Alchemy, Astrology, and Copywriting Ethics

Here’s an interesting thought:👇

Without the initial pursuit of Alchemy, we wouldn’t have modern day science.

Copywriting EthicsAlchemy, as you likely know, was a forerunner of chemistry. It was based on the idea that you could take one form of matter (copper) and turn it into another (gold) – a process known as transmutation.🔄

It has ancient origins, though, in the West, its real heyday was during the Medieval period…

And it wasn’t until around 1720 that Europeans started making a distinction between alchemy and chemistry.

In order to dissociate themselves from alchemists, early scientists began to group those who practiced transmutation as charlatans and hucksters…🧐

People who were performing cheap tricks of little actual substance.

Now let’s look at astrology…

Which is an attempt to divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects.

Just like Alchemy, Astrology has very ancient origins…

And just like Alchemy’s relationship to Chemistry…

It’s unlikely we would have ever developed astronomy if not for the initial, more “arcane” practice of astrology.

So what does this have to do with direct response copywriting?

A lot, actually.

There’s a pretty serious debate going on in the world of direct response…

Where one side is pushing for more ethical approaches to marketing, copywriting, and selling…

And others, who are more of the “old guard,” are resistant to such changes.

When we talk about the old guard and what those practices look like…

It’s things like:

Copywriting EthicsUsing fake stories in your marketing (without clearly indicating that they are fake and for demonstrative purposes only)…

Using fake testimonials…

And making extremely strong and absolute claims about a product’s efficacy (i.e., this product will get perfect results for every single person who uses them, and regardless of any outside factors).

When it comes to the claims, the further criticism is that they prey on people…

Because if you’re desperate enough…

And someone comes along saying that they can take the shitstorm that is your health, wealth, or relationships…

And instantly transform those things into gold…

You may be tempted to believe them and to pay them for such an offering…

Regardless of if your rational brain tells you to be wary.

That feels wrong…

Predatory…

It gives you a queasy feeling in your gut…

Which is why, despite extreme outliers…

If you look at the direct response industry overall…

My take is that the whole industry is becoming much more compliant and ethical.

Five years ago, I knew a ton of direct response alchemists…promising the world to customers even when there was scant if any evidence that they could deliver it…

Today, I know a few alchemists…

But they generally appear to be more of a dying breed…

With their last gasps and final grasps at easy money no matter the moral cost.

And to be clear: I’ve been an alchemist before too. And there were a million ways I justified that behavior…

But just like so many others, I had to look in the mirror and then make a conscious decision to stop.

And this is all a good thing…

Copywriting EthicsA natural and necessary evolution…

Just like we saw the progression of Alchemy to Chemistry, and Astrology to Astronomy.

We should celebrate this…

Because here is my hope:

That the transition that is occurring right now will lead to a new, golden age in direct response marketing…

One that still leverages the principles of storytelling, psychology, and communication…

But that does so in a way that is cleaner, purer, and more ethical.

The type of direct response copywriting that could be taught in a college classroom, just like astronomy and chemistry are…

Rather than the type that’s relegated to obscure niche pages and forums of the internet (as alchemy and astrology are).

My goal is to help be a part of that transition and to be an example of the ways we can move forward…

And if you don’t agree with me…

Consider that this shift is probably not “optional” anyways…

It’s a sea-change, and it’s happening regardless of whether you want it to or not.

This doesn’t mean that shady people won’t continue to do shady things…

What it does mean, though, is that it’ll become harder and harder to be a bad actor.

The financial rewards will tend to be lower – as ad networks, affiliates, and other offer owners don’t support your shady-ass offer…

And the social penalties from your peers will become higher (you’ll likely be judged, criticized, ostracized, and disrespected for being a shade-ball).

This will, I believe, create a feedback loop…

Where ultimately, most of those who practice the dying charlatan’s art will ultimately abandon their ways…

And that’s the kind of transmutation that nearly all of us can get behind.

– SPG

 

P.S. If you’re super into astrology, don’t get too triggered by this email. I think horoscopes are cool. And I even think there might be something there. There’s a reason astrology has had such sustaining power throughout human cultures and societies for so long. Whether there’s any link to actual astral bodies and what happens in your life, or horoscopes just happen to serve some psychological benefit, I acknowledge that they do have value to some people.

P.P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link

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Stefan Georgi

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