She’s been AWAI’s Copywriter of the Year.
She’s appeared on Dr. Oz!
She among an elite few at the top of the copywriting profession and she’s spilling her secrets.
Rising up through the ranks at Phillips Publishing, she once gave her boss an ultimatum…
and landed a better job.
She struggled to break into copywriting as she was typecast as a direct mail list consultant.
But she persevered.
Carline is a testament to determination and hard work.
Along with some street smarts, ambition and landing a world class mentor…
she can make it rain money by putting pen to paper.
She lays out her whole process – start to finish.
Kick back, there’s a whole lotta insight in these 30 minutes.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 32:42 — 44.9MB)
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- The “green sheet” gambit she used to land a promotion inside Phillips Publishing.
- The A-list copywriter who told her she “writes like a girl” and then became her mentor!
- Her entire A to Z process from the first call with a client to writing a million dollar package.
- Was Gene Schwartz right? Is copy assembled? Listen to discover Carline’s dump-file secrets.
- Her advice to the young upstart. What you should be doing TODAY to get your foot in the door.
Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO
David Allan: Hey, everybody it’s David Allan the back with another edition of the podcast. I’m excited about today because we have really one of the best writers period. But I think she stands out because she’s female you know and you don’t hear as much about these kind of people in the copywriting world. And so one of the best A-list copywriters on the planet. Carline Cole, how are you?
Carline Anglade-Cole: I’m great David how you doing.
David Allan: Good. Very good! I was going to botch your name there a little bit so I skipped the hyphenation…
Carline Anglade-Cole: I caught that. It’s Carline Anglade-Cole.
David Allan: Oh, I would have got that then. And usually I screw up lots of names so nothing new then…
Carline Anglade-Cole: Well with a name like david Allan, I guess you have the luxury of….[laughter]
David Allan: Now, usually we like to start off with what I call your superhero origin story. Take us back to a point where you maybe weren’t in copywriting, weren’t in direct-response and maybe ha da normal job or just came out of school and sort of give us the journey up top the present time.
Carline Anglade-Cole: Oh wow,OK. All right well in the words of Steve Martin I was born a poor black child…Is that back far enough?
I actually thought of stumbling in and this whole area as most people in my in my group tend to do. There’s no such thing as a. It was no copywriting school. No. Are there really other ways to get into this industry. Unless you sort of stumbled into a wall of 20 25 years ago. So I had I had a daughter who was three years old and then another one. I’ll actually use two and a half years all and then I had another one who was a year old. My husband was a firefighter and I was looking for a job that would be a part time job that will have a flexible schedule to allow me to stay home with the kids and alternate the days that my husband was on shift work when the days that he would be home with the kids and days and he was at work.
I would watch the kids because when we got married and had children we decided you know we’re raising our children. So our goal was if it’s not us then even our very close family members you know it’s not going happen. So you know you know we have we have four kids following that nice little pattern and I’m very happy about that. But it involves some challenges trying to find work. Because most people weren’t interested in my schedule or or trying to be flexible with me so I ended up one day looking into the paper and I found an ad for a customer service job. And the thing that caught my eye was flexible schedule. And so it turned out this customer service job was for this entrepreneurial
company called Philips publishing and they were at that time in investment’s mailer. That’s what they did was all investment newsletters and direct mail. I had no idea what direct mail was. I barely understood investible newsletters on the news or industry as a whole. So I applied for the job that was close to home was only the one missing half an hour with my house. And again let’s see I do it as customer service so it was answering phones and dealing with customer complaints. So I went to the company was a great company a young small young company very entrepreneurial spirit spirit. They were willing to work with the schedule that I told them that I needed
to know to do that I was getting paid maybe seven bucks an hour an hour. I had read didn’t graduate from college with a degree and all that but you know I need to make the money and it wasn’t working any other way. So I took the job and I got I guess that was my intro into the direct mail worlds because I started off answering phones I started listening to customers talking with them not realizing that that was probably the most important job I had in my entire career because I quickly understood that you know the customer has got to come first no matter what. And that’s a lesson that I still to this day as I’m writing a copy right
now I just asked myself you know what does. What does my customer want you know. And that’s the same that’s the mentality in writing that I need to have a customer service. So I started working there I was there six months. Loved the company got tired get kind of bored with the job and I was able to get another job part time flexible schedule in the accounting department. And so I got to learn about you know the numbers and how things run in a business which by the way also helped me tremendously when I decided to go off on my own. So all the little jobs that seem to be picking up just because they need a flexible schedule to watch my kids somehow. We’re working towards really helping me to be on my own and go off on my own and do my own thing. So I really
really appreciate that looking back of course I had no idea that was the case then. So I worked in accounting for about a year and a half and been found out that the company was looking to launch a health division. The beautiful thing about being a counterpart it you’re going to know what’s going on in the company before anybody else does because the money has to be there to do anything or approval for them. The money has to go through a college. So I heard about this this whole new group that was being started called the Health Group and I found that to be much more appealing than investment newsletters and it was a start up and out like wow this is pretty cool. And one of the jobs that I had at the time
was every Friday it was my job to stay as late as necessary to be able to to hand deliver what was called the Green Sheet. Now the green sheet was every every day you got the total amount of money the company made and all the different divisions and different products and everything else. And then I was supposed to at the end of the week literally walk around to the president of a company who was Tom Philips at the time. Oh yes Philips.
And then the vice president of our office that was Bob King who was going to now be in charge of the whole health division and other members of the company. So my job was to literally go to everyone’s office no matter how late it was on Friday. We were there six o’clock 7:00 in the evening and it matters not when the final numbers were tallied. I had to plug those numbers into the report to create the green sheet to give to the powers that be that they were looking forward to seeing it. Well I wanted this job I wanted to get involved in this health group and I’m trying to go the traditional route of turning out a resume for it and I’m getting nowhere because my resume was pretty lame. I had no experience in
direct mail in those years and the whole deal. I had no experience in anything that they were looking for but I just wanted to try. You know I want to get in there. And so I ended up using my feminine wiles.
No you can take the Grange sheet.
As my ticket and ask them to be able to get to Bob King to get an interview. So every day we got to go there are with me I would give God the grace the same conversation I’ve got here.
Hi Curly. You’re you are Bombays Carly. Bye bye bye currently. That was it. Well this particular time I’m getting frustrated because people are starting to come into this group and they put it all together and I’m getting nowhere with an interview. So I weigh in and I make sure Bob is the last person who gets the green tea that day. So I walk in his office and he so custom will be coming when he will look up. Sometimes he’s busy working the whole time able to stick his hand out. And I would just give it to him. Well this time he did the same thing he was writing. He stuck his hand out but I just stood there and I’m holding the green job so far enough away with he can’t reach it. So he has to look up at me and he’s like Well hi. Hi Carly you know I’m white. I’m not. And
he’s like that for me. I said yup.
And he’s like well are you going to give it to me.
I said Nope. And he looks very straight.
And he’s I said not until I get a you know an interview for the job in the end the health group. They had an assistant head of marketing assistant job at the lowest level job there would ever out here. I said I want to interview for a job in the marketing group. I know this sounds really exciting to me and I really love to get into this. And at that moment he looked at me I thought oh I just got myself fired.
I just thought oh man I should go that far.
I thought. But to my surprise he just looked at me and he looked down pulled out his arm his planner at the time and said OK how about. And he gave me a date for an interview. I said that works for me and I handed him the Rangely and I said Have a nice weekend. And I walked out I passed out because my heart was fabricating it just. Like you do you know.
But I got the interview. And you know for the job and I will tell you I have had lots of interviews in my career but the interview for a marketing assistant job with Bob King was probably the most intensive interview I have ever had in my life. I mean he asked so many questions. The interview lasted two and a half hours.
I mean this is like this is the position I’m not going after V.P.. OK. And he didn’t just ask all kinds of questions and play put scenarios in front of me as far as what I would do in this situation or what I would do.
You know I try to use my humor to get me out of a tight spot. He wouldn’t let me go. I had to answer the questions and by the end of the interview I really figured you know what I don’t have his job there’s no way so I don’t care anymore. I just don’t let my attitude come through. And so I think he finished an interview and he said OK well thanks so much. I’ll get back to you. Now wait wait hold up wait a second. You have been really me with the past couple of hours.
OK my turn. You know one of these questions or I’ll understand it was just the most random things he would ask and I’ll go on. What does this have to do with anything that we know beyond his job.
In his profile way by the way I think Bucky is a marketing genius. And I look at him as someone who definitely molded me in my thinking the more direct mail area. So I have nothing but high praise for him. But at the time I thought he’s a little cuckoo. And on Monday morning I got a call from the gentleman who is going to lead the group the publisher’s name was Marshall Hamilton. I get a call from Marshall Hamilton and he welcomed me to the group. So that was why I was so shocked that like what. Are you kidding me. You know he said I don’t know what he said at the bar but he sure liked your fire style.
All right. That night. And so I just started in the Help Group and I’m like OK so I’m learning on this point as a marketing assistant which I guess I got quickly I got a promotion a raise maybe a couple of extra bucks or Napster the marketing manager from.
And so I did start learning about the list business. I mean my job was to find your help the marketing manager or create the mailing list that you know the creator was going to go to.
So that’s where I learned about you know how your name is sold and rented all throughout you know and how you people go about trying to get the right name so to mail things. So I got into the business strictly on the analytical side which is not my script but I end up doing it for 12 years learning about how mailing lists work how to pick the right lines I really form relationships with list brokers and then I started hearing about and seeing these these people call copywriters I should say these guys they’re all males that you know these copywriters were living all over the country and we were writing these big
fat royalty checks to them and they’re just turning in copy and then people love them a copy were made in the country and the copies making the company a bunch of money and they’re getting paid and I was like why in the world is the deal about I need to get into that. You know my my degree was in broadcast journalism in communications. The writing was definitely that night or more. I was always a writer but in a more market or for so many years and so I had the pleasure of actually working the group that are a star copywriter on the health group was called Clate made peace. And so I got to meet Clayton and I got to work with him and just form a relationship with him a friendship with him for
many years and he is just another amazing person. And Clayton So as I’m reading his copy and I’m trying to go wow how does he come up with this stuff and does he do that you know. And he always say hey any questions feel free to call me you know. And it was just that kind of environment. And we’ll get to read the copy. I’m asking questions and he’s there and you know some say I can do this I just I don’t know how but I think I can do this. I remember calling Clayton when I was contemplating it and I said you know I really think I want to do the copywriting. And what was the one thing that gave me the incentive to go the copyrighting route was one day
we were we needed what was called at the time a special renewal letter. We had so subscribers to our newsletters and then we would always write different letters and subscribers encouraging interns to renew their subscription. And in exchange they got certain gifts and some you know certain free free reports or whatnot. Well we had a meeting and it was like the group was saying OK we need to get a copyrighted writer to cereus a special renewal for a new a new premium or new special report and it was nobody available and so I just said well I’ll try you know I’ll try it and they’re like I mean that was all but my boss was so desperate I find find just do it you know we’ve got to get something out there where we’re kind of fallen
behind schedule. So I had to write a special report or a special a sales letter for a special report that I called it the ABC of vitamins and minerals. Now we are back back talking like back in the early 90s that vitamins were still a very new thing to our market. And so I just wrote a story about my mom because because Clate novices tell me right you know right which you know right to people you know make it personal. So I’m going to write a two page special renewal to get people to buy this product. And I have no idea who I’m talking to so I decided I’m going to talk to my mother because she’s my market and let me write this letter to
her and just you know share her frustrations and see how that works. And I wrote a two page sales letter to my mom why she should buy this why she should go get a newer subscription now and get this special report for free. Well at the time if we can get a 2 to 3 percent response on non-special we know that was considered very good and we expect that to get 2 or 3 percent on all these. Well they mailed mine and they got a 5 percent response on it. So vastly are a couple of years ahead and I am going to leave.
And I recall Clayton and I said listen I’m going to leave the company I’m going to try to try this and just wanted to talk with you about a little bit and so diplomatically said to me well I can’t encourage you to leave my number one client. But when you do leave your call with and so on like OK. And so I said I’m officially gone. I’m getting Clayton a call and you know he’s like all right. So he was helping me get jobs but the jobs were go on the left side you have clients he was writing property for many years and help with the list rentals. So my first year hanging out my my my shingles as a copywriter. I was still doing
consulting for list met marketing. I was still doing the same thing as I was Gobel or name was paying the bills. I can’t complain that I couldn’t. You know I couldn’t get it I couldn’t break into the business even though I had been in the business for 14 years. Yeah I know. So it’s like I’m starting from scratch because people I knew back then I call them up and the person they would say to me were you samples you know sample we need to look at it well you know I had direct Milsap but I just had one last question. You know they’ve got a 5 percent raise. You know if I try to swing that as much as possible but you know they’re not with the big leagues anyway.
And next year is the 2000. No no plane 19 19 will be 20 years that I’ve been on my own as a freelancer actually.
Ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch So he was a mentor.
He was absolutely is my man. I still go crying to him now. So and that and I mean not only guy is also his friend he and his wife Wendy I actually work with Wendy. She was my Lagny director when I was the senior marketing manager in the health group. Now with the product where we at Barnes was called health and healing without good Huling Whitaker in that newsletter. Clayton wrote that he wrote the control for that that newsletter just bought blew open the whole alternative health market for us until that law and we were kind of struggling with another cardiac alert. It wasn’t doing that well we weren’t sure we tried that we tried some other stuff. But health and healing came. And Dr.
Whitaker with his passion about alternative health and Philip’s willingness to you know go for it. Clayton coming in there writing amazing copy. Me and Wendy getting the right mailing list to the. It was a wonderful you know opportunity to be involved in a a great team. And so I got to work with for many years that went well with Wendy and he and when and getting married. I’ve got a you know a great relationship with both of them. I love them dearly and they are playing still like I said he’s still a mentor he has helped me in many ways just fine to my skills if I just try to imitate him as much as possible
so if I write something and I go this is this sounds likely maybe you know I’m like yes.
Yes. Absolutely. So I just I don’t I just call myself late make peace in drag.
You look at that picture much much cheaper because cash always.
Clash similarities between ch ch ch. Ch ch ch ch ch ch ch.
I think my the way I normally start is with the phone call with the client. The client is going to call me and tell me hey Karleen I got this new product or that this product whatever it is and you know I want you to I want you to work on this for me you know.
And so I initially go into my what I call the so what mode and I’m is very skeptical like it was. Come on very negative about it because I just need to know why this thing is so good before. I don’t want to do any research anymore I need the client to talk with me. And you know convince me that this is worth a month of my time and so I’m talking and saying I have this product and the x y. I’m like OK so what this all is a bunch of some other does that.
Oh yeah. But no not like this because this product contains this nutrient. So what was so great about that. You know well the Nutri has scientific studies that show we can do X Y Z O. Or would that mean for me. Well I mean now you’re going to experience this and this and that or whatever. Really. OK when will I feel the results. You know of course we can’t guarantee stuff with people can those difference within you know days to a few weeks. And so we’re not going to feel when I go notice. Oh you’re going to notice that you’ve got you know new boobs and you got gray hair and you all right old fellow block your face and all is you know whatever it is I I’m listening and I’m asking the questions I’m really at this point as being a consumer and a
very very skeptical consumer which I think is our market and I’m wanting to why do I get what I want to do this. So what is it doing for me. What so you know what’s so great about it. I’m asking where very simple question. And honestly back that conversation I don’t get the feeling that either the client knows what the heck he’s talking about in the we know what the product is going to do. You know over I feel like this is really legitimate stuff. I’m not going to say I’m not going to go any further than that. I’m going to stop right there. Now there may be some times when the client would say listen we’re just putting together the formulation and we don’t have everything clear is different. You know he may not have all the information clear but he does have that he’s already kind of research papers to show me
that he’s got to do a lot of great things. OK I’ll take it and I’ll read it and find out about it. But initially the feeling is is more of a you know why why do I want to give you another month of my life. And why do I want to help bring a crappy product to the market place so I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to give you a of my life. This is going to be worth it to me. So that’s really every time I sign to partake I always have a kick off conversation with the client to better understand what it is.
So once we get past that point and everything sounds good then the client will usually send me the starter kit and the starter kit can be very different. And you know depending on the client some of them give me tremendous amount of information some of them might be and keep asking for more.
Some of them me binders of stuff sometimes it. It just depends what it is. But the start kit is going to hopefully give me the picture of the product what it is what it is who is going to work for the studies that support the ingredients. You know the price of any kind of if it’s been mailed before or how it performs if it’s a new launch I mean just all of the details that I would need to to really get into the product and then I just spend time just I start reading the start and I start reading stuff and I open up my file immediately and just start a I don’t fall every
time I’m reading something that’s interesting in the data that they sent me I’ll either cut and pasted him electronically or just type it in there. It was hard on paper paper is bullshit. Klein has sent me or a bio the doctor all the information that I’m getting them going through it. I’m just dumping stuff into a coma. You know file with my own. Yeah. Oh that’s good. Oh that could be an idea for a headline. That would be an idea for some bullets that could be a sidebar. That could be this that could be you know I’m just I’m not making any sense of anything right now. I’m just taking it if I feel like I read something that I could go oh let me create cut some bullets off of this section of this
go for this type of environment you know and just anything that pops up as as I’m doing my research. It just goes into my file and most of the time by the time I’m done with my research I’ve probably got about anywhere from 20 to 40 pages in my dump file and somewhere in that file is a package that I’ve got to choose the way I didn’t find it you know but somewhere in there usually I realize how I’ve done all my research for them are really sometimes I need help with the client not give me what I need. And I’m feeling stressed for time from time I’ll get a researcher to help me. It was a new trend I’m not familiar with. I may tell the reader look just give me a couple of hours your time I need it
just give me as much information you can’t about this particular nutrient so I can understand it better. Sometimes my clients don’t want me to use any outside source. They only want to use their sources. So it just depends on the client and the product. And so you know I spent a week or two just reading and trying to understand the product. I go for walks every morning and as I as I was walking in the morning I’m kind of talking through what what you know kind of remember the night before from reading or just kind of ideas I have I have not call for my friends building it was a phone. I’m just kind of shook things off of them just saying
you know work on his new project and it’s got this thing. What do you think about that. You know some people who are in the market and just you know I’m just talking every morning I’m just kind of talking out. Well I would I kind of put in our brain the night before and that’s kind of my process. And by the time I’ve gotten my research done that really a package in my dump file that got to go back now I try to find it. And so I just then asked if I have any questions so the clients are astute. I don’t use them at the meeting with the client and you send send e-mails like what does this mean any more of this or can I get this out ask for a sample of product. And if I can take it I will. So almost every month I’m taking it.
How do you know that there’s a cozy stuff.
Yeah I think the private and yes you are in on it right out. Function so whether they would take this. But anyway that you know so that’s kind of it.
And then after that it’s just start getting into it. You know any ideas that sort of sound good I start trying to flesh them out and maybe they’ll lead me to a dead end that’s ok I’ll just turn around and go another direction and I just keep massaging massaging the when I start pulling copy right now you kind of move it up to like I’ll use maybe a letter in the letter section a move it up. Possibly the headline is in here and or you know just different things I’m doing as I’m kind of forming the package. One thing you always know you do all your packages can all consist of the same element. So you know you need a headlight you know really you know you need sidebars you know you use the bullets in there. We know you need to order form you need no
guarantee. So all these they put maybe a pub pub no possibly. So all the elements that I know I’m going to have. I started looking at my in my dump file and seeing what can pull out to become those things. And it just sort of morphs itself. I am to this day is really I’d go with the flow I go with what I’m excited about it. There’s a point that I read about or when I want to kind of get more into I may start writing about it. There’s a story that comes to mind and my making my lead in my intro to you know and somehow to get in there and after this point everything just changes every package a little bit different.
As far as how it is sometimes I got the headline immediately and bam I go with it sometimes the headline is the last thing I have. You know it doesn’t matter as I was a movie writing every day getting boring on it. So in essence you know wow there it is.
Absolutely. Because I’m like OK I need today I got to work on I’m working on Bulla’s today. I will do that. We’re going my sidebars Today I’m working on my guarantying my back and on working my special report my premiums I’m giving away. So I look at my day like that this day. That’s what I’m going to. Got it right. Unless some great idea pops in my brain or something else. I’m definitely flexible. But I try to get myself to say OK you know I got to get this back end like today we’re kind of a package and the whole day I just worked on all the special reports I’m giving away you know telling a story with all of them to get people to watch them. And so that was my whole day was Friday. You know back in copy you know because it’s very important you know to get that stuff done. And so by
tomorrow I’m going to work on my sidebars because I’m getting I’m at a point now this is am I meant to the last week I’m writing with this so that I get my sidebar is finished. I got my clothes done. I got all the below guarantees all the back end stuff finished off so I can just start going back in and reading the whole package and seeing if it makes sense to me and all of the offers. The timing and everything kind of works so that’s that’s what happens for the last week of a project for me.
So that’s what I’m doing this week. Josh. Just flash. Cash check. Why.
Well things are reaching out to me. I’m glad we thought this was fun. I had it all in just you know if you want to be a copywriter be a writer just do it.
You know I’m going get it.
You know I look at the stuff that I wrote 20 years ago and I cringe going I cannot believe somebody paid me to write this old or both extract.
And it’s true and you want to think that way because it shows you’re growing you’re progressing which you should be doing. You know that’s normal. And so you know for a copyrighted story not memory it can be intimidating because you think oh man I have to go and actually beat these controlled rabbies these copyrights who’ve been doing it for years. And that is not the case. You don’t have to be the best therapy writer to be successful in this business. You just have to be better than the control that you’re trying to beat. So would you want to do is you go out there you look at crappy copy that is where people are Maly and then you go to the go go business owner or the man the manager who got the
say so to hire you and you tell them how to beat that package and how you package on a scale of one to 10 is fine. All you have to do is be a six year old and you’re a star. You just may just be in control. So it’s not a matter of don’t look at all is that these big old you know pieces you get in the mail they’re you know written by Cabrera’s. We’ve been doing it for a long time. You pay a lot of money doing it. Don’t get intimidated by that. Look at the smaller stuff you know locally. Look and see who your business is that you can get right for and think to get experience so that you can get better. And when you and your confidence will grow when you’re when you’re successful. So just go after those and they grow
accordingly. And when you know you’ll find that you’ll blink one that almost inaudible my goodness I’m writing you know a lot of copy I’m writing for the clients you know but it is a ball. You know you’ve got it you’ve got to learn the skills that are involved to be able to write to those kind of clients.
Check church stuff.
Yeah. You can sign up right on my web site. That said it’s a free easy is called copy star I send it out when I feel like you so don’t pressure me.
You didn’t get one every week. It’s great. Okay great.
And for all the Web sites what does that and then you can take a look at it. Back in 2013. I was. Name the copywriter of the year. So if you want to see my acceptance speech is on the Web site. Well see my kid right. You got a daughter was on the Web site. Oh no. I’m using the Find side with my back to Oz. Yours is a Web site and so are samples of things that I’ve written. It just is meant to really help writers who are getting started to see certain things so learn some of the basics. And right now it hasn’t been on the Web site. When I say open the first year and then if you find you want more than you can buy more. But right now if you
just described in a newsletter you’ll get a lot of really good advice. It is easy to read easy to follow and do.
You know I hope you watch it again. Thanks for coming on the show. It’s been a real pleasure. You’ve really got to think about. Thanks David I appreciate it. Next day there’s another episode that actually looks just like Kylie just six seven different Betty