How To Critical Think, Part 1

Saturday, 2:33pm
Reno, NV
When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all…” (Paul Simon, “Kodachrome”)

Howdy.

Someone recently asked me to offer a clue on how to nurture critical thinking.

It’s a fair question.  And while I’m no neuro-scientist, I talk about critical thinking a lot, because it’s the foundation of great writing, killer salesmanship, and engaging the world with your throttle wide open.

However, it’s not an easy subject to grasp if you’ve seldom taken your brain out for a spin around the Deep Thought Track (as most folks have not).

So let’s explore it a little bit here…

Critical Think Point #1: Yes, I know the headline on this article is a grammatical car wreck.  It should be “how to think critically”, or at least “how to critically think”.

But this botched phrasing is actually part of the lesson I’m sharing here.

Consider:  The vast majority of people sleep-walk through their lives and careers, never going beneath the surface of anything.  They process, at most, a small fraction of the information they see, hear or read about.

It’s pretty much GIGO.  Garbage in, garbage out.

So the first job of any good marketer is to deliver some level of brain-rattling wake-up call for the prospect.  To literally jolt them out of their semi-permanent reverie, and initiate a more conscious state of awareness.

Cuz you can’t expect a somnambulant zombie to be proactive about following through with your request for buying something.  Or opting in.  Or even just continuing to read.

Thus: Good ad writers make full use of the incongruous juxtaposition of compelling sales elements — or, for short, the “hook”.

Ideally, you want the induced “WTF?” reaction strong enough to unleash a splash of adrenaline, or even physically make ‘em bolt up and take notice.  (As in, “That can’t be right! This violates my entire sense of what’s real!”)

However, you’ll also take a milder reaction, as long as you get a reaction.  And a little slang, or some nifty grammatical tweaking can sometimes do the job.

Now, a word of caution: To jumble up common phrases or to use slang in something important for your bottom line — which is the definition of any ad — requires you to consider the consequences.  And to completely understand the reactions you’re going to trigger.

This should be an easy step for any marketer.  Just think about your audience, and get in touch with how they’re going to receive the message you’re sending out.

And yet, most marketers just won’t do it.  They base expensive, long-term campaigns on vague ideas of how the message is gonna resonate (or not resonate) with prospects.  It’s not even “ready, fire, aim”.  It’s “just throw it out there, and pray it works.”

So the first step to developing a “critical think” mindset: Start walking a mile in the other guy’s shoes.  Really consider what your prospect’s life is like, what fuels his movements in the world, why he does what he does.

You can’t do this casually.  You’ve got to elbow your own ego and belief systems aside, and deflect snap judgements before they take hold.

Critical Think Point #2: In short…

… you’ve got to start thinking like a salesman.  And see your prospects (and the world in general) not as you wish they were…

… and not as you believe they should be.

Instead, you start looking at people and things as they ARE.  The raw reality, minus all spin.

Opinions, common sense, long-held beliefs, even principles and convictions…

… it all has to run the gauntlet of your internal Bullshit Detector.

This includes both the other guy’s actions and thinking behaviors…

… and your own.

You gotta clear your brain of a LOT of nonsense before you can even begin to approach the “truth” of any situation.  As a human, your default setting is to believe that your thoughts, actions, codes of honor, and beliefs are the real deal.

And you measure everything else against that rock-solid bastion of truth and goodness that hogs all the attention in your mind.

So, first: Realize that the other guy has the SAME default setting.

He is positive beyond question that he’s right, and you’re an idiot.  Just like you were thinking how much of a moron he is, and how lucky you are to be so righteous and close to the “real” truth.

This gets heavy, quickly.

You also need to run your instincts (and gut feelings) constantly through your BS Detector, especially when you start out…

… because we’re all front-loaded with piles of unchallenged assumptions, erroneous notions you mistakenly think is “common sense”, and vast rivers of lingering Big Lies and propaganda that has been fed to you for decades by teachers, the media, your parents and The Man.

Basically, you just gotta get over your bad self… and then get past the surface layers of the market you’re in (and all the people populating it)…

… and get clear on how people actually behave and act.

For example, they will SAY they always buy “quality” over cost, when asked…

… and then consistently choose bargain-priced crap over the slightly more expensive well-made stuff when it comes to opening their wallet.

That’s just the tip of it, but it’s a clue.

When you start adopting critical thinking, you are scuba-diving deep into the seldom-explored hidden realities of The Adventure Of Humans In The Asphalt Jungle (otherwise known as The Big Soap Opera We All Live In).

You can no longer be like the typical oblivious neighbor of the recently-caught serial killer, who always says to the TV crew “He seemed like a regular guy… kinda shy, I guess, but he kept the yard looking nice…”.

Oblivious marketers get eaten.

Critical Think Point #3: Finally (for this session, anyway)…

… start actively re-examining everything you read and hear.  (Everything, including news articles, data, info-rich books, email, all of it.)

Here’s a simple trick: Re-word what you read if you aren’t “getting it”.  You can do this in your head, or write it down if that helps.

When I wrote “critical think” instead of “critical thinking” for the title of this article, I was reconstructing a common phrase that usually goes into one ear and straight out the other.

Tweaking common language is like a big stop sign for your brain.  Try it, next time you’re reading something you feel is important.  Reconstruct the concepts, sentences, and ideas into new language.

Have fun with it, too.  Consider how the concept might be interpreted in street slang, or translated for an 8-year-old.

Force your brain not to just be a passive “intake bucket”…

… but to examine stuff to the point that you can rephrase it without losing the meaning.

Even if it’s nonsensical.  (In fact, you’ll remember nonsensical phrases better, because they’re strangely memorable.  The first poem I ever learned, which I still remember, was from a Roger Miller song: “Roses are red, and violets are purple, sugar is sweet and so is maple surple.”  Memorable.)

To sum up: The initial steps of developing some critical think chops are…

1) Wake up and start thinking like a salesman.

2) Tune your Bullshit Detector up to high, permanently.  Use it on yourself, first, and then blast the rest of the world with it as you go.

3) And, practice absorbing info to the point of being able to translate it into something an 8-year-old would understand.

We’ll explore #3 more later.  The act of deconstructing ideas and plans and sales messages is THE main tool in any good marketer’s kit.

For now, let’s hear if you think I’ve missed something with these first steps.

Cuz part of being awake is to take your ideas out for a walk in the cold, cynical world every now and then, and invite pot-shots.  See if the little buggers can withstand scrutiny and abuse.

So have at it in the comments.

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. I’m wondering who’s gonna be first to name that Roger Miller song?

67 Responses to How To Critical Think, Part 1

  1. Another golden post, John. :)

    Not too long ago to help sell my services to local businesses, I recorded a 48-minute long seminar walking prospects through what it takes get sites ranking in google these days. I purposefully used inflection, I chuckled according to script, I yelled, paused and whispered… I was sure this bastard was gonna have people lining up at my door; I mean, everyone wants to buy from an entertaining pro! Right? … nothing. nada.

    I took a 2 minute lesson from that 48 minute video and supplied the same info in a tri-fold booklet. At the networking meeting this morning they disappeared like government money – I could have printed twice as many last night and still not brought in enough. People wanted a booklet for themselves and 3 of their friends.

    Moral of the story: I was too stuck in the “internet marketers” mindset, not the “small business owners” mindset. One simple tweak using only 4% of the same idea and BAM – off to the races.

  2. Dang me.
    Dad used to sing it all the time. That and trailer for sale or rent and scotch and soda.

    Another great post. Thanks John.
    David

  3. Luca says:

    It´s challenging teaching my consulting clients to ACCEPT people ase they actually ARE, not as they WISH they´d be or think should be and sell them the damn ice cream (then introduce the vitamins)

    Thanks for keeping remembering us to be salesmans.

    From Madrid,

    Luca.

    • John Carlton says:

      And I’ll continue to keep remembering you to be salesmans, Luca. Good sub-lesson in your post — we all know exactly what you’re saying, despite the mauled language. As someone else commented here, Americans in particular love a good accent and forgive mistakes quickly.

      I’ve had students who refused to begin their careers because they were horrifically self-conscious over their accents and shaky grasp of English. And it’s just nonsense — you take something like that, and make it part of your USP. Be “The Mad Hungarian”, or “The Loco Spaniard”, or “The Malaysian Trouble-Maker”. Just own it, and it will work for you.

      It’s the message, first. The vehicle for delivering it is secondary… and the language you use is part of that vehicle…

      Thanks for the post, Luca.

  4. Luca says:

    OH, after reading this post: I commit to step into my prospect reality for 30 min every week shuting down all my stuff.

    ¿How do you do that? and ¿when? ¿before writing?

  5. Dana Houser says:

    To sum up: The initial steps of developing some critical think chops are…
    (don’t you mean, “critical thinking chops are…”

    My dad was a wheeler-dealer and he always used to say, “cut the bullshit and get to the nitty-gritty.”

    Then the wheelin and dealin started. Great post. Thanks

    -Dana

    • John Carlton says:

      No, I’ve officially re-named it “critical think”. I like the clunkiness of it, the reverse alliteration, the in-yo-face refusal to be grammatically correct…

      When I’m discussing the subject, it’s critical think. I wanna see if I can change the language through stubbornness…

      • If “gettin’ jiggy wit it” can worm it’s way into our hearts and minds (think the helmet scene from The Wrath of Kahn) you might stand a chance with “critical think.”

  6. Wood Railing says:

    nice usage of ‘somnambulant’. spell check doesn’t even recognize.

    I will say that I hate the idea of making content accessible to 8-year olds. My 8yo daughter is quite able to understand a sentence like, “The time is near for us to depart.” Perhaps we don’t need to dumb down the content but rather smarten up the society…

    • John Carlton says:

      This is another lesson for another day… but I learned from an early writing mentor (Jim Rutz, the creator of the magalog and the A List pioneer copywriter who started getting outrageous fees while everyone else was still acting like a vendor) that you CAN use intellectually-challenging language, IF you frame it right.

      Basically, you combine $5 words like somnambulant with lots of nickel and dime phrases and slang… so you aren’t burdening the reader with language, but rather showing off a little while laughing at yourself, and letting the reader in on the joke.

      Rutz’s pieces often required a dictionary nearby to read… yet he routinely outpulled other direct mail packages by embarrassing amounts.

      Kinda sad, though, that your spell check doesn’t recognize a VERY serviceable word we all should know…

      • John Carlton says:

        I’ve gotten a lot of PR mileage, also, for inventing terms like “The incongruous juxtaposition of compelling sales elements” and “Your prospect is like a somnambulant blob welded to the couch so securely he wouldn’t move to save his life if the house was burning down”. (That second one refers to why you need to wake people up to get them to act.)

        Folks often come up and ask me to repeat these phrases, and giggle as I do it. The last two to do it, in fact, were Bill Glazer and Frank Kern, at different times.

        Aim for immortality with your writing… which requires a deep understanding of what thrills and what irritates your audience…

  7. arthur says:

    I must agree with Luca: “Thanks for keeping remembering us to be salesmans.” It’s way to easy to mess up everything with compl#4*etd BS. Thanks, John

  8. Mike Hill says:

    You had me at somnambulant.

  9. Jerry says:

    Haha… Mike, I was thinking the same thing!

  10. John,

    I LOVE the “critical think” in the title…love it…

    You can almost read it as a noun, a “critical think” being one of the items from the post written here.

    Good stuff too, especially thinking of a person as they actually are, not as you WISH they were. That one piece is a lesson in and of itself.

  11. Lesley says:

    Thank You for th epost John,

    I spent a good part of the day yesterday with one of my Mentors going over my latest site on snoring pillows to make it more compelling to the buyer. I’ve managed to master many aspects of marketing but I’m still struggling with my copywriting.

    How timely to get this email today. I’ll read through it again and look forward to more.

  12. Hi John.

    Do you have an affiliate link for that amazing product? I am seriously looking for the Internal Bullshit Detector. You definitely use this product and it has done wonders for you!

    I had the Internal Bullshit Detector when I was a teenager and in the move to the big city and getting a J.O.B my boss stole it. I know that if I could attain this product again… I would kick that J.O.B in the A.$.$.

    Once I find this detector I will use it consistently!

    Hugs
    Rebecca

    • John Carlton says:

      You already have one. Default part of your original equipment, and no one can really steal it… they can just stick wrenches in it so it don’t work so well anymore.

      Observe children — they are gullible over a specific thing exactly once… and then, upon discovering they’ve been had, move to distrusting the source until trust is earned back. They’ll still love you, but they’ll stop believing what you say unconditionally. Call it the Cautionary Tale Of Santa Claus.

      The mistake adults make is to become cynical and paranoid. That’s not using your BS Detector — that’s giving in to a worldview of danger and lies. Sure, the world IS full of that, but a good BSD both identifies the real culprits, AND identifies those you can trust and should pursue friendship with.

      Oh, it’s a complex world out there, Rebecca…

  13. Kevin says:

    Hey John,

    Not accepting things as they are also causes people a lot of unnecessary suffering.

    Take the stereotypical “nice guy” who can’t get a date for example. He wallows in self pity and continues to employ ineffective strategies for meeting women rather than acknowledging the reality that Cyndi Lauper so eloquently stated:

    “Girls just wanna have fun.” ;)

    • John Carlton says:

      That’s another whole lesson in dealing with the world. If we don’t use our Bullshit Detector on ourselves, first, it won’t serve us well when we turn it on the world.

      I’ve been lucky to get several trips around the block in my life, and I’ve done it cocky, depressed, confident, reeling from loss, scared shitless and fearless. Pretty much the gamut of human emotional states.

      We all have to muddle along as best we can, cuz even the cockiest among us suffer setbacks (and real courage is just facing your fears and doing it anyway).

      The key to being a Zen Dude (and going for the gusto) is to be awake and aware. And enjoy the world as it is.

      Thanks for the post, K.

  14. Deb Augur says:

    Hi John,

    Yes, your title got my attention. My response? Hell yes!

    As a gift my husband bought me a book on critical thinking because I kept saying how I need to develop more of it. The book wasn’t that good, but I certainly appreciated the thought!

    Loved your third point in the conclusion! That’s exactly what I do.

    Looking forward to part two. Stay frosty! ;-)

  15. Harold Ward says:

    Hi John, Your “critical think” was a gold mine. The master wordsmith always brings the
    best of reality to the surface like refined
    gold. Thank you.
    And have a wonderful day.

  16. Rezbi says:

    How on earth do all these people get on here, read the article, and write looong comments, even before I get your email?

    Anyway…

    A couple of days ago I was invited to look over the new campaign a local firm is working on.

    I took a look at one of their brochures, the covering letter and an email article they’re getting ready to send out on May 1st.

    One look told me all I needed to know. I then told them what you said in #3.

    I asked them if any has a kid, nephew, niece, whatever, who is no more than 10 years old.

    Then I said, picture that child reading what you’ve just shown me.

    Will that 10 year old understand?

    One of them said, “What about our more intellectual readers?”

    I replied that he wasn’t giving his readers English lessons: He’s trying to make a sale. If the 10 year old can understand his writing, then he can be sure pretty much everyone will get the message.

    As a result, I’ve now got a long term contract to give the company an in-house course in copywriting and direct marketing.

    All I did was tell them what you’ve said in this article. Explained clearly, almost everybody ‘gets it’. Almost.

  17. Mark says:

    very true.
    most people operate on the surface dealings, not going ‘deep’. into habits, routines, and live deep in their ‘trance’.
    Live a day in the shoes of your prospective client…. and learn to solve their problems from their perspective.

    Great going, JC.
    Dr Mark

  18. Knew there was a reason I liked you John…now I know it is a shared appreciation for the wonders of Roger Miller…my favorite song, “My Uncle Used to Love Me but She Died”…truth be known I know the words to all his songs…because they are memorable and tell a common story in an uncommon way.

    Just plain thinking is too hard for so many…can’t imagine getting them to critical think. We certainly need to wake up and knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it.

    Thanks for being the harbinger of critical think.

    Darcie

  19. mark says:

    Re-engineer everything we read,see or write. We’ll have the bad critic as I call it,in us seeing how things really are instead of being like every other Schlub that gloms on to anything that passes our way.

    Mark Canada

  20. John, great thoughts all around-i love the bit about thinking about the reader’s reaction BEFORE I think of my own.

    Takes some of the stress off:)

    Lawton

  21. Jeff Elias says:

    The best thing I’ve done to build my BS detector is to study philosophy. Developing the discipline has allowed me to think in essentials. It’s somewhat of a blessing…and a curse! It’s a blessing because it’s helped me overcome my OWN BS. And it’s a curse because it makes me cringe when I hear our so called leaders (politicians) speak, knowing that most people just eat their nonsense up like it’s gospel.

    • John Carlton says:

      Who, specifically, did you study, Jeff? Descartes? Nietzche? Blake? Hunter Thompson? Popeye?

      I’ve always been interested in philosophy history… cuz they had no scientific method to follow collecting data, or testing hypotheses. So it was all pretty subjective, and yet really nailed some cool insights.

      Would you agree that philosophy is basically a description of reality, subjectively stated and exposed objectively? Aristotle would probably disagree with that…

      • Jeff Elias says:

        Would you agree that philosophy is basically a description of reality, subjectively stated and exposed objectively? Aristotle would probably disagree with that…

        More specifically, “metaphysics” is a discription of reality…which is a branch or philosophy. And “epistemology” would answer the questions of “how do we know it?” and “is that knowledge valid?”

        And yes, I believe that Aristotle would disagree, but if you ask Descartes about your statement, he would agree:)

  22. David Garfinkel says:

    John,

    My hat’s off to you my think hat.

    A magazine editor once asked me to write an article about how to take a critical think, and I couldn’t do it. I mean, I couldn’t explain it.

    You have come up with the first real def of critical think I’ve ever seen.

    What you have would work great for those of us who aren’t part of the university-multinational complex.

    Better, in fact.

    Cheers,
    David

    • John Carlton says:

      Thanks for the post, Garf. You’re one of the few writers I know who engage in CThink automatically, every time you open your mouth. (Even when on your second scotch, I’ve noticed.)

      I’m wondering why no one’s posted links to academia here yet… cuz I’m sure the Ivory Towers have tried to categorize, dissect and measure critical thinking. Probably made a hash of it, but you know they went deep…

      And how the hell did you figure out how to italicize your copy here? Did you paste it from Word?

      Or are space aliens involved?

    • John Carlton says:

      Holy shit. Six years doing this blog, and I just noticed the HTML tags below this box.

      • Jacques says:

        You’re probably too hard on yourself – it’s a WordPress-theme or plugin setting. As you updated your theme ‘recently’, your tech-guy enabled it – might not have been there in the old theme (I don’t remember seeing it). I’m not a big fan of it, as people can go overboard with it (what’s new) – cluttering comments. Garf forgot the closing tag ‘‘ (without spaces), so his complete comment ended up italicised – but then, it doesn’t matter how he writes it, it’s always useful and to the point.
        Just like your post – I’m critical-thinking of a contributing comment, but haven’t come up with something yet – better to shut up then (which more people should do these days…)

        Mooi bly!

  23. Eric Nygren says:

    Makes you want to holler HEIDI HO!

    Drawing fire from the English Teachers;
    A Copy Writer’s Revenge.

    But you can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd.

    Great Stuff.

  24. J.C. this was one cool blog post…I wish all marketing professionals could think critically as you have begun to outline here.

    Thanks again ~
    Mark “The Marketing Professional” Brown

  25. Thomas says:

    Great post John!

    Talk to someone like they are 5 years old if you want them to understand everything you are saying and buy what you are selling…

    This was the advice on one of the most successful salesmen and mentors I knew and worked with. This cat made millions and friends with ALL his customers. Simple, non-threatening approach infused with some genuine charismatic personality created the perfect cash machine.

    Thanks John because I completely forgot all about this process as it has been over 30 years ago or is this a lack of critical thinking?

  26. Crystal says:

    Loved your post, John. Got me thunking. Reel hard. You should probably warn people that’s addictive before they start, though…

    I’ve battled with wanting to help people but at the same time not wanting to ‘exploit’ them as they are for years, since it seemed incompatible with the ideals I was trying to push. You just set me straight. Thanks for that.

    PS David, you use a forward slash to end the tag, not a back slash. /i would’ve stopperded it for ya.

    PPS Thanks John, for giving me such a fun time with PERMISSION to mangle language!!!

  27. Hi John,

    Thanks for the reminder, we are dealing with Zombies in a semi comatose state who don’t believe in anything they don’t discover for themselves.

    I just had the “No not now” objection from my own dentist who is a friend of 15 years.

    I uncovered the easiest keyword in Google, that would drive $5k – $7k net, through his dental practice doors per month for in exchange of my fee of $1,250.

    I have gone back to him via email and given him a slap around the chops. I figured he is a friend and if he doesn’t “get it” no harm no foul.

    Yes I used some 8 year old stuff in there, as it just astounded me he didn’t see the opportunity starring him in the face.

    Cheers,

    Greg The SEO Guy,
    from Down Under.

  28. Carlos says:

    John,

    You Mean To Say Cojones Instead BSD, Am I Right? Or Am I Right?

  29. James Z says:

    This could get me into trouble…

    Always assume that your audience is into stupid, childish stuff and talk to them like you are hanging out drinking a beer (or wine if upscale)
    ..and assume that whatever level of intelligence your readers are, you are actually dumber than they are and need their response to clarify your message.

    I just read the post again and you are saying pretty much the same thing in sharper words. Assume that whatever you say, someone has already said it.

    Damn me if I am wrong.

  30. shane mezger says:

    Great thought provoking article. I found it helping in focussing my advertising ideas.

  31. Scott says:

    Hey John.

    I like how this ties in with an earlier post of yours. The social media privacy issue.

    What I didn’t say then, which would have made my response to that one clearer is…

    …facebook is a copywriters wet dream because it gives you a wonderful cross section of who people really are (like when I have a big spit because someone made me look stupid) and who they like to pretend they are (like when I go on a pious rant about how we should all grow food).

    Great research tool for how weird and crazy we all are. But like you say, you gotta critical think your way through it to understand which is real and which is pretend.

  32. A. Rash says:

    Hey John,
    You really made all of us stand out naked, but nothing is further from true, we are all humans.
    To sell to a human you have to strip him naked and appeal to that naked guy. Or you will be speaking to wrong guy.
    Learned a lot here.
    thank you

  33. Jimmy Curley says:

    Hey John:

    Three great points you’ve made here. Some thoughts:

    1. A good salesman is deeply intrigued with people — hungry to dig down and explore angles that the vast majority simply ignore.

    2. The bullshit detector is also a truth detector as well, and good copywriters tap into that. People love reading about simple, upbeat truths that are revealed in unique and surprising ways.

    3. Your third point — that the writing be easy to read and understand — is most critical.

    I commonly point out to my SWS students the time William Faulkner said of Ernest Hemingway:

    “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

    Hemingway’s response was simple:

    “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

    Major stuff here John… thanks for keeping the gears turning.

    –Jimmy Curley

  34. Orestes says:

    Hi! John,

    Thanks for the great post-always learning some new real things for you and not the usual BS we all seen around us all the time.

    Blessings!

  35. Steve says:

    ahhh to hell with critical thinking,

    Just ran out of cigaretts and got a trailer for rent. Any takers

  36. Your internal BS Detector is basically your higher self, your “true self,” your soul. Everyone has one, but it is dormant in most people due to non-use, as we have been brought up to ignore our inner guidance. Instead, we understand life according to what we were fed by those in positions of authority. (e.g. eggs contain cholesterol and therefore are bad for you; to get what you want in life you must visualize and think postively; life is hard on Earth because of some original humans who made poor choices and we are unwitting victims of that original condition.)
    I spent years writing about reconnecting to your higher self and what it takes to get to the point where you gain such confidence in your higher self that you would follow your inner guidance rather than those whom you considered experts. This point I termed “critical mass,” and this is when favorable sychroncities begin to happen daily in your life. My website has resources and a free how-to report. Have a great day!! (John, you are absolutely correct.)

  37. Hey John,

    I’ve supported and probably funded more online pimps and informational drug dealing gurus than anyone else in web history.

    But every once in a while I get to read your stuff and get my mind right.

    Good Post!

    The Mad Guy :-)

  38. ken ca|houn says:

    Good post. First step in critical thinking also involves intelligent competitive thinking in the first place; most never even get that far.

    Those that do try and sell often do so with pitches that are blunt instrument cheesy “buy my stuff its great” before EARNING the sale (with results, proof elements, testimonials, content given generously before a pitch, to establish value/positioning).

    I find my sales are finally growing steadily once again, even as my competitors whine about ‘they’re not buying’, because reputation/credibility/trust factors in selling count.

    My goal is to think critically about how to methodically destroy my competitors with well crafted counter-positioning copy, and it works great. It’s all very carefully designed to win over and retain the marketplace, and done well, it’s a business-saver.

    I raise the bar for BS-detection, educating my customers about what questions to ask before buying in my industry, and that dries up sales for my competitors as i win their former customers over to me. Business is war. Copy is key.

    -k

  39. Gene says:

    Dear John,

    I write this letter to you as as a comment to your earlier post, so it wouldn’t attract too much attention.

    Here is one idea and realization that I want to share with you. I feel, that you reading this may change the whole world. I truly believe that.

    You are a very smart man, well read and informed. Therefore you might approximate, what is happening with global economy right now. You are aware, how the Federal Reserve screws up things by trying to control things in the interest of very select, smart, but morally immature individuals. You also know f what legislations are being passed in recent weeks for the “security” of the nation, taking people’s liberties away with increasing speed. You are informed how many horrible wars are fought for the sake of these select groups with hundreds of innocent dying. How this little gulp of freedom with the internet that we had for the last 15 years may not only be the first era of free access to any information by the people, but perhaps the last one as well.
    But due to this gulp, this buffer, the miraculous accident that we experience, we might have a chance to change things around and have a future where free entrepreneurs’ chances to succeed by providing value to the people will not be a temporary phenomena of economy. Where people will be able to afford food, water and electricity and the essence of Free Market that made America great will return and flourish, instead of slowly diminishing.

    Right now, we may feel safe enough to say “I’m not interested in politics, let other people take care about that”, but that may end quicker than the masses realize, and you know it, John.

    In the upcoming election Ron Paul is going to run for the president again. You probably know who the guy is, if you’ve had just a slight glimpse at the political arena. He is the only guy, who actually practices what he preaches and who actually preaches, what the founders of your country preached. If you haven’t heard of him – 15 minutes of research will give you all the data needed. But to put into one sentence he wants to abolish the fed, get the dollar back to gold standard and stop all wars, by significantly reducing the military complex. He is at it at 30 years know, he already ran for president twice, and none of his actions in the senate ever proven him deviating from these ideas throughout his whole career.

    The support of his ideas amongst young people is tremendous and most of his last campaign was pretty much viral and spontaneous, mostly due to YouTube. By this time, a demand for a guy with ideas like that and an actual integrity grew tremendously. In the last year the trend is even higher. People were making money bombs to support him, even when he himself was not sure if he’s going to run again or not.
    HOWEVER, the biggest problem of his campaign is not fundraising – they’re doing pretty good with that. It’s the copy. Look at his campaign’s website – it’s a joke, they probably don’t even know what call to action is. People who run his website and most likely his future campaign clearly demonstrate Madison Avenue type of thinking. They will do everything in their incompetent unconscious power to screw things up. We need some geniuses from direct response to work on that. And to change that. May be someone from your best students or perhaps yourself? I mean, it would probably take equal effort to taking up a freelance project – but how different is the impact!!

    If you or one of your friends writes the copy for Ron Paul, America may finally have a president bent on ending all wars, reducing the power of the lobbyists, reducing taxes to the minimum, stopping the dollar printing machine, getting rid of the federal reserve and setting a gold standard for the dollar. More importantly he will due everything in his power to restore the free market rules as they should be, with zero regulations and interference. Well, at least he will try. Everybody else won’t even try. They don’t have the competence and the perspective, even when their intentions are good.

    Now, I understand that a good entrepreneur usually tries not to show his political affiliations publicly, so I do not expect to have a detailed answer on this public board. I put it on a blog only for the simple reason, that it actually has more chances of reaching you personally than a support ticket does. I do not need an answer – all I want is to make this world a better place and I invite you to participate in this way.
    It is most likely possible to contact Ron Paul’s office and make all the appropriate suggestions and get involved in this project or get someone reliable involved. Show them the benefits, establish credibility, make a sale. Heck, it’s just another potential business client and will act like such. It’s just, that the impact of the campaign will go way beyond brining in profit and providing value to the customers.

    Isn’t this one of the most important ways in which we can influence our species’ future right now? My call to action is simple, please consider the idea contributing to the campaign as a copywriter and if this idea looks worthwhile, perhaps it would be wise to get in contact with the representatives about the idea and sell it. This will actually change the world for the better. Thanks for reading. Peace.

  40. Broc says:

    I agree having an awake mind is valuable. But there’s something to be careful about here… if I ask someone how to think critically I’ve cut myself off from doing so.

    That is… the attitude behind seeking out someone else’s answers, someone else’s recipe is fundamentally a non-critical attitude. To ask how to do it, when it comes to having an awake mind, is futile. The asking itself is evidence the mind is not awake because if it were it would find out for itself and it would be obvious.

    I also think it’s worth mentioning there hasn’t yet been a way developed to see things as they are apart from human perception. It’s true we color everything we experience with our ideas, our beliefs, etc. But that phenomenon can’t be undone. What would you undo it with? The very tool you would try to un-stick your filters of awareness with is the thing that filters awareness… your consciousness.

    This is what Alan Watts would say often… it’s like trying to touch the tip of this finger with the tip of this finger. Or bite your own teeth. Or run away from your own legs. The stronger the effort the more obviously futile.

    Maybe you can use different beliefs to achieve different ends. I think that is a pretty well established phenomena. But for anyone to believe they see the world ‘as it is’ as something immutably true is someone deceiving themselves.

    And before I’m done contributing to the discussion here, this idea that “most people” are somnambulant blobs is just that… an idea. It might act as a humored way to help organize your efforts as a marketer to get attention but if you really start to believe it, like any belief, it will limit your perception of the world around you (in a rather negative way I might add).

  41. [...] Read the post here.You’ll thank me later. [...]

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