a sales letter.
The book will, however, give you a thorough education on the human condition, which is at the center of every successful piece of copy.
Before you sell someone, whether it be in person or on paper, you have to understand what moves them:
- What grabs their attention?
- What keeps their interest?
- What earns their trust?
Only when you're able to answer these key questions about your target audience are you ready to actually start writing copy. Otherwise, your words won’t “jump off the page,” so to speak. They’ll just sit there, listless and ineffectual, like ants floating in a cup of water.
You don’t want that, do you?
How to Win Friends & Influence People is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.
I try to pick it up every year around Thanksgiving, because if there’s ever a time to remind yourself to put the concerns of others before your own, it’s during the holidays.
Here's my recommendation in three simple steps:
- Read How to Win Friends & Influence People,
- bookmark it in your favorite browser, and
- refer to it… often.
Regardless of your experience — whether you compose one headline a year, or 300 — How to Win Friends & Influence People will help you write copy that grabs people, holds them in place, and drives them to take action.
For example, here are several powerful quotes from the book that you can use to start improving your copy right now:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
“The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.”
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”
“Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
“To be interesting, be interested.”
“A person’s toothache means more to that person than a famine in China which kills a million people. A boil on one’s neck interests one more than forty earthquakes in Africa.”
“A barber lathers a man before he shaves him.”
“Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.”
The book explores these (and dozens of other) truths — all of which you can apply to your copy, making it smarter, more empathetic and, of course, remarkably effective.
Here, again, is the link to read the book for free.