Category Archives for Marketing

Welcome To All Virgin Eyes Just Now Seeing This Blog…


Saturday, 1:26pm
Reno, NV
“Welcome to the jungle…” (Axl)

Howdy.

If this is your first time here, you’re in for a treat.

First: There are over 15 years worth of archives here, all sizzling articles crammed with advice and insight and raw fun. Free. Just browse the stacks.

Second: Make sure you sign up for the free report on this page. Besides being critial info you need to succeed in biz… signing up now will give you instant access to my emailed Newsletter, which arrives every week… also crammed with tips, revelations on the entrepreneurial lifestyle, and insider glimpses to how the business world actually operates (which most civilians never know exist).

Plus — you’ll be first to know about any news I’m privy to in this whacky business. And things happen fast. You NEED these emails as part of your network, for the insight, the connections, and the access to me.

Third: If you find yourself jonesing for even more of my stuff… well, instant links for every course, book, and coaching opportunity I offer is on display everywhere on these pages.

Start anywhere. The entire blog is a vast playground for entrepreneurs, with joys and wonders abounding.

If you comment on anything, I’ll see it. I often personally respond to readers, too, so don’t be shy with questions.

See you inside…

John

P.S. Be sure to check out my Platinum Mastermind group, which is now meeting via Zoom every few months. It’s the longest-running “real” mastermind in the game, and has changed more lives than you could ever believe.

And when this Plague backs off, we’ll be meeting in person again.

However, there are only a dozen spots available for each meeting, and those spots go fast. So go here now to see if this amazing gathering is for you…

P.P.S. The above photo is from a Key West informercial shoot Gary and I did with Dan Kennedy, back around 1990 (the “good ol’ days”).

You’ll notice a ton of stories about those days in this blog, along with lessons learned and disasters averted and all the fun, outrage, harrowing adventures and wondrous victories from a life well-lived.

You’re batshit if you don’t sign up for this ride…

Here’s Your Damn FREE Book, Already…

Monday, 7:01pm
Reno, NV
There is nothing that cannot be achieved by a man who refuses to listen to reason” (Gary Halbert)

Howdy…

I was going to slap a quickie book on Amazon for you…

… stuffed with all the advice, shared wisdom, tactics and strange asides I’ve been assaulting folks with lately on my Facebook page.

But then I thought, “screw that”.

Why not just give the book to you here?

For free?

And that’s what I’m gonna do.

Hey, it saves me a ton of editing and detail work (which I loathe).

Title:

Brain Farts, Psych Insights, Strange Tales
Goddamn Good Advice 

The “bad Uncle” rantings of the most ripped-off and respected copywriter alive.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: The Big Damn Jenga Game That Is Your Future

Chapter 2: The 3 Types Of People Who Will Be Fucking With You Your Entire Life

Chapter 3: Respect Brilliance, And Brilliance Will Respect You

Chapter 4: Wait — Does Carlton Still Consult With Regular People?

Chapter 5: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Chapter 6: The Genius Of Operation Money$uck

Chapter 7: The Best Way To Learn From Mentors

Chapter 8: What’s Your Excuse?

Chapter 9: The Small Stories That Do The Most Work

Chapter 10: Becoming Mr. Persuasion Expert

Chapter 11: Where To Find The Eternal Truths Of Great Copywriting

Chapter 12: The Simple Tactic That Opens Doors For You Every Time

Bonus Chapter 13: When Logic Sucks

Introduction

Folks complain to me all the time about the length of many of my posts (especially here in the blog).

Well, fine.

Here’s a nice quickie book full of very short chapters...

… all of which nevertheless pack a vicious punch of insight and savvy.

You can read it in 11 minutes, unless you’re a plodding reader (like me). (I like to dawdle along, savoring the writing.)

Anyway, it’s free, so you don’t get a big, deep introduction.

Just enjoy…

 

Chapter 1

The Big Damn Jenga Game
That Is Your Future

Today’s Brain Fart Lesson: We all get lost sometimes. 

The longer you live, the more it happens.

Even after you’ve succeeded, and nailed down your spot in the hierarchy (whatever it is, biz, family, team), you will never stay in one place.

The universe likes to screw with us, treating our plans and lives like a big Jenga game.

The occasional collapse is inevitable.

So it’s not necessarily a bad thing to wake up one day and realize you’re all lost again. It happens.

The only constant will be yourself, smack in the middle of all the melodrama, tragedy and chaos of a normal life. (You can ramp up the intensity of everything once you become an entrepreneur, too, so be prepared for a more jolting ride.)

Lost, found, lost, found.

Lost.

Found.

For me, a nice Zen approach to the ebbs and flows of life works.

It’s only when you freak out and panic that you get REALLY lost.

Remember who you are, and what you’ve survived… and why you’re here in the first place.

You have a purpose. It will sometimes shimmer just out of easy reach…

… and it will sometimes be in your face, like a flash bulb.

When you’re lost, it’s barely a dot on the horizon, and you’re not sure you even know what it is anymore.

Stay frosty. Keep calm.

No one gets out of here alive, but during the ride (however long or short it is) you’ve got control of the script.

This is what your network is for.

When you’re feeling lost, reach out. Don’t curl up and suck your thumb.

You’re normal. This shit happens. There is a way out (there’s ALWAYS a way around a bad spot…

… even if it’s not the solution you’ve hoped for). If you have medicine to take, take it. If you have to limp back to the beginning and start over, limp back and get going.

The universe, as capricious as it can be at times, respects movement.

Good luck, and carry on.

When you find love, cherish it.

When you stumble into chaos, fight.

Above all, keep moving

Chapter 2

The 3 Types Of People Who Will Be Fucking With You
For Your Entire Life

Dept. of Adventure Junkies United, memo #38: I’ve lived long enough to realize there are basically 3 distinct types of people:

  1. Those who crave living through adventures, like crack addicts seeking peak thrills.
  2. Those who love adventure, but get as much enjoyment out of reliving them as they do going through them.
  3. And those who avoid adventure at all costs.

We call that last group “Safes”, meaning they play life safe, seldom straying anywhere near The Edge (and never, if they can help it, peeking over into the abyss).

I don’t have many acquaintances who are Safes. They don’t do well in my world.

I’ve spent most of my youth in the first camp. As kids, we dared Life to actually kill us as we fell out of trees, explored dangerous caves, jumped across roofs and rode bikes at speeds that drove our eyeballs back into our brains.

As a teen, it just got ridiculous. I have yet to see a “kids go crazy” movie that comes close to the wild-ass stunts and death-defying idiocy we performed on a regular basis (and that includes Animal House, Porky’s, Dazed And Confused, and any other one you can name).

And once I reached legal age…

… well, I’m not gonna discuss it here. Let your imagination run wild. It won’t come close to what we pulled off.

However, as I’ve mellowed a bit, I’ve backed off of experiencing adventure first hand. I just don’t heal like I used to.

Plus, it’s now as much fun to kick back and relive those memories with old pals as it was to generate the memories in the first place.

The top writers of the world all fuel their existence with raw adventure while young…

and then write about it as they totter away from The Edge, glad for the experiences, ecstatic to have survived, and happy to have some pals around to share the tale with.

I feel sorry for the adrenaline junkies I’ve known — those poor souls who live fast, but never seem to have a story to tell. It’s all about the hormone dump, the internal chemical rush.

I get it. I know that flush of excitement over physical feats of insane boundary-testing very well…

… but it was just a side perk of the experience.

Mostly, I was after the STORY — the essence of doing something outrageous, living to tell the tale…

… and then TELLING the tale. And telling it with skill.

It’s important to understand these starkly different categories of people. You shouldn’t trick Safes into crawling up the side of a tall building downtown after a night of boozing. That’s not nice, and they won’t appreciate it.

The story they’ll tell is what a total asshole sociopath you are for making them do that shit.

And be wary of wandering off with the adrenaline junkies, if you’re not part of that tribe. They tend to die young.

And if you’re a writer…

… well, cherish the adventures you’ve had, make your bucket lists of adventures not yet realized and go after it…

and keep honing your story-telling chops.

There’s nothing worse than sitting through a poorly-told tale, no matter how rousing the story COULD have been if shared with some pizzazz and skill.

One of the first things I reveal in the Simple Writing System is how to tell a story. It’s critical for anyone wanting to reach the next level up in biz (where all the Big Bucks and true happiness lives).

And — big treat — I’m going to personally teach a very special SWS class that begins the first of May, this year.

There won’t be very many spots available, cuz I like to keep my classes small (so I can really get to know you and offer personalized coaching customized to your particular needs).

I’ve only handled one class like this a year, and this may be the last one I personally teach.

So stay tuned if you’re at all interested.

Chapter 3

Respect Brilliance, And
Brilliance Will Respect You

Dept. Of Shiny Objects: I’ve been thinking about all the brilliant people I get to hang out with.

My biz partner, brilliant. The staggeringly long line of mentors throughout my career, all brilliant. The folks I share stages with at events…

… brilliant. (Well, okay, not all of them. Some duds in there. But mostly, by the time you reach a major stage, you’ve honed your brilliance to a sparkly sheen.)

My colleagues, especially the writers: Brilliant. My old college pals (who I still hang with regularly, and dangerously): Brilliant.

A good subset of the neighbors in this somewhat exclusive enclave I call home: Brilliant.

The lovely lady I share the hovel with: Brilliant.

I’m fucking surrounded by brilliance.

You’d think it’d get boring, after a while.

Naw. Just gotta remember to be patient with the less-than-brilliant people who populate most of the rest of the joint.

And, gotta remember not to take anything for granted.

You cannot imagine what it’s actually like to sit at a bar telling war stories with my writer friends. Or going on long road-dog adventures with my long-gone pal Gary Halbert (or his kid Bond).

Or going deep in one of our mastermind meetings…

…surrounded by the likes of David L. DeutschKevin RogersDavid Garfinkel, the various guest experts I invite in, and most of the members.

The people around you are your braintrust.

It can take half a lifetime to gather a good group — especially if (like me) you’re a little weird and introverted.

But when you find the right folks, you hold on tight.

The world is filled with aggressive stupidity. It can be annoying hanging out with brilliant people (who ALL have bizarre behavior disorders, usually undiagnosed)…

but it’s always worth it.

Always.

This is how stuff gets done in the world.

Brilliance will out.

(To find out more about the amazing Platinum mastermind I’ve hosted with my biz partner Stan Dahl for the last 10 years, go here.)

Chapter 4

Wait — Does Carlton Still Consult 
With Regular People?

Just had a colleague (a colleague!) ask me if I do personal consultations.

Uh… yeah.

How in the world does a guy who’s known me, and flogged my stuff, for years…

… not know I’m still a hot commodity in the consultation game?

I figure it’s my fault.

I don’t flaunt it, cuz I can only take on a couple of clients each month. (Yes, I restrict my personal calls to just a couple a week. I love you guys, but only up to a point.)

So, flaunting: Yes, you can get me on the phone (or on Skype, or Zoom, or whatever new freakin’ app you’re now using)…

… to personally discuss your biz or situation, dissect and solve problems, critique copy, and generally access the decades of deep front-line experience I offer as The Dude Who Knows A Fuck-Ton About Making The Big Bucks.

In fact, there’s a blog post up about this very subject, right now, here.

It’s so easy to grab a spot in the line-up. Especially now, while so many folks are still in the dark on whether I even offer private consulting anymore.

Chapter 5

No Good Deed
Goes Unpunished

Today’s Hard Knock: One of the first rules I learned, while climbing the career ladder, is “No good deed goes unpunished.”

It only makes sense after you’ve seen it in action, and you’ve taken the time to reflect on the way it plays out in real life.

But many folks take the wrong lesson from this sad realization of human frailty.

The thing is, just because you will be punished for your good deeds, you don’t stop doing them.

You just stop expecting to be rewarded.

This is why it can get lonely at the top. If you harshly judge people by their as-yet-unenlightened actions, you are soon left as a solo act.

So learn your Hard Knock lessons, but don’t feel superior about it.

Be an agent of change and practice massive forgiveness.

Perhaps, by tending your own garden well, you will influence the world.

Or, hell, just go ahead and blow the joint up. It’s what humans do when frustrated and impatient.

A few will continue doing the right thing, against the tide…

Chapter 6

The Genius Of 
Operation Money$uck

Operation Money$uck Rule #1: If money can fix a problem, don’t waste time trying to fix it yourself.

Instead, use your time to make enough money to pay your way out of the problem.

If a problem requires time, measure the cost vs benefit of YOU handling it (cuz your time is very valuable), vs delegating it to someone else.

If you’re the dude or dudette responsible for bringing in the moolah, then that’s your primary job.

I’m always astonished at busy entrepreneurs who do their own laundry, shopping and chores when it takes them away from the biz.

Then, I’m absolutely floored when I discover they also handle every detail in the biz. Right down to fixing the printer when it goes wonky.

First thing I did when I started my biz was hire an assistant. She’s still with me, 15 years later, and her worth cannot be calculated. She multiplied the amount of time I had available for doing the Op$uck stuff.

Your time is your most important resource. Every second you rob your biz of your cash-generating efforts is a loss on the bottom line.

Chapter 7

The Best Way To Learn
From Mentors

Some hard advice: Mentors active and successful in the real world are essential for anyone serious about leading in any part of life or business.

And it’s very difficult to find good mentors in academia. At least, that’s my experience.

Too many dumb rules.

You must venture into the “real world” to find the good ones.

I taught a single evening’s class each at both Exeter and the Missouri school of journalism, via Skype. It was a great little adventure, really glad I did it…

… but the students were not happy about being challenged. And I was lobbing softballs.

It was pearls before swine, I suspect.

In my first day with every real mentor I’ve ever had (notably Jay Abraham and Gary Halbert) I had my teeth metaphorically kicked in.

In my long experience, tough love is the best way to learn, with no second-best method in the running.

Academia has its place, and I learned a lot getting my BA (though very little in actual class).

But for entrepreneurs, it’s real world all the way.

Read copiously, but put what you learn to the test immediately.

Best advice for copywriters: Writers write

… and great writers write with consequences.

Get busy. (And for crying out loud, go read my freaking blog.)

Chapter 8

What’s Your Excuse?

One of the very bright dividing lines separating happy, successful folks from the unhappy wannabe’s…

are the role of excuses in moving through life.

Dudes and dudettes who get stuff done stare down obstacles and find ways through or around them…

… no matter how long it takes, or how many times they fail at it.

They’re the minority.

Much more common is the notion that having a good excuse lets you off the hook for getting something done.

Our bollocked-up school system encourages this — oh, your dog ate your homework? Okay, you can have an extra day.

And it just gets worse in adult life — oh, sorry I T-boned your car there, but I just broke up with my girlfriend and was re-reading her last text to me…

At some point, most civilians will be on their death-bed, looking back on their failures and crushed dreams, and have to find cold comfort in the idea that at least they had good excuses. They tried, sort of, and had their feelings hurt or their efforts rebuffed, and what can you do?

Life’s hard, right?

Okay, fine. Cuddle up with your excuses.

You might garner a bit of sympathy from some folks, but you’ll just continue to be disregarded by anyone feasting on life and getting shit done.

Start with being late. If you think it’s okay, as long as you have a plausible excuse (the traffic lights were absolutely conspiring against you, or gosh, clocks are just hard to understand, you know?)…

… then move to the back of the line right now.

You may actually HAVE a good excuse this time…

… but if being late is “who you are” (and yes, you are judged harshly and continually in the biz world on this stuff)…

… then consider WHY it’s a habit.

Look deep. It may be passive-aggressive behavior you picked up as a kid. It may be a symptom of happiness-corrupting disorganization (which no potential client wants any part of). It may be undiagnosed ADD, or even the first ripples of real cognitive disorder.

But usually, it’s just a habit. You keep getting away with it — or you THINK you’re getting away with it (and really, the people around you just stop relying on you, and consider you a liability).

The consequences seem mild — maybe somebody gets pissed off once in a while, or you miss a flight. Whatever. Life is hard, right? Get off my case.

The problem, of course, is that if you want to play in the level above you — in biz, romance, sports or just generally effective living — you are going to pay dearly for your bad habits.

Top clients won’t put up with sloppy non-professional behavior. Self-respecting potential romantic partners will avoid committing to you. And a whole bunch of cool life experiences will vanish…

… all because you think having a good excuse absolves you from the responsibility to be where you said you’d be, when you said you’d be there… prepared to do what you said you’d do.

Getting away with something is NOT the same as “succeeding”.

Highly effective people, who get shit done and succeed at life, rarely allow excuse-artists into their lives in any meaningful way.

Buy a fucking watch. Add twenty minutes to your estimation of how long you’ll need to get somewhere (or more)…

… and if you’re early, find a spot to kick back and check email or Facebook or just relax. Or read a book. There’s no such thing as “wasting time by being early”. Be prepared for it.

And it’s worth repeating: Yes, the people operating in the level above you ARE judging you by these small behaviors.

Maybe other folks in your world are just character actors, whose time isn’t worth much. (That’s the way stone-cold sociopaths think, you know.)

However, the successful crowd you want to be dealing with will not put up with that bullshit.

Okay, you better get moving. You’re gonna be late…

Chapter 9

The Small Stories 
That Do The Most Work

Rumor Control, memo 34b: Here’s a fun exercise — for the next few days, pay attention to the stories people near you toss around as settled truth.

Ignore the politically-charged stuff. Too obvious.

Instead, note the smaller tales.

It’s easy, within an extended family, to spot foundational “facts” that are actually just shared assumptions with little or no evidence behind them.

Auntie Flo is just an eccentric, innocent old lady (not a dangerous self-medicating bipolar nutbar who keeps loaded guns in the silverware drawer).

Cousin Farquar’s sexual offender status is just a simple misunderstanding with the cops (and his 3 exes).

And your neighbors have concocted scripts about each and every household in the area (including yours).

Often, they won’t use names to identify a house, but plot lines. “Did you see the cop car parked over at the drug den yesterday?” says Mr. Perfect Lawn, while talking with That Hippie Couple across the street.

Noticing these smaller stories is how top ad writers become legendary.

It’s this kind of detail, plucked from real experience, that breathes life into a sales message.

I’ve been peppering my copy with snatches of observed reality since I first realized the potency of bringing the “truth” of human interaction to the selling game.

We are a whacky species, fueled by assumption, rumor, believable bullshit and tall tales invented out of thin air.

We all routinely just make stuff up to fill in the blanks.

We loathe blanks.

Understanding the mechanics of social interaction — with all its nonsense, silliness and fluff — is key to communicating effectively.

God help us.

Chapter 10

Becoming Mr. Persuasion Expert

The Spectacular Failure of Human Rationality, Part 5: I’ve been gleefully collecting stories of bizarre decision-making by my fellow humans for decades.

As a marketer, these tales are sobering revelations about what I’m up against trying to persuade prospects to do something.

As a caring friend, they’re a reminder not to beat my head against the wall when stubborn resistance makes efforts to help futile.

Top example: A medical doctor friend refuses to entertain even the idea that I solved my migraine problems through diet, massage and chiropractic.

She’s old-school medicine, educated in the days when the AMA taught that masseuses were hookers, vitamins were bullshit, and chiro’s were quacks (and she just ignores the fact the AMA long ago apologized, and now many modern docs work closely with chiro’s cuz, you know, the shit works).

No, somehow HER migraines (which are interferring with her life big-time) require drastic brain surgery. No amount of empirical evidence from pals can dent her resistance to an alternative.

This is cognitive dissonance on a major-league scale — she doesn’t think I’m evil or lying, yet she just cannot allow my story to be “real” in her mind.

So she simply refuses to acknowledge it.

The downside of trying non-surgical alternatives?

Zero.

No matter, she’s headed for the scalpel, to treat something other folks routinely beat with simple measures that don’t involve blood and removal of brain tissue.

You realize that this kind of stubbornness exists up and down the human decision-making process (from choosing what shoes to wear today, to who to marry and what car to buy) and you’re on the way to becoming Mr Persuasion Expert, for whom no objection is too weird or difficult to deal with.

Chapter 11

Where To Find The Eternal Truths
Of Great Copywriting

Just posted this in a damn good thread about finding the best copywriters to follow for advice and tactics (crowd’s ultimate decision: look for the gray-hairs)… thought you’d dig it:

“In truth, any copywriter who’s had sustained success for several years can help you with the basics.

IF they’ve written for multiple markets, weathered massive economic disasters, and gone up against other seasoned pros in hyper-competitive niches and won.

Too many writers luck out by exploiting rare conditions and early adoption of hot tech changes. Which is great for making money, but doesn’t mean they can thrive outside of those rare conditions.

Google slaps and Zuckerberg tantrums tend to frustrate writers who lack deep knowledge of advertising history.

To learn the eternal truths, yes, find the grizzled pros. But only those who aren’t bitter about how shit keeps changing.

There will always be massive and unfair upheaval in biz. The true grownups have learned how to adjust.

Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters…”

Chapter 12

The Simple Tactic That
Opens Doors For You Every Time

You want a simple tactic that will open doors for you?

Can’t believe I have to keep reminding folks of this…

… but just be very, very polite.

Say “please” and mean it.

Say “thanks” and mean it.

Call men “sir” (even if they’re younger than you), call women “m’am” (even when they’re younger than you), and listen intently when anyone is speaking to you.

Meet their eyes.

Do not argue, unless that is the dark alley you want to go down (and say goodbye to any doors that may have opened for you).

You know who the most polite people on the planet are?

Sociopaths, and folks who can kick your ass. They don’t give a ratfuck about the social “score” of who feels dominant in any given situation…

… and they want to get to their goals (which never, ever include arguing) as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Stop posturing.

If you’re good…

… or successful…

… or smart, experienced, talented, or can kick ass…

… folks will either find out soon enough, or they won’t.

It doesn’t matter.

Use the simple tools available to us socially to get people in rapport with you quickly, use charm to be non-threatening (when you can), and give others your total focus during conversations.

And remain committed to your goals.

I mean, Jeez Louise — you’re a nice person, who deserves more…

yet the sociopaths and ass-kickers are waltzing through doors into opportunities that should have been YOURS.

Because they’re charming and polite and know how to move through social situations without an attitude.

Caring about the small shit is a sucker’s game.

Breathe deeper. Reach higher. Live bigger.

And please get my books. All of them, immediately. Devour them with gusto, and start moving up a couple of levels in life and biz.

You can find everything on the blog, right there in plain sight: john-carlton dot com.

Thanks.

Just sayin’…

Chapter 13

When Logic Sucks

Psych Insight #233: The idea that “logic” enters into buying decisions is ludicrous.

A super-rational Vulcan like Mr Spock may accidentally hit on the right way to sell something to a market, but it would only be coincidence if it was actually logical.

He was not a persuader.

The Voice Of Reason seldom is.

Humans operate in this roiling soup of emotion, confusion, delusion, excuses, denial, and wishful thinking…

… it’s what makes us so charming and fun.

The universe may work under gorgeously-precise rules of physics, but our brains are big clumps of chaos.

Great salesmen know this, and proceed accordingly.

That’s it, Bucko.

Nice, short book, crammed with wisdom, advice and insight to moving your slacker butt up another level in life and biz.

My gift to you.

Now go rummage through the books and courses for sale in the right-hand column, and buy something to fill in the blanks of your skill set and biz mojo…

And be sure to sign up for blog notifications, up top. You get another free book when you do that, you know.

It’s Freebie City here today…

Stay frosty,

John

Photo courtesy of Ms Significant Other

 

Rejoice! Volume 2 Of “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together” Is Now Available On Amazon…

Monday, 8:15pm
Reno, NV
“Everything changes once you have John Carlton roaming around inside your head…” (Perry Marshall, from the forward)

Howdy…

If you loved the first volume of “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Sh*t Together”…

… you’re gonna swoon over the just-now released Volume 2.

You can grab it now on Amazon, here.

I’ve filled this book with timeless advice, insight and tales from the front trenches of the marketing and advertising world…

… dipping heavily into the same well as the first book.

That would be the super-exclusive monthly newsletter I physically mailed out to a “hot list” of now-famous marketers and copywriters and entrepreneurs. (For a pretty penny, too — each year of receiving this newsletter, dubbed “The Marketing Rebel Rant”, set you back a thousand bucks. And still, the mailing list was a “who’s who” of the best and the brightest in the game.)

I mean, the forward is by my good friend Perry Marshall, for starters.

Inside, you’ll find tons of rollicking stories starring my longtime mentor and best pal Gary Halbert

as well as “behind the scenes” revelations from my 30-year career as the guy top marketers snuck in the back door to do the direct response magic required to earn the Big Bucks.

It’s not simply a “tell all”, though.

Not by a long shot.

The newsletter I wrote was being devoured by the Top Dogs in our industry…

so I had to deliver on my promise to wow them with every issue.

That meant pulling out the big guns in every chapter, and going deep into the details of earning a seat at The Feast (my term for living the best life possible for a happy, rich, and super-productive biz owner).

You can grab a digital version for your Kindle, or a printed book. (I know most of the entrepreneurs I hear from keep a printed copy of Volume One close to their desk, dogeared and messy with notes.)

It’s riveting reading, and right up your alley (if becoming the most successful biz owner or copywriter possible is your goal).

Again: Here’s the Amazon page.

Go get your copy now.

Stay frosty,

John

That’s Not Funny, Part One

IMG_1751

Tuesday, 7:59 pm
Reno, NV
What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” (Nick Lowe)

Howdy…

One of the first things you hear, when you’re learning about fundamental copywriting and ad creation…

… is to avoid humor like the plague. The great David Ogilvy said “People do not buy from clowns.” This pre-dated Jack-In-The-Box’s latest commercial model (where they’re so obviously going after the stoner market with late-night “Munchie Meal” take-out boxes that it’s funny on multiple levels)…

… yet, overall, most high-end marketers still agree with it.

Even the funniest copywriters I know (and let me assure you that many of the best bust-your-gut-laughing humans alive are, indeed, copywriters) (weirdo bunch, totally) almost never insert humor into their sales copy. Almost. Occasionally, when it’s absolutely safe (like writing to your own house list, full of folks proven to have the EXACT same sense of humor you have, right down to the Animal House reruns and Adult Swim shows you all watch)… they may go off the reservation and aim for making readers spit up their morning coffee over an email.

But it’s rare. More likely, the funny-guy guru’s you follow have a “meta-text personality” that includes some risky guffaw moments here and there, just to position them in their market as too-cool-for-school (and thus intellectually superior to their competition)…

… which they’ll jettison at the point of closing any sale.

Cuz money is serious biz. And most buyers (not looky-loo’s, but buyers) aren’t keen on being the butt of a joke, and tend to distrust salesmen who seem a bit too… funny. (Even the word “funny” means both being humorous, and also being weird, brain-damaged and untrustworthy.)

Now, I’m a fairly humorous fella. (And any brain damage I’ve sustained is all better now.) I’ve made a colleague snort coffee through their nose as recently as… well, yesterday, on the phone. Other writers collect my private emails, and read them to family and friends. (Part of that may be a self-defense strategy against their spouse’s assessment of a life in advertising as being “boring”.) I’ve also caused entire ballrooms to laugh so hard, some attendees almost wet themselves. And I’ve even used “okay, you got me” sarcasm to get my point across to a reluctant client during consulting.

Of all the things I value the most in life… laughter and humor rank in the top five. (Just below sex, In ‘N Out hamburgers, craft IPA beer, and the NBA.) (Oh, and my Jack Russell terrorist dog. Sorry, girl. Almost forgot you…) (And my ’64 Stratocaster. And Turner Classic Movies. And…)

Okay, whatever. It ranks high, anyway. It’s a big part of who I am, and what I bring to the table as a friend, colleague, writer and consultant.

And yet, when a sales process gets down to the shorthairs…

… I’m as serious as a mortician.

Losing a sale because you screwed around is NOT funny. It is, rather, a fucking tragedy.

So all the top writers I know have a strict rule against tickling the funny bone of a prospect… at least, when things get to “that point”.

However, we also really, really, really want to find exceptions to this rule. We figure there’s GOT to be an exception, somewhere.

Which means we’ve all become minor experts on the topic of humor. Because, it turns out, while everyone believes they own a “great” sense of humor… the truth is, few (if any) civilians understand humor at all.

So, I thought I’d share some of the research I (and some of my colleagues) (including writers like Kevin Rogers, who spent a decade as a stand-up comic before getting into advertising) have dug up…

… in no particular order…

… just as a starter guide to why we mostly don’t (but sometimes do) use humor in our marketing:

The Joke’s On Us #1: In the last few decades, Ivy League universities have started studying humor, trying to get a baseline understanding of what’s funny to most people, and why.

And their first biggest discovery was that many people have no sense of humor at all. None.

However, while these funny-challenged folks have no idea why you’re bent over laughing at a certain joke or situation…

… they are often very astute to the social cues of humor, and will be holding their bellies right along with you, laughing out loud.

They’re faking it. Or, more precisely, they wait a beat after observing other people laughing, and join in as a social “bonding” routine. They’re supporting the good vibes that mass laughter brings to any social setting… kinda like nodding in agreement, or applauding.

Researchers figured this out by tricking people in studies — seeding a small crowd with actors who laughed on cue at non-funny things, and recording the actions of study participants. Folks with actual senses of humor would smile in a bewildered way, wondering why they weren’t getting the joke. But the fakers had no such objective judgments — the crowd laughed, so they laughed, too.

Reading about these findings blew my mind. I’d suspected something like this was going on, because I had friends who laughed a bit too hard, or who seemed to mainly use loud guffaws as a way to show dominance in a conversation. So I did some of my own testing, watching closely when fakers actually began laughing (a beat behind everyone else).

If you ask, most people will say they have a great sense of humor. Insider their world, they do. Whatever they find funny (or socially acceptable to laugh at, as a bonding process) is what’s funny. This is how humans operate. All measurements of behavior begin with what you’re doing as the universal standard for normal, or moral, or just “the right way”… and if others don’t agree, then they’re just wrong.

Marketer’s Insight: While no one is sure what percentage of the population is actually humor-challenged, it IS a large chunk of your fellow citizens. So when you’re creating marketing aimed at a large group of prospects, you cannot assume that ANY of them will grok your sense of humor.

Just like half or more will reject your politics (and yes, I know you have a superior understanding of politics to everyone else on the planet). And your religious views.

The rule in bars is “no talking about politics or religion”… because it leads to fights.

For marketers, you can add “no funny stuff” to that list. You simply cannot predict what any list will find funny, or not find funny, or be offended or baffled.

The Joke’s On Us #2: One of the first challenges the researchers found was agreeing on how to “measure” what’s funny.

Turns out it’s not a simple thing at all. In fact, the commercial uses of humor is relatively recent — the stand-up comic was invented during vaudeville, which required between-act ring-leaders to keep the audience happy. Shakespeare and Mozart and other post-Enlightenment entertainers made liberal use of what we now call slap-stick (the term literally refers to Medieval clowns using a paddle on each other) and “low brow” humor to delight certain audiences… and more intellectual mockery and sarcasm to make the sophisticated elites titter.

So the people creating entertainment, or trying to influence public opinion or sway a vote, might know how to get a response… but it was an inexact science. Making one part of the audience laugh might offend another part.

The researchers have gotten lost in the weeds trying to define humor. (Some studies have claimed to be able to determine your socio-economic status by what you laugh at, in fact. Fart jokes and pratfalls for the working class, existential stories based on willful misinterpretations of esoteric knowledge for the elites.) (The flaw in this kind of study, of course, is that semi-illiterate yahoo entrepreneur’s can make buckets of moolah with a good biz, and over-educated snobs may be dead-broke slackers.)

It’s gonna take a while for researchers to get it all straight (if they ever do).

The thing is, humor is complicated.

But it’s also a major element of business and social life, so thinking critically about it gives you an edge.

Here’s how I’ve broken it down (through a long life of observing):

  • There are two basic “professional” uses of humor (in biz settings) — as a weapon to establish a better status position… or as a bonding tool (which can be an innocent way of forming friendships, which may later become alliances). All of my close longtime friends have wicked senses of humor, for example. Others who I consider good people, but whose funny-bone isn’t so funny to me, never penetrate the Inner Circle. This has not been done consciously — it’s just the way things sift out. But it’s very interesting to note, isn’t it?
  • The weaponized use of humor employs mockery, sarcasm, and crude jokes that seek to identify “winners” and “losers” (or “The Other”). It’s very risky when you don’t know your audience (and that political or racist joke falls flat), but it can be nastily effective when dealing with the home crowd (so your insinuation that all Yankee fans are slobbering Neanderthals goes over big in Boston every time). (It’s true, by the way, that all Yankee fans are slobbering Neanderthals, but that’s another issue.)
  • There are a few broad divisions in the way humor is used that matter to marketers. The first is shock vs. bonding — you get a laugh by purposely violating some social norm (which can delight or offend, depending on your audience)… or you cozy up to everyone’s comfort zone, and we all laugh while agreeing on what’s being discussed. Do not try to use shock humor unless you are very, very experienced with it. Backfires are common. On the other hand, mild bonding humor can go a long way to establishing relationships… or bore the bejesus out of everyone.
  • The second main division is wit vs. jokes. Have you ever been with a group of folks who just toss zingers at each other, piling up the wit like stacking wood? It’s a joy to behold, if you’re witty. There is no preparation beforehand — you’ve got to live by your ability to quickly counter, support or twist whatever is said. It’s freeform funny conversation… which is the opposite of telling memorized jokes. Someone with an arsenal of jokes can quickly take over a conversation (often with the support of the less witty folks who prefer a more stable environment). I’ve seen many high-flying conversations completely gutted by a series of jokes (which require, by design, that everyone remain quiet and respectful while the joke is told).
  • Don’t get me wrong — I like jokes. But I have none memorized, because I prefer free-form wit. I used to know a lot of jokes, though — so many that a couple of friends and I can simply smile at each other and mention a portion of the punch line (not even the whole line), say “Joke number 37”, and get the SAME laugh that telling the entire joke would have generated. (Example: “Well, maybe it’s not like a river…”. Funny, right?)

Marketer’s Insight: Just understanding the fundamentals of how humor is delivered and consumed can help you immensely. If you’re not a witty dude, don’t try to fake it. You can’t. If you like jokes, go ahead and memorize some… and use them when you’re in a situation where everyone is yukking it up over memorized jokes.

But consider the audience, always. Don’t shock when it will offend. Never assume your audience shares your religious or political views (and triple-check your perception of this before wandering down the very dark alley of potentially-offensive jokes). And it’s fine to just be part of the audience, to laugh and enjoy the wit or the prepared humor — you’re actually bonding with your supporting laughter.

Quick Story: A well-known colleague of mine — a really nice guy, liked by everyone, and a killer marketer — once took me aside and asked how he could develop a more interesting personality. He was lost in witty conversations, had no jokes memorized, and didn’t understand why some folks found some stuff so fucking funny.

I took the challenge, and with my pal Kevin Rogers (the former stand-up-turned-copywriter), we gave him a list of things that might help (which included watching George Carlin routines critically — figuring out how each story unwound, and when the laugh points popped up… memorizing a handful of jokes from the Playboy jokes page and also from Reader’s Digest — so he had something a tad ribald, and something very middle-of-the-road… and critically reading witty authors like P.J. O’Rourke or Molly Ivins — one conservative, one liberal.)

It didn’t work. I know you can develop real wit, because I’ve progressed myself from a joke-telling kid (sharing stuff from Mad magazine or jokes my drunk uncles used to shock the aunts), to a rookie good conversationalist, to a high-end witty dude who can hold his own in any crowd. On any subject.

But I think you need to start with a basis sense of humor… which we’ve discovered is not default equipment with all humans.

Still, by all means, learn how to tell a joke properly. Find them written out, and memorize them, right down to the exact words used. It’s like memorizing scripted lines for a play. Some advanced actors may wing it occasionally… but if you can’t do that, don’t wreck the scene by trying. Study the process, if it interests you, but otherwise just follow the path already laid out.

Another Quick Story: Gary Halbert and I loved to mess with each other’s minds on stage at seminars. The ultimate prize was getting the other guy to lose his cool by laughing too hard to speak (or come back with a wittier line). Spitting coffee through your nose was a bonus point.

We’d get vicious, too… using insults, practical jokes, rumors, everything was fair play. It kept us loose and happy during long weekends of Hot Seats.

But it also taught us a good lesson in the limits of humor. During one break, Gary and I were chatting at the side of the stage… and an attendee walked up and leveled a gross, tasteless insult my way. Then he laughed heartily. In his mind, he was inserting himself in the Inner Circle — he’d thought, “Hey, I’m a funny guy, too”, and figured insulting me was an easy way to get special attention.

Cuz, you know, Gary and I were so vicious with each other.

It doesn’t work that way, of course. Neither Gary nor I laughed. We just stared at the guy until he slinked away, humiliated.

Hey — I can call my friend a fuckhead and get away with it. Because that’s how we roll.

But YOU call him a fuckhead, and I’m in your face in a heartbeat. You’re not allowed that privilege.

If you have to ask whether you’re in the Inner Circle or not… you’re not in it. This is pretty much universal in human experience. You can loudly berate your bowling buddies and get a laugh back… but that goofy yahoo on the other team says the same thing, and them’s fighting words.

It’s stunning how often people don’t grok how this simple social paradigm works. And it can ruin business situations for you, handled poorly.

Just a word to the wise…

The Joke’s On Us #3: Finally, for this primer on the subject, never underestimate how much some people value humor…

… while an equal number are threatened by it.

Look critically at long Facebook threads for evidence. You’ll find in-jokes that you cannot possibly understand, because you’re aren’t privy to the back story. You’ll find other people gleefully trying to keep up with the witty back-and-forth’s, who miss the point entirely. (You can get real-world examples of how different people find different stuff funny… and keep in mind the research claiming to predict status by what you laugh at.)

And you’ll find many examples of people trying desperately to disrupt funny threads. Every time someone inserts comments like “First-world problems”, they’re trying to kill the conversation. Ask yourself why they’d want to do that. Often, it’s simply being uncomfortable with the discussion, and yet feeling desperate to comment. Just as often, though, it’s a crude attempt to establish dominance. (It’s the same with comments like “Bang! for the win”, which attempts to control through judgment.)

I consider these kinds of disruption offensive, because they can murder a good thread. Hard to continue laughing about some modern situation when reminded that kids are starving in India. It’s Debbie Downer on steroids.

It’s the same with sarcasm. Shielding cynical comments by claiming “you’re just joking” is a blatant cop-out, and a failure to take responsibility for the consequences of your statements. It works, unfortunately, in politics and personal grievance. “Can’t you take a joke” is the icing on the insult.

Humor evolves on a society-wide level. What was hilarious a decade ago in a movie is now a cringe-inducing example of obliviousness. Outside the US and Britain, stand-up tends to be joke-oriented… whereas our comics and cartoons careen toward the absurd, employing more long-form stories than standard punch-lines.

Humor is very important to some people. It’s my main defense against a heartless universe obviously out to get me.

And at the same time, humor is a very foreign and scary thing to others.

This is why it doesn’t mix well (usually) with serious sales pitches, where money is on the line.

Make sense?

I may do another post on this, if folks are still wanting more.

Meanwhile, love to hear your take and experience with humor in biz situations, in the comments section below…

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. One last tactic: If you’re going to use humor in biz settings… it’s a good idea to make yourself the butt of any joke. It’s called “self-deprecating” humor, and it allows you to use every shred of your wit, sarcasm and sharp humor to make a point… you simply make yourself the target, rather than risk offending or insulting anyone else.

I make sure my audiences at events understand that I know the answers to so many problems… because I personally failed or got waylaid by nearly every problem possible in life and biz myself. It’s absolutely true… but a less forthright speaker might avoid spoiling his reputation with confessions like that.

If I nail an attendee with some shocking assessments (like calling him an idiot)… I make sure he understands, first, that I’ve been the biggest idiot in the universe myself. Many times. And making mistakes, learning my lessons, and then using those lessons the next time is how I became successful.

In fact, I don’t know of any other way to progress in life and biz.

Do you?

P.P.S. By the way…

… if you’re a victim of what my colleague David Garfinkel calls “intellectual loneliness” (where you’re withering away because you lack witty, funny, smart-as-whips pals… who also happen to share your passion for business, copywriting, marketing and the entrepreneurial lifestyle)…

… then it might be time for you to seriously explore my Platinum Mastermind group.

It’s a small (under 20 members) group that meets four times a year… where we do Hot Seat-style consults on each member’s situation (problems, biz plans, ad copy, anything at all that’s bugging them)… with a focus on GETTING SHIT DONE. No vague philosophy. Just hard-core, detailed, specific brainstorming and sharing of experience that leads to actual things you can do to unclog the moolah spigot, and get your biz and life back on the fast track.

We also have guest experts who come by just because they like the way I operate. And they share, and help brainstorm, and just pour themselves into the weekend. Recent guests: Joe Sugarman… Gary Halbert’s sons (Bond and Kevin)… Jay Abraham… Brian Kurtz (former CEO of Boardroom, Inc)… Dean Jackson (marketing superstar)… Joe Polish… and many more.

Just see what’s up, for cryin’ out loud. The site won’t bite you: Carlton’s Platinum Mastermind.

Oh, yes. This could be the day you remember forever, where everything changed for you…

Gratitude, Schmatitude

Friday, 1:08pm
Reno, NV
Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones…” (Bob Dylan)

Howdy…

Lots of talk about gratitude these days. There are entire movements (run by schmaltzy guru’s in nice suits) centered on getting folks to feel the gratitude, to embrace and become it.

Like it’s magic or something.

It ain’t.

Knowing how to appreciate the important stuff in your life is a good thing, of course. Being grateful for what you have should be a daily moment, part of being mindful about what’s going on around you and within you (and around and within those you love, deal with, oppose and haven’t met yet).

Early in my career, while devouring self-help books — I read one Og Mandino for every biz book I read for awhile, just to keep my heart and soul moving forward along with my brain — I even went so far as to acknowledge the non-living things around me.

I would thank a keyboard, for example, for serving me so well when I replaced it. And mean it. Give it a decent burial in the trash, introduce myself to the new keyboard and get back to work.

Same with my shoes, my thrashed car (which needed the encouragement, I can assure you), my favorite pens, and so on. It doesn’t even seem silly now… it makes sense to be mindful of the tools that help us do what we do. Astronauts name their shuttles, sailors name their ships, and I assign my beat-up leather coat a personality.

So I’m an old hand at thanking the universe and the things and people around me as I move along.

But a little perspective, please.

For too many business people, there’s no real thought given to the notion of gratitude.

They act like just saying the word creates a magical forcefield of wonderment and power.

So we get airline flight attendants urgently crooning over the intercom that if there is ANYTHING they can do to make our flight more comfortable, just ask.

Which is, of course, pure bullshit.

The things that would make me more comfy — like more leg room, wider and plusher seats, and maybe a mickey in the drunk’s beer next to me so he’ll shut up — are not within their toolkit.

I mean, a foot massage would be nice, too, but even mentioning it would have the air marshals on your butt in a heartbeat.

So why do they even say it?

Sometimes it’s just habit, from the old scripts they used to read. The job requirements included big smiles, friendly demeanor even in the face of rudeness, and a steady stream of patter to calm folks down while the jet screamed through the heavens eight miles high.

So even in towns like Reno, you still get the pilots schmoozing about “we know you have a choice when you fly”… when we absolutely do NOT.

And every passenger on the plane knows it. If you’re headed anywhere on the beaten track, it’s Southwest or the highway.

And AT&T robots love to drone while you’re on hold, about how grateful they are to have you as a customer. It’s all please and thank you and yes, sir. The gratitude practically drips from the phone…

but they aren’t grateful enough to hire more operators to handle your complaint.

I mean, c’mon, people. Get real. Those 30-minute hold times are planned…

… to cull the mob down.

Just part of the biz strategy created by evil fuckers with big smiles all bubbly with gratitude for your business.

Yeah, get real.

Which is what I always advise entrepreneurs and biz owners to do when crafting their business plans and operating scripts. Don’t use the drivel doled out by big corporations when you’re creating pitches to your prospect and customer bases.

Get Real Truth #1: Be real, tell the truth, and don’t make promises your ass can’t fulfill.

The worst are businesses that hire some PR firm to write up a “mission statement“. This is all the rage every so often, as the MBA schools recycle old tropes on doing biz. Not understanding what a USP is, and possessing no clue on how to actually deal with a prospect or customer, dazed biz owners will spend a lot of time and money positioning a statement out that is supposed to “define” the “culture” of the joint.

So we get lots of vague “the customer is king” and “you’re the boss” crap… which sounds great, but is just blabbering babble if not put into action.

Just like your old drinking buddy who would swear on his mother’s grave to pay you back for the ten-spot he borrows when he needs it…

… but, of course, has no ability to bring that promise along with him into the future, because he spends every dollar he makes, can’t plan to save his life, and gets offended when you become that asshole who wants his money back.

Being true to your word is a vague concept without real meaning. Stop bugging me, man.

Get Real Truth #2: If you decide you want to shine at customer service, then DO IT.

Don’t talk about it.

Don’t slime me with your bullshit sincerity and grandiose promises.

Just be really fucking good at customer service. The word will get out, trust me.

Think about this, and about your relationship with gratitude.

Yes, you’re VERY thankful to the grubby dude from the garage who drove out to fix your car in the rain. At the time he’s getting things done, and you’re sensing you’re gonna get out of this ordeal after all, you want to hug him. And you say, over and over again, how grateful you are that he exists.

Yeah, yeah, whatever.

You’re not grateful enough to invite him over for Thanksgiving dinner, are you? You gonna help him move to a new apartment next weekend? Go watch the big game with him at the garage?

No, you’re not.

Your main tool is expressing your gratitude, by saying it over and over.

But once you’re off on your way, he’s a distant memory.

A nice twenty buck tip gets oodles more mileage than another heartfelt handshake.

He may even go out of his way to rescue you the next time you run into a tree, remembering how monetarily grateful you were.

On the other hand, he may demure and not come at all, if he’s all creeped out over your slobbering hugs of impotent gratitude.

Get Real Truth #3: Lying is lying.

The small lies in life set up the big ones.

Nobody trusts nobody these days, for good reason — trust is and always has been earned, one act at a time.

You can’t just announce that you’re trustworthy and have it mean anything.

In fact, one of the old street maxims is: Take whatever the guy says, and figure the opposite is true.

In biz, the client who brags about money not being a problem… has a cash flow problem.

The colleague who talks big about trust is screwing your spouse.

The accountant who has a mission statement centered on “serving the client” is embezzling.

The joint is filled with liars.

This means there is always one darn good way to stand out in even the most crowded, cutthroat market out there.

Just be honest, without making a big damn deal about it.

In fact, don’t even bring it up.

Don’t bullshit your audience, and don’t try to front-load your reputation with promises you can’t fulfill.

Your audience will let you know what your “real world” reputation is, soon enough.

Don’t be like that pilot blabbing about choices when there aren’t any. He is announcing to everyone that he is, at best, a mindless corporate shill. And if he wanders into the cabin during the flight and tells you something about not worrying, everything’s just dandy…

… you will be excused if your next act is to look for a parachute.

Get Real Truth #4: Consequences matter.

Stop lying to yourself, to others, and to your business.

Yes, to your business — it may not be a living, breathing thing, but it still operates in the corporeal world, just like the rest of us.

Don’t turn yourself into a lying shit-heel, just because you want to sound all corporate-like.

It matters.

Real gratitude has teeth, and is connected at the hip with action. Not bluster.

Thanks.

No, really, thanks.

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. Make sure you check out all the goodies available on this page. My books and courses make excellent Christmas gifts, you know…

The Big Damn “Lost” Trick To Solving Biz Problems Fast…

Sunday, 7:38pm
Reno, NV
My social life’s a dud, my name is really Mud…” (“Talk Talk”, Music Machine)

Howdy…

Quick story: If you’re in business, you’ve got problems.

Problems are just front-loaded into the game.

Sales surge, then disappear.

Results vary, seemingly at random.

Once-reliable resources flake out, easy gigs turns into time-sucking nightmares, and things can just go south without warning.

Shit has a tendency to hit the fan.

Entrepreneurs love the freedom of owning our own biz, but when problems hold us back and relentlessly harsh our mood…

… it ain’t fun no more.

Well, guess what?

Savvy biz owners and professional copywriters
have a secret weapon.

It’s called “getting some freaking help when needed.

Or, in more polite terms, “tapping into the solutions, resources and brilliance of a trusted network”.

You know. The almost voodoo-like magic of being in a high-end mastermind.

I’ve been hosting (along with my biz partner Stan Dahl) an intense, “get things done and in motion” mastermind for around 10 years now.

It’s exclusive to entrepreneurs and the folks who support them (like copywriters)… and it’s VERY INTIMATE.

We only allow a maximum of 16 members to attend any meeting… because of the personal attention paid to everyone.

It’s not your usual casual gathering, either.

Nope. The whole operation is run “hot seat” style…

… which means the entire group digs into everyone’s (including yours) situation and gets busy with real solutions, breakthrough plans, and the kind of resource help that only happens when you’re playing with the Big Kids (who have the experience, reach and success history to know something about biz).

We actually get things done. As in outlining specific steps to take the next day to get moving on your goals. With accountability to the group.

And results ensue.

This is serious masterminding, for folks serious about putting their life and biz on the fast track to happiness and wealth.

The group I host has heavy hitters in it, and also folks just now emerging from their “rookie” period as a pro or entrepreneur.

They all get answers to questions that have held them up, solutions to problems that plague their bottom line, fresh alternatives to living the best life with the best business practices possible, and more.

Just to drop names, some of the guests who’ve visited during past meetings include Joe Sugarman, Jay Abraham, Dean Jackson, Joe Polish, Bond and Kevin Halbert, Jon Benson, Brian Kurtz and a hall-of-fame lineup of “A List” copywriters like David Deutsch, Kevin Rogers, Harlan Kilstein and David Garfinkel.

Plus, of course, I personally moderate each and every single session. You’re in the hands of some of the best (and most successful) marketing minds alive.

We’ve got a meeting coming up soon. (We host one every four months, like clockwork, and have for the past decade.)

It’s easy (and painless) to find out if you’re a candidate for joining.

Just go here to get the details. (Click on “Platinum Mastermind Group”.)

Then, simply click on the single link there, and we’ll guide you through the no-obligation process of helping you decide if the group’s right for you.

It’s fast.

And yes, you’re in charge.

No pressure, no BS…

… and if you choose to come along, you’ll get a personal call with me before your first meeting…

… just to make sure you’re comfy and hitting the ground running the minute you enter the room.

There are other masterminds out there.

Some are pretty darned good.

This one, however, is unique, with a years-long track record of transforming people’s lives and businesses…

… because we don’t dabble in theory or casual networking or elaborate presentations or any of that time-wasting stuff.

We just get down to the business of making your biz work.

Using all the experience, knowledge, skills and resources we have to share.

Again, no pressure.

You’ll enjoy the process of discovering whether you’re a good candidate or not.

And you get our full attention the moment you join.

Go get started, already.

Maybe I’ll see you at the next meeting.

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. The above photo was taken after one of our meetings in Las Vegas, just a couple of years ago. That’s Brian Kurtz (the guy who turned Boardroom, Inc into the powerhouse it is today) across from my old pal and marketing legend Joe Sugarman… with Big Jason Henderson (the email expert we go to when we run into problems) across from my dear, late buddy and A-List copywriter Scott Haines (who we all miss terribly). Stan and I are at the end of the table.

Just an example of the over-the-top talent you’ll be elbow-to-elbow with at the meetings.

See if you’re ready for a spot at the table with us… by going here to fill out the quick survey. 

We’ll get right back to you.

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

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

Howdy.

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

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

Step One: As a small business owner or entrepreneur (especially if you’ve been going at it alone, or mostly alone)…

… if you have any kind of success at all…

there will come a time when you’re simply overwhelmed and need a little help. Or a lot of help.

For example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step Two: The best reasons to seek professional help from a veteran dude like me always have one main goal:

To fix problems, and goose your bottom line

into obscene levels of newfound wealth.

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

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

without radically changing who you are or what you offer.

The more experienced and successful the consultant, the greater the shift you can expect from following their advice.

And the bigger the bargain for the small investment you make by tapping into that experience and success.

The world of business is roiling with ways your product or service can be ambushed, sucker-punched and even crushed…

… by market forces, shoddy previous advice from questionable sources, and your own gaps in skills or tools to deal with it all.

No matter how brilliant you are, and no matter how much success you were enjoying at one time…

… if the game has changed on you, and you’re struggling, your best first move will be to get help.

Serious, experienced, proven professional-level help.

Step Three: Not only is there no “shame” in bringing in hired guns…

… it’s exactly what the best and most successful marketers do all the time.

In fact, it’s often the most important resource they have, and they never make a move without consulting with the experts they trust.

I’ve been the “expert of choice” for a great number of successful entrepreneurs and small biz owners for three decades now. From my vast experience in the front trenches of the marketing world…

… I know where the most common problems are hiding, and how to fix them fast and simply.

I have yet to meet a business problem I can’t solve, using the deep toolkit of tactics and techniques for creating killer sales funnels I’ve developed while working successfully in nearly every situation a modern business can encounter.

In an hour on the phone, I can go over your current marketing in astonishingly deep detail – including copy, websites, and sales funnels.

You can easily come away from this single hour with hot new headlines and sales angles you hadn’t thought of… fresh ways to make your website more user-friendly, so it brings in more sales… and fixes to your overall process that is killing sales.

We can go as specific as you want to go… or we can look at the “big picture”, helping you deal with growing your biz, encountering new markets and competition, and adapting to changing conditions.

We get a TREMENDOUS amount done in these hours. For example, we can dedicate the time to finding solutions to specific problems you have…

… or we can explore, in great detail, your entire sales funnel (looking for leaks, sales-murdering problems, and other things you’re too close to the situation to see yourself) and come up with workable solutions…

… or we can critique and fix copy (for your webpage, emails, ads, VSLs, whatever marketing you’ve got copy for)…

… or just dive into your business and help you get clear on the Big Picture (how you fit in your niche, against competition, the changing market, and advancing technology)… so you can get moving more quickly, with more confidence and more proven info on your side.

It’s your hour, to use as you please. I am at your service, completely committed to solving every problem you bring up with all the tools and experience I have.

Step Four: So, whatever your burning need is…

… from getting immediate help with a specific set of problems, or getting long-term advice on grand new ventures…

… I can help you. And if you’ve read this far, you are very likely in a position to profit from allowing me to do that.

It’s time for you to move up a level.

How much?

A single hour session with me, personally, is just $2,500.

Here’s what to do now:

Just email Anne at annem@marketingrebel.com, write “Consult with John” in the subject line…

… and answer these four quick questions:

1. What general market are you in… how long have you been in business… and what products or services do you offer?

2. What website URLs are you currently hosting for your business… and approximately how much are you grossing now, and how much have you grossed at the highest point in your marketing efforts? (This information is completely confidential… and if you’re squeamish about stating specific figures, you can just say whether you’re grossing more-than or less-than a certain figure. Whatever makes you feel more confident in sharing.)

3. Have you ever worked with a professional copywriter before? Have you ever consulted with a professional before?

4. Finally, what do you feel are your biggest advertising problems right now?

That’s it.

Either Anne or I will get back to you quickly. And we’ll schedule the call, if I feel I can help you.

I book up fast, because I only take a couple of clients on each month.

So, if you’re at all interested in getting direct, personalized advice and insight from me on your biz, career, and specific situation…

… please jump on this right now. This time of year always clogs up quickly.

It’s the best next step you could ever take in your quest for wealth and happiness.

Stay frosty,

John

The Big Damn “Lost” Trick To Solving Biz Problems Fast…

Sunday, 7:38pm
Reno, NV
My social life’s a dud, my name is really Mud…” (“Talk Talk”, Music Machine)

Howdy…

Quick story: If you’re in business, you’ve got problems.

Problems are just front-loaded into the game.

Sales surge, then disappear.

Results vary, seemingly at random.

Once-reliable resources flake out, easy gigs turns into time-sucking nightmares, and things can just go south without warning.

Shit has a tendency to hit the fan.

Entrepreneurs love the freedom of owning our own biz, but when problems hold us back and relentlessly harsh our mood…

… it ain’t fun no more.

Well, guess what?

Savvy biz owners and professional copywriters
have a secret weapon.

It’s called “getting some freaking help when needed.

Or, in more polite terms, “tapping into the solutions, resources and brilliance of a trusted network”.

You know. The almost voodoo-like magic of being in a high-end mastermind.

Read more…

What Shrinks Know That You Don’t Yet

Saturday, 1:25pm
Reno, NV
“It’s game over, man, game over!” (Corporeal Hudson, “Aliens”)

Howdy.

Folks who’ve followed my ramblings and rants for a while know that I’ve had a healthy, life-long love of psychology. Both the academic discoveries, and the street-level revelations that only savvy, old school salesmen ever discover.

And that’s the useable stuff. The insights and tactics that work in marketing, for example. And in dealing with people (who, as you well know, can be whacky and illogical at the worse times).

So here’s one piece of what I call Psych Insights that may help you at a very fundamental level.

Dig: I’ve hung out with — and learned a lot from — a number of professional psychologists.

Most are whacked (with personal lives in complete disarray)…

… but it’s like knowing an insane plumber who can nevertheless fix any pipe problem you have.

You don’t judge the guy you let into your brain’s plumbing by his whackiness, but by his ability to help you.

Anyway, Gary Halbert also shared my fascination with shrinks, and even had one in his inner circle for a few years. (We tried, and tried, and tried to help him get an entrepreneurial project going… but, you know, he was just too caught up in the academic mindset to “get” marketing.)

This particular shrink really understood the territory of human behavior and belief, though. (He’d spent so much time inside people’s heads, he could recognize your particular neuroses before you opened your mouth.) (Yes, you’re neurotic. Get over it. We all are.)

What I learned from him (and other shrinks, both the good ones and the close-to-being-committed-themselves ones) gave me awesome persuasion tools to work with in ads.

But I also learned a lot about living well, too.

Read more…

When “Trust Me” Is A Red Flag…

Sunday, 9:30pm
Reno, NV
Have I got a deal for you…” (said no one, ever, truthfully)

Howdy.

You having a good week?

Nobody tried to cheat you out of anything, or make you look like a maroon?

That’s good. You’re walking the straight and true, and that’s the real key to a life of wealth and happiness.

Still, sometimes it pays to see what’s going down over in the darker side of town.

So let’s share more of the “survival rules for entrepreneurs” I have in my consulting stash — the insights (from brutal experience) that helped me build a solid biz and reputation…

… but this time, let’s wander into the really weird stuff for a spell. Be cautious, and don’t make any sudden moves, okay?

Here’s Rule #8: Convincing prospects to trust your bad self.

I first heard about “the trust game” from a wizened, street-savvy con man, early in my career.

I knew I needed to learn more about solid salesmanship tactics, and there were no books around explaining the good stuff. (There still aren’t very many.) You had to search out the old-school guys who’d made their name working face-to-face with people…

… in situations where, if they didn’t make the sale, they might not eat that night.

So they tended to get a little ruthless. Murdered their ethics, buried ‘em in the back yard, and went out to work the “game”.

I had no intention of conning people. These guys did not lead nice lives, and one of the reasons they got so good at working the con is that they often had to disappear quickly to avoid being busted. Sometimes they just split for a short time. Sometimes they left town altogether. Yes, there is another world, parallel to ours, where con men drift in and out of sight, following a sort of circuit across the country.

And with the dangerous games they play, they usually only have one shot to get it right, and losing wasn’t an acceptable option.

So they learned the hard-core persuasion tactics.

The learned the confidence game.

I realized something, though: The same tactics they used for their crooked products…

… could also be used for high-quality, completely ethical products.

They were just too lazy to create good stuff.

Plus, it was obvious they also liked the thrill of being bad. Evil bastards, most of them.

But they were also kinda lonely.

And once you got them telling stories, you couldn’t shut ‘em up. When they sensed an appreciative audience, they just spilled everything, happily. Proud of their life’s work.

So whenever I ran across one of these street-wise confidence men, I became their new best friend for an afternoon, grilling them for insight, tactics, warnings and horror stories.

And I never bored them by asking “Why don’t you just go legit, and sell good stuff? You’d make an honest killing.” They weren’t interested in becoming legit.

A good life lesson right there, but we’ll get into that another time.

Today, we’re going deep in the confidence game.

So, here’s the story…

Bob had grown up on the streets of Berkley, being a lookout as a kid, then a shill and later the dealer as a teen. By the time I met him, he had married a lawyer and was enjoying the good life as a kept man in the suburbs. But he loved to talk about the old days.

His “product”, in this instance, was a classic 3-Card Monte street game. You set up a table on a corner, and had three playing cards placed in a row: Two red aces, and the black Queen of spades.

With the lookout watching for cops, the dealer would use slight of hand to move the cards around, inviting the marks (say, you, passing by and thinking “Hey, that looks easy”) to guess where the Queen was now.

The shill was pretending to be a mark, actively engaged in the game. And winning money. He’d bet $20 that he could spot the Queen, lay down a bill, watch the dealer move the cards around…

… and then point to the card he insisted was the Queen. The dealer turned it over… and voila! The Queen.

“Yeah!” the mark would yell. “This is like taking candy from a baby,” as he pocketed another twenty.

“You’re gonna break me, man,” whined the dealer, looking all sad and embarrassed.

Now, you, of course, would never indulge in illegal street games like this. No, no, no.

But it seemed so…

easy. You followed the Queen without missing, just like the shill.

Why, all that money could have been yours. If you’d been betting.

“Hey, buddy,” says the dealer, looking at you with imploring eyes. “You want to give it a try?”

What the hell. You throw a twenty down, watch the Queen get shuffled around… and you pick her out. The dealer turns the card over, and hey, you won! You followed the Queen, without trouble.

Easiest money you ever made.

You know where this goes, right?

You win the next time, too. And the next.

Then, the dealer — looking more frustrated than before — asks if you want to double down, maybe triple down. If the lookout has signaled a cop nearby, maybe the bet gets even higher. Big money, you’re talking about now.

A pile of cash, just sitting there.

What a schmuck, you tell yourself. If this guy wants to give me more money, great.

And all of a sudden, it ain’t so easy following where the Queen went.

You’re pretty sure it’s there, yeah, it’s gotta be there on the left. Pretty sure.

And it ain’t. Not this time. Or the next. Or the next.

And you just lost a little bundle.

The cop turns the corner, the dealer folds up the table and scurries off (with your lost dough) in one direction, the shill in the other… and you’re wondering what the heck just happened.

“The con,” my new BFF told me, “is all in building up confidence. Allowing the mark to trust that the dealer is who he presents himself as — a bungling maroon who can’t hide a Queen amongst three cards to save his life.”

He sat back. “I loved that game. You gotta really work to gain someone’s trust.”

My question (which I kept to myself) was: Why do all that work to gain trust…

… and then squander it on one transaction?

Why not actually have something of real value to offer? Something worth the money, that turns the mark into an actual customer…

… who comes back for more. The lifetime value of a customer who buys again and again — delighted with the quality of the product and service — is surely worth more than a quick rip-off (and the risk of spending the night in the pokey).

For marketers and biz owners like you — who strive to do the right thing, who have a great product valued fairly — the stark elements of this game should give you a hint how to create that lifetime customer.

It’s all about trust.

Real trust, though. Not that smarmy fake stuff the street hustlers practice.

This is what’s behind the free reports, the bonuses, the unconditional guarantees, and even the “double your money back” promises of classic marketing campaigns.

Every sale begins with a relationship. Sometimes, it’s a brief one — you have something your prospect wants, he’s done some shopping around and likes your prices (and guarantee), and the deal is done.

Other times, it’s a more drawn-out affair. There has to be some wooing, some proof of your reputation and the quality of what you offer.

And the first steps may have to involve no risk at all.

Something for nothing, essentially. A “taste” of the goods. A chance to experience what it’s like to own one.

In the con game, all this is rushed. And, in truth, you can’t con an honest man. The hustler relies on teasing the greed of the average mark…

… who falls in love with the thrill of making an easy killing by putting one over on some street dude who is obviously an idiot.

Until he isn’t.

In a rational marketing campaign, you have better things to use to engender trust.

You’ve been around for a while, with a track record you can verify, testimonials from real people who can vouch for you, and clear evidence that you are a square shooter with a high-quality product, priced fairly.

Yet, it’s the same “game”, essentially. You establish trust, you let the prospect drive the transaction (no pressure), and you deliver the product.

The big difference: You’re doing it ethically.

While the con man cannot stand the thought of actually providing real value.

For him to “win”, the mark has to “lose”.

Just saying. The art of salesmanship goes back to the dawn of history, and can be used for good or evil.

Choose the right path, and I’ll help you become successful, by continuing to share these insights.

More “survival rules for entrepreneurs” to come.

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. You know what else works in your favor, when you crave the Big Bucks and successful lifestyle of a damn good entrepreneur?

Knowing the “deep” secrets of awesome salesmanship.

Now, it took me DECADES of chasing down mentors and teachers (including all those old-school street-wise dudes)…

… along with the hard work of putting what I learned to work in the real world as a freelancer, and then as a consultant.

I have been around the block, my friend. And when you add the life experience of my biz partner, Stan Dahl (who was a ridiculously high-paid consultant for such companies as Starbucks and Wells Fargo before joining up with me to help entrepreneurs)…

… that’s a lot of solid, real-world experience on display. Tons of advice, tactics, strategies, problem-solving tricks, and solutions to whatever might be holding you back.

And how do you take advantage of all this experience and savvy?

The most fun (and immediate, results-wise) way is to simply join our Platinum Group… which is a hybrid mastermind/brainstorm/workshop for solutions to the problems holding you back from the Big Bucks and the Good Life. Where we share everything we know about wealth and happiness and fixing what’s wrong…

… no matter how bad you believe your problems are, or how unique you think your worries are.

There are answers to every problem, sticking point and disaster you encounter. We’ve been proving it in this globally-respected group for over 8 years now.

You’ll be among colleagues who are just like you, who’ve encountered the same decision moments and crises, and seen the best and worst of life in the marketing fast-lane.

Just see why so many entrepreneurs have relied on this group over the years. You might just discover something about yourself…

… and you might realize why these kinds of groups have been the main go-to resource for the most successful business owners throughout history.

Just go check it out here.

No pressure. No obligation. Only a peek behind the scenes at the most talked-about and unique mastermind/brainstorm/workshop around…

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