How Words Create Wealth

There is a saying: little hinges swing big doors. Meaning tiny changes can make a big difference.

rusty hinges

Copywriting is persuasion in print. Simple words, chosen carefully and put in the right order, can create wealth.

These days, “print” can mean ink on paper or more likely words on a screen.

The copywriter’s job is to tell a story that persuades the reader to take action. This skill is really about more than mere advertising and marketing. It’s about impacting human behavior.

One of the greatest copywriters to ever work in the advertising field was a man named Rosser Reeves.  He’s best known for creating the USP, or Unique Selling Proposition –  an idea taught in nearly every marketing course. Reeves created the tagline for M&M candies: “melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

One day Reeves and a coworker were having lunch in Central Park. On their way back to Madison Avenue they passed a beggar, who was holding a sign and donation cup. The sign read: I am blind.

The beggar was mostly ignored by passersby.

Reeves turned to his colleague and said, “I bet I can change just a few words on that sign, and dramatically improve his results.”

Reeves explained to the blind man that he was one of the world’s greatest copywriters and he wanted to help. The blind man allowed Reeves to rewrite his sign.

Almost instantly, after rewriting the sign, Reeves and his colleague watched as people began to stop, look around, and then make donations.

What did Reeves write?

It is springtime. And I’m blind.

A tiny shift in words can make a powerful impact on how they are received.

Copywriting is a tiny hinge and it does swing a mighty big door.

Question: do you have a story that shows the power of copywriting?



Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • I absolutely love this story. I first encountered it in an audience while at college – and when the “punch line” was delivered by the speaker, there was as subtle gasp and stillness across the room. It’s crazy how small changes can have a big impact.

  • Don Taylor

    Ray, that story takes my breath away!

    Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words – just a handful of kind words – can change someone’s day or even their life.

    Thanks for this post.


  • I adapted the famous Martin Conroy Wall Street Journal letter for an email campaign to a highly targeted audience.

    Results: 50% open rate . . . 20% click through . . . and 29% closing ratio.

    Great copywriting targeted to the right prospect is a powerful combination.


  • I love how powerful simple word shifts can be. It’s like revealing an entirely new perspective to the reader.

  • “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

  • Bee Johnson

    I love this. There is a video out that shows that exact story. It’s beautiful. I didn’t know where it originated. We have a great wealth of knowledge available to us from the Masters.

  • Its amazing how a simple change in wording can do so much. That is a great story, I have read about it before. The masters for copy-writing are masters for a reason, they can show us so much if we are willing to read and take what they are teaching us and use it.
    (I’m still working on trying to write better email subject lines) 😉