San Francisco, CA
“If you want it, here it is, come and get it…” (Badfinger)
Quick post today — I’m hosting my awesome Platinum Mastermind early tomorrow, and have a little prep work left to do.
However, I thought you might enjoy sampling the kind of posts I’m getting global recognition for… on Facebook. So I ripped a recent one from the site, and put it here for your delight and consumption.
Social media confuses most marketers — many refuse to even engage with Twitter or Facebook (or any of the myriad other options online to share silly secrets and post photos you’ll regret later). But I was an early adopter, and eagerly so — I had one of the very first marketing blogs (which you’re enjoying here), one of the first biz-oriented podcasts on iTunes (and if you haven’t listened to the latest free podcasts I’ve been hosting, go to the Psych Insights For Modern Marketers site now and indulge: www.pi4mm.com)…
… and I’ve been breaking every “rule” on Facebook ever since it hit the mainstream. I use FB to have fun, sometimes… but also to share insight, advice, lessons and some of the more obscure (and funny) war stories I’ve gathered in my 30 year career. (I currently have 5,000 “friends” — the limit — plus another couple of thousand “followers”… and I expect them all to show up at my wake and cause trouble. I’ve made them promise, in fact.)
However, here’s a nice little taste:Read more…
It’s high time for a little “public service” message here, for any marketer wanting to hire a freelance copywriter.
Cuz it’s a jungle out there.
There’s a veritable mob of available writers, of all levels of expertise (from world-class down to “should be hung”), charging all kinds of fees and making all kinds of promises.
It can get confusing, abruptly, and you can end up mismatched (or getting roughed up financially) if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So, here’s a Quick Start overview of what you – the dude or dudette doing the hiring – should get straight on before heading into the Big Scary Jungle Of Freelance Copywriters to find your perfect scribe. (This works for hiring ANY consultant, actually, so pay attention.)
Step One: Deconstruct and list what you want done.
Do you need a single ad written, or do you need your entire website created or overhauled? Do you need someone to write the necessary emails, Video Sales Letters and sales pages for a launch? Do you need a sales funnel created, starting with Adwords and traveling through landing pages, auto-responders, landing pages, and sales support?
Step Two: Admit it if you aren’t sure what you want (or need). Double admit it to yourself if you’re absolutely clueless.
This is a critical step.
You’re about to shell out a lot of money, and put a lot of your hopes and dreams on the back of the writer you hire…Read more…
“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… Read more…
“It’s the end of the world as we know, and I feel fine…” (REM)
Nice big glob of seemingly-nasty news hit the grid this week.
The FTC (brrr, even the name causes Halloween-style chills, doesn’t it) fired a shot across the bow of the good ship Capitalism with their “final guidelines governing endorsements and testimonials”.
In case you’ve been in a coma or something, here’s the Fed-sponsored link:
What immediately followed was a lot of hair-on-fire screaming and rending of clothes by both online and offline business owners who use testimonials or endorsements in their marketing.
It was kinda fun to watch, actually.
A lot of entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed over the decades, are skittish enough already about the whole “provide a product to customers in exchange for money” model of doing business.
They’re like “Are you sure we can do this? Actually accept moolah just for giving people this thing of value we created?”
It’s understandable to be a little paranoid. Business is part of the grown-up world, all full of consequences and responsibilities and risks…Read more…
“Stop sniveling…” (Pretenders, “Tatooed Love Boys”)
Quick note here for those in need.
I’ve been almost completely retired from freelancing for some time now. I still indulge a few long-time clients…
… but I haven’t taken on a new gig in over a year.
I’m devoting my time to teaching, and writing stuff for myself.
This makes me happy.
But it bums out business owners and entrepreneurs in a major way. Because, often, someone will realize they need copy written…
… and they know, deep down, that I’m the guy who needs to write it to squeeze out max results…
… and… here’s the sad part… they cannot bribe, cajole, threaten or offer me enough money to come out of this semi-retirement to do the gig.
Man, that’s frustrating.
Here’s the good news, though: I can now offer you… the next best thing.
If you need a writer who meets my strict, Operation MoneySuck, no-BS-allowed requirements for professionalism and quality…
… I now have a small “stable” full of them.
And we’ve just released a simple program that gives you immediate access.Read more…
“Facts are stupid things.” (Ronald Reagan, ’88 GOP convention)
Well, that was fun.
Over 650 comments on that last quiz so far (with a bullet). Some really good responses, too.
Also some really out-there ones, which always makes for giddy reading.
The main thing, of course, is that so many folks put on their Thinking Caps and went for it. As I’ve said before: You win just by trying with this kind of brain stumper.
… we have a winner. I’ll let you know who it was in a minute.
First, let’s relieve the tension and reveal the answer already.
Or at least head in that direction. It’s probably worth noting that only a tiny handful of the comments were on the right path.
The question was vague, on purpose. This is high-end street-level psychology…
… and one of the main features of this kind of advanced salesmanship is that it is NOT easily understood by most people.
In fact, you’ve likely encountered the answer to this quiz before in your life… but because it didn’t “fit” with your intuition and belief about “how things work”, it didn’t stick.
Most of what classic salesmen know about people runs counter to what the majority calls “common sense”.
This is startling to rookie marketers. Confusing. Disorienting. Challenges long-held beliefs about the nobility of human endeavor and the lofty inclinations of the human brain.
Thus, we saw long sub-threads in the comments that ignored the entire concept of a “glitch” in people’s thinking…
… and instead dove into all kinds of elaborate explanations of how a successful sales pitch might smoothly proceed with dignity and logic.
It’s good to have these discussions, if you desire to get anywhere in marketing.
I, too, had trouble getting into the minds of my prospects at first.
This is why I jumped on every opportunity that arose, early in my career, to hang out and grill every “street wise” marketer I ran into.
Cuz those guys knew how to SELL.
No theory. Just experience (and the bank accounts to prove it).
This group included:
… Jay Abraham and Gary Halbert (both of whom had door-to-door selling experience where, if they didn’t make the sale, they didn’t eat that day)…Read more…
“Ain’t it hard when you discover that he wasn’t really where it’s at… after he took from you everything he could steal?” (Bob Dylan, “Like A Rollin’ Stone”)
This is gonna be good.
And a whole lot tougher than any previous quiz I’ve given.
I’ll explain the prize in just a sec.
First, the set-up for the question:
I find it shocking that so many wanna-be-rich marketers out there still think the question of “short copy vs. long copy” is unsettled online.
I can tell you this: For the top guys — the ones sloughing off the vast majority of the moolah being made by entrepreneurs on the Web — it’s settled.
Whether you’re primarily using video, or email, or websites, or social media…
… the Main Big Damn Rule for getting people to part with their hard-earned money in trade for what you offer hasn’t changed since the first caveman traded up to a new cave with a view for a slab of mastodon meat:
The more you tell…
… the more you sell.
Hey — I love a good argument. Don’t get me wrong.
And I’m always open to hearing someone out on this subject.
I realize that — for many people unsullied by actual experience in the biz world — it’s just plain tempting to believe that the rules of the universe have suddenly changed.
And you no longer have to be so… vulgar… to make a sale anymore.
Because, you know… the Web has changed everything. Social networking has somehow mysteriously short-circuited the old skepticism, doubt, and fear of getting “taken” that has marred the smooth exchange of money in the past.
Now, hey, we’re all buddies on Twitter and Facebook!
Mi casa es su casa.
How much do you need? Here, take my wallet…
For anyone paying attention to what the entrepreneurs actually making money online are doing…Read more…
“What’s keeping YOU up at night?”
Quick post here, I swear.
I have a small problem…
… and I could sure use your help.
It’ll take you, like, two minutes or so.
And yet… it will be of tremendous value to me. If I’ve ever given you something of value before — a piece of advice, a tip, a hint on direction, a good belly laugh, whatever — then I’m calling in the chit.
I want you to comment here.
Here’s what’s up: Among smart marketers — those who have their money-making act together — my core message is a well-known commodity.
“Nothing good will ever happen in your biz… until the copy gets written. And… the best person to write the most important stuff… is you.”
This message is unquestioned among the top marketers I hang out with.
They even eagerly tell anyone who will listen, to listen to me.
Many of the best (like Eben Pagan, Frank Kern, Rich Schefren and others) almost never talk about copy without mentioning my impact on their own learning curves… and they help spread the message.
The heavy hitters all know — without a shred of doubt — that copywriting is the foundation of all things profitable in business.
But here’s the rub: Outside that group of “in-the-know” marketers…
… I often run into a brick wall trying to get entrepreneurs and biz owners to truly understand the importance of writing.
I feel like the first guy to see the aliens land in a sci-fi movie… and the townspeople all ignore my dire warnings of Armegeddon. They smile and nod, and agree that it certainly WOULD be nasty-bad if evil aliens were coming, but…
And their minds wander off in total distraction.
If you’re in business…
… and you’re ignoring the role of great copy in your quest for success and wealth (and your need to learn HOW to write that great copy)…
… then, like the oblivious townsfolk, you’re risking becoming TOAST.
Especially in the economic melt-down happening now.
It’s really pretty simple: Those who know how to write killer ads, emails, video scripts and everything else…
… are going to thrive.
And those who don’t…
… well, it ain’t pretty.
And that’s my dilemna: I’m very good at reaching the “insiders” in business. They immediately “get” how critical and how totally cool it is to know how to write sales copy.
As for the people who are “un-initiated” in direct response?
Not so much.
The message seems to take a while to sink in.
So here’s what I would love to hear from you: What is your NUMBER ONE problem with writing ads right now?
Are you frustrated with the process of trying to write? Do you see it as hard work or — worse — as a big voodoo mystery you’ll never figure out?
Do you avoid learning the essentials of writing for any conscious reason? Or is there something personally difficult about writing that makes you just want to skip the whole concept?
I am seriously looking for input here.
If you’re an entrepreneur… or small biz owner… or even a rookie… and you don’t know how to write what you need written…
… could you please look inside your own brain…
… and honestly share with me what the problem is? What is your Number One constraint holding you back from digging into this skill?
I’d appreciate it.
Thanks, in advance.
Hey — let’s make it a little contest.
The person who most succinctly and clearly helps me see what I’m missing here…
… will win a free copy of the freshly updated “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel” — the course that launched so many of the online marketers now dominating the virtual landscape.
Does that make it worth your time to look inside… and give me some insight as to why it’s so hard to break through the resistance so many people have on this mega-important subject?
C’mon. It’ll take you a couple of minutes. You may even learn something about yourself.
… if you’re already writing your own stuff, successfully… you can get in the competition, too.
Just remember back to what held you up from getting started learning the skill.
What was your biggest obstacle? The cost of getting help? Not knowing where to turn or who to trust? Not having the time? What?
Let’s give it until Monday to decide on the winner, what do you say?
The competition begins now…
“You know everybody is ignorant… just on different subjects.” Will Rogers
I’ve been meaning to give you some tips you can use, like, immediately to help your business boost its mojo.
So here’s a specific tactic that will absolutely pump your copy full of good energy the first time you even dabble in it.
It’s advanced copywriting voodoo from deep in my bag of tricks… yet very simple to pull off.
My favorite kind of tool.
Before I just dump this tactic into your lap, though…
… I think I’ll explain where it came from.
Might give you some context. And make you feel more confident using it.
Here’s the story: I am not a naturally-gifted writer…
… though I loved the act of writing as soon as I learned the alphabet. It was just so cool to be able to scratch out symbols with my big pencil (tongue firmly stuck out the side of my mouth) and make people laugh when they read it.
Or respond in any old way at all.
I wish I could say my Inner Salesman was tickled awake by this discovery, but he was still fast asleep… even as I got sucked into the world of great fiction, and created a hobby of trying to mimic what I was reading.
I wrote a terrifically horrible little novella in the sixth grade based on the “Mars Attacks!” bubble gum card series. (You may remember the mid-nineties movie they made about that series, starring Jack Nicholson. Great fun.)
At age 13, I wrote several short stories based on my own fevered post-adolescent twist on James Bond. Just brutally awful stuff.
I mean, what the hell does a 13-year-old know about drinking vodka and slaying women with a wink?
Not a damn thing.
Still, the entire English class once skipped lunch to hear me read one of those absurd tales.
I may have almost flunked, because my knowledge of basic grammar sucked… but I had an inkling on how to tell a story.
And yet, the more I “tried” to write, the worse I got. Right into and past college, the stories became more and more bloated with tangents and flowery language that would have choked a Victorian.
You know what the turning point was, for me, in my quest to become a decent writer?
Saved my ass.
All my heroes — Claude Hopkins, John Caples, David Ogilvy — wrote in a similar manner. Very sparse, very on-target, very no-bullshit-allowed.
And I had my epiphany about five minutes into writing my very first ad.
You see, most rookies try to goose the power of their writing with adjectives. And no matter how deep your adjective vocabulary becomes, your writing will forever be variations of a vapid Valley Girl trying to explain an experience:
“It was so, you know, like, amazing. Really, really amazing and fabulous beyond belief. It just… it just rocked, you know?…”
Adjectives, I quickly learned, are a tool for the communication-challenged.
They actually hurt your writing, more than help it.
No matter how cool you believe your precious adjective is.
Oh, go look it up, if you can’t remember what an adjective is. Good grief, man, it’s a fundamental element of the language you use everyday.
I’ll wait while you do a wiki search…
Here’s your tip for the week: Strip ALL adjectives from your next attempt at sales copy.
Every last buggery one.
And write only in simple, unadorned sentences. Make zero effort to “fluff up” your meaning with adjectives.
And… guess what?
You have just automatically made your writing more readable, and probably more powerfully communicative.
Now, yes, all the top writers do occasionally use adjectives. Often in headlines. (Where would I be today without the word “amazing”?)
However… a pro makes sure his sentence can thrive even without any adjectives… before inserting one.
That nasty thing must EARN its way into your pitch.
Your sentence must scream for it. The foundation of your story must teeter and begin to crumble… before you give in and insert a single, tasty, mojo-laced adjective.
Treat them like nitroglycerin. Use sparingly and only when absolutely called for.
However, your time will be BETTER SPENT looking for action verbs instead.
That’s what separates the killer writer from the hack and the wannabe: Verbs.
My rule: No verb is repeated on any manuscript page of copy.
You know what that means? When I’m writing at fever pitch, I’m letting verbs drive the narrative.
And I can only use words like “get” once a page.
That’ll make you reach for the ginko and the Thesaurus. (Just never, ever use a word you know is not commonly understood by your reader. Don’t get too fancy, or you’ll lose him, and lose the sale.)
Quick example: The word “walk”.
As in, “he walked down the street”. How about “he staggered down the street”? Different image.
And what about “he lurched down the street”? Sober, healthy people don’t lurch. Drunk, hurt or zombified people do.
He bolted down the street. He raced down the street in a blind panic…
First time though, you just write. Use boring verbs, and don’t fuss with them.
When you’re done, let the copy get cold (at least 12 hours, if you can).
Then, go back… and edit viciously.
Challenge every verb you’ve used. You’ll be embarrassed by the number of times you’ve used “get” and “got” and other sleep-inducing deadwood verbs. Over and over and over, as if you’d never heard of another verb choice in your life.
Don’t get cute. Don’t get clever.
Just beef up your writing with good word selection. Mostly your verbs.
You’ll know you’ve reached Buddha-hood when you stop using adjectives altogether.
No matter how amazing they may seem at first blush…
Love to hear your experience with writing — especially harrowing tales of struggle and breakthrough and redemption.
Plus any input you have from using this tip.
Interact away, guys.
P.S. BTW, I have been successfully brainwashed into finally joining the Twitter cult (by my pal Eric, who remains the ONLY marketer I know who can demonstrate he’s actually earned cash moolah using it).
I’ll be sending out invitations to join me in Twitterland.
It’s actually pretty fucking cool, once you engage.
Assuming, of course, that the people you tweet with are interesting, deranged, or drunk.
More as events unfurl…
“…and you’re working for nobody but me…” George Harrison
Just plowed through the old tax grind here. Spent several hours chasing down documents, digging through files, double-checking my math.
Cuz I suck at math, you know. How I got through trig in high school is a mystery (let alone statistics and matrix theory in college).
In fact, I’m only half-joking when I say I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the ability to multiply by 8. That entire synapse has just dried up and fluffed away. (I still have vivid memories of squirming in my third grade class during the vicious head-to-head multiplication games the teacher forced us to play. I got tricked more than once with “five times zero”, blurting “FIVE!” before realizing my blunder. Argh!)
This is why one of my first splurges when my career got going was hiring an accountant.
Accountants like numbers. Watching their hands fly across a calculator is something to behold. Looky there — all my money vanishing like dots on a digital screen…
But here’s the thing: The first time I wrote a check to the IRS for an estimated payment… I was actually thrilled to death.
This first quarterly payment was proof that I was — finally — my own man. In my own biz. Paying my own taxes.
No withholding. No payroll check. No timing my bills to The Man’s schedule for doling out my hard-earned dough.
But I enjoyed that thrill alone.
Many of my early gigs as a freelancer were with business owners who considered taxes to be evil, evil, evil. Reagan encouraged them in this hatred — it was a time when government was seen as the problem, and unfettered free enterprise the solution.
The only solution.
I’m not gonna get into it… but after last month’s bailing out of Bear Stearns with taxpayer money (mine!) — because deregulation allowed them to act like four-year-olds with someone else’s piggy bank — I’m gonna slug the next guy who spouts ideological bullshit about the free market being able to regulate itself and fix any problem.
Economics has never been easy to understand, no matter what anyone else tells you. It’s a complex mix of theory, emotion, psychology, greed. con-man tactics, and lots and lots of wishing and hoping.
Oh, and gambling. The entire financial infrastructure of our civilization is essentially a big damn roll of the dice. If everybody woke up tomorrow and decided that paper money was worthless… it would be. Same with gold. And IOUs, and everything else of “value” you can’t eat, use for fuel, or build anything with.
…I was damn proud to start paying my taxes as a rookie freelancer.
This confused nearly everyone I worked with at the time. Especially since I was hip to Ayn Rand and Robert Ringer and a small bit of economic theory…
It was like, I should know better or something.
Back then, it was almost heresy to like paying taxes. A few of my colleagues even became tax rebels, refusing to pay anything under the hazy notion that income tax wasn’t “in” the constitution, and so… blah, blah, blah.
They got in trouble. Ayn couldn’t save ’em.
I kept my thoughts mostly to myself. As a vandal in my formative years, I destroyed lots of stuff. We were removed from the creation of bridges, street lighting systems, even stop signs. So we burned, blew up, cut down and defaced public property like it was a game.
Seriously. It seemed like a game.
I’ve had this idea for a “basic lesson” I’d like to deliver to “pre-vandal” kids in grade school and junior high. In this lesson, I would explain to kids where they “fit” in the culture, and where stuff like street lights and earth-moving equipment came from. Cuz no one ever did it for me.
My theory is that kids are too removed from the creation of the stuff around us. Strangers arrive in uniforms, build and fix shit, and vanish. In earlier times, you may have known the folks who put up the lights (“Hi, Mr. Edison!”), ran the tractors, painted the walls, dug the holes for power lines, etc. (Heck, you may have even been involved — I doubt a kid who helped raise a barn would later vandalize it.)
I got a taste of this when my little town formed a Little League. Parents got together, pooled scarce resources and money, sought out sponsors… and my Pop helped build the freaking baseball field. From scratch. Went out there and leveled the field, cleared the debris and rocks (big rocks in the dirt, too), erected the stands and concession, wired the microphones, poured concrete for the dugouts… all of it.
We treated that diamond like church, too. It was sacred ground.
Slowly, it was dawning on me that anarchy was dumb, and could harsh your mellow.
Building stuff… and (gasp!) even taking care of it… could make life better.
Once I became an entrepreneur, I was ready to step up and be an “owner” of the civilization I was living in. Taxes weren’t “taken out” of my paycheck anymore. Instead, I wrote quarterly checks to do my part in funding the upkeep and creation of local and national crap.
Crap we needed. Like roads, sewers, firehouses, power lines, the whole interconnected mess that kept the lights on, the beer cold, and garbage picked up.
Yep. I’m a proud taxpayer.
I have never forgotten listening in on a heated conversation between a couple of advanced businessmen, back when I first weaseled my way into those kinds of meetings. (Literally smoky back rooms.)
Most of the guys were all pissed off about taxes, hated the thought of paying even a single penny to “the gummit”, and considered the whole thing extortion.
But there was this one guy… the wealthiest and most Zen-centered dude in the group… who just shrugged.
He said — and I remember the sound of his voice — that he made his millions, and paid every penny he owed in tax, when it was due. And slept like a baby, and went about earning another million.
The other guys grumbled and bitched and moaned and agreed with each other that this was the wrong way to go about being a success. You fought with the taxman over everything, smuggled money into hidey holes whenever possible, lied, cheated, played dumb and dumped vast sums into off-shore accounts.
Over the years, I paid attention to who led the better life. No contest.
Off-shore money vanished (“Oops!”)… years were spent wrangling with attorneys and IRS agents… and many sleepless nights ensued.
And I slept like a baby, having taken the rich guy’s advice. And got busy with my career.
No one understands my joy at being able to say I pay for the upkeep of my quirky little town and my staggeringly-big nation. And though the checks I write are pretty damn huge (I quickly got used to paying more in quarterly’s than I used to earn in a year), I do not begrudge Caesar a single coin.
Sure, lots of it is wasted, misspent, stolen and worse.
The world’s a messy place. Choose your battles.
I focus on the never-ceasing wonder of living in a joint where a guy like me — lowly, formerly-clueless, working class me — had the opportunity to grab a seat at the Feast… simply by getting busy and setting goals.
This is an astonishing playground we live in here. Most of the rest of world is agog at our freedoms, and would happily pay twice the tax we dole out just for the privilege of being able to bitch about paying it… and not being jailed or shot in the process.
So pay ’em and forget about it until the next quarter.
You really should be too busy making hay to even notice the money’s gone…
P.S. Important note to anyone who’s been gazing longingly at any of the offers over at www.marketingrebel.com: Every single package there is on the front burner for being taken OFF that site (probably forever).
In particular, the mega-popular “Bag of Tricks” package is about to be retired.
It’s just too good a deal (especially with the personal attention from me included).
We’re not getting greedy, mind you. We’re just getting hip to the structure our new biz model is becoming. And that killer offer needs serious revamping (and higher prices).
However, as long as it’s there on the site, we’ll honor the deal. I’m heading down to San Diego this week to speak at Frank Kern’s spectacular seminar, and I’m kinda focused on the upcoming “17 points of copywriting” workshop just around the corner.
Still, we’ve got geeks scrambling… and as soon as we can, the entire current set of deals at www.marketingrebel.com vanishes. I can’t tell you, right now, what will replace them… but I CAN tell you this: You will never see an amazingly hyper-generous deal exactly like the “Bag of Tricks” again.
So pop over and check it out while you can. This particular “menu” of essential info and tools and skills is what fueled so many of the top marketers now doing their thang online. Just check the testimonials.
We’re not shelving the “Bag of Tricks” to be mean… it’s just time to grow into a new model. Changes online demand it.
Don’t dally. I know you’ve been lusting after that package. I’m announcing it’s demise at the Kern event, and we’ll follow through soon after…
P.P.S. By the way… all incoming comments were disabled last night, due to a technical glitch while our server was upgraded. I know at least a few people emailed me, privately, to tell me they were denied.
Anyway, it’s all working fine now. Fire away, if you like…