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The Curse of the Black Square!

Curse of the Black Square

If you want to rise to the top of the copywriting A-list, my friend, you must avoid this most dangerous and costly mistake. In my opinion, it’s one of the biggest copywriting creativity killers I’ve ever encountered.

It’s a mistake that many copywriters are making right now.   

Thankfully, I uncovered this copywriting curse early in my career and have avoided it ever since. Once I point it out to you, you’ll write more powerful and effective promotions–guaranteed.

So what, exactly, is the curse of the black square?

For instance…

Imagine for a moment that you’ve been given an important copywriting assignment. You’re not only excited to get started but excited to please your new client.

You really want a winner, and you’re going to do everything possible to win a new control and (hopefully) win a lifelong client.

As a result, you go into your marketing meeting with an open mind,  ready to listen to your client’s needs, understand the project, and write your next big winner.

Oftentimes these meetings include more than one person:  marketing director, marketing manager, creative director, etc.

Therefore, you’re taking notes like a court reporter and getting a ton of great ideas–all of which your multiple clients want you to execute for this one project.

However, your excitement might dwindle as you ask yourself, “How the heck am I going to do all that?” while you stare at a blank screen for days.

That’s because they’ve given you so much, and you want to do so well, but you don’t know where to begin in order to deliver a winning package that your client–everybody in the meeting, that is–will sign off on.

As a result, you bust your fanny on this one. You spend hours in a fetal position continually writing and rewriting everything and hoping that you’ll please the whole team.

Does any of this sound at all familiar?

It should. I think that it’s happened to all of us at one time or another.
So why do I call it the curse of the black square? Easy. Because if you put everything they wanted into your new promotions, that is what they would get–a big black square!

If two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time in physics, how can they in copywriting?

As you may remember from high school physics, two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time. The same thing applies to your own mind and the minds of your prospects.

Remember: Your reader’s mind can only accept one idea at a time.

One idea–that’s it. Not two. Certainly not 20.

To be sure, many of the lengthy promotions that I write have many ideas, but they each revolve around one simple theme. Let me give you some copywriting examples from my past controls.

  • 91 Powerful, New Vitamin Cures That Work–Direct to You from the Doctors Who Prescribe Them
  • Boom or Bust Ahead for Technology Stocks
  • If you’ll give me 30 days, I’ll prove you can get paid over and over for the simple things you’re doing now
  • Tap the Hidden Wealth That Lies Inside Your Paycheck
  • Can India Stop China?

With each of these headlines, I focus on just one idea. The rest of the package then fulfills the promise that was made by the headline.

As a result, I can easily avoid the deadly black square.

By doing the same thing, you, too, will have eliminated the curse of the black square. I can’t stress this enough–one well-developed idea trumps a jumble of ideas every time.

All good wishes,


P.S. If you are looking for swipe file material, there are plenty of places to find them. One of the best places is Who’s Mailing What.

In addition, I will be posting a few of my swipes in the future. I will send an announcement when I release each one.

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Doug D'Anna

As a seasoned direct response copywriter, Doug D'Anna has created more than 100 widely-mailed control packages for the world's largest specialized information publishers—generating over $100 million in direct sales.