The Swipe File of Facts

By Jamie McSloy / April 12, 2017
swipe file of facts

Science and Sales: Case Studies in Looking Smart


Research is one of the most important things you can do as a copywriter/online salesman. It’s also one of the most time consuming, and so everything you can do to make the process easier, quicker and more effective should be considered.

The last point is key because if you get the research wrong, you’ll lose sales like a gambler loses money.

You can’t just use a cookie cutter approach to research; each market has its own wants and needs.

You can make your process easier, quicker and more effective.

The Swipe File Of Facts

I spent the morning reading someone else’s copy, for the niche I’m currently entering.

This guy had some pretty fantastic copy, because it did away with a lot of the salesy gimmickry and spent a large portion of the time building a case for why you should build the product in an interesting way.

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I’ll get to that in a moment.

When you find copy that resonates with you, you should find out why. Moreover, you should seek out the copywriter and see what else they’ve come up with. Are they consistently good? If they are, then why are they good?

I found some other sales letters by the same copywriter. They were pretty fantastic because they showed me how you can use research repeatedly, create effective copy again and again and do so in a way that makes you seem super-smart and authoritative.

Better yet, it’s the sort of thing that can be done with copy-paste skills and a designated folder on your laptop and nothing else.

I’m talking about a Swipe File Of Facts

Science Templates For Every Sales Letter

I started this article with my feverishly poring over some guy’s sales letters.

Now I’ve mentioned the swipe file of facts, let me tell you what struck me about this guy’s sales letters that I noticed immediately and how a little bit of planning ahead made this guy’s work more effective but easier.

He had template examples of helpful science in every sales letter.

The niche didn’t matter.

The product didn’t matter.

There were a few studies and stories that he used in multiple letters. As you know, reusing words is always good for the writer because you’ve got evidence of success, it takes less time and time is money.

Anyway, this copywriter wrote about one single example that caught my eye immediately. When I cross-referenced his sales letters, I noticed that it was a recurring theme.

The Milgram Experiment Detour

For those of you who don’t know, the Milgram Experiment was a psychological study conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 1960’s.

Milgram was interested in whether or not the Holocaust was a once-ever event perpetuated by evil Nazi’s (and the “German Spirit” because that was the going idea at the time) or whether good old-righteous Americans could also be convinced to do some pretty naughty things when given the opportunity.

The experiment involved having a volunteer administer a fake electric shock to a participant behind a glass screen at the insistence of an authority figure in a white coat.

Now, the volunteer thought that the electric shock was real, and so most of those volunteers were really upset when the guy in the white coat told them to keep increasing the voltage. The “victims” did their acting, and the volunteers kept pressing the button, even though the voltages – if real – were high enough to kill a person several times over.

The upshot is that people respond to authority and will do all kinds of mean stuff if they think the person in charge wants them to.

What’s That Got To Do With Sales Letters?

Well, a lot actually, but we’re talking about a different subject today. Namely, how does this story fit in with the scientific swipe file we’re building?

Our copywriter from the swipe file used the Milgram Experiment story in several niches.

In the survival niche, he told the readers the story before telling them that they obviously couldn’t trust the government or their friends and family to act rationally in the coming economic collapse.

That one makes sense.

What about the dating industry though? Well… you know that women with their feeble little girl brains respond primarily to dominance and if you use the secret formula they will see you as the centre of their world, right?

And in a different niche, if you want to be a success coach, then the biggest thing you have to demonstrate isn’t your ability to get Johnny off the alcohol for good… it’s demonstrating your authority.

Essentially, the Milgram Experiment is one of those fundamental studies into humanity that you can twist it and use it everywhere.

This copywriter certainly did.

Final Thoughts

This isn’t all you can do. He also stacked a ton of other things into his sales letters as well. Statistics, figures and weird anecdotes from history.

If you were reading the sales letters, you’d think, “Jesus this guy knows about everything!

It’s impressive, but so is a magic trick. A magic trick is exactly what it is. What seems to be a massive amount of knowledge and a complex weaving of history, science and psychology is actually a folder on this guy’s laptop with a bunch of stories he uses over and over to reliably display authority, evoke emotions in the reader and make them feel like they’re making a great purchase.

The good news about this all is that with your scientific swipe file, you can do exactly the same.

  • […] He’s not a marketer, but he has a swipe file of facts. […]

  • […] Keep a swipe file of facts. […]

  • I’ve really enjoyed your posts on swipe files, Jamie.

    I’ve been neglecting them, but you’ve given me some good ideas on how to use them effectively.

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