A swipe file is a collection of tested and proven advertising and sales letters. Keeping a swipe file (templates) is a common practice used by advertising copywriters and creative directors as a ready reference for ideas for projects. – Wikipedia
It’s a common practice in the marketing industry, and it could be a lifesaver for you.
If you are an entrepreneur, I have no doubts that you are following your competitors, influencers, and customers online. Another important way to build your swipe file is from industries outside of your direct competition.
Marketing is formulaic, so even non-related industries can hold marketing gold for you if you learn how to look for the formulas.
Anyway, a swipe file is NOT A PLAGIARISM file. It’s a way to learn what is working in your niche, in various marketing tactics and platforms.
A swipe file is best used as a way to track trends and formulas for writing, design, formatting and other elements that help with creativity, conversion tactics, split testing, and copywriting.
Swiping is a very popular way to create new work in a variety of industries. Have you ever noticed that for movies and television, it seems that production houses and networks all seem to release the same type of entertainment at the same time?
When one TV network releases a new crime drama show, the others do as well. Same with movies, you start to notice the themes that repeat because it’s the theme that they have swiped.
One of the most popular swipes is that of the cover band…yep, nothing original about a cover band…but we do love listening to them because they do what we like.
Painters study other painters. They even try to replicate the exact paintings of the masters to learn techniques and practice their skills.
Athletes watch game films of their competitors or skilled experts; golfers try to learn the swing of the pros, swiping is all around us…and completely acceptable if you do it the right way.
Interior designers are constantly saving images of design-related elements to draw inspiration from.
A swipe file can be an idea generator for your marketing needs.
I often read books outside of my niche to get inspiration and swipe themes or processes to help me boost my writing or content curation.
Here are a few ways to use a swipe file:
Emails – read and scan for patterns of copy. Are the emails following a formula that you can pinpoint and borrow when writing yours?
Subject Lines – what subject lines are making you open and read an email? Subject lines are tricky. If you notice a good formula for a subject line, you can adapt it for your audience.
Blog Post – what makes that post easy to read? Other than the topic, how is it formatted? What stands out as a reader? Are there elements that you can implement to make your blog better?
Facebook Ads – the world of Facebook is ever-changing, and some entrepreneurs are really good and learning what works and what doesn’t. Screen capture Facebook Ads that look appealing to you, analyze language, formatting, how much text is on the screen. Would any of those techniques work for you?
Landing Pages – when you see a good landing page, you know it. Screen capture it so you can study what elements make the landing page work. Where do they have images, text, and other elements? How would something like that work for you?
Website Design – I love saving screen captures of nicely designed websites. I use those for inspiration when my clients need new sites. I save these by industry, so it is easy to reference.
Where to save your swipe file content:
Your Desktop – this is where I start. I have a swipe folder on my desktop that I drag items into. Then once a week I drag to Dropbox, so my team has access.
Dropbox – accessible by you and your team and in the cloud
Evernote – same, in the cloud, easy to share, easy to organize
Trello – same as Evernote, but a little more visually formatted
Teamwork – great for teams with multiple people
Pinterest – you can save private boards of images you like or themes you like
My favorite things to swipe for my business:
Facebook promoted post copy
Follow up emails when I subscribe
Screen captures of lead magnet landing pages
Screen captures of the opt-in process or sales process for various shopping carts
Quotes and inspiration from others
Statistics for my niche
My favorite things to swipe for my customers:
Competitor emails and promotions
How to make it work:
Start organized. Whatever system you use, create the organization first and then be diligent about filing and naming. If you do a screen capture, immediately name it.
If you drag everything into one file with the hopes of getting around to it later, you won’t, and you will waste time trying to find it.
If I see an ad on Facebook that I like, I will screen capture it and immediately name it. Something like FB Ad Webinar so I can file it in my Facebook Ads folder.
For me, I just use a folder on my desktop with various sub folders. I may not drag to the subfolders immediately, but I do name the file. Then when I’m on hold for a call or waiting for something, I’ll go in and drag the files to the right folders. There’s always a few minutes here and there that I need something to keep me busy.
If you pull content and name it properly, you can have your assistant or a VA organize it for you, too.
Organization is key.
And finally, save your own copy, images, ads, promotions, emails, etc. It always surprises me that my clients, almost all who utilize online marketing, don’t have reference files for things they had done before they hired me.
Don’t trust your email provider to keep track of things for you. Every email promotion, newsletter, announcement you do, should be saved as a text file somewhere.
I save all of my emails and the copy we write for our clients as individual word docs that are saved in a folder titled by date and promotion or event.
For instance, I have a folder for each webinar that I name like this –
01.26.17 Webinar, then inside I have individual folders for Facebook Ads, Promo Emails to Prospects, Promo Emails to Customers, Newsletter/Misc. Promo Copy.
Have your team swipe for you, too. Teach them to be on the lookout for things that you want to use as inspiration and study. As long as they follow the same naming structure and system, you can maximize the swipe information coming your way.
So, do you have a swipe file? I’d love to hear how you use your swipe file – what do you swipe, how does it help you, how do you organize it? Leave a comment below so we can learn from you, too.
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