Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, & Choosing The Right Weapon

Blog Jimbo

Monday, 11:34pm
Visalia, CA
I never drink… wine.”  (Bela Lugosi, “Dracula”)


Special treat today.  I’ve asked an old friend (and killer copywriter) to guest post on the blog here.

Jim Curley and I go way back (to, gasp, Before The Birth Of The Internets As A Marketing Force)…

… and he’s one of those Web-hip veteran copywriters who brings a healthy dose of old-school wisdom and experience to everything he does.  He’s well steeped in all the manly markets (golf, self-defense, hot rod body artwork, family life, vampires, stuff like that).  I’ve had him as a wingman at multiple seminars, and I’ve hired him as a writer for my own projects.

That’s how good he is.

I didn’t give Jimbo any directions on what he could write about, either.  I trust the guy completely…

… and just told him to dig into one of the subjects he and I enjoy talking and bitching about when we get together.

This is a good lesson Jim’s sharing with you.

Enjoy… and don’t be shy about posting a comment afterward.  We’ve had some spectacular comment threads over the past year in this blog.  Always good to hear from y’all.

Here’s Jimbo:

Thanks for the intro, John.

I’ve got a couple important “street marketing” lessons for everyone here… so let’s just get right into it.

The first one I’ll call:

“Who the hell are YOU talking to?”

Now before I go any further, you should know that I’ve been a copywriter and marketer for over 25 years… and have been working with John Carlton for about 15 of those years.

It continues to be a humbling experience.

Just about the time I get pleased with my writing and the voices begin to whisper “oh, you are sooo good“…

… John blindsides me with some deep insight… kernel of wisdom…

… or shocking zinger of truth that slams me back into reality.

Want to get all of John’s copywriting secrets for yourself? Here’s something to feast your greedy eyes upon.

As a lifelong dedicated writer, of course, you love this kind of interaction.  It forces you to stay nimble… and ALWAYS keep your eyes and ears open.

And that is what these street marketing lessons are all about.

Subtle observations and interesting truths about marketing and sales…

… gleaned from the real world…

… where prospects and customers are living, breathing, complex and fascinating.

Okay… the first lesson I’ll tell you about hit me after I saw the movie “Eclipse”.

If you’re not familiar with the whole “Twilight” series of books and movies, don’t worry…

… it only means you’re deeply out of touch with what every teen and pre-teen girl in the industrial world has been swooning over for the last two years.

But before you peg me as some sort of girlie-man, let me be clear:

It was my 16 year old granddaughter who dragged me to this movie!

She did it partly because she loves me… and partly because I was paying.

(Quick personal note: Yes, I’m just 50-years-old, and I’ve got FIVE grandkids.  It’s the result of some very fertile DNA.  And let’s leave it at that.)

Back to the story: In a nutshell, the movie is based on a series of books written by Stephanie Myers about “Edward”, a sexy-sexy vampire…

…who’s madly in love with the awkward and not-so-terribly-beautiful main character, “Bella”.

And then there’s the hot, often shirtless werewolf “Jacob”, who’s also in love with Bella. And he’s so very-very buff… and so jealous of the sexy-sexy Edward.

And the werewolves… and vampires… and essentially all the beautiful people of the world are soon fighting for the attention and love of this plain and clumsy teenage girl.

Oh, it’s a scene man.


Here’s where the fun part starts:

The day after seeing this movie, I read a review of “Eclipse” written by AP’s David Germain… a guy who’s probably very much like me (eats too much red meat, grapefruit-sized prostate, and who’s starting to have serious issues with wire-like hair growing out of his ears).

His review read: “…while ‘Eclipse’ may not be dreadfully dumb, it’s still pretty dumb.”

“Pretty dumb”… for WHO? Him?

Seems that Germain doesn’t understand that the recently-filthy-rich producers of this movie series couldn’t give a rat’s-ass what a middle-aged man thinks.

Hollywood is in the business of SELLING movies… and like any smart business person, their first big question has got to be:

“Who the hell are we targeting?

Because you can’t target “everyone” (duh). 

So those clever movie execs started this whole process in some boardroom… wringing their hands and looking at the stats.

“Hmmm…” they intoned, scanning charts.  “Look at this:  Pubescent girls raging with hormones are in charge of billions of dollars of discretionary spending…

“Hey!  You think maybe THAT may be a good target market?”

Perhaps these young teen females could relate to this story of a klutzy and not-so-attractive girl…

…who has two groping, shirtless, super-hunks fighting over her while her entire high-school… indeed the rest of the known world… watches on in breathless envy.

Yes… just perhaps that may work.

Granted… like Germain, I too thought the movie was silly.  But that’s not the point.

My 16-year-old grand-daughter LOVED it. She was swept away… saw the movie at least five more times

… joined some scary “Team Jacob” gang…

…and plastered her life with “Twilight” stickers, shirts, posters, notebooks, etc.

And THAT is the point.

From the perspective of a marketer, the people behind the “Twilight Series” are friggin’ geniuses.

They absolutely nailed it… and managed to tap into millions of fans and millions in sales. Something like $100 million and counting.

How’s that for a “dumb movie”?

So what am I driving at?

What does this have to do with YOUR marketing?

Just this: MOST of the business people and entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with over the years are a little (and sometimes a lot) like this Germain cat.

They don’t quite “get” how important it is to have the “WHO” part of their marketing figured out right from the get-go.

And it is the “WHO” — more than any other element — that is the difference between huge fortune and utter failure!


And you can’t just INVENT a convenient answer to this “Who the hell are YOU talking to?” question either.

Nope.  It can’t be made-up… or based on theory or guesswork.

Once you identify “who” your market is, what do you say? If you need a little help breaking the ice, sign up for the Pint of Beer Challenge here.

Look: I write for the same self-defense company John worked with for many years.

So let’s do a quick exercise here… and see if we can’t “wing-it” and figure out WHO should be the best target of their fighting products.

It’ll be fun, I swear.

Let see… hmmm… who NEEDS a self defense product?

  • Well, it would be the weakest among us of course. Perfectly logical.
  • And women are certainly physically weaker than men, in most cases.
  • And women, sadly, are often the target of violence… and sexual attacks.
  • And it’s typically younger women who are assaulted in that fashion… and they will certainly never want to be attacked again… and maybe they’re even looking for some sweet revenge.

There we go… I think we have it.

Our target — the people we will be directing our message and all of our valuable marketing resources — will be women, 18-45, who have likely suffered some sort of assault or violent attack and perhaps are seeking a chance to deliver some serious “payback”.

Sound good? Sure it does…

Makes perfect sense.

Let’s buy up some magazine space in Better Homes and Garden and Women’s Day.

We’ll hunt down a broker and purchase a mailing list… hire a copywriter… print up a million mailers. Get our Google campaign cranked up and pay a Web geek to build a site and maximize SEO.

One minor problem, however…

… and I can prove this:  The customers of self-defense products are almost 100% MEN.

Women, for whatever reason — even though they may desperately need this kind of a product — simply do not buy “how to fight” instructional materials.

And the best sales message in the world won’t persuade them to do so. 

We’ve tried.  You may get some minor action, but it will never be a home-run marketing campaign.

See what guesswork gets you?

Imagine running down THAT blind alley for any period of time. It’s the kind of thing that can put you out of business… quick.

So you MUST perform your due diligence… and research blogs, books, magazines, websites and especially competitors — just to get a vague idea of WHO you are talking to.

After that, as you develop a customer base, you will need to continually refine your targeting.

Wanna see some of John’s killer ads in action? Your wish is granted right over here!

Which brings me to my next lesson…

“How To Kill Nazi Zombies.”

Bear with me… this will all tie together in one neat little bow.

This lesson popped into my head while playing the gruesome video-game “Nazi Zombies” with my 15-year-old grandson.  (Yes, all these lessons are inter-generational revelations.)

Briefly: The gist of the video game is that you’re trapped in a blown-out building during World War II… while Nazi zombies are trying to climb through the windows and eat you.

Your job is to use the available weapons to kill them first.

Problem was, it was ME getting killed while my grandson continued to survive… and ring-up massive points… and chuckle while I was being torn apart and eaten.

I didn’t want to be torn apart and eaten.

So I quickly figured out where I was going wrong.

Turns out that while I was using a measly .22 pistol and pumping a full 6 body-shots to get a kill…

… my uber-smart grandson runs over to a special weapons locker and grabs a scoped-rifle and kills zombies with just ONE shot… to the head.

My point is this: Many entrepreneurs and business owners are selling products and making some money…

… but MOST still haven’t figured out the “sweet spot” of their target market… where profits are easier and faster and more efficient to bring in.

Instead, they’ve settled permanently into a comfort zone… and are using the equivalent of a poorly-aimed .22 pistol as their marketing campaign.

It works “okay”… so why change?

Well, because it means you’re very likely leaving stacks of money on the table… that’s why you should change.

Oh yeah… and the zombies are closing in for the kill.

Which brings me back to the Twilight series.

Do you think Stephanie Myers analyzed the market, ran that stats, and determined that young teen girls were such a lucrative market that she would write a series of Twilight books just to go after their money?

No. She wrote the books in her apartment, after a vivid dream, with zero market planning.

But when the books began to sell… smart people in Hollywood suspected she was on to something. That she had somehow touched a nerve… hit the sweet-spot…

… and they rightly smelled millions.  (Fill in your own note here about Hollywood execs having a lot in common with vampires.)

And this “find the sweet spot” exercise is exactly what YOU have to do.

Even if you’re making damn good money right now, I’m betting that you didn’t do months of tough market research to see if you’ve maxed-out your potential.

That’s okay.  You’ve winged a zombie with your .22… and now it’s time to grab the scoped rifle.

Now it’s time to pinpoint your customers’ little g-spot.

Quick Tip From A Grizzled Pro: One of the most foolproof ways to find that sweet-spot is to actually spend time analyzing your customers.

Where do they live? How old are they? What do they like most about your product? What do they think you can improve?

Spend an afternoon… or a couple of afternoons… and look for patterns.

Sound like a hassle? Well, when your efforts start to double and triple your income… suddenly it doesn’t seem so much of a hassle.

Of course some questions can’t be answered by looking at a database of customer stats. So here’s a big idea:

Ask your customers!

Use an “ASK campaign”. Start one right away and see what your customer really want. And where you may be doing things right… and wrong.

It’s actually very easy, and their answers will likely shock you — prompting the development of laser-targeted products and sales messages.

This is where your competitors start to hate and fear you.

And family and friends begin to believe you have some kind of Midas touch.

That’s fine… let them believe that.

As long as YOU don’t start believing it… and allow those siren voices to convince you to relax… that you’ve got it all figured out… and that it’s time to stop being curious about how you can better serve your customers.

That, my friend, is how you’ll be torn apart and eaten by those annoying Nazi zombies.

Welcome to the game.

For better marketing…

Jimmy Curley

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  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Hartmann, Eric Graham. Eric Graham said: By @johncarlton007: Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, & Choosing The Right Weapon: Monday, 11:34pm Visalia, CA “I nev… […]

  • Danica says:

    Thank you so much for this. I am struggling with writing *right now* and this is extremely helpful to me, as was “Confessions of a Story Junkie Part One”.

    John, you keep sending me exactly what I need at exactly the right time!

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Danica:

      Thanks for posting. I wasn’t kidding around when I said John keeps me in check.

      He’s a great mentor… and has kept me inside the guardrails on MANY a project.


  • Yoav says:

    Well done. Words of wisdom each and every one of them.


  • Kevin Rogers says:

    KILLER post, Jimbo! Great lesson we all need to hear over and over… and you picked the perfect analogy.

    I was in a restaurant next to the movie theater the night “Eclipse” opened and there were not only plenty of 16-year-old girls in there giddy for the film…

    … but an equal amount of cougar babes. All decked out in their Edward t-shirts and too much eye-liner.

    Those crafty movie execs managed to tap the self-identity vein across generations with this film. Brilliant.

    Very kind of you to take that silver bullet for the sake of your granddaughter, btw.

    So, tell us… are you a werewolf or a vampire?


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Kev:

      Thanks dude. Damn… didn’t see a ONE cougar. Could be because it’s hard to scope chicks with a granddaughter on your arm.

      And about this whole “Team Edward, Team Jacob”…

      …just a wonderful invention of movie exes more than willing to see blood flow and rioting in the streets to generate some “heat” around their movie.

      Seriously though, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most kids were having fun with it.

      We’ve got a whole generation of some very hip people coming our way.


  • Love this post! Great choice for a guest post.

    Too often, we don’t realize that we’re not necessarily our customers, either. Sometimes we’re selling to a radically different group than we are in personally. And that’s okay…it just means we’ll have to take extra precautions to completely understand our target market. I wrote a funny post about this on my blog recently called “Warning: Your Customers May Be Stupider Than You Think!” 🙂


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Erica:

      Glad you liked it.

      You’re exactly right. One of the biggest mistakes I see is marketers who truly believe they have their customers “figured out”.

      They have their finger on the pulse and now can confidently take their eyes off the road and perhaps do some snoozing behind the wheel.

      The fact is that the road is ALWAYS changing. And the marketers who stay fully engaged are never sorry.


  • Adil says:

    Amazing post…
    Seriously this is kinda coincidental, I got given similar advice from my friend and teacher in marketing about this.

    Will be applying this more so, just so I nail it.

    Thanks again for the lesson and entertainment 🙂


  • Ian says:

    Hey! Where is the weapons locker!

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey… by the way Ian… this is a damn tough game.

      I seriously thought I had dislocated a thumb on the remote… yet kept playing at a feverish pace because the adrenaline numbed everything.

      A lot of fun… AND a great marketing lesson. Who’d a thunk?


      • John Carlton says:

        I played the Beta version of Doom for a year, back in the bad-old days when video games were just getting going. Pre-Grand Theft Auto, that’s how long ago it was. (I’ve been a feverish fan of electronic games since Pong and PacMan, in fact.) (Ask your dad what I’m talking about.)

        I gave up on gaming when your finger-dexterity became a determining factor of winning. That, and the irrational logic to most of the current games. The Wii is closer to what I like, with real physical movement… but in the end, I’d rather go outside and play golf or tennis. Or poker.

        I miss good video games. The first-person-shooter’s left me cold, long ago.

        God, it sucks to be hip enough to know what the potential is… and have to watch the world leave you behind because markets are so focused on pleasing 13-year-olds… (is my bitterness showing?)…

  • Kay says:

    This post is a breath of fresh air. Reminds me that it’s all about remembering that good relationships and trust are always the foundation for good marketing, especially in my area where what I offer is in the area of personal and spiritual development.
    Understanding what people would like most to receive from me is the key to delivering good, useful and profitable things to the people who choose to stick with me. Thank you.

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hi Kay:

      You nailed it.

      In the end people are skeptical and fearful of handing over their hard-earned money — even for a product they really, really want.

      Good marketing replaces that fear and skepticism with confidence.


  • Paul says:

    Oh damn-it…I’m will now have to play my sons games to see if I can find the right gun to shoot at the “sweet spot” hopefully I will hit my “target audience” without having to reload or find bigger more powerful guns. Man…I hate zombies.

  • Awesome post, Jimmy. You’re so right…you can’t GUESS who your target market is. And often YOU are not your target market. It takes due diligence which pays off in spades (and dollars) when done right. Thanks for this!


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Lorrie:

      Great to hear from you.

      Yeah… I learned a very expensive lesson many years ago — and it convinced me that guesswork is for chumps.

      You gotta assume that your competitors don’t screw around… they dig in, find out exactly who they’re talking to, the things that motivate the prospect, why they may be interested in the product, what they may NOT be interested, the whole works.

      It can take a little effort, but there’s simply no replacing good old fashioned research. And, like you said, pays off BIG.

      Thanks for posting Lo…


  • Jea says:

    Enjoyed reading ~ very entertaining.

    Thanks John:)

  • Cameron says:

    Nice post! The really cool thing is that where there are young girls (or older ones too) intensely interested in something it won’t take long for the young and old of the opposite sex to get interested as well; well that’s how it worked in my day. Heaven knows I feigned interest in something to hold a girls hand in my youth. Anyway the question is what can we sell these poor fools (chasing their target market) now we the attention of our target market … or do rules of marketing suggest we can’t be everything to everybody so don’t try 🙂

  • Colin says:

    To often we get a bit squeamish about going for the jugular… we are in business to create the income and lifestyle that we want…forgetting that the best way to do this is to give the customer what they “Want” not what you think they need.

    Love this stuff…digging down exploring the dark side of human nature. Why the hell do they buy “A” but not “B” when in my opinion “B” is the better buy etc etc. It has taken me years to work out that my patients are not me…now I play dirty so they can get better:)

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Hey Colin… thanks.

      It reminds me of a project I was working on around the house. I wanted a porch built under my oak tree… problem was it was on a steep slope.

      One contractor comes over, rubs his chin and says: “Hmmm, looks like a lot of trouble. Big job. Man that’s a steep slope.”

      Contractor two comes over and says: “Wow… this is gonna be fun. I got some great ideas on how we can use that steep slope to make this a killer deck…”

      Guess who I hired?

      Same with any customer. They don’t want their dentist to tell them about the hassles and expense of whitening their teeth, they want to hear how you’re gonna do it fast and it’s how nice it’ll look.

      Okay… I’m rambling… but I liked your post.


  • Dana says:

    Jimmy, great stuff and very relatable to the times. I haven’t seen any of the Twilight series, but my daughter goes crazy over that stuff. I may have to go to this latest one since Kevin did mention some cougar babes there? ( : Why is it when we finally think, “we’re it” or have “arrived” we are always humbled and reminded we have a long ways to go. We need to treat customers like our wives. Stop assuming we know what they want. It frustrates both parties and costs us money. Unfortunately for some, if you don’t give them what they want, they go looking elsewhere until they find it. Nine times out of ten, if you ask someone what they want, or if what you have is what they want, they will tell you. On the other hand, nine times out of ten, if you don’t ask they won’t tell fearing they will hurt your feelings and they feel it’s easier to look elsewhere than to just speak up.

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Hey Dana:

      Right on. People are MORE than happy to tell you what’s bugging them and what they think you’re doing right.

      The biggest obstacle to this is FEAR. Some of us simply are afraid to hear the brutal truth. Don’t be. For the most part, when approached with a “hey can you help me?” attitude, your customers and prospects will response with respect — and their feedback is pure gold.


  • Bond Halbert says:

    Top notch marketing tips Jim.

    Your advice about letting the research guide your marketing campaigns and product development is spot on.

    It is reassuring to hear a real pro like yourself never assumes but instead does the real work of asking the target audience.

    Thanks for passing along the benefits of your extensive real world experience.

    • JimmyCurley says:


      Thanks for chiming in man… always great to hear from you.

      Yeah… that pesky research. It only means the difference between success and failure… that’s all.

      What’s funny is that once people start to do it, they become research junkies. Then you gotta intervene…

      …and kindly ask them to step away from the computer and take a shower.

      Thanks for posting Bond…


  • Ras Blasko says:

    Alright I’m game, I would LOVE to learn soemthing about marketing. I’ll share what I’m doing about one of my products to be launched soon: male innerware….or undies (as even some sites call it).
    I’ve ben coltivating this idea for quite a while and now that I’m learning IM from a pro (John Carlton) I’ve decided to go for it. My team in Italy are masters of undergarments (another way to call it). They know everything about material, printing, label, elastic band, packaging etc. I’m a “designer mini boxer” buyer of this stuff for more than 20 years. Always the same brand: HOM. Now here it comes to the point of an almost critical mistake (I didn’t launch yet). I thought that since I’m a buyer I know it all, right? ……..wrong! Just last week I went to study my competitors and got the shock of my life. Where I thought there si no competiton there are hundreds of brands and sites. But the good news is that HOM is one of the biggest but not THE biggest……and the biggest has sold 1 B pieces in over 25 years. So the market is there but there is a lot of competiton. Moreover, the other brands seem to be selling to the ….I don’t know how to put it without getting blasted……the not so man, MAN. In short to a man that has a “femminine” taste. But all this thought me that there is a HUGE market in the developing world. These are MAN and want man stuff. They are hardly being exposed to good and affordable products and have just now discovered colors. So my current strategy is to target the MAN with a manly product and a manly marketing campain. Before I launch it though I will study much better the market and – thanks to today’s blog – ASK them. Since I live in India I’ve already started and am discovering some good information. And please advice me of anything I can do better to hit the “soft spot”………..The only drawback of my product line is that I HATE asking men about their underwear…..yukk! I should have created ladies stuff.

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Hey Ras:

      This is great… and you should feel free to take advantage of all the hard work your competitors have done for you.

      See what features they’re offering… and how YOU can turn those to benefits…

      Check out how their drawing in prospects and emulate their sales funnel…

      Carefully inspect their offer. Can you match it? Can you do BETTER?

      Digging deep into what successful competitors are doing will save you enormous time and effort.

      Like the way you’re thinking…


      • Ras Blasko says:

        DISCLAIMER: Also men, MAN, have a soft spot. End of disclaimer. Now that I’ve set the stage I wanted to thank you for your encouragement. The honor of being appreciated by a seasoned pro made me smile the whole day (we’re almost a day ahead of you)…. I hope you’ll REALLY like the marketing campaign….. it’ll include a ‘normal’ man having a go at it with a fantastic looking lady….not rough sex but LOVE MAKING (Social Message here: please STOP with senseless pornography, it kills our boys chances of a meaningful relationships. And I talk out of experience)…………..ciao and thanks again.

  • Rose Mis says:

    Jimmy this is a TOTAL home-run post !! The timing for it couldn’t have been better. I am working on a new project and I have MORE research to do.

    I’m a great Chef, but I was NEVER able to sell my best steak to a vegetarian.

    Love your style Jimmy. Simply taking the time to look at HOW you wrote this is an invaluable lesson in marketing and copy writing!!

    Thank you and many thanks to John !!

  • […] on your mind with everyone !! Be sure to come back again !! What can we learn about marketing from Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies ? Alot more than I ever thought […]

  • Jeremy Reeves says:

    Awesome post! So unbelievably true too – if you don’t know who you’re talking to… you’re NEVER going to be able to write targeted, hard-hitting copy.

    I’m about to go into a new niche (personal, not for a client) with my partner… and we’re spending an entire MONTH analyzing the competition, looking for marketing holes that we will fill, studying the prospects, etc. etc. etc.

    Then I’ll probably spend a week writing the letter – and have the best written letter in the industry 🙂

    Jeremy Reeves

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Thanks Jeremy…

      Here’s just a quick tip. Spend a week… write that letter… then let it sit for two days. Don’t look at it, don’t post it, don’t touch it.

      Then go back with a fresh eye and do a ruthless deep edit.


  • Kevin Dawson says:

    You really have a way of hitting the nail on the head.

    Like Germain, I have a client right now who’s more concerned with how he wants to present his product than what his target market is looking for.

    It’s going to be a battle…

    But what you said about John is 100% right. Just when you think you’ve got it down, he peels off another layer of the onion, and you see there’s a whole new depth of writing to penetrate.


    • JimmyCurley says:

      Hey Kev:

      Thanks for writing. Yeah, sometime “educating” clients is tough…

      … and I’ll often point out to them that they are paying me for my advice. On rare occasions a client steps back and just says “go for it”.

      And that’s fun.


  • John Reiling says:

    Awesome. Motivates me to do what I don’t do enough of – research! Thanks.

  • Bioniclily says:

    Thanks for this post guys. Looks like marketing is a fluid ever changing market. which is why I can’t make up my mind what market to go into. Research,
    Research, Research.
    Thank you for this post Jim&John
    I’m swimming

  • Wow… this is simply IT!!! Looking at the world through the eyes of another, not just considering who those “others” may be, but getting behind their eyes and into their brains, is the ultimate weapon. This is a learned skill. I honestly think it’s easier for women because we are wired to nurture, to think about and fulfill the needs of our family. Guys are genetically disposed for hunting and killing, predators observing the behavior of prey in order to stalk and kill. This is not sexist, it’s genetics. All this stuff has to happen for survival, meaning staying alive and prospering as a group. I just love your examples in this post. May we all survive as a group of writers!

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Thanks Mia:

      When it’s all said and done one of the biggest problems with business people is that they are approaching things from their point of view (“buy my product”)…

      …rather than the prospect’s point of view (“how will this improve my life”).

      As a marketer it’s ALWAYS about what you can do for them.


  • thomas says:

    Dammit Jimmy don’t leave me hanging….
    So who does buy these self defense products for women? -Fear obsessed Fathers (me), paranoid BF/Husbands suffering “Chuck Norris Complex” issues (also me)?

    Great article BTW -but you made me feel old with your Twilight analogy and I’m much younger that you and less fertile!

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Hi Thomas:

      There IS a market for it, just a very small market. When choosing where you’re gonna pour your blood sweat and tear, always choose wisely…

      … and research where the money is at.

      This does not mean you can’t pursue your passions… but if you like gardening and want to make money at it, you will want to research WHAT people are most interested in growing… and then build products around interests.

      Think John Dillinger.


  • Darren says:

    The other great thing I like about this post was the instructional use ( for me anyway) of ellipses, dashes etc.. to make the writing flow and more conversational.
    I get so worried about over doing it sometimes. It also doesn’t help when you have to get copy approved by someone who changes everything and says ” If I received this in the mail and it didn’t have proper grammer and structure I would it throw it into the Trash”

    Part of me wants to say ” Well if I were marketing to a stuffy mid- level executive it would be a totally different letter”

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Hey Darren:

      Make a commitment… do the research… and draw up a workable game plan to produce and market your very own product.

      There’s nothing quite like it… and the time for guys like you to do it is now.

      I can tell you from personal experience that the first time I did this… and woke up in the morning with $9300 in my bank account that wasn’t there the day before…

      … I was hooked.

      Best part… once you have it figured out… taking on clients is an “option”.


  • Jason says:

    Hey John and Jimmy,
    GREAT post… this was awesome…

    When I first started out writing copy, I got this one wrong so many times it is hard to fess up to making this mistake. I am going to print this one out and keep it close to remind me of step one in the process of success.


    • JimmyCurley says:

      Hey Jason:

      I know we’ve all learned some tough lessons over the years. Mainly the ones that went something like this:

      1. Got idea for product…
      2. Spent months of hard work making it…
      3. Whew… work’s done… now what?

      That is a bad formula because between step one and two should be the research process… to determine if your idea is a viable money maker.

      If you use Google’s external search tool ( and discover that less than 10,000 people a month are searching for such a product…

      … it’s a good indication that there isn’t a market.

      Keep up the good fight my friend…


  • Venus says:

    Darren, you are so right! And, Jimmy, I really enjoyed your post. Mostly because I’m inordinately fond of learning via good story-telling. And, of course, I’m a sucker for a good sense of humor! (Bit of vampire humor there, sorry, couldn’t resist.) (Oops! I did it again!!) So often folks tell me, I wouldn’t read a piece of junk mail. I only read emails. Or, I don’t have time for emails, I only read letters. Or, I never respond to any sort of direct marketing. And I say, “Pooh!” First off, most folks really don’t know what they respond to. They might be able to honestly tell you what they like and don’t like, so you’d better pay attention. But, it’s awfully hard to respond to something and be aware of *how* you are responding in *that same instant*. Also, as both Jimmy and John have pointed out — it’s a numbers game. Ideally I’ll deliver the same (overlapping, really) message via a variety of channels recognizing that if I catch your attention in one channel you’re more likely to pay attention to a message in a different channel. Also, if you’re not interested in my message or what I’m selling, I really don’t care. Because that just means you’re not who I’m talking to. And then I get to fine-tune the targeting of my message so I don’t waste resources on people who aren’t going to buy anyway. The real problem isn’t with the broad pool of potential buyers, though. The problem comes when you have self-styled marketing or advertising “geniuses” who think their personal reaction is the only one that counts. Those folks have no boundaries and confuse themselves with everyone around them. So they attribute their own ideas and reactions to “everyone else” because, simply put, those geniuses can’t imagine that anyone else (let alone a significant-sized group or, god-forbid, “most” people) have a different experience of the world than do they.

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Thanks Venus:

      Yes… it’s a fact… people can’t resist a good story. It make things so much fun to read.

      Interested in car wax? Well let me tell you a story about how a buddy of mine RUINED a $15,000 paint job by using the wrong wax…

      Or how about paper clips? I know a secretary who DOUBLED her salary just because she bought a certain brand… really…

      This is how you can get people’s attention. Problem is most people don’t think their story is very interesting… so it’s like pulling a molar.

      You gotta dig.

      For example, once while interviewing a client who was selling his construction services for elderly clients, he mumbled that he had once been a New York cop.

      Hold on… what?

      Yeah… a NYPD for 25 years.

      Served during 911?

      Yeah… he spend days pulling people out rubble and saving lives with his brother… who was a NY firefighter.

      He didn’t think to mention it, but it ended up in the ad because it added so much to his credibility. Elderly people trust cops.

      So you gotta keep your ears open for this kind of stuff.

      Thanks for the post…


  • Shirley Bass says:

    Thanks so much!

    I’m always working on my writing skills. Writing as though I’m talking to my mom or best friend is the most challenging for me.

    Although, I do have money coming in…I need to do more research. I invited my customers to join me on FB. Many responded, which has been invaluable.

    I just need more avenues of revenue, since I have chosen ecommerce for the time being.

    • JimmyCurley says:

      Hey Shirley:

      Writing in a conversational manner is the first part…

      …and of course talking with the client is so very important because you will need to adjust the “voice” to match how cocky or conservative he or she is…

      …but keeping focused on what the prospect really wants to hear is the most important thing.


      • Shirley Bass says:

        Sincerely, thanks again! You’ve defined “voice” so clearly that I finally understand the underlying tone and how important it is.

        It’s one of those aha moments…even if it makes me look silly. Yeah,…thanks so much!

  • This is an awesome article! I really enjoyed it! It makes me wish I had mad skills like you guys and could write 600 word articles that suck you in like this does. I’m working on it.

    Thanks for the marketing information and advice, this is excellent info. I’m going to implement the ASK campaign this week.

  • Romeo Blais says:

    WOW! there is a major correlation between the writing style I just read and the 2 ton notebook filled with TRS Direct swipe ads in my closet.

    Need more. Hungry, Hungry.

    P.S. Still looking for those mid 90’s TRS 3-4 page ads in Blackbelt magazine. The guy on e-bay stiffed me.

    LOL! I told him his salemanship sucked and directed him to John Carlton.

  • Hey Jimmy,

    Great post indeed, big gold nuggets of wisdom right there.

    I’d go as far as saying the #1 thing that stops people making money in this biz is not knowing their market well enough..

    Too many of them start with a product, then try to find a market, instead of starting with a market and tailoring a product to it.

    I guess it’s like the old “fish where the fish are” analogy.

    Great post though Jimmy, enjoyed it.

    -David Raybould

  • Ernie says:

    Jim Curly or John Carlton….

    Question: Does that kick ass copywriting secrets still come with the swipe file of ads/sales letters?

  • Vin Montello says:

    Great post, Jim.

    So many miss out on the “message to market” dynamic. When you get this right, marketing can become pretty much unstoppable.

    My only question is…

    So, are you Team Jacob or Team Edward?

    Vin Montello

  • Ernie says:

    Comparing Twilight to Harry Potter is like comparing a pile of shit to a lump of gold! 🙂

    And I’ve earned the right to say that? seeing as how Ive read both series… HP Forever!!

  • […] Curley, 50 anos, avô de 5 netos, com muito bom humor escreve um artigo no blog do John Carlton sobre a sua visão de marketing da série […]

  • Earnst says:

    Hey Jimbo, I’m getting your e mails from TRS.

    I enjoy reading them. It’s hard for me not to

    buy all of the things you are promoting.

    Do they let you write whatever you want or

    do they review and cut your stuff?


  • Ernie says:

    hey john… some people think your copywriting is humorous.

    here, take a look:!!!!!!

    What do you think?

  • Emette says:

    Jimmy brilliant and entertaining post. I’ve always wondered if you can get the answers you want by simply “asking” your target market.

    Does this really work? I do like the “ask campaign” idea and very well be the way to go compared to the ususal survey.

    I very much believe before you write a word of copy you’d better know exactly who they are and what they want. But I’ve stumpled too many times trying to figure out what they want. You’re post has cleared much of the fog in my brain! Thanks man!


  • J.C. Oan says:

    Jim, I do enjoy reading every article John publishes on this blog but your post, containing an outstanding marketing lesson, has earned you an unconditional admirer. I sincerely wish I had just ten percent of your writing skills.

  • ken ca|houn says:

    Excellent points on marketing within comfort zones vs market sweet spots, I’ve made that error numerous times, and still do to this day.

    For example in the dating industry, the market for guys is how to pick up women; for women the market is for how to enhance your relationship and keep the guy, not vice versa.

    In the trading industry, the current market is for forex, options and eminis, eg leveraged inexpensive (but in some cases high risk) trading, versus straight stock trading, which is my specialty.

    Not developing products aggressively enough, and affiliate marketing them within those markets, was a strategic error on my part I’ve been working to rectify.

    The challenge, maybe you or others have insight into this, is HOW to be the frog that jumps out of the still-warm pot of water before being boiled, analogy — How to quickly, thoughtfully shift strategic focus as an entrepreneur to a) identify, correctly the sweet spot, b) match it to current capabilities, then c) produce and market product/service to achieve message to market match in those arenas, WHILE maintaining ongoing revenue streams from current business model.

    As an army of one that’s a big challenge for me personally as an entrepreneur, it would be great to hear any ideas from anyone… thanks!

    to focused profits,


  • Sharie says:

    Love the insight into the human existence… 😉
    Maybe copywriters should spend more time people-watching. Definitely do the “real” research. Every time.
    But learn to “see” people–and it will be so much easier to “speak” to them, yes?
    It would actually make the whole world go ’round much more smoothly, imho. And avoid the height of arrogance that the movie-reviewer-guy so aptly displayed.
    Have done it all my life, just hoping to get paid for it now. HA!

  • Ace says:

    I enjoyed the post. Lots of good stuff in there. I got your point in this blurb …

    Seems that Germain doesn’t understand that the recently-filthy-rich producers of this movie series couldn’t give a rat’s-ass what a middle-aged man thinks.

    But, in the haste to make your point you may not have understood that Germain is writing to (targeting) middle-aged men and couldn’t care less about the filthy rich producers. His review was probably written for his audience — who likely aren’t teenage girls.

    Other than that, I think your post was excellent.

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  • Mike Taylor says:

    Sorry to have to point this out, but “Trust, but verify” is Ronnie’s (Ronald Recall, if you lived in California when he broke the state’s bank) trademark meme, not Bill’s…

  • Tony says:

    This resonates with me.. We think we know what the customer wants, because of our own perceived ideas. We know to ask, to survey, but I know I forget to ask..

    Thanks for the wakeup!

  • walter daniels says:

    I believe that JK Rowling, and the author of the Eclipse series knew their “market,” because they were the market. Young girls grow up to be “Adult” girls, and never forget those adolescent dreams. We guys forget them, as we “grow older.”
    If you want to know more about different markets, find small businesses that need temp help. Make friends with them, and help at their weekend shows. You will meet a cross section of people, and learn a lot about “average” people.:-) BTW, Men buy the lessons for their wives, girlfriends, daughters, etc. Women are less likely, as that’s a “guy’s” area.

  • Richard says:

    Impressive copywriting, enjoyable and to the point. But it was already quite clear to most of us that pinpointed research is the key to growing traffic and sales. The big question is how to achieve this accuracy in ‘fluid’ markets. Anyone out there who can enlighten us on the best ways to DO the research?

  • […] Take this example from expert copywriter Jim Curley who recently wrote a guest post for his copywriting pal John Carlton’s blog. […]

  • […] busy writing and making money. If you do a Google search you can find some rare gems including this guest post for John Carlton and this interview with Kevin […]

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