To Know Or To Do — That’s The Question!

KNOW vs. KNOW-HOW — At a recent meeting of copywriters that I heard about but didn’t attend, there was a weird difference in conversations during a break.

The successful, but not yet fully established, copywriters were talking among themselves about MECHANICS. How to do this, when to do that. Shop talk.

The really established, super-successful copywriters were having conversations that might have gotten a kid kicked out of kindergarten. Silly. Stupid. Filthy. Totally NUTS.

Now, in case you’re wondering, the guys at the top of the heap were talking about forbidden and ridiculous things BECAUSE THEY COULD. (And they needed to blow off some steam before settling in and concentrating to do the hard work in the conference room, after the break was over.)

But what’s interesting is what the hotshots on their way up were doing.

Because in a situation like this one, most people will try to show off their knowledge, rather than to solve problems.

The up-and-comers were working on sharpening their skills. Learning amongst themselves on how to solve problems better.


Here are the kinds of things your average blowhard copywriter (who has no real success) might spout off in order to impress people. It always backfires, but it takes the spouter a while to figure this out:

• Did Claude Hopkins, father of modern copywriting, have “gender identity” issues because of his name?

• Max Sackheim, the writer of the famous ad “Do You Make These Mistakes In English?” — what country did he come from, anyway?

• Super A-List copywriter Gene Schwartz used a digital timer for his writing sessions. What numbers did he punch into the timer?

Here’s the damn problem with keeping all that information stored in your head, so it’s at the tip of your tongue at a moment’s notice:

It’s like learning about tire pressures and manufacturer names when you still don’t know how to ride a bike. You actually have to get on the bike and learn how to ride it.

And then — ride it!


This is important. When people talk about the “horror of the blank page,” what they’re really saying is they don’t KNOW-HOW.

… know how to prepare to write

… know how to get started

… know how to put the target prospect (“avatar”) in mind, and then write directly to that person, like you were having a face-to-face conversation.

It’s the random KNOWLEDGE that gets you an A+ in school.

But it’s the specific KNOW-HOW that gets you rewards in the marketplace.

I’ve got something new and interesting I’ll be telling you about in the next couple weeks that will help you with know-how. As the old saying goes… “watch this space.”

Now… if you’re interested more in knowledge than know-how, just go to amazon and type the word “copywriting” in the search bar. Then buy all the books that show up, and bury your nose in them.

You’ll learn plenty. But it won’t make you any money!

Anyway, get ready for my announcement, coming soon.

David Garfinkel is a veteran coach of professional copywriters and business owners who are familiar and comfortable with direct response marketing. To apply for critiques, coaching, or mentoring, visit Garfinkel Coaching.