An Interview with Genius Copywriter David Garfinkel

If you have heard me speak, you have most likely heard me talk about my genius copywriting friend David Garfinkel. It does not matter if you are selling yourself on paper, on your website or even when you open your mouth to speak, good copywriting is a skill that is important to learn…or hire! After all, good copywriters can tell a story in a few words or a headline.

A few years ago, when I hosted Speakers Roundtable, an invitation-only group of top professional speakers who include many CPAEs and past NSA presidents in their membership. At the meeting I hired Garfinkel to discuss marketing and to critique our materials. These experienced speakers enjoyed him so much they requested we reorganize the agenda to have him back the next day!

As he analyzed our materials, we learned through our copy it was much better to boost our business instead of our egos. Rather than quotes like: “You are the best speaker we ever hired,” “You received three standing ovations,” “The audience laughed until they cried,” replace them with specific results. “The chairman of the board requested we hire you for ongoing consulting.” “Our sales increased 16% as a result of your training.” “Our associates have never presented their ideas so clearly and concisely.”

As so many NSA members are making money through their websites, I was confident you would enjoy David Garfinkel’s insights. For example, Garfinkel taught me with our sales letters and website, “Imagine you are talking to your prospect or reader. Every time you make a statement on paper, think “What would the prospect/reader think or ask next?” Then answer that imaginary thought or question. Your sales copy then becomes very conversational and a “sales person in print” for you.”

Fripp: “David, please tell NSA members, why is good copy critical to speakers?”

Garfinkel: “Three specifics determine whether, and how often, a speaker will get hired:

1) The speaker’s reputation
2) Samples of the speaker’s performance: demo videos and what prospective clients see at a live presentation, and
3) What the prospective client reads about the speaker.

“A meeting planner or economic buyer is looking to have a specific problem or problems solved by the speaker, and to make sure audience members and management in the organization are satisfied, or better yet, thrilled with what happened during and after the presentation.

“Good copy can ease the mind of a person seeking to hire the speaker, and build confidence. This happens when the copy pinpoints the critical problems the organization faces — and as a speaker, you know what the problems are — and tells specifically what the speaker will do to solve, or help solve, those problems.

“Good copy also includes testimonials that show how the speaker did so in previous presentations. Of course, the difference between a professional speaker and a lackluster expert is the speaker knows how to accomplish these goals while being entertaining and interesting. Experts who are not good speakers are, to be blunt, painfully boring. But speakers need to do more than provide comic and tearful moments.

“It’s the value of the content, and the impact that it has, that makes the difference. Good copy can convey this.”

Fripp: “What are common mistakes speakers make?”

Garfinkel: “The biggest mistake speakers make is to confuse what works on the platform, in a performance, with what works with the written word, on paper or on the Web.

“When you entertain, instruct, motivate, and offer solutions, you’re communicating in a mode that allows for broad strokes and bold, abstract statements. You have the luxury of using a lot of words to cover little ground, at times, if the words are entertaining and impactful enough.

“Copy is much more plain, conversational, and nitty-gritty language. And it’s most effective when it’s focused on the prospect, not on you.

“People who are reading copy are distracted. You can’t count on 100% of their attention, like you can when you’re on the platform. You have to get their attention quickly and get to the point…what’s important to them.

‘My advice: Boil it down to the essentials. Hit one hot button after another. Make your reader salivate for the whole story…that will make them want to hire you.”

Fripp: “Can you provide an example of poor copy and the changes you made?”

Garfinkel: “I haven’t worked with a speaker in years, and I don’t like to showcase anything that makes any of my clients look bad (their original copy) anyway.

“But here’s a typical example, before and after, with comments:

“Nathan White is the Manager’s Mentor. When you bring Nathan in to speak to your group, they’ll laugh, they’ll cry, and they’ll get the motivation they need to go out and do a better job. When he tells managers to “Go for the Gold,” he lights a fire under them in a way that will put your company at the top of its field.

“His rise from personal bankruptcy to becoming the world’s most in-demand management speaker is an inspiration to all who hear him. Nathan’s stories, wisdom and his 10 Principles of Management Magic have shown many companies the grievous errors they are making and the way to start managing smart, instead of sloppy.

“Problem: It’s all about Nathan and how blooming awesome he is.

“Compare that to:

“Nathan White has talked to hundreds of managers and he knows that your managers, like many others, are under great stress to deliver more with fewer resources. They face conflicting demands and an unforgiving business environment that keeps getting tougher. Managers he speaks to appreciate the reality-tested techniques he shows to develop team loyalty and increase productivity while improving morale. He uses personal stories, case studies of successful changes in management style, and specific, easy-to-learn techniques to empower your managers to empower everyone they work with.


1) Right away, this copy focuses on the client (managers) and their problems (stress, pressure to deliver, demands, and business environment).
2) By the third sentence, the copy talks about the problems to be solved and results to be expected.
3) The fourth sentence zero’s in how the speaker provides these results.”

Fripp: “Do you have a special free offer for NSA Members?”

Garfinkel: “Yes. They can get a free teleseminar other people have paid good money for — to listen to online, or to download as an MP3 — by subscribing to David Garfinkel’s World Copywriting Newsletter.

“This is an hour teleseminar, and Terri Lonier coaxed 11 secrets out of me on how to write killer copy. Even experienced copywriters and seasoned students of copywriting will get some new insights and techniques from this program. The link for this special offer – and a subscription is free – is:”

David Garfinkel is Coauthor of Digital Guerrilla Marketing (with Jay Conrad Levinson and Bill McCurry), author of two best-selling online products for copywriting: Killer Copy Tactics and Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich, and former San Francisco Bureau Chief, McGraw-Hill World News. “David Garfinkel is the best copywriter I know,” says Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerrilla Marketing. He is also one of Fripp’s movie-going companions.