Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets: Summary & Review

kick-ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel is John Carlton’s guide to effective copywriting.

Bullet Summary

  • If you sell to one in person, you can sell to a thousand with a good copy
  • A salesman is more likely to become a great copywriter than an English literature major
  • It’s not about you, it’s all about the reader

Full Summary

Carlton gives a bit of background and says he ended up in copywriting because he couldn’t stand the corporate hierarchy -that rang a bell here-.
He was forced to succeed as a copywriter he says because he had simply no other option.
It doesn’t matter where you are now he says, what matters is where you want to be. And learning to sell is one of the best ways to get there.

It’s His Needs, Not Yours

If you understand what moves people, you can move them.
Here are some basic human drivers:

  • Greed

“and you can have it for a half of what everyone else has to pay”.

  • Sex, love & intimacy
  • Self Improvement

Most people are depressed and despise where they are in life. Here’s an idea:

How to jump-start the quality of your social life by simply tweaking a tiny aspect of your personality

  • Pleasure

We all crave the bliss and joy of a child. Here’s an example:

I’ve never laughed so much in my life. The secret of the happiest people in the world

The More You Tell, The More You Sell

Companies and marketers base their copy on the idea that people don’t read flops. They base their whole campaigns on cute slogans while instead longer copy sells.

Don’t Look Like an Ad

Everyone is trying to scream loud, but people can recognize advertising.
Get under the radar instead.


The headlines are often the only piece of copy we read. It has to stop us in our tracks to invite us to read the rest.
Three ways to do:

  1. News he is interested in (“how to use the new tax laws to lower your property tax by half”)
  2. A spectacular benefit (“new pill makes you look 10 years younger)
  3. Arouse burning curiosity (“why does this hacker smile every time you’re online”)

Don’t care about what people or colleagues think about your ads. It only has to be good for the audience.


You can double the amount you make by offering other products to your buyers. The best customers you’ll ever have are those who have just happily bought from you, so always offer an upsell.

Put your best product forward and then capitalize on the goodwill.

How to Launch a Product and Sell in A Weekend

This chapter was awesome. Selling something quickly is not what I’m aiming at, but this chapter was awesome nonetheless as an inspiration for what’s possible.
The idea is to pick a market with a passionate clientele and become an expert on a tiny, very specific fraction of that market.
Check the guide for the details.

Real-Life Applications

Copywriting Is Better Than In-Person Selling
I don’t know why, but it only hit me with Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets that being great at copywriting is better than being great at selling in person. The author says “if you can sell to one customer in person, you can sell to a thousand at the same time”.
The author says that the skills are the same and the pitch is the same. There I have to disagree though.

Don’t Hard Sell
And this is one of the reasons why I believe copywriting is not the same as in-person selling. Pushing hard to sell your product and showing lots of passion can work in person.
But it doesn’t work as well in copy as you come across as disingenuous in pumping your own product (something I was doing wrong).

Don’t hard sell, and offer instead the privilege of buying from you


Sales Pitch The Same as Copywriting?
I personally don’t believe that you can take your vocal sales pitch and make it a successful copy material. But hey, that’s just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions :).

Audiobook Not Professionally Read
It’s not bad and I love the passion in the reader’s voice. But it’s not flawless either. Anyway, it’s not the most important detail. As the author himself says, don’t waste too much in the form and look at the message instead (save the detail attention for the ad lol).


Good Content
kick-ass Copywriting Secrets stresses a lot of the basics that I haven’t seen in some other copywriting courses (such as human nature and basic psychology).

Very Motivational
The attitude is very energetic and “can do”, really serves to spur you into action.


Good content and I also liked the author’s attitude and mindset.

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