Every Marketer Needs a Swipe File

Marketing is the lifeblood of any small business.  Master the art of marketing and you’re destined for small business success.   Marketing comes in many different forms, shapes, and sizes, but one constant is the necessity of good, crisp copywriting.

Now, don’t let the word “copywriting” strike fear into your heart.  The top priority of anyone interested in making money, whether it’s in a retail store or on the internet, should be their copywriting skills. This is simply putting your sales message into words.

One trick that all great marketers do is they create a swipe file.   What is a swipe file?  Simply put, it’s just a file of already successful ad campaigns.  They are constantly on the look-out for examples of great copy from their competitors, from other industries, and even their own most successful efforts.

Swipe files are incredibly useful tools.  Everybody gets stuck for words and ideas at some point. When this happens it’s good to have an example of past successes to go to and refresh your creative juices and get the words flowing again.

What should your swipe file consist of?

You should gather any material that has spurred you to action, whether its purpose was to get you to buy something or just leave your name and email address.  If you are about to fill in the order form, print out the page and file it away. When you browse through the newspaper, if a particular ad catches your eye, cut it out and file it in your swipe file.  Then when you are about to create a new website or flyer, pull out your file and study what’s in it. Really try to figure out what was in the ad that cought your attention or made you want to act on the offer.

Look for layout designs (bulleted lists are a big marketing tactic), action words, headlines and sub heads. You’ll notice certain words popping up along with questions and statements that are all fairly alike but are tailored to specific products and services.  What types of graphics were used?  Where were they placed?

Having a variety of examples is the key to a good swipe file. Gather a wide array of different styles and mold the message to your particular target audience. Study the material and write out many different versions of the same ad.  Practice your art and perfect it.

A word of caution: never copy another company’s ad word for word. That’s plagiarism and it’s illegal.  Not only is it illegal, but it’s a good way to lose credibility with your potential customers.  Use your swipe file as an aid only, to sharpen your copywriting skills and make you better at marketing.

Happy Marketing!


If you ever have a small business question, please reach out to me at Trina@SuccessPointConsulting.com.  I’m here to help.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.


Skip to comment form

  1. Margaret Garcia

    Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.

  2. Bruna

    To run and maintain a sueccssful profitable blog you MUST have traffic and an audience that is willing to return to your blog on a regular occasion to keep up to date with your article content. Your site is doing good!

  3. jack58blog

    Adding this to twitter great info.

  4. Office 2011 Mac Serial

    Hi my friend! I want to say that this post is awesome, nice written and come with approximately all vital infos. Iˇd like to see more posts like this .

Leave a Reply to Margaret Garcia Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>