Monday, June 2, 2014

Do You Have a Swipe File?

Every now and then, ideas dry up.  You need to create a marketing piece, but you’re blank.  It’s time to open the swipe file.

A swipe file is a collection of other people’s marketing.  The marketing may or may not be from your industry.  It is probably preferable that it is not. 

Swipe file material can take the form of direct marketing, magazine ads, newspaper ads, social media coupons, etc.  Every piece in a swipe file bears one common trait.  Something about the piece intrigued you enough to cut or print it, and save it.

When you start a swipe file, you become a student of the craft.  You start looking at other people’s marketing for ideas you can use in your marketing.


What to Swipe

What do you look for in a piece for your swipe file?  Try the following.

·        Attention Grabbers – What gives you pause so that you take a second look?  Is it a headline?  Is it the graphic design?  Is it a picture?

·        Calls to Action – What are the calls to action that companies make?  Which ones seem compelling?  Almost all marketing should carry a call to action, yet it is surprising how often one is missing.  When you come across interesting ones, they should definitely be saved for your swipe file.

·        Novel Promotions – Are there promotional ideas that can be spun into a version that will work for your business?  Don’t simply look for sales.  Look for bundles, affinity marketing, and other promotions.

·        Seasonal Messages – Look for holiday or seasonal marketing that you could use next year.

·        Information Presentation – Is there a way of presenting complex information that you find attractive or easy to understand?  This is especially true for financial information or engineering data.

·        Design – Does the overall design for the piece look compelling?  Why?  What do you like about it?  Could you replicate it or design something similar?



Age of Material

A good swipe file item never wears out.  I’ve used concepts from 20 year old print ad campaigns for a direct marketing effort.  Some things must be modernized, but a good concept a decade ago is still a good concept today.


Graphic Design Books

To kick start a swipe file, visit a Barnes & Noble or Half Price Books and look at the graphic design books.  You will find huge volumes filled with old advertising campaigns.  These are used by graphic designers and advertising copywriter to stimulate their creative juices.


Not Just For Marketers

Swipe files are a tool of any businessperson who interacts with the marketing function.  Even if you do not create marketing, a swipe file gives you a way to communicate to your marketer what you do want.


So what are you waiting for?  Get started.

©2014 Matt Michel

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