Category Archives: copywriting

copywriting

The Grizzled Pro Speaks

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Friday, 2:29pm
Reno, NV
Ch-ch-changes, oh look out, you rock and rollers…” (David Bowie, “Changes”)

Howdy.

All last week, on Facebook, I opened myself up to the mob…

… and promised to answer the best 5 questions posed in an experimental “Bug The Grizzled Pro” post. I just wanted to see what was bothering folks, holding them up, disrupting sleep and profits and happiness.

I was pretty damned impressed with the level of questions that poured in, too. Finding 5 good ones was easy. Answering them required my full focus… and the stuff is good.

So, just to make sure this advanced Q&A isn’t lost in the mire of Facebook (where stuff fades away forever), I’ve posted the entire exchange here. (If you want to see the comments, you’ll have to go to my Facebook page and root around in the posts for the week of November 9-14. And while you’re there, thrilling to the banter, trolling, and fevered debate, sign up to follow me, why don’tcha?)

Here’s the relevant posts. Enjoy:

Post #1:

Bug The Grizzled Pro: Anything you’d like to ask me about, or see me rant about here or on the blog?

I’ll never run out of my own ideas (you oughta see the cluster-mess of untapped stories, advice, epiphanies and general bullshit roiling around in my head)…

… (just be happy you aren’t experiencing this kind of internal chaos yourself)…

… but I’m always happy to see what folks are curious about.

I mean, really — how often do you get a chance to strafe the deck of a veteran, seen-it-all professional like this?

Give it a shot. The worst that can happen is public humiliation, or accidental enlightenment that forces you to change your life (or something in-between).

Don’t be a coward. Ask.

I’ll answer the first… um… five good questions during the week. But they gotta be good…

Post #2:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part One: Hey, some really good questions came out of Sunday’s FB post “Bug The Grizzled Pro”. I promised to answer the best 5 during the week, and I shall. (You can continue to post more questions, to your heart’s content.)

Right off the bat, we got some killer subjects to dive into. David Ayad posts: “Share your opinion about the changes in the marketing world from the 90s compared to today? Marketing changes, copy changes, changes in the marketing community. Better now or then?…why?”

Actually, he cheated by mushing 7 questions into one… but the general idea is coherent.

Yes, there are massive changes to marketing that arrived with the viability of the Web as a way to find, sell and manage prospects. The main explosion came around 2002, when banks began offering online merchant accounts… and especially when my 90-year-old Pop mentioned he was getting certain medications from overseas, online, using his credit card. That was as major an announcement as I could ask for, that buying crap on the Web had gained legitimacy amongst the greater public.

Two major advantages were like an earthquake in the biz world: (1) If you had a pitch that worked to existing targeted lists (direct mail and magazine)… you now could reach nearly every single prospect who existed, globally. Instead of only being able to reach those who’d already bought or become a lead on a house list, or who subscribed to a particular magazine.

Your market, overnight, blew up from thousands to millions. It was so dramatic, it took a while for old-school marketers to even realize the implications.

(2) You could now test IN REAL TIME. Direct mail tests could take months, and magazine ad tests half a year to play out. Suddenly, especially with Adwords, you could direct enough traffic to a site to get statistically-significant results in an evening… and do A/B split tests seconds apart.

All over the planet, old-school marketers heads exploded. They were often like folks back at the beginning of air travel — the possibilities didn’t quite sink in immediately.

This meant there was a long period where younger, more tech-savvy entrepreneurs could thrive, often in hot markets with little or no competition. Low-hanging fruit, we called it. You could actually be the ONLY marketer in many highly-profitable markets…

… which meant that sloppy advertising worked like magic. You just needed to have a site that didn’t crash, with an easy way for folks to order. It was just like The Wild West, with few rules, no oversight, no regulations.

So a lot of people became experts simply by announcing they were. Tech savvy was often more critical than marketing savvy… until the competition got heavier. Slowly, the half-assed “I read one book on writing ads and made a gazillion bucks” online Wonder Kids had to either get better at the salesmanship part, or find freelancers who could jack up the quality of their pitches.

Understanding tech then began to segment out… so online marketing again resembled the advertising world of the nineties and earlier — there were media experts who couldn’t write copy, managers who didn’t understand salesmanship (but could wrangle a huge staff), and writers who could barely turn on a computer (but who could blast out killer ads that worked in every different medium used).

Joe Sugarman, back in the early nineties, could run an entire infomercial juggernaut (with his BluBlocker sunglasses) with a two-person shop — writing, filming, buying late-night cable spots, doing everything but actually producing the sunglasses — for several years. Today, countless entrepreneurs can create a deep biz model and write everything, build all the sites themselves, self-manage lists, and outsource what they don’t want (or need) to handle.

In general ways, it’s not that different. VSLs (video sales letters) are really just infomercials in a different format. Many old-school marketers (like Dan Kennedy), in fact, create all their VSLs using the identical models of writing and producing they used FOR informercials a decade ago.

I have many ads I wrote for direct mail and magazines back in the nineties now running as spoken-word, low-production-value VSLs… with minimal editing. Twenty-year-old copy, working just fine in a new vehicle.

So, the more things change, the more they evolve into very similar models. Not exactly, of course. But I witnessed online ads from the very beginning (and I was fooling around on the Web before it was even called the World Wide Web, as a hippie in Silicon Valley in the late seventies)…

… and while it may appear that many marketing tactics and techniques are “new”, it’s all really just a reboot of good salesmanship, taking full advantage of the larger markets and faster testing times.

In other words, it’s still just one human communicating with another human, negotiating a deal. The fundamentals of the conversation haven’t changed since the dawn of time. The details, however, have changed. Dramatically.

I like it, personally. I’d never sold anything to a Brazilian or a Chinese citizen or an African entrepreneur before the Web widened the audience for my crap to the entire globe.

I do think things have calmed down a bit — we won’t see model-morphing changes like Google, email, streaming video, or even social media, happening at such a rapid clip for a while. The Wild West has settled down, and it’s becoming a game of regulation, managing the competition, and learning how to operate a real business (something most entrepreneurs suck at, by the way).

There’s still a ton of disruption going on, and no one can predict what civilization will look like in ten years. (Wm Gibson, who predicted a lot of current online wonders in cyberpunk books like Neuromancer, for example, admits he never saw something like Facebook happening.)

But it’s more like the years after the revolution now — still different, still not settled, but the upheaval from pre-Enlightenment to post-Enlightenment thinking is over. It’s a brave new world… which just happens to echo much of the goofy old world world.

It’s significant that old-school dudes like Halbert, Kennedy, Makepeace and even my own scrawny ass have remained go-to advisors, marketing mentors, and top writers amidst all the technology changes.

The Web is freakin’ amazing. But it’s still just another vehicle for humans to do their thang. The vehicle — whether it’s television, drone delivery, direct mail, or brain implants — is still just the delivery system for your message.

And the fundamental message of selling hasn’t changed at all.

Jeez… can I even post something this long on FB? Will Zuck allow it?

Side note: If you like this kind of deep insight, advice and sharing, you may want to check out the ways to reach me (and even hang out) personally. Just go here — it’ll take you all of five minutes to see what’s up.

Okay. Continuing with the Facebook posts…

Post #3:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part Two: Hope you liked “Part One”, just below this post.

Feel free to chime in, in the comments — we’re always open to new sub-threads around here. Don’t ask why — it’s complicated.

Anyway… the next question I’ve chosen is from our old pal Harlan Kilstein… who asks: “Since Facebook copy is similar to catalog copy, I’ve never seen you write about forced short copy. What are the critical elements in short copy that will drive people to long copy?”

Very interesting question. I hear it put different ways, but it all squeegies down to a basic writer’s problem: How do you distill larger ideas into tasty, bite-sized tidbits…

… that persuade the reader to continue reading elsewhere. Or to start reading a much more involved piece.

This is right in the wheelhouse of a grizzled, old-school veteran copywriter. In the Bad Old Days (before the Web) (yes, this time existed, and it wasn’t that freakin’ long ago, so shut up) there were almost always strict limits on the amount of copy you could write.

In newspapers, you could only shrink the typeface so far down, until it became unreadable… so if you wrote more copy than the space ad you bought could hold, you had to edit. And edit. And finagle and fuss and cram to make everything fit.

Key word there: “Fit.” Take a look at some older newspaper or magazine direct response ads — they’re dense with copy, to the point of making readers squint.

In direct mail, extra words could end up costing you massive wads of money. You had to keep first class mail (still do) under an ounce to avoid having to put extra stamps on your envelopes. (Go ask your Mom what a “stamp” is.)

Even third-class mail has weight limits. So writers who wanted controls were VERY concerned with the weight of the paper, the envelope, even the microscopic density of the ink used… because it took real engineering skill to make a standard 8-page letter, with reply coupon and BRE, lift note, and any other gew-gah the client demanded be tossed into the envelope come in under an ounce.

Failure meant huge stacks of printed, stamped envelopes being returned by the Post Office for “insufficient postage”. More stamps had to put on, making everyone very, very cranky… and instantly increasing the cost of your project by a whole bunch.

Good way to get fired, doing that.

On infomercials and radio spots, we could speed up the vocals to fit in more copy, but there was a sonic limit. Even chipmunks have to be clearly heard, to have your message get across.

So…

… old-school copywriters were inherently masters at writing within limits. I actually cut my teeth on catalog copy, which had character counts per “copy area” that could not be violated. The photos were often more important, and there was a lot of default copy already in each space (for order numbers, guarantees, etc.)

When Adwords appeared, with strict character counts for each line, newbie writers who had only known the vast, unlimited wasted space of Websites, freaked the hell out. Us grizzled pro’s just shrugged, and got into what I call “essential copy”.

Everything you write in an ad — the headline, subhead, photo caption, opening paragraphs, bullets, guarantee copy, close, P.S., testimonials, all of it — has a “hook” or fundamental element that is the beating heart of that section.

When you’ve got to start condensing things… especially when you’re writing “teaser” copy meant to incite further action (like clicking on a link where a longer piece is laid out for you)… you go into a different mode of thinking.

Yes, you’re imparting information, but it’s more like appetizers of the main meal. You’re whetting the appetite of your reader… by teasing out the highlights of what is more leisurely expanded upon on the main page.

Look for the defining hooks of each section of your main piece. Spot the word or phrase or imagery that nails the essence of that hook. You may not use them all… but this is Step One. Gather your ammo.

In Adwords, you usually abandon adjectives and good grammar first, when boiling down a good teaser. You find shorter, possibly more descriptive words to replace the bloviation you’re used to expanding on.

And a whole lot of important stuff will have to be left out entirely. Stuff your client may think is critical. Stuff you would include, if you could. But there simply isn’t room — somebody’s gotta stay behind, while the reconnaissance patrol heads out.

On Facebook, you actually aren’t limited anywhere as severely as in Adwords. These posts prove that — this is several pages of copy.

However, at a certain point, your message will automatically be clipped by FB robots, and a “Continue reading…” link arbitrarily slapped in.

So, you must make sure the copy that DOES get on the newsfeed works to incite further action. You may even use the first part of your copy to get readers to click on the “Continue reading…” link and continue reading… where they’ll be further persuaded to click on yet another link, leading to your main website.

This all sounds complicated, but it’s not. Most of the sponsored ads you see on FB right now are not well-written — be wary of using them as models.

Adwords (or FB ads) penned by experienced pro copywriters will read like focused blasts of brain dynamite — pricking your curiosity, challenging your reality, waking you up and demanding that you click to find out more.

Ask yourself, when writing condensed copy: What are the emotional, financial, possibly spiritual, certainly success-targeted fundamental hooks of your message? You can tease, or be direct… use curiosity or just state plain facts… depending on how unique, valuable, and critical your message is to your audience.

Free is always a good word, when applicable. Pattern interrupts are good — challenging standard thinking, using images that wake folks up.

Just don’t worry about grammar. Imagine having half a matchbook cover and a broken pencil stub, and you have to scribble a message that alerts your rescuers to where you are, and what they must be ready for. No room for last will and testaments, no room for teary requests for forgiveness, no room for unnecessary words.

Keep considering the essence of what you’re saying. Know what the hooks are in your message. Study the art of teasing readers into action.

WARNING: Rookies are often tempted to lie, or exaggerate, or try to trick readers into clicking on a link. This is a loser’s game — the second the game is up, and your reader sees he’s been duped, he’s gone.

If you have something your reader needs, or wants, or SHOULD want… inside of a damn good deal, with risk reversed and lots of testament to your awesomeness…

… then you’re front-loaded with excellent hooks targeted to his sweet spot of need.

All right?

All right.

That was fun…

Side note: If you like this kind of deep insight, advice and sharing, you may want to check out the ways to reach me (and even hang out) personally. Just go here — it’ll take you all of five minutes to see what’s up.

Post #4:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part Three: Are we having fun yet?

I am. I love having the chance to air out some good, specific questions here… especially knowing they matter to folks right now.

Tonight, an easy one (the 3rd of 5 I promised)… and a chance to highlight another resource for good, free, veteran-level advice.

Mitch Miller writes: “John, our stories are nearly identical personality and life situation wise. I am 31, and have just started to blast off into success land (thanks to you and Halbert and understanding that I am only one good sales letter away from a fortune). My question would be:

How can I limit the amount of damage I will surely do to myself by all of a sudden making a pile of money? My time has come, and I feel I am finally about to peak – I do not want to blow it all on lamborghinis and dinners, though I know that could happen to me.

It is inevitable that I am about to “get rich” so to speak – how does a kid who grew up poor, not kill himself with all that angst when I finally make it?

Love yah man.”

Well. First, thanks for the kind words, Mitch.

Second… it just so happens that the podcast I co-host with Kevin Rogers — “Psych Insights For Modern Marketers” — did an entire show on this very subject not too long ago.

So rather than re-hash what we shared, just follow the link below to the podcast, and get hip. (Be sure to sign up for alerts on future shows, too, if you like the podcast. Remember: All free.)

Let me add: What Mitch asks about is a very real, very pervasive, and very stubborn problem for anyone… in any gig… who gets good, gets rewarded, and suddenly has to face dramatic financial, emotional and intellectual change.

The old saying “Money can’t buy happiness” is true… though, most folks would prefer to learn it for themselves, rather than just be lectured about it. So, I know from experience that nothing I say can make anyone pause — even for a moment — when they climb on the roller coaster of rapid wealth.

Still, once the consequences of moving up a level (or more) in raw wealth and prestige start to settle in… and they will, and it will be painful (especially if you started out in modest circumstances) (like living out of your car, as I did)…

… it’s CRITICAL that you know these tactics for dealing with the burn-out and lifestyle changes descending on your ill-equipped ass.

So go here, and feast your ears: http://pi4mm.com/show07-burnout/

Side note: If you like this kind of deep insight, advice and sharing, you may want to check out the ways to reach me (and even hang out) personally. Just go here — it’ll take you all of five minutes to see what’s up.

Post #5:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part 4:

Here’s an answer I gave last night, in the comments of the last post. It qualifies as one of the 5 I’m ranting on this week. Alex Ramirez is in a real fix, having blown his initial investment in becoming an entrepreneur, and now down to his final pennies…

… and, worse, paralyzed into inaction because of it. My colleague David Raybould chimed in first, with some good advice, and then I went off on my own answer. First, David:

“Alex I’m a buddy of John’s and a former mentee, so I know he won’t mind me jumping in. The ugly truth is that starting out in such a pressurized situation probably isn’t going to lead to the instant success it seems you’re hoping for. But that’s okay. That’s why it’s called starting out. You will fail until you don’t. But don’t have an “event” mentality about it. Success isn’t an event. It’s a process. Perfect the process, trust the process, and rewards will follow. It’s just traffic and conversions. Anything else is extraneous. Also be wary of feeling like you need to answer to family members in regard to your business. The two should be very separate. The only way for you to succeed from here Alex is to take some action. So get off Facebook and go do it.

Now, my added comments… relevant to ALL entrepreneurs, at all stages of the roller coaster:

“Excellent response, David. All entrepreneurs face failure, constantly. Put as many odds in your favor as possible, and when you have to grind, grind. Alex, everyone here feels for your situation. Many have been in some version of it themselves. There are no magic answers, however. It’s business — your plan, your marketing, your advertising, all the pieces are put into action, and you do all you can to get the results you seek.

But plans fail, circumstances outside your control interfere, and sometimes even great ads stop working. Nothing in biz is guaranteed. Every top marketer you know of has had projects fail. You need to learn when to stop throwing good money after bad, when to regroup and start over, when to call it a loss and try something new.

The gun-to–the-head attitude is just a reminder to make the best possible decision at all times. It’s not a guarantee you’ll always be right, or that things will work out. The gun isn’t real — it’s a metaphor. So you don’t do things on a whim, and you do the things with the greatest chance of winning.

The problems you likely encountered happened long ago. The time to regroup is not at the end of your resources. Learn from this. Get a job, if you must, to restock your bank acc’t. Work out a repayment plan. Keep learning how to make a project work.

Money is not a finite resource in the world. You can earn more, work your way into a better-position on your next project — so you’re not hemorrhaging money in a losing campaign.

Again — there’s no magic to successful projects. Large amounts of money upfront doesn’t mean you’ll succeed, big staffs don’t mean you’ll succeed, and great ideas don’t mean you’ll succeed. It isn’t the end of the world to fail, when you can muster new opportunities after recovering.

You sound young. That means you have time on your side. You are not forbidden to try again with a new project, if you fail. You can take a job, and focus on learning how to fix what you did wrong while repaying loans and starting a new war chest for the next project down the road.

Again — there are no magic answers. But there are other projects, other opportunities, and other ways to both learn from failure, and do better next time.

Good luck. And don’t call me “pops”. Plus, all I ever asked for from that first copywriter I met was a clue. A bit of info. Which is what I’ve been pouring into the world, through my free blog, this free Facebook page, my free podcasts. I’ve never asked anyone to save me. Just info.

You have massive lessons to learn here. It may take you years to learn them, and get back in the game. You may never be a successful entrepreneur — you must live in reality, and be honest about your situation at every stage.

You may also make it all work the next time around. It depends on you, and how you apply the lessons you learn. Every biz owner alive faces the same risk of failure. It’s a process, not an event, as David said above.”

Side note: If you like this kind of deep insight, advice and sharing, you may want to check out the ways to reach me (and even hang out) personally. Just go here — it’ll take you all of five minutes to see what’s up.

Post #6:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part 5 (last one, folks):

Well, this has been quite the education. In how Facebook treats entrepreneurs just trying to connect with folks, in how people react to a pro offering free advice, and in how much crap is simmering on a low-flame in my mind, just waiting to be tapped.

Okay, last one. Christopher Chia posts: “John, I’d love to see you rant about what’s really important to you now, after a long and successful career, after you’ve gone in cahoots with the world’s best marketers… Lessons learnt, things you wish you knew starting out, the advice you’d give out to the young buggers of today, etc. Thanks!”

My answer: First, just go traipse through the (free) archives at the blog — www.john-carlton.com. I’ve been writing pretty much entirely on this subject for over a decade now.

What’s important to me has remained the same for many years — I love to teach, through writing, via my own experiences. So it’s like an ongoing biography, focused on biz. I love to shuck and jive, and my career has reached a point where I can do whatever I want… and what I want to do is live fully (chewing up large chunks of scenery along the way, as I always have) and write with verve and gusto.

I’m not the off-the-rails wild man I was as a young punkster, but I still crave enlightenment and raw knowledge. Which, you should knock on wood, I hone by sharing. Here, on the blog, in books.

My unusual style of teaching sometimes connects with folks in a big way. I got to where I am today by making almost every mistake possible in a copywriting career. Literally — I was like the bull in the china shop in my early years, with a rapacious appetite for learning, and a sense there was no time to lose in getting on the path to success.

This meant I bit off more than I could chew at times. And encountered situations where I stumbled, and even failed. But it didn’t matter…

… because I was after the long-term goal — securing a place for me in the hierarchy of the business world. That’s all I wanted.

So the mistakes weren’t stopping points, or even obstacles. They were LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES. I never vowed to “do better next time”…

… instead, I actually logged the time and effort (and expense) filling in the gaps in my knowledge/skill base, and worked at my chops until I would actually DO better next time. No promises. Vows and promises aren’t worth anything in the real world. Actually coming back with a fresh set of better skills IS worth something in the real world.

So my teaching method just naturally plays off my personal stories. I’m not teaching you a lesson I read in a book somewhere, or got schooled on in a seminar.

Nope. I’m relating how I got into the mess… how I got OUT of the mess… what I learned… and how I fixed things so I did better next time. This means you get to hear the rollicking war stories plucked directly from my life…

… and see how the lessons played out in reality. (Reality — what a concept. Rather than viewing the world as you wish it was, or think it ought to be… you view the world AS IT REALLY IS, and adjust accordingly.) (The first thing I jettisoned, when I became a professional, was my youthful idealism. Belief systems are fine, but piss-poor ways to run a biz on. Get away from what people SAY they’ll do, and focus instead on what they actually DO. It’s often as different as night and day.)

Some folks don’t do well with this teaching method. They’re used to just having the steps spelled out, one, two, three… and the idea of going the long way around the block… through stories… to get to the point of the lesson just drives them nuts.

Plus, as a real kinda guy, I can be mouthy and let my bad attitude off the leash a bit too often. I use slang a lot, I swear like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and I don’t pull punches in verbal brawls.

This is because, as a rookie, I discovered I learned best when taught by someone with the same outlook on life that I had. Conservative, uptight, formal mentors are fine for some folks — preferable, in fact, if that’s your personal style.

But I’ve always been engaged with life further out on the edges. I’m not interested in living and breathing business — I’ve got too many other interests, hobbies, skill sets and passions. Often, I’ll work these outside passions into lessons — because biz IS life, on a slightly more intense scale. Money’s at stake, and failure.

Still, I’ve been able to parlay my days playing in rock bands, in biker bars across the West, into excellent biz lessons. Cuz biz lessons and life lessons… and rock and roll lessons… all overlap and intertwine. My dearly-missed mentor Gary Halbert knew this well, and that’s why we got along so famously.

I’m a shy, introverted dude. But you’re not gonna be successful as a freelancer hiding and avoiding people. So I learned the ways of the extrovert, and was stunned to learn that most of the top speakers in the seminars are introverts, too. We just adopt the extrovert’s tactics for the length of the gig… and collapse in our rooms later, exhausted but successful.

The world is an amazing, dangerous, wonderful and scary place. There are few other gigs that drill deep into every part of life like copywriting — you have to be a detective, a shrink, a circus handler, a money man, a debate expert and maybe a dozen other things, all at once.

And that’s just to handle clients. Creating product, running a biz, kick-starting entrepreneurial projects… all require critical thinking way beyond what “civilians” (what I call everyone who isn’t a direct response-savvy marketer) can even imagine.

Freelancers go behind the curtains, backstage, into the dark secret places of biz, and clients’ lives, and even into the dungeons of capitalism itself. It requires the nerves of a mercenary, the balls of a Bezerker, the steel-trap mind of an Enlightenment philosopher, the courage of a Jack Russell terrier going after squirrels. Through traffic. Halfway up trees. With little thought to survival, and total unwavering focus on the goal at hand.

Cops have a gig somewhat like ours. With more real danger added. Firefighters share our requirement for focus. Sailboat fools and some skateboarders know what I’m talking about regarding eating risk for breakfast.

I was a total slacker when I hit my early thirties, and that had to change immediately if I was going to taste even mild success in the biz world. So I transformed myself — with books when raw knowledge was needed, with experience at every opportunity (unafraid to fail), with mentoring whenever possible, at whatever price was asked.

You can live an entire life half-asleep, snoozing away and never accomplishing anything. Many people choose this path. You’ll have a lot of company if you decide the bruises, occasional humiliations and nerve-wracking risk of the entrepreneurial world is too much to bear.

Those of us who live here love it all, though. It’s a decision, not a default setting in your system. Every move is up to you… and most of the time, it will be ENTIRELY up to you. Cuz no one else gives a shit, not really, about you in the long run. I mean, they “care”, but not enough to sacrifice themselves for your happiness.

If you need unqualified love, get a dog. (I did.) The biz world ain’t about coddling or nurturing… it’s about grappling with reality and capitalism, fully aware and hungry for knowledge, challenges and rewards.

For more like this — again — go haunt the freakin’ blog. It’s filled to the rafters with rants just like this… www.john-carlton.com

And that’s the lot of them. I’ve bought big, thick biz books that didn’t have a fraction of the solid advice in them you’ve just read here.

Seriously. Use this blog — the archives are gold.

And check out the other opportunities available to connect with me (and even hang out): www.carltoncoaching.com

Stay frosty,

John

Why Is This So Freaking Hard To Do?

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Friday, 2:33pm
Reno, NV
Get away from me, kid, ya bother me…” (Tom Waits, “Step Right Up”)

Howdy.

So, let’s take on the entire advertising model of western civilization, what d’ya say?

Here’s a good place to start: It’s the end of baseball season, playoff fever in the air. I’ve been watching the SF Giants stumble-bum their way through a summer swoon (barely making the last NL wild-card spot)…

… and generally enjoying the age-old process of heartbreak and joy. I followed sports religiously as a kid, but paid less and less attention to it as the real-life adventures of adulthood took up all my time… and now, having a wee bit more time to indulge, I’ve returned to the fold.

But I record the games, and watch them after-the-fact.

Because of the mind-numbing commercial breaks.

I’m not alone, of course. Across the country, grown men and women run screaming from rooms when someone inadvertently turns on the evening news, for fear of hearing the score in a game they’re recording for later.

And being forced to endure the entire broadcast — including the endless, mind-melting commercial breaks — in, say, a bar or a friend’s house is pure torture.

The SAME commercials will play over and over, sometimes twice in the same break. Some of the national ones are mildly clever (at best), but hardly classic films that deserve repeated views. And the local stuff is just awful. (The locals can be excused, of course — tiny budgets, no insight to how persuasion actually works, and they’re at the mercy of clueless ad agencies or a brother-in-law with a camcorder. There’s even some charm in the awkwardness of homemade spots… sometimes, anyway. Mostly not, but you might get the flavor of the area at times.)

But the national spots have no real excuse. Yes, there is value in repetitive views — the average buyer sees a late-night cable infomercial something like 7 times, in pieces lasting a few minutes, before pulling out a credit card. There’s a process to the art of long-form, chew-up-the-wee-hours commercials.

However, the model of jamming a single pre-recorded commercial into every break in a sporting contest just begs to be ignored. Any thinking creature knows to check out mentally during the break, and go do something else. If you’re welded to the couch (say, in the midst of watching a blowout, weighed down by one too many beers), you still do not “watch” any commercial for the 20th time…

… you just exist while it flickers on the tube, a vague irritation forced on you while you wait for the fun to continue.

Why do advertisers do this?

Fear, first of all. Fear of making a mistake, of offending viewers, of risking the wrath of clients or shareholders or CEO overlords. And fear of being held accountable — the top Madison Avenue ad agencies never make true direct response commercials, because that would require measuring results…

which, oops, might expose them for the charlatans they are. As long as they make high-production-value commercials with lots of explosions and special effects, while celebrities intone nonsense slogans with Shakespearean urgency, and never ask for a response from viewers…

… well, there can be nothing to measure. Thus, the ad becomes a “success” if the client “likes” it. Never mind if it actually brings in sales or not. (And the few car commercials that actually do push special sales events keep everything vague enough to cover the agency’s ass with plausible deniability.)

Second, few large corporations allow real sales-savvy folks to rise in the hierarchy. The decision-makers have no clue how to create effective advertising — that’s why they hire “the best” agencies money can buy.

But my experience over the decades is that real salesmanship remains a scarce commodity even in award-heavy ad agencies. They like to pretend they understand selling, but their love of white-bread humor, strange metaphors (“buy this car and you’ll be a super-cool secret agent!”) and logic-defying slogans gives them away. I mean, “We’re the best. Period.” WTF?

Total rubes in the selling game. Frauds. (Man, did I just say that out loud?)

Lastly… the big advertisers continue to bore and irritate their best potential customers because…

… they are ignorant fools.

Even a cursory knowledge of the history of commercial success in television gives them the easiest possible answer to this problem. And they’re too self-involved and dismissive of classic salesmanship to even realize what damage they’re doing by refusing to even consider this answer.

Here’s my suggestion… and please, tell me where I’m wrong:

1. Start by hiring a spokesman who is interesting, knowledgeable, perhaps sexy (or so unsexy they’re fascinating), and… I dunno… maybe even a fan of the game. With just a wee touch of actual salesmanship in their blood.

2. Instead of shelling out big bucks for a slot to run your tired old useless pre-recorded commercial…

just go live during your spots. The technology is there, isn’t it? Tell me you can’t set up a camera on a set that delivers a live feed, on call, during breaks in a game. Explain to me how Johnny Carson did exactly this with live commercials on The Tonight Show fifty years ago, with great success…

… but you can’t do it now, because why?

3. The trick is, you ENGAGE viewers, in real time. You’re watching the game, you understand the passion and the occasional irritations of live sports… AND you’ve got a simple sales message to deliver. Be a mensch, be that guy the viewer welcomes into his world, who just happens to also have a small, understandable agenda regarding selling some product now and then.

4. There is no shortage of just-fine actors, or masters of salesmanship with some personality and wit. And ANY halfway-decent marketer with direct sales experience can think of a thousand ways to make this live break work.

The main problem is this: Viewing television is a PASSIVE behavior. As is reading the newspaper, or surfing websites, or listening to the radio. Your job, as a marketer, is to bring your prospect OUT of that passive state (garbage in, garbage out)…

and ignite an ACTIVE state in him. Your advertising should strive to be the most exciting thing he encounters all day long.

Sure, not everyone wants what you offer — but that’s the default case in marketing. You’re after the dude who IS in dire need of what you’re selling.

So focus on him. Make the spot about him, and his needs, and his state of awareness.

This ain’t rocket science. It’s fundamental direct response marketing.

5. Why be scared of something as simple and straightforward as a live spot, rather than a boring “seen it 50 times already” commercial?

In 30 seconds, I can make any sales message better, live, off the top of my head. So can most any experienced, self-respecting marketer. You engage, you keep it real, you know what’s going on (cuz you’re watching the game), and you have a simple, measurable response you request of your viewer.

6. Mistakes are GOOD, even. People will actually watch more intently if they believe a train wreck might occur.

Melt-downs are fine. Heck, get drunk, if you can still do your job. Reveal some humanity.

Messy desks, and non-perfect discussions are great — the best TV communicators have always had a knack for connecting with the audience by being a “regular guy”. By being flawed… but possessing just a small bit of insider knowledge, or a lead on a better bargain, or being a trusted resource for advice.

Yes, this is like the shopping cable shows. With sales-savvy live representatives bonding and engaging and selling the bejesus out of stuff.

Did YOU need to be persuaded by a fancy high-production Hollywood-style commercial to buy the car you’re now driving? Or did you seek out advice and info from trusted sources, drive a bunch of cars around first, take all the salesman’s blather with a grain of salt… and come to your own best conclusion?

The cliche is that middle-aged dudes with thinning hair and bulging bellies buy Porches in order to reclaim some sense of sexy youth. Maybe that happens every so often.

More often, middle-aged dudes lust after those sports cars their entire life, and can only afford one when they’re older. Sure, they’ll listen to Classic Rock while zooming around downtown, and indulge in memories and feelings of power and attractiveness they thought were lost forever…

… but they bought the car the same way you buy cars. You shop, you fool yourself about your budget, you rationalize, you seek out good info to support what you already want to do, etc.

But you are never hypnotized by a sleek, CGI-infused commercial. That’s not what sells you.

7. Finally… sports fans are not imagining that commercial breaks are getting longer and more frequent. That is actually happening. When you see a game live inside a stadium, it’s stunning how much time is wasted waiting for the national feed to finish up the commercials. Players just standing around, waiting for the okay to start playing again.

TV is losing eyeballs every year. The new generations coming up are appalled at the mindlessness of commercial television, and are finding new ways to get the entertainment, news and social connectivity they crave.

So the vanishing audience of TV gets smaller, older, and more frustrated with the endless repetitive commercials. And desperate marketers can’t think of an alternative to bombarding them with the same old shit, over and over and over again.

The live spot has already proven itself, many times in the history of television. The older audiences are already used to it, and any newer viewers trapped into watching a game live can be charmed and woken up by deft handling of good, raw, live salesmanship.

It’s a dance of death on a sinking ship.

I’m just sayin’. If you’re a huge company, and you bought 20 spots for a big game, why not use two or three of those spots to experiment a bit?

Cuz your audience is tuning you out when you run the same commercial over and over. You’re paying to be white background noise while a new pitcher comes in from the bullpen.

No one will ever listen to me on this, of course.

Savvy marketers have always been the minority in biz, and that is our strength. If the rest of the capitalist world ever caught on to how successful direct response can be (when done right), we’d lose our competitive advantage.

Most people are sleep-walking through life, bored shitless and not very good at their jobs. This includes the vast majority of decision-makers in business and in advertising. They do not understand salesmanship, they’re frightened of ballsy, aggressive direct response tactics, and they just want to please the client (who’s even more clueless than they are) and go have a martini.

But it’s fun to tackle these problems with some creative “what if” thinking, isn’t it. Especially when you get trapped into watching a game that hasn’t been recorded, and you can’t fast-forward through the breaks.

Brr. Worst torture there is for an adman. It just offends you at the cellular level.

Okay, rant over. That was fun.

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. By the way… we’re having yet another mastermind meeting this October, and I’m stunned you haven’t looked into joining us yet.

Yes, it’s exclusive, and not cheap. But the intensity of the focus on your biz, and solving your specific problems, using the vast resources and experience of the experts and fellow marketers in the group is something you’ve got to see to appreciate.

Go here to get a taste of what so many current and former members say about this rare mastermind.

It’s great stuff. I love hosting it, and I love getting to hang out with the guest experts I invite (like Joe Sugarman, Jay Abraham, Dean Jackson, Joe Polish, Rich Schefren, Bond Halbert and others). You get to rub elbows with all of us, cuz this is a small, intimate, and total “get things done” meeting.

Just check it out already… click here to see what’s up.

The Entrepreneur’s Checklist

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Friday, 2:15pm
Reno, NV
“I read the news today, oh boy…” (Lennon, “A Day In The Life”)

Howdy…

One of my favorite quotes from Gary Halbert: “There is nothing that cannot be accomplished by a man who refuses to face reality.”

You laugh, but he was dead serious. One of the reasons we became fast friends was our mutual outlook on life – whenever reality was inconvenient to our goals, we just ignored the facts, lowered our head, and bulled forward.

That photo, above, is me in high school (from the yearbook). I loved basketball, and was good enough to become the captain of the “B” squad my junior year…

… however, as should be evident in this photo, I ran into a brick wall trying out for the varsity a year later.

The guy guarding me as I took that jumper is taller than me by a foot. I was the smallest guy on the squad…

… and really, at some point a caring coach probably should have taken me aside and said “John, I know you love the game… but look at your family. No one is taller than 5’10”, and basketball is a sport for tall folks. You’re not going to magically grow into the size they want on the varsity team…”

I wouldn’t have listened, anyway. I’m like a Jack Russell terrier – a big dog trapped in a small dog’s body. Eventually, in sports, my poor eyesight and lack of height stopped me…

… but I had fun for a couple of years in the meantime.

Later on, as I was gathering my courage to try copywriting, an actual professional copywriter earnestly informed me that I should not even try.

“It’s too hard,” she said. “You’ll never be a pro writer.”

That was, of course, the BEST thing she could have ever told me. I doubt I could have survived the first years without that internal motivation of needing to prove her wrong.

I call it “negative motivation”… and it’s actually one of the most powerful forces available for getting stuff done. I never saw her again, and don’t even remember her name…

… so it wasn’t a need to flaunt my success in her face. It was all internal for me – I used her as the “face” of the obstacles in front of me, and I even laughed when I later realized I was in a position to tell her “Fuck you, I made it anyway.”

Yes, my internal ego is an immature twerp sometimes. Chip on the shoulder, snarling underdog attitude, and an almost stupidly-aggressive and irrational refusal to face reality.

I am so grateful for it, too.

(By the way… I nailed that shot in the photo, above… and ended up with 20 points while also hitting the winning basket. Easily my finest moment in a futile, doomed effort to be a “real” basketball player. A has-been at 16.)

You do not need to be a belligerent rebel to be a good entrepreneur…

… but it can help sometimes.

Certainly, given the choice of sitting down to dinner with the business types in suits, who are uber-polite and careful in their conversations…

… or the rowdy crowd of rule-breaking ne’er-do-well whack job entrepreneurs who may easily get kicked OUT of the restaurant….

… well, you know which one I’d pick.

I was Halbert’s sidekick for a very long time, and one of the most enjoyable parts of the gig wasContinue Reading

Buzz And Awe, Redux

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Tuesday, 2:08 a.m.
Reno, NV
Is there gas in the car? Yeah, there’s gas in the car…” (Steely Dan, “Kid Charlemagne”)

Howdy…

Those of you in the loop know we’ve re-launched the coaching program of the Simple Writing System again.

We rarely offer this hand-holding, personalized, one-on-one mentoring (by coaches who are also successful copywriters). The last session was a couple of years ago.

No idea when another session will come around… if it even does.

We take this one program at a time. It’s notorious among marketing insiders, because of how effectively we’re able to transform almost anyone into a sales-message-producing machine… quickly and efficiently. It’s life-changing, and business-changing mojo…

… and that’s why the top marketers in the game have demanded that the folks in their organization responsible for marketing TAKE this course.

The personalized coaching in the SWS is extremely interactive Perfect for anyone who knows that hands-on mentoring is the best way to learn the simplest possible system (crammed with short-cuts) for creating all the sales messages needed for a profitable business…

… including all your ads, websites, video scripts, emails, AdWords, blogs and other social media broadsides…

everything that pumps eager prospects into your Sales Funnel.

So you can close the heck out them.  And get filthy rich and happy, and become the most successful entrepreneur or biz owner possible… because without killer, persuasive copy, you’re not going to find, nor close very many prospects.

Most marketers wander through the wasteland of Bad Business Practices their entire career…

… and never figure out how to SELL anything.

So, no matter how totally hot and good and righteous your product or service might be…Continue Reading

Department Of First-World Problems

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Thursday, 10:37pm
San Francisco, CA
If you want it, here it is, come and get it…” (Badfinger)

Howdy…

Quick post today — I’m hosting my awesome Platinum Mastermind early tomorrow, and have a little prep work left to do.

However, I thought you might enjoy sampling the kind of posts I’m getting global recognition for… on Facebook. So I ripped a recent one from the site, and put it here for your delight and consumption.

Social media confuses most marketers — many refuse to even engage with Twitter or Facebook (or any of the myriad other options online to share silly secrets and post photos you’ll regret later). But I was an early adopter, and eagerly so — I had one of the very first marketing blogs (which you’re enjoying here), one of the first biz-oriented podcasts on iTunes (and if you haven’t listened to the latest free podcasts I’ve been hosting, go to the Psych Insights For Modern Marketers site now and indulge: www.pi4mm.com)…

… and I’ve been breaking every “rule” on Facebook ever since it hit the mainstream. I use FB to have fun, sometimes… but also to share insight, advice, lessons and some of the more obscure (and funny) war stories I’ve gathered in my 30 year career. (I currently have 5,000 “friends” — the limit — plus another couple of thousand “followers”… and I expect them all to show up at my wake and cause trouble. I’ve made them promise, in fact.)

To get the full flavor of what’s up — including the very long comment threads that you are invited to join — you’ll need to pop over to my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/john.carlton).

However, here’s a nice little taste:Continue Reading

How To Force Me To Personally Advise You On Your Business… For Cheap.

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Friday 8:09pm
Reno, NV
“Just move on up now…” (Curtis Mayfield)

Howdy.

Quick post here to help you figure out when you should probably consider consulting with a respected, proven veteran marketing expert…

… and what your perfect consulting option is, once you’ve decided it’s time to kick your biz or career into high gear.

Step One: As a small business owner or entrepreneur (especially if you’ve been going at it alone, or mostly alone)… if you have any kind of success at all… there will come a time when you’re simply overwhelmed and need a little help. Or a lot of help.

For example:

[] It may be time for you to move up a level in your marketing… and you know that having a veteran marketing expert comb over your new plans can shortcut your path to increased wealth, while jumping over the unseen pitfalls that ruin so many other biz owners trying to expand.

[] Or, you may have a problem that needs serious attention… like sales going into the toilet, or new competitors chewing you up, or sudden changes in the marketplace that crush your bottom line (like a Google slap, or adverse rule changes at Clickbank, or the obsolescence of your product, or technological left-turns that disrupt your sales process). Even worse, what was working before suddenly isn’t working anymore, and you don’t see a clear reason why.

[] Or, you’re just working harder and harder, but sales are stagnant. Time, perhaps, to bring in an objective, experienced marketing whiz who can help you restructure your biz plan… so you maximize results, and get your life back (by working less, not more.)

[] Or, you may want high-end professional advice on your current sales funnel… just to make sure you’re not hemorrhaging money somewhere, or murdering potential sales through marketing blunders you can’t even see.

[] Or, you may be ready to start a new business adventure, and just want to be positive you’ve got your ducks lined up and you aren’t forgetting something critical.

[] Or, you have copy that may or may not be working, which you know could jack up your bottom line if a professional copywriter helped you with a total make-over.

Step Two: The best reasons to seek professional help from a veteran dude like me always have one main goal: To fix problems, and goose your bottom line into obscene levels of newfound wealth.

When your situation is urgent, the cost of hiring a consultant who can provide solutions is almost always “cheap”, because you’re extracting yourself out of a dangerous reality that threatens your business and peace-of-mind.

And it’s a screaming bargain when that consultant can offer you simple fixes inside of a plan you can put into action immediately…Continue Reading

How To Hire A Copywriter.

photo-1Tuesday, 2:14pm
Reno, NV
Are you going on this crazy voyage?” (Sailor in “King Kong”, 1933 version)

Howdy…

It’s high time for a little “public service” message here, for any marketer wanting to hire a freelance copywriter.

Cuz it’s a jungle out there.

There’s a veritable mob of available writers, of all levels of expertise (from world-class down to “should be hung”), charging all kinds of fees and making all kinds of promises.

It can get confusing, abruptly, and you can end up mismatched (or getting roughed up financially) if you don’t know what you’re doing.

So, here’s a Quick Start overview of what you – the dude or dudette doing the hiring – should get straight on before heading into the Big Scary Jungle Of Freelance Copywriters to find your perfect scribe. (This works for hiring ANY consultant, actually, so pay attention.)

Step One: Deconstruct and list what you want done.

Do you need a single ad written, or do you need your entire website created or overhauled? Do you need someone to write the necessary emails, Video Sales Letters and sales pages for a launch? Do you need a sales funnel created, starting with Adwords and traveling through landing pages, auto-responders, landing pages, and sales support?

Or what?

Step Two: Admit it if you aren’t sure what you want (or need). Double admit it to yourself if you’re absolutely clueless.

This is a critical step.

You’re about to shell out a lot of money, and put a lot of your hopes and dreams on the back of the writer you hire…Continue Reading

The Rest Of Your Freakin’ Life (one more time)

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Wednesday, 6:50pm
Reno, NV
Hey, you bastards, I’m still here!” (Steve McQueen as Papillon, floating away to freedom…)

Howdy…

I’m re-publishing — for what has become a very popular tradition on this blog — one of the more influential posts I’ve ever written.

It’s a good one, worth rereading even if you read it before.

What you’re about to encounter is a slightly tweaked way of looking at the best way to start your new year…

… but this tweak makes all the difference in the world. I’ve heard from many folks that this particular technique finally helped them get a perspective on where they’re at, where they’re going…

… and why they care about getting there.

So, even if you’ve read this post before… it’s worth another look. Especially now, as you gaze down the yawning gullet of 2013, trying to wrap your brain around a plan to make the year your bitch.

This is a critical step for entering any new period of your life. To keep your life moving ahead, you need to set some goals, dude. And most goal-setting tactics, I’ve found, are useless. Worst among them is the traditional New Year’s resolutions (which seldom last through January).

This tactic I’m sharing with you (again) is something I’ve used, very successfully, for decades…

… to reach goals, to clarify the direction of my life, and to change habits. I first shared it in the old Rant newsletter a few years back, and I’ve hauled it out here in the blog on a regular basis.  It’s timeless, classic stuff that will never let you down.

So let’s dive in. Here’s the relevant part of the post (slightly edited):

“Goal Setting 101 And
The January 15th Letter”

Yeah, yeah, I know a chat about goals can quickly turn into a boring, pedantic lecture. But then, so can a chat about space flight.

And, in reality, both space flight and your goals are VERY exciting things.Continue Reading

Staying Out Of “The Lonely Hearts” Club

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Monday, 5:55pm
Reno, NV
“Train whistle blows, lost on its own track…” (Dwight Yoakum, “Long White Cadillac”)

Howdy…

I thought you’d want to see this.

I first posted it on Facebook, and it generated an avalanche of “likes” and comments… which always means I’ve hit a nerve. And since many of the nice folks on my main list are curmudgeons who refuse to participate in social media (“Facebook, bah, humbug!”)…

… I’m reprinting it here. So you don’t have to sully yourself by dropping by Facebook. (Bonus: The post below actually trashes large swaths of the Web.)

The cold, dark days of December are, traditionally, a breeding ground for both regret over mistakes in the past year…

… and (more happily) for bold new plans in the coming year.

So, in the spirit of helping you end the year on a positive note… while also teeing up 2014 as possibly your best new year ever…

… let’s see if this advice (which has transformed so many entrepreneurial adventures into something amazing) will have any effect on you. Maybe get a head-start on wading through the mounting piles of nonsense out there, and snuggling up closer to the reality-checks and truths that can help you attain your wildest goals and dreams.

Here’s the post:

Warning (and your brain may curdle if you ignore this): I’ve been paying close attention to human behavior for longer than many of my readers have been alive. And because I felt so clueless, even as a kid, I devoured every available source of “spying” on how everyone else managed to exist in such a strange world…

… which included reading advice columns (street-level psychology at work with Ann Landers and sis Abbey), monitoring adult conversations, and stalking older kids (who were navigating life just a few hormones ahead of me).

So I’ve been a one-man research center for decades. I still haunt multiple advice columns online, see what the trolls are up to in the comment sections of NYT opinion pages, and (here’s the important part) discuss human behavior with a wide selection of colleagues both online and in person.

The discussions are critical… because there is a FLOOD of bullshit cascading down on us from every direction in the culture. It’s impossible for one individual to keep track of the spin, urban myths, misinformation campaigns…

… and (especially) the really, really, really awful investigative reporting that passes for news organizations today.

My colleagues are biz owners and pro writers well-trained in applying high-level skepticism to incoming data, and following through on research when necessary. We represent every age group of functioning adults in the culture, from all over the world (including the US hinterlands, Canucks, Limeys and other uncivilized joints), specializing in all kinds of different markets, hobbies, lifestyles and professional goals.

So when — for example — the media gets looped into a meme on how millennials (the generation of kids just now emerging from college) are bringing their parents to job interviews, and are incapable of critical thought (because of helicopter parenting) and just generally not becoming adults at all…

… we can look behind the glib stories and anecdotes and see a deeper truth.

Such as how all of us, from every living generation, have oodles of friends and family who meet every single detail of the problems now being assigned to millennials. The lack of independence, the living at home until late 30s, the whining and narcissism and sense of entitlement…

… all of it. And when you get a broader view, from older and younger colleagues, you quickly see how DEEP the bullshit can get in a media firestorm.

I hunt down photos and resumes of the reporters, and sigh. They’re like, twelve (or 32 going on 12) — insulated, given vast unearned attention through posts and stories, and dishing out accusations based on minuscule life experience.

And yet the stories stick, and become “common wisdom”.

As a marketer, you need to immerse your bad self into the culture, and understand what your prospects know and — very critical — THINK they know. And what they suspect they don’t know, or feel paranoid about not knowing.

That means you’ve got to go deep, all the time, and have resources you trust to bounce incoming data and ideas off of.

Masterminds have always been my #1 tool for this. I’m in multiple free ones, have paid for membership in others…Continue Reading

Publishers Freak-Out As Freaks Move In

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Thursday, 12:40pm
Reno, NV
I write because I cannot NOT write.” (Charlotte Bronte)

Howdy…

I want to cover three important things today.

Important Thing #1: Very exciting news this morning: My first Kindle ebook (“The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together”) elbowed its way into best-seller territory on Amazon in less than half a day. It’s #4 on the “entrepreneur” books-for-sale chart, with a bullet, and surging on the “business” charts (in the top 35).

This is like watching your latest album climb the Billboard rankings. I labored over the book (with superb editing help from our pal David “Flashman” Raybould) for many months, whipping it into shape and waiting for the right moment to dive into the wonderful new world of self-publishing that has just hit the Big Turning Point.

Now, it’s up to the reading public to decide if it’s worthwhile or not. A little scary, a little thrilling, a lot of fun for a writer who has craved being in control of publishing my own stuff, in my own damn way, for most of my life.

And, as satisfying as it is to read the great buzz-comments on the Amazon page (and in social media) for this new tome… it’s even more energizing to have finally busted my cherry in digital publishing. This first book took a while to finish and get launched. The next one will follow blazingly quick, and there are even more in the hopper.

If you are so inclined, you can check out a free preview of the book (or even, gasp, buy it) here.

Leave a comment, too. And hit the “share” button on the page. The tome is getting rave reviews, which makes sense since it’s a lovingly-revised compilation of my best Rant newsletters (which I mailed to subscribers for 6 amazing years). This is time-tested stuff, the best “here’s what Carlton’s been teaching all these years” resource possible.

Hope you enjoy it, if you buy it. Hope you stay awake all night thinking about it if you don’t buy it, and feel compelled to buy it first thing in the morning. Cuz it’s damn cheap as a digital book, and you really SHOULD own it. (And yes, we’ll be offering a paperback version down the road, but this digital version is what you need right now.)

Important Thing #2: I now know much about self-publishing ebooks that was a mystery to me before.

For example… Continue Reading


All testimonials and case studies within this website are, to the best of our ability to determine, true and accurate. They were provided willingly, without any compensation offered in return.

These testimonials and case studies do not represent typical or average results. Most customers do not contact me or offer share to their results, nor are they required or expected to. Therefore, I have no way to determine what typical or average results might have been.

Many people do not implement anything I teach them. I can't make anyone follow my advice, and I obviously can't promise that our advice, as interpreted and implemented by everyone, is going to achieve for everyone the kinds of results it's helped some of the folks you read about and hear from here achieve.

The income statements and examples on this website are not intended to represent or guarantee that everyone will achieve the same results. Each individual's success will be determined by his or her desire, dedication, marketing background, product, effort, and motivation to work and follow recommendations. There is no guarantee you will duplicate results stated here. You recognize any business endeavor has inherent risk for loss of capital.

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