So, How’s That Working Out For You?

Friday, 12:26pm
Phoenix, AZ
Been there, done that…


I am, today, resurrecting a post from a very long time ago…

… because the subject matter just won’t die. Like a zombie, it just keeps getting back up and stumbling forward to irritate and annoy me.

So let’s file this under “Necessary Reminders If You Wanna Get Rich“…

… cuz it’s one of those fundamental lessons for anyone who got into business to create wealth.

As opposed to, say, getting into business just to have something to do during the day.

Every successful entrepreneur will tell you the foundation of their wealth comes from paying attention to the fundamentals. The wild-and-crazy ideas are fun, the vows to take over the world make you feel awesome, and gorging on fresh technology is invigorating.

But you won’t earn a dime off any of it without knowing the nuts-and-bolts part of putting ideas, vows and tech into action.

Just like being really, really, really eager to demolish your opponent in a cage fight will get you killed if you don’t have the fundamentals down of hitting and getting hit.

Enthusiasm is great. Skills and knowledge are how shit gets done, however.

Here’s that zombie post. Enjoy:

I tell rookies to never, ever assume anything about anything. Ever.

Especially about your target audience. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is to assume your prospect knows as much as you do about whatever it is you’re selling.

And it’s almost never true. You’re dealing with your product/biz/service day in and day out, and you’ve dealt with the details so often, it’s all second-nature to you.

But your prospect isn’t working in your office. Even if he’s in the same general market as you, he has other priorities. He may desperately need what you offer… but that doesn’t mean he’s researched you and your product as thoroughly as you might have, in his shoes.

If you assume he understands all the technical jargon and insider terms you’re laying on thick, you stand a good chance of losing him. Even when I’m dealing with rabid markets — like golf or guitar playing or cigar smoking — I use jargon sparingly, for emphasis.

Like adding spice for flavor — don’t overdo it.

That’s why it’s important to “translate” everything into plain English in your copy… even if you would swear on a stack of Bibles that “everyone knows what this means”. This is especially true when you’re slinging slang around.

I have to watch the assumption thing, myself. Constantly.

For example: When someone books an hour’s phone consultation with me, I assume they prepare. At least a little, teeny-tiny bit.

My hours aren’t cheap, and often it’s tough to squeeze the consultations into my schedule. It’s not like a friendly chat with the guy down the hall. When your hour’s up, it’s up.

And it goes by fast.

So, I’m always baffled when the guy on the other end of the line starts arguing with me about something basic.

Especially the stuff I assume he must know, or he wouldn’t be asking me for advice.

I assume, for example, that he would have at least glanced at the “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets” course first. You know, to sort of get an idea of where I’d be coming from.

Silly me.

The most recent consultation I had started out fine… but five minutes into it, I found myself in a heated argument about whether long copy really works in online ads or not.

I thought, okay… you wanna waste half the call going over one of the very FIRST and most OBVIOUS parts of what I discuss in my materials… and what EVERY top marketer knows, from experience and testing… fine.


It’s good practice for me to go over the argument. Again.

But really, man. There are cheaper ways than a full-on consultation with me to learn one the FUNDAMENTALS of advertising-that-works.

Here’s a FREE explanation, in fact. Just in case you’re one of those guys who looks at top-grossing entrepreneurial sites, and wonders “do people really read all that copy?”.

Stop and think for a second.

We don’t use long copy for our sales pitches because we enjoy slaving over the keyboard.

No. We use long copy in our marketing…

… because that’s what WORKS.

In essence, your copy is your salesman. Face-to-face, he has to cover the entire sales message to make the cash register go ka-ching — cover all the benefits, explain all the features, establish credibility, and make a case for money trading hands, right now while the iron’s hot.

You wouldn’t tell your salesman to only use 100 words, and then clam up, would you? (Go back to the end of the line if you said “why not?”)

Your copy is your sales pitch. It’s long, because great sales pitches are long. You’re asking someone to part with money… and online, they can’t see your product, can’t hold it, can’t smell it… in fact, they have to take your word for everything.

Or rather, your words. And your words must convince, persuade, influence and close the deal…

… or you don’t make the sale.

That’s why the top marketers all use long copy.

“But,” says this Doubting Thomas on the horn, “There are a lot of people out there who insist that short copy is better.”

Oh, really? Like who?

“Lots of people.”

Nobody who’s making any money, I tell him. Does your competition use long copy?


And how are your ads pulling, compared to theirs?

“They’re creaming us.”

Soooooooo… how’s short copy working out for you, then?

That line is a favorite of folksy therapists. Someone explains how they’re sleeping with their brother’s wife, cooking up crank in the bathroom for extra cash, and getting in bar fights as a hobby.

And the therapist sighs and says: “So, how’s that working out for you?”

Humans are a stubborn bunch. All of us. We all have huge blind spots about certain things we do.

In marketing, it’s pretty simple, though, to know when your beligerence is unjustified: Look at your results.

If your bottom line isn’t what you know it should be… then you’re doing something wrong.

It ain’t working so hot for you.

You cannot argue your way to wealth in the open marketplace.

You gotta make your case, and do a good sales job. Everything else is just pissing in the wind.

Do what works. Get hip, to get rich.

And stay frosty.

John Carlton

P.S. If you insist on needing to air out this argument in the comments section, have at it.

I’ll be checking in. Let’s get this fundamental nailed down, okay?

P.P.S. By the way…

… I just slashed the price for a fresh, hot-off-the-presses copy of “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel”. For years it’s been hundreds of bucks (as was $299 as recently as yesterday)…

… but now it’s just $99. For the course that fundamentally transformed how even rookie entrepreneurs can create marketing that works like crazy. Every Big Dog marketer you know about in the online entrepreneurial world has this course on their shelves, recommends it to their followers… and many got their start through the specific techniques and proven tactics outlined in it.

If you don’t own it yet, get it here: “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel”.

It is very much NOT just about copywriting. To understand the mojo of great copywriting, you must understand the sheer power of classic salesmanship and result-oriented marketing…

… which means this course is a one-stop starting point point for anyone needing to get their entire marketing efforts into action.


Armed with all the persuasive power of good old-fashioned salesmanship.

Exactly as I used it for my entire career. To make clients insanely wealthy, and to plump up my own bottom-line for my own business advventures.

Seriously — if anything I’ve told you over the years in this blog has hit a chord with you…

… then you’re ready to dive deep into the world of real success.

And it starts here. With a copy of the classic course “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel.”

Now available for the lowest price I’ve ever offered.

It’s time to get this essential tool for success into the hands of as many folks as possible again. Get it, devour it, use it.

This package, by the way, arrives with both the written course and the CDs of me walking you through everything. Time-tested stuff, easily the single most important resource you can own if you’re serious about making your biz work.

Okay, mini-rant over. Just go grab the course, will ya?

Just enter your name and primary email address below and we'll send you the new report right away.

"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."

  • “The name of the game is be hit or hit back.”-Warren Zevon

    John, great thoughts here. Never assume and always have reasons why the customer should, or should not, take an action.

    Concrete arguments win every time.

    Facts, figures, and good old common sense.

    Thanks for reminding me.


  • Whitney says:

    I’ve encountered stubborn business-owners too. Some worry about “salesy” copy turning off their customer base. One even refused to answer my questions about his business and competitors because he didn’t want me to “get too attached” and too close to his business (like his regular employees in the marketing department do).

    I guess if I was taking marketing more seriously I’d learn how to argue with these guys, but instead I just throw up my hands and say, “Suit yourself! It’s none of my business if you make any money or not. Dig your own grave.”

    • John Carlton says:

      The only way it’s fun to be right — in the face of stubborn insistence that the opposite is true — is when you still get to cash the big checks. I always counsel freelancers never to get too emotionally involved in how the gig turns out. You do the best job you’re capable of, so you can sleep well at night and feel you’ve done right by your reputation… but after the ad is in the client’s hands, you’re done. In my experience, close to 75% of your clients will futz with your copy (even if you have it in your contract that they can’t)… to the point of ruining it. If you want total control, write for your own biz. That’s why so many top writers eventually move into entrepreneurial ventures themselves — cut out the middleman. (Of course, that’s another long story, since knowing how to sell a product doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be a good business owner…)

      No need to threaten or cajole clients, either, Whitney. Don’t waste your time. If you’re fortunate, you’ll find one or two great clients in your life you’ll form long-term relationships with, and then the magic can happen in a big way. Most will refuse to change, or learn, or adjust their sights. That’s why the biz world is constantly in flux…

      Thanks for the note.

  • Rick Dearr says:


    The thing that I’ve found to be most effective in not wasting my time (even if they are paying for it.) is to set the expectation right up front with the client, that we are going to test everything.

    They don’t like my Idea, then let’s test it against any other idea. I’m not to proud to admit it when I’m wrong, and I’m sure one day I will be…LOL

    Testing just takes the argument out of it, and any client willing to pay to test their own bright idea, better really believe in it allot to spend traffic on it against something we know makes them money.

    Keep swingin’

    Conversion Professor

    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, Rick, I used to put that in my “letter of agreement” with new clients. Still, when there are disagreements on the fundamentals… it’s like you’re wasting time arguing what color the sky is, or whether black is white. It stalls everything. And — worse — I’ve WON tests, but still had the client fire me and refuse to run my version of the ad… just because. Because the wife told him not to. Because it violated his sense of reality. Because he couldn’t fit the ad into his view of himself (ego talking). If only our fellow humans in this world were logical…

  • Ah… this again. Jeez. Thanks for reminding me, hah.

    I don’t actively prospect or hunt for clients anymore… and somehow I fool myself into thinking that people asking (and paying) me for my time and advice would actually know… just a little, wee bit… of what I’m about. Be a little pre-sold.

    Know where you’re coming from, John. Had conversations just like that.

    Great post, and one that deserves a resurrection every couple of years…


    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, don’t take it for granted that the next client will be anywhere near as good, smart, knowledgeable or generous as the last one. They all arrive loaded with suspicion, and it’s incumbent on the freelancer to get it straight before agreeing to anything. Glad you’re doing so well…

  • John, how many times did you hear Gary Halbert say “It is better to be redundant than it is to be remiss”?

    Cut the jargon, technical terminology and big, fancy words. Never presume to know what anyone else knows. Cover the basics, and build up from there.

    Thanks for a timely reminder. This is outstanding stuff.

    • John Carlton says:

      One of the reasons Gary and I worked so well together, right from the first gig, was that we’d both had enough time in the real world front-trenches of advertising to have the fundamentals drilled into us. (Him much longer than me, but this is something that should happen in the opening years of your career, no matter when you start out.) I LOVE slang and jargon, but I still only allow it into a sales piece if it passes all the tests of good salesmanship (and translates well). Thanks for the note.

  • The reason your client wanted to debate the effectiveness of long copy is because many clients are just plain broke-ass stupid. And ego won’t let them admit it. Let alone show it.

    It’s enough of a stroke to the follicularlly-challenged merkin that is their ego, that they were able to actually engage you in an argument about anything.

    Let alone something important.

    Because these toupees know, deep down, that you, the marketer, really do know more about this scheiße than they do.

    It’s the crossing of the swords that makes them feel alive. The blinding glint of fine steel … the electricity impending battle sends coursing through their veins.

    I, for one, wish they would all just fall on the freakin’ sword and let me do my damn job.

    Hey … we can hope. Right?


    • John Carlton says:

      The best thing that ever happened in my career was to meet The Boys — those clients who lured me into working with them by promising to run everything I wrote, as I wrote it. No whining, no tears, and they took all the heat from outraged audiences and pissed-off talent. They stood their ground with me for over 20 years, because I only used solid fundamentals when I wrote for them… including, of course, the fundamentals of killer hooks and jaw-dropping storytelling… and it worked like crazy. Over and over and over again.

      Without them “taking the leash off me”, most of my now-infamous ads would never have seen print, or gotten mailed or posted online. They swallowed their fear, because the fluttery green bales of money coming in proved the case.

      Here’s hoping you, too, can find a client who’ll work with you…

      • Oops. Just realized my little vomit dance above might make it seem I only work with clueless shmoes.

        Not the case. Fortunately. I do have a few clients like you mention. Problem is, I’m enough of a lazy-ass greedhead to want them all to be like that.

        What’d Gary say? All clients suck? Or something like that. They don’t all suck like Electolux, but enough of ’em do to make me obsess about those that do.

        Hey .. it’s almost Sunday. Must give thanks for the few that are angels.

        ‘preciate the attitude adjustment, J.C.

  • rob says:

    From: RJ
    1,000 meters from sandy beach of Glenelg
    South Australia
    Sunday 20th December



    The times I have tired to get my copy past
    so called ‘eager’ clients…

    They bitched and moaned like a hoare…

    Still got ripped off in the end not knowning how to collect the $$$…(get paid up front)

    So I guess I cant connect on that part of the post however…

    I’ve also had stand up screaming matches almost with stubborn deadbeat clients who ALSO…

    …wanted to challenge me on long copy…saying my piece reminded them of “readers digest” pitch…

    …so how has trying to do this on my own worked out well for me…

    …part from few ‘mini-hits’ of success for myself in neiche markets…(which have been few and far between)

    certianly is no where NEAR…the road to wealth( I yern for)…

    I dont know if I’m pissing in the wind or just over my shoulder…and it’s hitting me in the face…

    …I agree it’s totally waste of my time trying to argue my way to wealth ( if I wanted to do that I would have become a lawyer)….

    I want to do…what is hip to get rich…

    I’m happy to say…

    …that yeah my copy may suck!…which is why I have been reading these posts…

    …like a teenange boy who has just got bonners for first time after he acidently stumbles across his dads ‘stashed’ collection of playboy…in the shed.

    …to me…

    …writing copy and getting paid is like fighting in UFC…if you have had the right training you’ll minimise the chances of being slammed into the mat…(face first)or tossed against the fence like a puppy by someone smller than you…

    …only way you can get passed that is to get the sort of ‘real-life-in-the-trenches’ training from those who have gone before and have results not just for themseleves also from teaches others the simple ‘how-to-steps’

    …so I guess…

    I’ll wont know for sure what it’s like to climb to the top of the success tree of writing until…

    I can eye ball training.

    I wish!

    I had gotten back when I started…

    …I friggin yern for the learning that will take me to crest of where I know I can be however like anything…

    (like when I was yonuger wanted to bone my first g.f.)

    I understand…

    Sometimes ya gotta wait…my casual job selling shoes in retail excalty like ‘Al-bundy’ off the hit TV sitcom ‘Married with children’…

    Is slowly starting to do my head in…sure talking to HOT girls is nice…my dreams of renasuance man…are elluding me for time being…

    (Which I know is tempary thing)

    I’d like to be able to understand everything at your level (when I read your post)…I know that I need to reset my course…

    I feel with the training I have gotten…

    …may have taken me little ‘off’ course…
    as far as money ‘shot’ is concerned…

    I understand that you are SUPER busy…

    I understand you may not have had enough time to do anything any faster than what you can…or have done…

    …is there some light at the end of the tunnel for me to look out for dude?..I’m standing in this dark tunnel looking for the light to get out…

    (of being wage slave-amongst other things…get things back to some normality)

    Later man…


    • Patrick says:

      Hi Rob,

      Selling shoes like Al Bundy! That’s a great job… for learning how to close sales. Really it’s perfect. So long as you are using it to gain selling expertise!!!

      You have a situation where numerous customers visit you on a daily basis, the sale amount is small enough that it’s not going matter (too much) whether you burn a few customers when you’re trying out or learning how to master a new close.

      You are not going to get fired if you lose a sale and you wont be losing huge commission. You can experiment and perfect all aspects of your selling.

      The volume of new customers makes it easy to find almost instantly which of your techniques works better than the others.

      It’s a Stepping-Stone to successfully selling high end ticket products. And John will tell you that “Copywriting that Sells is Salesmanship in Print”

      Don’t miss this opportunity to master selling and closing skills.

      So I reckon selling shoes (and all the potential it promises) is a cool job.

      Go for it.


      • Patrick says:


        I was talking to a guy yesterday who has six truck salesmen, he was saying that four of them couldn’t close sales and only two of them could.

        The trucks go for about $260,000 – $300,000 each. Now this is not the ideal situation to start learning how to close sales. The stakes are too high.

        There is potential for huge losses in your commission and to burn or lose potential customers.

        If these guys had perfected the basics when they were a shoe salesman (got the fundamentals right), closing high commission sales would be easy for them.

        • John Carlton says:

          Non-savvy salesmen freak out when handed big-ticket items to move. But the process is the same — persuade, credentialize, make the process easy and rational for the pre-fontal cortex, exciting for the lizard brain behind it. Only fools lose sales to people primed to buy. There are a small number of “natural salesmen” out there, who seem to instinctively understand the process… but they’re rare. It’s not brain surgery to learn how to sell, though. Heck, I did it and I’m an idiot.

      • rob says:

        Hey Patty!

        This is not first sales gig for me my friend in fact!

        I’ve been front line sales dog for over decade…

        I have to do this to survive…until I can get a hold of the re-release of freelancer which the man who makes guitars sing pops it up online again…

        I can assure you it’s not by choice…

        (selling shoes-however there is a desperate shortage of good front line sales people in retail today)

        I worked in real estate for 6 years putting deals together from small house ot condo deals…right up to multi million dollar deals and working with elite property developers…

        I’ve also worked in well known pawn broking retailer here in Australia for couple of years…

        Sold stuff to junky’s,rich,in between and can make small talk with anyone from any part of town…

        Sold electrical goods for former national retailer who sold out to the competition for 3 years…

        Sold vacume cleaners in a kiosk in a major shopping mall for year…

        Sold laptops and P.C.’s for pilot store in a major shopping mall for Dell who where testing site as the state I live in is super conseritive…

        ….sold bout $85k worth of gear every quater…working 15 hours week which means for each dollar they paid me in wages/
        commision I was return somewhere round $19 dollars back…

        I hussled some kids when I was younger…for membership to ‘road side’ service for BMX’s in the 1980’s when famous Australian movie called “BMX bandits”…

        …which featured well known Aussie lass and helped put her onto the track to become Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman…(google it to see for yourself)…

        …anyway I promised all the kids on my block (state owned housing development for single parent family’s on a low income)

        …that if they got puncture all they had to do was supply the tube for the tyre.

        I’d replace the tube which means I became local pit mechanic…

        All that for $1 dollar for 1 year membership

        ***Disclamer***( I had NO clue or ZERO Insight into what I was doing I had to make money-I was poor as shit…found out from local bike shop that punctures where not covered in standard bike warranty)…

        In one afternoon I made like $10 bucks in change and took my half brother out to local fish and chip shop shouted lunch and play the old arcade game ‘space invaders’ and drank icy cold can of coke on way home still had $5 bucks over…(back than that was lotta $$$$$)

        I made another $20 buck at the end of month…until my mum found out and forced me to payback all the kids telling me I was ‘crazy’ for trying to make money…

        Unitl I replied that if we where not so poor I’d be doing other things…which led to further hounding…(she was crazy as bat shit my mum)

        So as far as getting the basics…

        I’ve got that covered and certianly appreciate the chance to chat with you dude…

        When I found late Cory Rudl’s site in 2005…

        I got the course he was selling one part of the 2,000 + page course got me!

        Which was writing copy…

        I had all the front line experience…so I already had skills transferable in my head from knowning how to sell in the flesh…

        I totally understood the steps…

        Only thing that has let me down is I got heap of different copywriting
        ‘systems’…Clyde Bedell, Robert Collier, Claude Hopkins, Rosser Reeves, Olgivly, Halbert-his famous Story-Star-Solution-other ways, couple of things from Carlton-‘copywriting sweetshop-licence to steel’

        …Brett McFall-Aussie friggin genius, Jay,Chris Newton former budy of Jay here in Oz…to name a few…

        Fatal flaw in all this…

        ….is I never leanrt how to take care of the biz end…

        …learning how to lock up deals and get paid first and get better connected and to polish my copy…

        Which is why I started to hook into this blog and as I did carlton took the freelancer course off line to update it…

        Since than like nagging-bitchin-moaning wife/girlfriend/partner…

        I’ve been ridding his tail…

        Because depsite all the study…inlcuding all weekend wiritng headlines, bullet points-blah-blah…

        I have done, I’m not 100% happy with my copy and if I dont get complete ‘how-to’ road map…

        All I’m gonna be is a friggin hack writer at best…

        …that shit does not cut it for me…I love copy…I love to wirte…write daily…I even sink myself into…

        Social network media to tap into what people are talking about…faecbook-myspace-Google+…

        Like Carlton says…’you gotta go deep on lot of things Not too deep just nuff to be able to speak the language’ taken from either one of the DVD sets of him…

        I’m into reading blogs and keeping my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the world…

        The thing with truck driver dude…

        He’d be way better off offering ‘Free info report’ titled “how to buy good reliable truck that is good on fuel and wont let you down”

        Using multi step process he could sack the guys who are not lifting their weight…

        Robert Collier wrote a very succesful letter that sold shit load of luxary yachts back in the 30’s…that this truck dude could use…

        So gettin back to copy…yes I ‘get’ copy is salesmenship in print…I’ve lived it for over decade…

        For me to sell stuff like I do…

        ….I can size up someone in less than 10 seconds if they are gonna buy or bust my balls on price…

        I can’t articulate that in words the step by step process…

        If you put me in front of people I can detect who is hungry than I spend time with them first…

        In my perosnal experience there is NO difference selling multi million dollar property to selling, electrical goods to laptops to shoes, to selling second hand stuff in pawn shops…

        The way you sell is all the same it’s the zero’s and commision that is different…

        Which is why writing copy for me is soooo friggin appealing…

        It’s all words…psycology is same…

        Nice chattin to ya Patty…

        Sorry JC long winded response to Patty…one small reponse about copy that gets my blood flowing…

        Thanks again for the post JC…it has jolted few things I have let slip…



        • Patrick says:

          Hi Rob,

          Sounds like you know your stuff.

          I read a book six months or so back that might be of help to you in the “biz end”.

          It was recommended by Dan Kennedy and I’m sure John Carlton has recommended it too.

          It’s “Winning Through Intimidation” by Robert J Ringer.

          The title is off putting but the book is bang on the money.

          Where abouts in Oz are you I’m thinking seriously about moving NZ to Oz.


          • John Carlton says:

            I do recommend that book. It was “must reading” back in the go-go eighties. Ringer is a testy SOB, and a tad on the selfish side (some blame him for the “greed is good” mantra of Wall Street back then), but his basic message is sound. At least as I recall — I haven’t read that book in 20 years. But it spoke to me back then, as I struggled to find my footing in the wild world of freelancing and dealing with Alpha-male clients always trying to bully their hired guns…

  • Jeff says:


    Thanks for the insight, as usual. More importantly…

    Thanks for a cheap reminder on the fundamentals. Speaking of which…

    I just heard the interview you recently did with Joe Polish and Dean Jackson. Now that, my friend, is some good stuff!


    Thanks for all the wise words, Johnno.

    Much obliged, seriously.

    Jeff “I can’t take notes fast enough” Waite

  • Patrick says:

    Hi John,

    I thought I knew you. I was going name my first born after you… (even if it was a girl). Lol

    I have just listened to your interview on (episode 035) and you told a fascinating story about about yourself (I never knew that about you). The whole interview is a golden nugget and a very interesting listen.

    Great post John.

    I have learned a lesson about the use of jargon.

    I wrote a book and in the title and on the front cover I had the words “closing sales”.

    The cover was perfect, it looked great (The book has great info too). When I showed it to my friends, they were blown away and said it was awesome, they were genuine because it was.

    But then they looked at it some more and said “what’s it about?”

    It happened on more than one occasion??

    This blew me away, then I realized I had spent so much time keeping my title a secret (because it is a great title), that I didn’t realize most people don’t know what “closing a sale” or “closing” means. They have no idea. Ding Dang!

    Love your blog John.


    P.S. Your name is safe. I’m past wanting children. But I do really enjoy your lessons. Thank you.

  • James Brine says:

    Thanks again John for the great and entertaining words.

    What I can’t understand, is these client’s who are willing to keep throwing money away ( I imagine that an hour with you wouldn’t be cheap). Yet still don’t have the modesty or the brains to follow your advice.

    It makes me wonder if these people are tracking there results at all.

    In the example above, he obviously knew that his current approach wasn’t working. Still I’m sure he had the data in front of his telling him how much he’s making, or losing on every dollars worth of advertising.
    He’d be a bit more willing to shut up and learn how to do it right.

    Yet I’m still surprised to see how many client’s have got absolutely no system for tracking and recording results.

    In my mind it’s the simplest way to improve results and sales.

    I’m currently reading John Caples “Tested Advertising Methods” for about the sixth time. And I’m just so glad that was one of the first books I studied when I got into this game. It definitely got my head straight.

    Cheers again John.

    I’m always looking forward to your next post. I always get a few good laughs and a heaps of killer advice.

    • John Carlton says:

      Actually, several marketers I know RELY on most customers being clueless, forgetful, and prone to mistakes. CWMSM — “customers with money, and with short memories”. If all businesses operated smoothly and with maximum savvy, most freelancers and consultants would be out of a job…

  • I’m watching the latest episode of “The Simpsons”. Neil Gaiman has a cameo, and Bart says, “Stay frosty”. I immediately thought of your tagline to end blog posts.

    I’d never heard of the saying until venturing in here to read your posts. Now I’m just a tad bit more hip.

    • John Carlton says:

      I’ve written about “stay frosty” multiple times. I got it from “Aliens”, where the Marine corporal used it. It’s been around for awhile, and I’ve used it for a long, long time just because I like it’s implications (“wake up, don’t snooze”) for marketers.

  • Rob says:

    Hey Patty….

    If ya gonna make the dash across hit up either Melbourne biz reasons that place is popin….there are also some very attractive girls as well…or Up to Qld…gold coast or mooloolaba for lifestyle….I’m dead centre…sorta like Lonely back waters of Oz…

    It’s way too consertivte for me tiny population like over sized retirement home…I’m itching to bail…Perth is good spot as well has more millionaires per capita….

    Cheers for the heads up on the book…check out web to grab a copy….

    Later Patty…JC….

  • Mitch Tarr says:

    I am thrilled to know I”m not the only one who shares these experiences as a paid professional. Long copy vs short ‘discussions’, client’s pet idea trumping good advice, being right and still losing the client.

    • John Carlton says:

      I’m never surprised when the subject comes up, over and over and over again. It’s just one of those things about biz — people dive in with little prep, and expect to figure everything out as they go. Yet, they would never just start dismantling an overflowing toilet, trying to figure out modern plumbing as they went. Or, at least they wouldn’t do it twice. (I actually learned about faucets by taking one apart… and discovered, as water shot into my face, that it was a tad more complex than I’d thought…)

      This post should help for a week or so… but when it’s lower in the queue, the subject will be as ever-present as before…

  • Thanks for posting this one again John.
    Amazing that people will still argue with the experts when they have no track record of their own.

    Reminds me of people who argue with me about how we do things where I work. I usually have to pull out the “Are you doing a quarter mil in revenue tonight?” before they realize how close minded they’re being.

    I recently did a blog post about learn the rules first then you can figure out how and where you might be able to break them. You’d probably get a kick out of it.

    Stay frosty!

    Learn The Rules

  • Joseph Ratliff says:

    Marketing = drop the egos and let the numbers do the talking (or in some cases, teaching).

    Problem is, dropping the ego is a hard thing to do sometimes. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the wisdom John.

  • Jason says:

    I find it strange as I face the same thing often. I help people burn fat and build muscle to get in better shape.

    You wouldn’t believe how many people I have to fight with about things they have heard or believe. It always makes me wonder why they pay me if they all ready know what to do and how to do it.

    • John Carlton says:

      It’s across the board. Standard default setting in most people’s heads: Question everything, but don’t bother to go very deep on actually learning the fundamentals. It’s what makes the human race so darned lovable…

  • Cezary says:

    Thanks John, I needed that.

    I sucked at copy a week ago. Until I started skimming through “Carlton’s Famous Blog Entries ™”…

    Now I still suck, but I’m enlightened by realizing how much.

    I adore how you slice and dice, setup punchlines, and I often unwillingly snot my keyboard unprepared for your humor popping up, like, from nowhere.

    Thing is, I already bashed it in ages ago – that long copy works.

    No matter how critically allergic I am to down scrolling through essays about how Disney-ish my life will be after a purchase and the warehouse I need – to store the bonuses. And sometimes scrolling back up again to find that elusive “buy now!” box.

    At least the flashy “100% secure” icons are easy to spot.

    If I’m at the salesletter, I’m already sold, dammit. I did my homework! Or my mouse just slipped.

    But I’m somewhat different, foreign in mindset to many I’d love to help out.

    So I need copy. I can’t afford you, or especially the years of getting as awesome as even the less famous folk who post here.

    My commitment: assume I don’t know shit, pick a Legend, observe closely and listen, coz I gotta learn fast.

    Length is easy, I type like a maniac. Quality I seek. Basics is what I must tear out time for.

    This post fixed my jammed lack-o-fundamental-skill-o-meter in many other areas of business and marketing.

    So, while being at the less savvy end of the stick, I do appreciate the attitude adjustment.

    Thanks, again!

  • Rob says:


    2 things came to mind as I read what you posted:

    Old saying: A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

    I Corinthians 14:38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

    I am sure there are other things to say…but these, at least to me, kinda sum it all up.


    • John Carlton says:

      I give oncoming ignorance one shot to prove that it’s actually naivete instead… which is curable with knowledge. But aggressive stupidity cannot be changed. Learn to spot the difference and your life will be smoother and less gnarly…

  • Dave Simon says:

    John – What I want to know is who started this thing that short copy is better?? I fight this battle daily with my clients. They ALL believe that short copy is the way to go. I want to know who started this so I can track him down and slay him.

    • John Carlton says:

      He’s dead. But his disinformation lives on…

    • rob says:

      Yo! Dave…

      I once done this and won the arugment still did not get paid…worth a shot anyway…

      Offer a challenge to the client…the offer is this…let them write the pitch and send it out…

      …than you write a pitch send it out and than do spilt run test see who got the numbers…

      I done this with crookered real estate agent back when I found one person who wanted some help…

      Even though my copy may not be at ‘carltons-level yet’ I still made the S.O.B. eat humble pie by two stepping info on high end property…

      We had stand up argument and he refused to pay the invoice screaming at me I was stupid to not get piad first.

      Crookered real estate agent 1 Rob 1…

      I may not have gotten paid still to this day that scum bag still can’t look me in the eye…

      So offer spilt run test let the numbers tell your client who is going to bring in the coin…

      If they wanna be king of the poo pit let them!

      Hope this helps dude…



  • Scott Junner says:

    Hey John.

    This comment is off topic. But I just wanted to drop a quick note to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to pay your enormous contribution to my life forward to your mate Ken.

    And what a great webinar it was.

    Kind Regards

    • John Carlton says:

      Thanks, Scott. It wasn’t easy getting so many writers to pull in one direction like that, and I hope the writers’ community isn’t tested again with a dire need like that. But it was good to get it done. People really appreciated the whole enterprise, and we did some real good.

      Still scary, though, how many other people are vulnerable to a health crisis. It’s just infuriating to live in the richest country the world has ever seen, and be so exposed to ruin because of insurance company games…

      Okay, not going there right now. That’s a rant for another time…

  • Andrea Sangster says:

    Hey John,

    Ha ha! I just finished the long copy for a website. Sent it off to the marketing ‘manager’ and got a note back saying:

    “Unfortunately the template we’re using only lets you have a certain amount of characters, and this is too long… so can you cut everything in half?”

    We definitely want long copy. Just not as much as we originally thought…”

    Hmmm. There’s a sort of logic in that.

    So should I reply with the logical suggestion that they simply cut out every other word… what do you think?


    PS: Great webinar last week. Learned loads.

  • jack says:

    John, thanks for the humor, the words, and what I’ve learned from you.

    Even after happening time after time, it still is at least somewhat amazing when the person in need of help feels that they know better than the person they are requesting the help from.

    Tell all of the “shorter copy is better no matter what” pissers to take a hike.

    And that distinction between ignorance and aggressive stupidity, that is a classic description right there John. I’m still trying to figure out which it is for the people I met recently who were vehemently opposed to recycling plastic bottles. Their position makes no sense at all.

    The fools who think they know best even though they are supposedly hiring someone with more (in your case John, infinitely more) experience, are a classic case of self-defeating behavior, which can ruin their business too. But you have enough good in you to at least refrain from telling those losers “I told you so”!

  • Bioniclily says:

    John if you think I am coming anywhere near this rant,you’re crazy.
    It took a whole week of shaking the crap off of my shoe, on the last rant.
    I have WORK to do!

  • Piotr Sienkiewicz says:

    Hi John,

    I think that basic stuff should be used in every area of our life because it is fundamental.

    Regarding long copy, it takes time to make it really good. Unfortunately, we all human beings are lazy creatures who are looking for some easy and fast stuff.

    And, I think here is something else…

    You see, what I believe in is, if we want to get something done we need to take care of this little, lazy crature within us and… KILL THIS SUCKER!

    Or… we need to love what we do.

    Here is quote I like very much:

    “Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art”. ~ Da Vinci

    Thank you John for your post.

  • Hannah says:

    Hi John,

    Maybe you’ve covered this before and apologies if you have – I am new to your blog. (love it by the way!) What do you think about video sales letters versus long form?

    I check out a lot of the Ryan Deiss stuff and he often mentions that video is out-performing long copy. But then again, he sells video sales letter software.

    A few of my clients ask me whether they should go for long-form or video.

    What do you say?

    Thank you.


    • John Carlton says:

      First, read my blog post on the matter, from May of 2010:

      Second: Yes, in many markets video sales letters have crushed written sales letters. But it’s not across the board. There are 3 options: Just a written sales letter… just a video sales letter… and a video, with the written letter underneath (or as an optional window). We’ve used the video with letter for the Simple Writing System launches, but then we’re talking about learning how to write copy so that made sense.

      Clickbank is dominated by video, for example. Mostly, it’s just a “classic” sales letter spoken aloud, with a few visuals. And most of my colleagues who rely on video insist that “slick” video is a non-starter for their markets. They do “down and dirty” looking video that is really just a Powerpoint slide presentation with voice-over. But you can’t assume anything from this — these guys are masters at writing pitches, and study salesmanship psychology obsessively.

      My advice: Learn how to do video (very simple, especially with Macs — use the Garage Band app), or find someone who can help you create one… but concentrate mainly on writing solid sales messages. Video won’t save a bad pitch. There’s nothing “magic” about video — it’s simply another delivery system for your message.

      Test to your market. It’s simple to use the same copy for both a written sales letter, and for the video version (more or less). Great copy should “read” like a spoken conversation, anyway. There are a few tweaks necessary when you speak copy aloud, but it’s natural rhythm stuff, and not at all difficult to do.

      Make sense? The best videos are “long form”… going well over 20 minutes (and sometimes an hour). A “minute” of video equals a written page of copy, loosely.

      Good luck. Let us know how you do.

      • Hannah says:


        That’s really awesome! Thank you for such a lengthy response. I read the other blog post too – yep makes sense. My freelance clients perceive video as being sexy and are buying into the myth that long-form is dead. My role is to convince them on the sales angle regardless of the medium so fab advice. 🙂

        I’m in the process of split-testing a video sales letter against a long form for the company I work for so will monitor the results. (I am currently earning my stripes as an in-house copywriter for a speaker who has a ton of back-end products.)

        Also for one of my freelance clients, who I just did a video for, it might be an experiment to split test that against other forms to see what performs best.

        Anyway, am talking out loud now! Thanks again for your suggestions. Off to check out some more of your blog.


  • ken ca|houn says:

    As someone who’s sold millions with both long copy and video salesletters since the 90’s, a few quick insights:

    a) long copy will always be critically important — I would not sell as much as I do without using a lot of what I learned from John (and a handful of others, like Michel, Clayton, Dan K, etc).

    Long copy will always live forever. I will use it for the rest of my life.

    b) I create some of the world’s top video informercials (trading/other industries), and pioneered their use back in 1999-2000 with real-media video, years before anyone else thought to use video. I’m the most widely ripped-off guy in my industry (trading), especially with those trying to copy my video production skills (they fail).

    You use what you learn in long-copy copywriting as scriptwriting, with modifications, in creating great video promo spots.

    c) My bestselling video infomercial I produced (at took me months of copywriting and video production work and has done very good six figure sales. I modeled it after my extensive study of informercials, but with better credibility and other NLP type hooks I use.

    d) What I’ve learned from John continues to be absolutely relevant and “even moreso, now that sales are tougher” and I re-study the DVDs and written materials I’ve bought from John over the years.. his training is business/life-saving stuff.

    e) I combine world-class copywriting with sales training (I like Jeffrey Gitomer and Brian Tracy best for sales training) and infomercial production skills I’ve learned.

    f) I would not dream of trying to sell anything without long-copy sales skills. Every single launch I do, all my webinars, tens of thousands of people trained and as customers… it all depends on the copy.

    Bestselling sites I’ve done are always done with a killer video at top (not the crappy powerpoint pitchfest ones you see newbies do; mine take roughly 8 hours of work minimum for every 30 seconds of onscreen time you see, as a closely-guarded secret I’ll let out now for the world), with a standard long-copy salesletter with bullets, benefits, bonuses, and the rest of it under the video.

    Video complements but will never replace long copy salesletters. I use them together. It’s a key to sales success online.

  • I’m always amazed that clients go to a marketing firm for advice, creative output, etc… And then totally disregard whatever we say to them!!
    We often plainly tell them that their idea won’t sell, Despite that they insist on incorporating their “thing” into the final result.

    This is very discouraging to us as we then have to say to everybody that no, we didn’t do that, it’s not ours!

  • Well said! Everyone should realize that it actually takes time to set up your business. You have to get out there and make it happen. So much for the learning, you need experience.

  • When the sales person assumes that the buyer is already informed about the basic info about the product but in reality the buyer does not have a single idea what the product is for, I conclude that the seller is in deep trouble because the sales person is like a soldier that goes to war without bullets. Your post is a reminder that a good businessman must always be ready for war.

  • Hi John! I will admit that I am a rookie in sales and marketing. My humbleness will be key and to success and will push me to listen to your advises. Rookies must never, ever assume anything about anything. I must be prepared all kinds of situation so that I can close the deals and get rich in the process.

  • custom items says:

    John, I learned it the hard way. I failed to close a deal because I forgot one vital info and it triggered a marketing disaster on my part. Good thing is life always offer 2nd chances and I will be prepared next time.

  • Hi John! If Manny Pacquiao will always assume that he can always beat his opponents, I am pretty sure that he won’t be a champion. People must always be ready for an unexpected situation that is why fire drills are exercised in schools.

  • logo items says:

    John, I can relate to your post but I am in the other side. In this case I am the client that turned a deal down because I instantly realized that the one selling me a reconditioned Risograph printer was not equipped to provide back-ups in case something happened to the machine. The seller assumed that everything is already ok but when I popped the backup question he fumbled.

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  • Moe Nawaz says:

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  • fassah says:

    Good thing is life always offer 2nd chances and I will be prepared next time.

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