swipe file.

Items in the swipe file category

I must confess. It will be short. I have a swipe file. I have used that file for years. I keep adding to it, week after week. And when a client comes to me and asks, “Can you write, create, consult [blank] for me?” I smile and say, “Yes,” with the full knowledge that I shall go running to my swipe file to get ideas for copy and ideas for formats and ideas for offers and ideas for a million other things.

This is the wellspring of my creativity and keystone of success of every performance marketer a.k.a. direct response enthusiast.

A good swipe file is better than a college education.

Many years ago I decided to create my own swipe file. And I was determined that my file would be the best file in the world. It would be the steppingstone on which my career as a performance marketing consultant was to be built.

I Set Out to Organize My Swipe File for Maximum Utility. But How?

Over the years, the answer has evolved on its own.

Some marketers, especially direct response copywriters, will take, for instance, a direct mail package or TV spot, and break it into its component parts. Then they will create a file for good letters, a file for good sales brochures, a file for good headlines, a file for good opening statements, call to actions, order forms, etc.

This sounds like a lot of work and not much value in the day-to-day work.

My own swipe files, all in print form, contain total packages and whole ads. They are organized according to the type of product being sold. I have a swipe file for subscription ads. Another swipe file for radio ads. Another swipe file for dietary supplements. And then there are magazine inserts, infoproducts. I could go on and on – but you get the idea.

Yogi Berra is supposed to have said: “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Good advice, convoluted though it may be. This is why I urge you to read, watch and listen to all the ads in your environment with an eye to “Can I use this ploy in my performance marketing efforts?”

You Will Be Surprised How Fast Your Own Swipe File Accumulates

You will come across many ads, in whichever performance marketing medium, which are… well, pitiful. But now and then, you will run across jewels that you can refine, adapt to your needs, and use with remarkable success.

For example, some time back I answered my phone to hear a robocall / automated message congratulating me on my winnings in a draw (that I have not participated in, of course), all with exciting music, hand clapping, and interactive script letting me verify my lucky numbers. This I turned into an online sweepstakes promotion for one of my clients as well as into an email winback campaign for an ecommerce site.

Worked like a charm. Both clients reported a sensational conversion rate, all thanks to an adapted swipe file idea. (Partially at least, I hope my expertise and copy skills helped too).

In summary: record your robocalls, live agent calls, analyze your ‘spam’ folder, be on the lookout for direct mail, free standing inserts, magazine ads, direct response TV ads, as well as everything that is on the radio, Facebook, and Google Ads. Collect landing pages, brochures, and video sales letters.

Deliberately sign up for all kinds of email newsletters, accept all the possible marketing consents, buy health – wealth – relationships products that you may not be interested in but which may trigger a deluge of promotional pieces at your mailbox, phone or Facebook feed.

Just to help you out with building your swipe file, take a look at the portion of my file I managed to digitize and upload to my website.

Rafal Lipnicki, performancemarketing.expert

About Me, Rafal Lipnicki.

the direct / performance marketing consultant with a strange sounding name


Not your usual "guru" but a real-world performance marketing & innovation consultant based in Europe and an experienced senior executive at leading multinational companies.

What and Where.

I am a consultant for hire, working remotely and on-site all over the world (but Europe is always preferred). See my consulting services page for details.


Contrarian advice most of the time. Document-based audits, workshops, one-off projects, mentoring programs, and more.