Archive Monthly Archives: October 2008

C’mere… I Wanna Take You Somewhere Cool…

Wednesday, 7:35pm
Reno, NV


Can you do me a favor?

Actually, two favors:

1. Just forgive me for not paying close attention to this blog over the next week or so.

… and…

2. Please hop over to and indulge yourself.

Am I forgiven?


I’ll be back here with a vengence soon enough.

Right now, however…

… we’re launching the Simple Writing System, and it’s taking all my time.

No, seriously, I mean ALL my time.

I haven’t slept much this week… and when I do, I’m dreaming about the damn launch.

I was going to give you a blow-by-blow, “behind the scenes” commentary on the process in this blog…

… but it turns out I was deluded.

Launches are consuming events. Especially when — like us — you defy the standard “rules” and just boldly march into the process with as little preparation as possible.

Gotta love the entrepreneur spirit. Damn the torpedoes and all that.

The best part of a launch, of course…

… is that it’s over when it’s done. Sort of like a short jail sentence, where you’re chained to your desk… but you get cut loose when the curtain goes up, and all sins are erased.

“Curtain Up” day is coming up fast, too.

And that means the cool, deeply insightful webinar/interviews on the SWS blog go away, too. Not gonna leave ’em up for very long.

You definitely need to see them. We just posted Mike Filsaime, who revealed (for the FIRST time ever) his private mentoring notes from his intense learning days as a salesman…

… and Rich Schefren, who allowed me to expose all his secrets about making mere blog posts bring in massive fortunes (shocking revelation, by the way)…

… and Eben Pagan, who just unloaded on the specifics of his million-dollar marketing tactics (especially how he wrote to sell and influence so successfully)…

… and Frank Kern, who… well, who was so totally Frank in this interview, that I may bottle his webinar and turn it into rocket fuel.

These things are crammed with risky, maddeningly real-world revelations and insight these guys have rarely (if ever — Mike’s salesmanship notes, for example, are a total exclusive) shared in public.

I grilled ’em.

Now you get to feast.


… again, I’m gonna be a ghost here on this blog. But only for a few more days… while I concentrate on the Simple Writing System blog.

Lots of great stuff posted over there, and more coming.

Go check it out.

As always, your comments are welcome, helpful and encouraged.

Back to the grind…

Stay frosty,


Quick Exhausted Note

Um, Wednesday night, I think. Maybe 9:30 or so…
Reno. Yeah, pretty sure I’m in Reno, NV still…


I’m thrashed.

We officially put “The Simple Writing System” on the fast track for public release this week. And the amount of serious work (spelled w-o-r-k, the original four-letter word) required to do it right…

… is simply astonishing.

We’re pulling out all the stops.

Mind you, it’s not available yet to anyone. We’ve got details (“deets”, we call ’em) to fuss with. T’s to cross, i’s to dot.

Soon. Very soon, we’ll announce how you can get involved with the personal mentoring this unique program offers.

Oh, the excitement is swelling like a Beethoven crescendo.

I have been on the phone with a “Who’s Who” of online marketers, too… setting up interviews, getting advice (oh, I’ve been getting advice, lemme tell you), making sure everyone’s on the same page for this one-time release of the system.

Cuz this really could be…

… big.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been on the horn with Frank Kern, Mike Filsaime, Rich Schefren, Jeff Walker… and today, I completely rewrote an ad for Tellman Knudson on the phone. Pretty sure we got that recorded, too.

If he tests, we could even see some “Real World” style before-and-after results. It’s an experiment any self-respecting marketer would kill to know about.


… all this activity is exciting, sure.

But it can suck brain juice right out through your eyeballs.

I’m exhausted. Right now, I can’t rmemeber what 8 times 6 is. I’ve lost chunks of third-grade memorized multiplication tables.

(In fact, what’s 8 times 7? Wow, it’s worse than I thought…)

I’m off to a quick Miller Time, and bed. Sleep solves everything, you know.

But in the meantime… if you wanna stay in the loop about how this unique “Simple Writing System” mentoring program is gonna play out…

… you’ll want to be extra sure you’re on my list.

Easiest way to do that: Hop over to, and leave your name and email in the box there on the right. (You could leave your name here, on the blog notification list… but I keep those lists separate. The “master” list at marketingrebel is much better to be on for this event.)

(Plus, you get the fabulous “7 Strategy Lessons” over there, automatically, when you sign in. Very excellent marketing wisdom in those lessons. Timeless stuff you can use immediately…)

Or, if you’re one of the cool kids, you can follow me on Twitter ( to sign up for free, then follow me at johncarlton007).

I think that’s it for now.

Eyes blurry.

Mouth open, half snoring alreazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And The Winner Is…

Monday, 8:23pm
Reno, NV
“May I have the envelope, please…”


A very big “Thank You” to everyone who sent in a response to last week’s query.

The rather large number of well-thought-out, specific answers in the comment section was augmented by another pile of responses sent to my private inbox.

I’m truly humbled, guys.

That was a deluge of good stuff.

The question I’d asked last Thursday was (more or less): What’s keeping you (or kept you, if you did finally succeed) from learning to write copy… the one obviously essential skill mastered by all the top marketers?

I knew I’d get a good crop of answers.

A blog like this — which is followed worldwide — is just a treasure-chest of good information and insight.

So, again… thanks for writing.

You see, I had my own ideas of what the problem is among the biz owners and entrepreneurs who stubbornly resist my charm and offers of personal mentoring.

I mean, this is what I do — figure out the motivations and hidden psychology of target markets.

However, even a veteran adman (and I’ve got over 25 years in the front-line trenches) never wants to rely ONLY on his gut instincts.

Not when the stakes are so high.

I’ll give you a breakdown on the answers that came in. They were ALL good.

However… I’d originally offered a reward for the best post (“best” meaning the one that gave voice to the most insightful reasons for dilly-dallying on getting good at writing).

And that reward idea went out the window the first day.

Too many good posts.


… I’ve decided to annoint FIVE winners. All will recieve a brand spankin’ new copy of the updated “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel”. (My assistant, Diane, will email you directly this week, and arrange delivery.)

And yet, we’re all winners here.

Because the sheer insight to the marketing wisdom inherent in any specific (though decidedly unscientific) research like this… is worth a FORTUNE to anyone smart enough to pay attention.

Before I announce the winners…

… let’s see how the answers broke down into categories:

The top most common responses as to why people resist learning how to write:

1. They see copywriting as “too hard” or they’re just scared to even try.

2. They just don’t know what to do. (Almost tied for number one.)

3. Time — no perceived time to learn it, plus info-overload (too much info, which causes brain freeze).

4. Close behind (and this is something I’ve been hearing for years): Anger at the “hype” of salesmanship that seems inherent in long copy ads… and a shyness about trying to sell at all. (Some folks get really pissed off at the persuasive tactics required to cause money to exchange hands.)

5. Lastly: A total disconnect and denial that it’s something they need, combined with general ADD about running a biz.

Just two people mentioned cost. Four wanted more blueprints, or templates.

Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery interesting.

My instant analysis (and I’ll be ruminating on these responses for a while): This range of answers…

… sort of jibes with my original gut feelings on the subject.

Yet, the depth of the resistance is something I dearly needed to be alerted to.

I totally understand the sense of not knowing what to do, or where to turn. That “drifting” state is where I lived my entire life… right up to the epiphany I had that led me to jump into freelancing.

As a hippie, in my weird youth, I abhored capitalism… and so I also feel a distant empathy with folks who find selling creepy and distasteful.

And that feeling of being overwhelmed by info — too much from too many guru’s, and no way to easily choose which to follow… well, that’s a chronic state for even many veteran (and successful) biz owners.

At nearly every marketing seminar I’ve been to in the last couple of years… time management and avoiding being overwhelmed is the number one topic.

There’s a strong sense that the “right” path, or “right” set of skills (with the right teacher) is out there… but it’s exhausting trying to find it… and even more draining trying to absorb it once/if you find what you’re looking for.

The big one — the most oft-cited response — was the perception that learning to write is “hard”.

This is VERY understandable, especially in this country. By the time most Americans are seniors in high school, they’ve had any affection for the written word beaten out of them.

And this is a shame that reverberates throughout the biz world.

Teachers who force students to crank out bullshit essays on bullshit subjects should be fired.

Writing is something most humans can (and should) take to easily. Ask a bored, distracted sophomore to write out the reason he should win four tickets to the upcoming AD/DC reunion tour (or pick your own must-see event… Green Day? Madonna? Clarkson? Steely Dan? Larry The Cable Guy?)…

… and he’ll fill fourteen pages in a breathless rush, stopping only when his pen runs out of ink.

Same with love letters home from overseas, heated threads on Web chat boards, even extended texting. (I’ve seen Twit posts from some of the guys I follow approach novel-length, all in bursts of multiple 140-character tweets…)

It’s not the actual writing that’s hard.


It’s the brain-numbing process required to fuel what you write with meaning and persuasion.

That’s what mucks up the enthusiasm.

This is easy to understand…

… and SOLVING this dilemna has obsessed me for decades.

For a certain percentage of people Ive taught, the mastering of the process is as easy as kicking open a stuck door. BAM! And you’re in.

For others, however, it takes some focused, hands-on mentoring.

It’s still not “hard”, though, in my experience.

It’s just… a slightly uneven path that requires a little guidance.

And the friendly hand of a mentor, who’s invested in your progress.

I used to offer that, in the now-gone “Insider’s Club” I created when I first became a guru.

You paid a small amount each year, and we became email buddies. I watched over you, critiquing your efforts and smacking you (virtually, of course) upside the head when you blundered.

The number of people I pumped through that original “Insider’s Club” include many of the most famous, filthy-rich marketers out there today. (As well as a whole mob of newly-minted guru’s in their field.)

People beg me to bring that “Insider’s Club” back… but it was just too much work on my part.

There’s only so much of me to go around, you know.

So… no. I simply cannot do something like that again.

Maybe there’s some other way I can offer the mentoring so many people seem to crave and need.

Right now, though… sorry.

Still, this insight to the mind-set of entrepreneurs and biz owners who know they need serious help with writing… and yet cannot get past the obstacles blocking and freezing them up…

… should start some gears spinning in people’s heads.

For all the info out there… for all the courses, and the books, and the webinars… there remains NO technology as effective at breakthroughs in learning…

… as personal mentoring.

It’s how I got good. And it’s how most of the wizards now dominating the online/offline scene got good, too.

We’ll have to explore this more…


Here are the winners of the little contest:

1. Margaret Gedde, for so eloquently describing the terror of selling that can gum up your brain (no matter how much you realize it’s something you “should” be doing). Nice work, Margaret.

2. Jay Cross, on being frozen by a fear of failing. This certainly held me back for a very long time, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. Thanks for sharing a quasi-traumatic obstacle that more people share than dare admit, Jay.

3. Reed, on the disconnect biz owners feel between the “uncommon wisdom” of good advertising skills, and the more common “false wisdom” of the way most biz operate (and eventually die, starved for results).

4. Bill, for recognizing the prevalent opinion (common among entrepreneurs who hated school) (for good reasons) that all writing is inherently hellish and to be avoided at any cost. I’m surprised this one didn’t come up more often, actually… though it was one of the more repeated answers.

5. And finally, our old buddy Yoav… who best explained the minority position of yearning for actioniable information, rather than the theory-heavy stuff currently dominating the virtual bookshelves out there.

Great answers, guys (and gal).

Again — I am thrilled that so many people took the time to think this through, and send in a response.

No one “lost”. This laser-focused input isn’t science… but it’s still the best research you can gain access to, when your responding audience is as savvy as readers of this blog are.

So thanks. Again.

Hope you were able to take something good away from this exercise. It’s an example of how a little effort can yield amazing results.

Stay frosty,

John Carlton

Hey, I Need Your Help Here…

Thursday, 8:25pm
Reno, NV
“What’s keeping YOU up at night?”


Quick post here, I swear.

I have a small problem…

… and I could sure use your help.

It’ll take you, like, two minutes or so.

And yet… it will be of tremendous value to me. If I’ve ever given you something of value before — a piece of advice, a tip, a hint on direction, a good belly laugh, whatever — then I’m calling in the chit.

I want you to comment here.

Here’s what’s up: Among smart marketers — those who have their money-making act together — my core message is a well-known commodity.

“Nothing good will ever happen in your biz… until the copy gets written. And… the best person to write the most important stuff… is you.”

This message is unquestioned among the top marketers I hang out with.

They even eagerly tell anyone who will listen, to listen to me.

Many of the best (like Eben Pagan, Frank Kern, Rich Schefren and others) almost never talk about copy without mentioning my impact on their own learning curves… and they help spread the message.

The heavy hitters all know — without a shred of doubt — that copywriting is the foundation of all things profitable in business.

But here’s the rub: Outside that group of “in-the-know” marketers…

… I often run into a brick wall trying to get entrepreneurs and biz owners to truly understand the importance of writing.

I feel like the first guy to see the aliens land in a sci-fi movie… and the townspeople all ignore my dire warnings of Armegeddon. They smile and nod, and agree that it certainly WOULD be nasty-bad if evil aliens were coming, but…

And their minds wander off in total distraction.

If you’re in business…

… and you’re ignoring the role of great copy in your quest for success and wealth (and your need to learn HOW to write that great copy)…

… then, like the oblivious townsfolk, you’re risking becoming TOAST.

Especially in the economic melt-down happening now.

It’s really pretty simple: Those who know how to write killer ads, emails, video scripts and everything else…

… are going to thrive.

And those who don’t…

… well, it ain’t pretty.

And that’s my dilemna: I’m very good at reaching the “insiders” in business. They immediately “get” how critical and how totally cool it is to know how to write sales copy.

As for the people who are “un-initiated” in direct response?

Not so much.

The message seems to take a while to sink in.

So here’s what I would love to hear from you: What is your NUMBER ONE problem with writing ads right now?

Are you frustrated with the process of trying to write? Do you see it as hard work or — worse — as a big voodoo mystery you’ll never figure out?

Do you avoid learning the essentials of writing for any conscious reason? Or is there something personally difficult about writing that makes you just want to skip the whole concept?

Or what?

I am seriously looking for input here.

If you’re an entrepreneur… or small biz owner… or even a rookie… and you don’t know how to write what you need written…

… could you please look inside your own brain…

… and honestly share with me what the problem is? What is your Number One constraint holding you back from digging into this skill?

I’d appreciate it.

Thanks, in advance.

Hey — let’s make it a little contest.

The person who most succinctly and clearly helps me see what I’m missing here…

… will win a free copy of the freshly updated “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel” — the course that launched so many of the online marketers now dominating the virtual landscape.

Does that make it worth your time to look inside… and give me some insight as to why it’s so hard to break through the resistance so many people have on this mega-important subject?

C’mon. It’ll take you a couple of minutes. You may even learn something about yourself.


… if you’re already writing your own stuff, successfully… you can get in the competition, too.

Just remember back to what held you up from getting started learning the skill.

What was your biggest obstacle? The cost of getting help? Not knowing where to turn or who to trust? Not having the time? What?

Let’s give it until Monday to decide on the winner, what do you say?

The competition begins now…

Stay frosty,

John Carlton