The Art of Persuasive Writing

Keep it brief, remember your target audience and have a clear ‘ask’. As Banknotes365 reveals, bank robbers are natural born copywriters…

A good definition of copywriting is any form of writing designed to persuade you to do something (usually involving parting with money). The most common advice is to keep it brief, remember your target audience and have a clear ‘ask’. And as blog Banknotes365 reveals, it turns out that bank robbers are natural born copywriters…

Banknotes365 is a brilliant collection of notes pushed threateningly across counters in banks around the world – all juxtaposed with photos of their authors.

It would make a great case study in a copywriting workshop. Here are a few examples:

$5,000 in 20s and 50s. 

No dye packs, 

no alarms,
no one gets hurt.

Good, effective, precise – although possibly focusing too much on the negative.

I have a gun in my bag.
Give me $5,000 please.
Thanks a bunch.

A subtler approach – the threat is implied rather than stated, and the writer is keen to get his audience on side (please… thanks…)

Do exactly what this says,
fill the bag with $100s, $50s and $20s, 

a dye pack 

will bring me back 

for your ass, do it now.
Truely yours

Possibly the most creative of the bunch. The unconventional construction of the phrase “A dye pack will bring me back for your ass” lodges it in the mind successfully. “Do exactly what this says” would make a good all-purpose opening for almost any press advertisement.

This is not a joke.
I have a gun loaded. Ready.
I want all the money in the drawer now. 

No dye packs or alarms. 

If there are, this place will ‘explode.’ 

Do as I say and everyone will be OK.
If not, people will die.

This needs a good editor. Note the strange use of single quotes around the word ‘explode’, which turns a literal threat into a more figurative one.

What’s most striking and touching about the notes is their politeness, even in the briefest examples:

Hand over your money please


Put the money in the bag, now. 


That last “Thanks” almost makes you well up.

The blog is by Ken Habarta who has just brought out this book collecting all the notes together.

Buy a copy. Do it now.

This post originally appeared on the Asbury & Asbury blog.


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