How To Write Copy Like Lieutenant Columbo

Write copy like Columbo

Just one more thing…

I love Columbo.

He’s sly like a fox.  He knows ‘whodunnit’ right from the start (he’s just figuring out the ‘how’).

And I get a kick out of the way he says ‘just one more thing…’ to catch suspects off guard.

Best of all?  I love that every episode sticks to a proven, deceptively simple template.

Think about it…

In each episode, you see the murder, Columbo appears about half an hour in and the rest of the show consists of him needling the suspect and looking for clues.

Every episode it’s the same.  The pleasure comes in watching how our wily detective figures it all out.

You can approach sales copy the same way.

Follow a proven structure or pattern.  I’ll resist the word template because it sounds so cheap but that’s really what it is.

However in this case, just like a Colombo episode, you can work within these constraints to make your copy unique.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel on every piece of copy.

It’s way smarter to follow a well-worn path and get creative within the parameters you set yourself.

Forget ‘outside of the box’ thinking.  Stay inside the damn box.  After all, out of limitations and constraints comes creativity.

The German Success Secret

There was something beautiful about it wasn’t there?

The way Germany took apart Brazil last night in the World Cup.

You didn’t see it?  Don’t worry, here’s the take away…

All the noise was that this is Brazil’s year.

They’re on home territory.  In front of tens of thousands of fans.

Who could be so mean as to spoil the fairy tale?

Those pesky Germans that’s who.

They quietly got to work and dismantled those yellow shirted weaklings piece by piece.

It was staggering to watch.

And because I’m a total marketing geek, I got to thinking about how this demolition applies to business.

(Yeah, I know I have issues)

And sure enough, as I look over my Clients past and present, the answer reveals itself…

It’s all about being quietly and consistently effective.

The guys and girls who get their heads down and quietly Do The Work…

Almost always, in the end, get the success they want.

Of course, the tricky part is you don’t KNOW when that success is going to happen.

But know this… as long as you keep pushing forward, success will come out to meet you.

It’s like Stephen Pressfield says in “The War Of Art”:

“The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.”

Did Brazil get a little carried away with their own hype?  I think so.

Yet the Germans simply got busy and carried out their plan from start to end.

Do the work, finish something and expect results.  It’s inevitable.

Showdown On Skype

Today, I’m having one of those talks with a Client.

The kind of talk where one of us (clue: not me) will get more than a little angry.

There may even be — gasp — swear words.


Because sometimes you can’t tell somebody what they WANT to hear…

… You have to tell ‘em what they NEED to hear.

And this is one of those times.

The topic of discussion?


More specifically… the difference between two types of traffic—cold traffic and warm traffic.

My Client refuses to accept there is a difference.

He thinks all traffic is equal.

As Schwarzenegger says in box office turkey “Last Action Hero”…

“BIG Mistake!”

It’s not his fault necessarily, he just needs to be educated.

Yet… it’s easy to judge and assess other people.

It’s clear  from the outside where THEY are making mistakes.

Far harder for US to see what WE are doing wrong.

He’s got his blinders on… have you?