Simply put, the best way to learn about marketing is to watch and learn from what others do. This is where a swipe file can play a huge role in getting your creative juices flowing. A swipe file is a file or collection of marketing messages, headlines, techniques, etc. Essentially, whenever you see an example of great marketing you add it to your marketing collection. Anyone who has been involved in marketing, online or off, for any length of time knows that creating a swipe file is a huge help when it comes to designing your own marketing campaigns.

Before the Internet, a swipe file would contain a bunch of direct mail marketing pieces, newspaper ads and postcards. Today you can still have a file folder full of those kinds of things, but you should also consider starting a digital collection where you can put great examples of email marketing, headlines, digital sales letters, etc. Some of the best marketing messages that I’ve seen were only presented in an online format.

Leafing through a collection of marketing materials will likely bring on a deluge of ideas for how you can position, write about, or promote your own product — and that’s why you should create your own collection. Remember, you’re just looking for inspiration. Some find it useful to have a digital swipe file as well where they save email messages, article resource boxes, sales letters, great headlines, and other promotional materials that they find good and effective. Remember, a great marketing piece doesn’t have to relate directly to your chosen market to be useful to you… so save any marketing piece that works, regardless of the product.

Hints and Tips

A swipe file is not for copying. Keep in mind that a swipe file is not intended to be a file where you store materials that you are going to copy later. Consider a swipe file as a place to store materials that you can use later to generate your own marketing ideas and tactics. Big and small both. Save materials from big companies and small companies alike. Just because a company is large doesn’t mean it has better promotional materials. In fact, you’ll find some of the best marketing and promotional materials are written by little known people who have really taken their time on each and every piece. Make swipe file categories. Here are a few groupings to get you started on your own collection of marketing materials:

  1. Sales letter swipe file
  2. Email swipe file
  3. Headlines swipe file
  4. Newsletter swipe file
  5. General resources swipe file
  6. Internet marketing swipe file

Don’t forget your everyday life. Sometimes it’s not other marketing materials that give us ideas, it’s actually what happens in our everyday lives. How about something one of your children created? It could provide inspiration into a creative idea for a marketing piece. Maybe you went to an association gathering where someone gave an inspirational speech with a unique message? That could give you an idea for a newsletter story for your customers.

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