Preaching to the Almost Pitch-Perfect Choir (Copywriting Tip # 4)

copywriting tip - preach to the choir

Quick Copywriting Tip #4: Whenever possible, write to people who are already at least half-convinced.


One of the hardest things in the world to do is convince someone they’re wrong. That their opinions are wrong, the way they’ve been doing something is wrong, etc.

We’re all naturally resistant to change (inertia) —  and we usually don’t like anyone telling us to change course.

In many cases, that’s what we’re doing: telling people they’re wrong and we can “fix” them.

We may be asking someone to change

  • from inaction to action — get off the fence, like we talked about in Tip #3
  • from one course of action to another
  • brands or providers
  • his thinking
  • his habits

Change is hard. So why, when your business/profitability are on the line, are you asking people change?

Perhaps you should start “preaching to the converted” instead.

A good writer is more likely to buy writing resources than a bad one, even though he needs it much less.

A dedicated marathoner (like the guy we talked about in Tip #2) is much more likely to invest in fitness stuff than a couch potato dedicated to Game of Thrones and his Playstation.

I know you mean well. But keep in mind that changing the world (or just one person’s mind!) usually takes a lot more work than helping your “choir” make progress towards its goals.

Ideal clients are not necessarily the people who need what you offer the most. They’re the ones who KNOW they need it and/or want it badly and are willing and able to pay for it.

Share your message with those people. Become a visible expert where they congregate. And continue growing your own audience (mailing list) of people who don’t need convincing.

It’ll save you a lot of energy and headache — and probably make you a lot more money.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.

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Email Copywriting Masterclass Tonight

Email Copywriting

I wanted to let you know about the a free Email Copywriting Masterclass I’m giving with Conrad Deas, one of the most creative, engaging and prolific writers I know.

Conrad and I will be on Facebook Live TONIGHT (June 22) at 8:00pm Eastern, barring any unforeseen technical difficulties.

We’ll be coming to you live from the Hilton Chicago Indian Lakes Resort, where Conrad is speaking at Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning Mastery event.

You must request access to the Email Copywriting Clique FB group in order to see it live and participate.

During the broadcast, we will reveal:

  – specific ways to generate tons of great ideas

  – 5 proven psychological principles guaranteed to get and keep your readers attention 

  – painful mistakes many people make that suck the life out of their emails andsabotage their customer relationships

  – battle-tested formulas we use to construct compelling emails more easily than you may think possible, and

  – our best tips for getting readers to take action after reading your emails.

We’re going to try to answer viewer questions, too. But you have to be live during the broadcast!

Again, request to join the Email Copywriting Clique on Facebook to get access.

Whether you’re a copywriter an entrepreneur who wants to connect better with your customers (and sell more stuff, without being pushy, greasy or sleazy), you’re not going to want to miss this.

Hope to see you tonight!

Donnie

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Desperate Times, Desperate Measures (Copywriting Tip #3)

copywriting tips

Quick Copywriting Tip #3: Force your reader to “pick a side.” Don’t allow him to sit comfortably on the fence.

They say “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“They” are wrong. Desperate measures are always called for. More accurately, they’re almost always necessary.

Why? Because most of your should-be customers, the ones who desperately need your product or service, are sitting on the fence. I guarantee it.

A small percentage of prospects will buy with minimal effort on your part. Most of them take more work. It’s your job to lead them into making the smartest decision.

You can’t lead them anywhere while they’re sitting up there, can you? You’re going to have to push/pull them down.

Here’s an example you’re probably familiar with: Proactiv Solution. If you’ve seen the TV commercials, magazine inserts, online banner ads and who knows what else, you know they use every tool in the shed to make you choose:

  • up-close before and after photos that remind you of the pain you feel and offer relief
  • celebrity spokespeople to grab your attention and win your trust
  • clinical research for credibility
  • showing up in your face every day, in as many places as possible
  • storytelling which push emotional hot buttons like embarrassment, guilt, and even the shakiness of your romantic life (see below)

Proactiv emotional copywriting tip

Your message should repeatedly attempt to force your audience to pick a side.

Struggle with the problem, or choose the solution.”


Does Proactiv play dirty? Maybe. But they believe their cause is a righteous one. They believe they’re improving people’s lives — and providing jobs in the process.

The cost is too high to be soft-spoken.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips

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Bumper Sticker Revelations (Copywriting Tip #2)

Quick Copywriting Tip #2: Speak to just one person. Copy should be a one-on-one conversation.

Bumper stickers aren’t just clever jokes designed to entertain or infuriate other drivers. They are tiny (and sometimes not so tiny) glimpses into the car owner’s inner world.

A few square inches can reveal profound insights into who that person thinks about himself and his place in the world. You can learn something about the priorities, values and worldview of the person who stuck the sticker.

Here’s a fun, mind-expanding exercise you should try: pay attention to the bumper stickers you see. Try to deduce what the messages tell you about the drivers.

A simple example that comes immediately to mind is the “26.2” sticker.

26.2 Bumper Sticker copywriting

In four characters (the coded language of an insider), that person identifies himself as a proud marathoner.

Now, here’s a clever spin-off on that theme: the “0.0” sticker. Makes me laugh every time.

bumper sticker marketing

These two parties see themselves differently and move through the world differently – in at least a couple areas. They probably respond differently to messages about exercise, diet, etc.

As a marketer, you have to figure out which bumper sticker your ideal customer has on his car.

There’s a big difference between distance runners and couch potatoes. Decide which one you’re going to serve and speak to him…in his language.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.

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Focus on One Thing (Copywriting Tip #1)

Quick Copywriting Tip #1: Talk about one thing. The tighter the focus, the better.

It’s almost never a good idea for your website, email or sales page to look like a Kmart newspaper insert. Even if you sell 20 different items, studies have shown that a sales brochure showcasing a retailer’s single most popular item can outproduce a catalog containing everything the retailer sells.

As you may know, I write almost exclusively for the financial sector these days. Time after time, split-run test I’ve worked on show that highlighting one stock, event or investing idea converts better than anything else we’re doing.

This truth translates to every industry I can think of.

Online, you have the ability to create an endless number of pages. You can send as many emails as you want over time. Don’t give in to the feeling you need to cram everything you could possibly say into a single message.

It’s much simpler for a reader/viewer to understand and remember one thing.

It’s much easier for you to create deep emotion and engrossing vision around one thing.

You can drill deeper, uncover more juicy details and valuable benefits if you concentrate on one thing.

Don’t waste that opportunity by flitting superficially from topic to topic.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.

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13 Quick Copywriting Tips

13 Copywriting Tips

From this week’s newsletter:

1. Talk about one thing. The tighter the focus, the better. –> Read More
2. Speak to just one person. Copy should be a one-on-one conversation. –> Read More
3. Force your reader to “pick a side.” Don’t allow him to sit comfortably on the fence. –> Read More
4. Whenever possible, write to people who are already at least half-convinced.
5. In most cases, you can get away with infuriating 95% of your list/audience in an effort to win over the 5% who are your best buyers and referrers. Court the kingmakers in your list.
6. Trust is EVERYTHING.
7. Clarity is everything, too. The clarity of your message and offer. And the clarity you create for your readers by explaining the reality of their problem and the available solution.
8. Sequences beat single-shots.
9. Better products make for better copy.
10. Make your copy empowering, not condemning or depressing. If the reader can get some benefit just from reading the marketing message, you’ve “made the sale before the sale.”
11. That being said, psychologically, the fear of loss is twice as strong as the desire for gain.
12. Curiosity is the strongest human incentive, says Claude Hopkins. Leverage it.
13. If you use curiosity to grab attention and get clicks, do yourself a favor: pay off that curiosity. “Bait & Switch,” clickbait copywriting tends to burn out their audiences quicker than straight-shooters.

Want more tips like this delivered to your inbox every week (more or less)? Sign up for the Connecting with Your Customers newsletter in the form to the right (or on the bottom of the page, depending on what device you’re using right now).

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Is Working for Free the Best Way to Start Your Business?

working for free stairs to nowhere

The idea of doing projects “on spec” (without pay) came up in one of the few Facebook groups I participate in.

To be more specific, a woman launching a new service business was offering to work for free in order to get testimonials and build her portfolio.

Is this a good way to start your business? Or is spec work a flight of stairs leading nowhere?

In business (almost) nothing is true across the board. What works for one entrepreneur may flop badly for another. In this Facebook conversation, I felt qualified to chime in and express my opinion, based on my extensive, often painful experience in a field closely related to the one being offered for free. Here is a slighly modified version of my comments:

I’m going to do something relatively harsh here…by recommending you seriously limit this offer (to work for free).

Having testimonials is great, but absolutely not necessary to launch your business. In a way, you’re postponing the launch of your business by clinging to the idea that you need “proof” of the value of your services.

Your time is extremely valuable. Especially since you have a family who likes having you around and “present.”

In all likelihood, doing content marketing for yourself will advance your business more than doing free work for other people, no matter how good their testimonials will be.

The thing is, there’s a huge need for the service you provide — but most of the people/businesses who need your skills do not fully appreciate that need. They don’t feel pain, so it’s hard to pry money from their hands, especially at a rate you deserve.

You would do well to seek people who already feel that need, that have a bleeding neck problem, to use the words of John Paul Mendocha.

See if you can get testimonials from colleagues and friends who already know you and are familiar with the quality of your work. Build up your portfolio working on your own website and marketing materials.

It’s also well worth your time to connect with people who might already be in touch with your target audience. Maybe you can work out a referral arrangement or a way to bundle your services together. Or subcontract work from other established people in the space you want to occupy (or an adjacent one).

Think graphic designers, etc.

And remember, don’t sell your services, as such. Instead, define the transformation you produce for your clients. How will their lives and businesses be different, better than before they hired you — or anyone else for that matter.

Define what you’ll do for them — and what you won’t. Specialize, if you can.

BTW, I’m not always right. This just advice based on my experience.

— — —

What about you? How do you feel about spec work?

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Foolproof Attention-Getting Tactics of Great Copywriters

attention-getting copywriting secrets

How do you break through the hullabaloo that your “should-be” customers are immersed in and get YOUR message across?

Well, it starts with attention. “Have I got your attention? Good.” **Queue scene from Glengarry Glen Ross**

I got the chance to spill some of what I’ve learned about getting attention online, in print and in person on The Small Business Marketing Report podcast with Robert Tyson. In 56 minutes, we discussed

  • How to use hidden dangers and unexpected consequences to draw people to your message like moths to a flame
  • Why certain kinds of statistics get shared on social media
  • Why picking a fight is often great for business (and how to benefit even if you don’t do the fight-picking)
  • How to use personality… and how much personality is too much?
  • How to use secrets and codes for almost guaranteed attention

Check out “The Psychology of Attention: 5 Foolproof Ways to Grab ‘Em by the Eyeballs”

Or, if you prefer, you can listen on iTunes or Stitcher.

Honestly, I’ve been fiending to be a guest on The Small Business Marketing Report podcast for quite some time, and I’m a big fan of Robert and his co-host Sean Clark, so I’m excited about this.

Enjoy!

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Science of Copywriting: Blab with Lamar Tyler

Copywriting Blab with Lamar Tyler

For me, Lamar Tyler is one of my top answers to the question “If you could spend an hour with one person/celebrity, who would it be?” I have a TON of respect and admiration for Lamar’s business acumen, leadership and brilliance. Plus, he’s one of the coolest guys you’d ever want to meet.

Last weekend, I got my hour with the man.

Lamar hosted the inaugural Traffic, Sales and Profit Lunch and Learn on Blab, and I had the honor of being his first guest. We discussed a lot of topics close to my heart, like:

  • What is a unique selling proposition (USP)?
  • How do I make people want what I sell?
  • The differences in writing emails, landing pages, general web copy, etc.
  • The most painful mistakes people make when writing copy
  • When it’s time to hire a professional copywriter
  • “Why can’t I find a good copywriter?”
  • and plenty more.

I also revealed the most powerful characteristics of email copywriting — and why some people should NOT hire a copywriter to write their emails for them. (I’ve told potential clients on multiple occasions I couldn’t do better than what they’re doing.)

Check it out: The Science of Copy Lunch & Learn

An Important Point I Didn’t Make in the Interview

I realized after the Blab that I forgot an significant point when we talked about why it’s sometimes difficult to find a good copywriter. If you’re expecting a stranger to instantly create a miraculous transformation of your business, you might be expecting too much.

Your copywriter isn’t (necessarily) weak just because he can’t make your boring offer exciting…or make a dead mailing list suddenly spring to life.

I’ve often quipped that I do work miracles, just not on demand. (Yes, I’ve said it to potential clients.) Even copy that seems brilliant doesn’t work 100% of the time. Believe me, I know from embarrassing experience. All of the pros have. For optimal results, you have to make the right offer to the right audience at the right time.

On the other hand, a great offer or a hot list can make even a pedestrian copywriter look like a superstar…

Resources mentioned during the conversation:

Lamar’s Traffic, Sales and Profits private Facebook Group

Bencivenga Bullets

The Gary Halbert Letter

 

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How Do I Land My First Copywriting Client? Aspiring Minds Want to Know

Steps to get copywriting clients

“I’m an aspiring copywriter; How do I land my first client?”

This is a question I’m asked on a pretty regular basis. I’ve typed out responses more times than I can count, and I’ve even addressed this topic in a previous post. But since I’ve been approached 4 or 5 times over the past month or so, maybe it’s time to revisit.

Below you’ll find the slightly modified/depersonalized body of an email I sent to a new copywriter a few days ago. Forgive me if you’ve heard this before…unless you’ve heard it but haven’t done anything about it.

And remember, this is my personal experience-based advice. I’m not saying this is the one and only way to become a copywriting pro.

When I started learning to write copy, I was an assistant manager at Kmart, working 50-80 hours a week and studying copywriting on my lunch breaks and after work…then harassing people who I thought might hire me, until some of them started to.

Step 1, I think, is deciding to make a real go at this. Regardless of what you read anywhere, copywriting is about helping people SEE:

  • See the reality about their current condition
  • See the hidden truth about whatever you’re talking about
  • See what the future holds, both the good and the terrifying
  • See what they have to do now. It’s a skill that has to be developed, but one you’re probably already familiar with as a professional.

Building your business will probably take some time (it does for pretty much all of us), which is why you have to be resolved to put forth the effort.

You’ll probably have to “feel your way around” the copywriting world before you make too many big choices as to niches, mediums, etc.

As a freelancer, you’re going to want to exploit every form of leverage you can get. That includes your formal or informal experience in an industry, contacts you have and stages where you are already recognized. For example, you may be able to leverage your current job expertise and connections to get your foot in the door somewhere. That may be a great way to start finding your rhythm, figuring out how you like to work with clients, and building a portfolio. Oh, and earning some money. Not to say you want to get pigeonholed there, but it’s a start. Or, maybe you’ll love it and find all the business you can handle.

Step 2, Put a website together immediately.

This step took me FOREVER. I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t feel like I had anything impressive enough to say publicly. Then, once I finally got started, I spent over a year using a free WordPress blog. (HA! It’s still there, 6 years after I abandoned it. https://donniebryant.wordpress.com/)

Believe me, come up with something and just get it up. Something simple will do the trick. The site will take shape and grow as you do. The longer you wait, the more you’ll kick yourself later.

Let Google start getting familiar with you. Start sharing your stories, your perspectives. Share what you’re learning. That will help you develop your skills AND your confidence as a copywriter.

Plus, you need to have someplace to send potential clients to when they’re researching you or after you reach out to them.

Step 2b, While you’re at it, make sure you have a decent LinkedIn profile, too. I don’t love my profile, but you can borrow inspiration from me if you like –> https://www.linkedin.com/in/donniebryantjr. Or, just search “direct response copywriters” and analyze the profiles that rank high.

You’d be surprised how many people are looking for copywriters through LinkedIn. I earned in over $60K in 2015 from a single client who found me on LinkedIn.

Step 3, Start searching for prospects. As I mentioned, you’ll do well to at least try reaching out to people you already know who need to promote themselves, their products or services.

I started out searching the Writing Gigs section on Craigslist. It can be grunt work, but it’ll get you moving. You’ll have to filter out a lot of crap, but may be some good opportunities there. I found a couple great clients there, and I still use one of the sales letters I wrote for a Craigslist client in 2009 as a sample sometimes. I graduated to bugging sellers on Clickbank.

You can also search writing/copywriting job boards (there are quite a few).

Step 4, Connect with other professionals. This has been huge for me, too. Purposefully engage with people who may someday become 1) clients, 2) referral sources, 3) joint venture partners and/or 4) hosts of “shows” you’d like be on. Always be generous and genuine, and the seeds will reap a bountiful harvest over time.

Not every connection will “pay off.” A lot of them will never become relationships. But some of them will. Some could be goldmines in terms of remuneration or camaraderie. Again, one colleague I connected with years ago (via semi-cold email)  has gotten me in the front door of 2 dream clients and several others who were pretty darn good (and one who became like a brother to me). That one connection will end up being worth multiple six-figures to me when it’s all said and done.

Step 4b, Start looking for ways to appear in places of authority as a guest blog writer, podcast guest, expert source, etc.

Step 5, Do your research. You learn as much from watching other pros as you do from just about anything else. They’ll also give you raw materials to create your own content from.

Step 6, Ask for what you want. If you need advice, if you’re looking for introductions, if you want to write for someone else’s website/blog/newsletter, be courageous and ASK.

I hope that this is helpful.

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