Mark Twain once wrote, “There is no such thing as a new idea.”

I agree. That’s why I spend so much time swiping others’ good ideas.

Before you call the authorities, let me explain.

When I see an email I like, I save it to my swipe file. Every marketer should have a swipe file — a place to store stuff worth emulating.

I’m not talking about plagiarism or copyright infringement. I’m talking about inspiration.

I divide my email swipe file into four categories: copy writing, calls-to-action (CTAs) and offers, subject lines and copy writing. If I receive an email that excels in any of these areas, I swipe it. I drag it to the applicable folder.

Periodically, I’ll review the swipe file to get fresh ideas for emails I’m creating.

I do the same with web sites. I have a swipe file folder in my bookmarks.

I have a manila folder full of print advertisements and direct mail pieces I like — my physical swipe file.

I even record commercials I like on keep them on my DVR for later review.

A visit to my swipe files always inspires me and makes me a better marketer than I’d be without them.

Here’s the rest of that Mark Twain quote (pretty smart for a guy living so long before the internet):

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”


Leave a Comment