Do Copywriting Templates Work?

There are a number of products available that offer copwyriting “templates” (which most take to mean “fill in the blanks”). Do these templates work? And are they a cost-effective alternative to hiring a copywriter (or becoming a better one)?

Don’t you already know the answer? Templates are not a substitute for good copywriting. However…

They are a great tool, if you keep three key points in mind.

Three Keys to Making Effective Use of Copywriting Templates

1. Recognize the templates for what they are. Templates are not a “fill in the blanks” substitute for writing copy. The most obvious reason is the likelihood that others are using the exact same templates. Do you want your salesletter to read word-for-word like your competitors? Of course not!

Here’s what templates are: a proven example of copy that works. When you are using a proven template (like Dr. Kilstein’s Steal This Book! or David Gafinkel’s Copywriting Templates (perhaps not available anymore – sorry if the link is dead), you have winning copy to model. So there are definitely things to be learned from them. Study and mimic the rhythm, cadence, style and structure of a template and use that as a guide when you’re writing your copy. It’s much easier than staring down a blank page, but not the same as “fill in the blanks”.

2. Don’t use the template as a crutch. I think everybody who has used copywriting teimplates has fallen into this trap – at least I know I did in the early days of my copywriting career. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you should reinvent the wheel every time we write. We should study and learn from successful campaigns of the past. That does not mean we should take a template, do a “search & replace” to put our product name in the letter and call that good. I know of at least one fairly well-known copywriter who does just that (no, I won’t say who it is. You can figure it out if you try hard enough.)

There is another danger in copying too much from a template; our prospects, the people we are writing our copy to, are getting bored with our copy. They see the same headlines, the same deck copy and the same approach over and over and over. Often what’s really needed is a fresh approach.

I’m not saying reinvent the wheel.

I’m not saying don’t study the great masters of copywriting.

What I am saying is don’t let your templates become a crutch.

3. Study what’s already being done in your field. No, you’re no looking for more templates! I’m recommending you study what’s being done by other marketers in your niche so that you know (a) what’s working and (b) how to avoid looking like a copycat! I alluded to this earlier: what if your direct competitor is using the exact same template as you? Then you’re going to look like an unethical copycat. Or even worse, you’re going to look like a thief.

If you keep these points in mind, copywriting templates can be an incredible resource that accelerates your pathway to profits.

That’s my opinion – what’s yours? Please share your thoughts by adding a comment below!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Do Copywriting Templates Work?

  1. Good post, Ray. This is a subject I revisit from time to time in my own blogging. I agree with your point: templates are good as a starting point, then add your own unique twist or fresh perspective.

    Regarding Steal This Book: Yes, it’s worth the price. Although make sure you read Harlan’s notes before using a letter.

  2. Good stuff Ray. I haven’t seen many templates in my day, but I know they are out there. I think, like with anything, you have to make it your own.

    Well, I guess it depends on what you’re after. Some are okay just doing a “search and replace” as long as it sells.

    Personally I like the art and science behind the copy, so I’m looking to learn from the masters and adapt various techniques to my own style.

    This was an oldie but goodie.

    Joe Swopes’s last blog post..Robert Cialdini, Kung Pao Chicken, And Cigar Smoke….

  3. Ray, I’m curious, how often do you actually keep the structure of a template in place?

    Or does it get completely rearranged by the time you’re done?

    And if so, would the revised version then become a new template?