6 Painful Reasons You Can’t Rely on Headline Analyzers

headline analyzer

A colleague of mine shared this tool in one of the Facebook group I’m a member of:


I don’t spend much time at all on Facebook, but I happened to see this post, and I couldn’t pass by without adding my two cents. Here’s a slightly modified version of my response:

This IS a cool tool, Jamal.

I’d just note that there are several important factors that this analyzer doesn’t take into consideration:

1) Whether a headline is strong or not is determined as much by WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS as by the words you choose. Vegans won’t click on articles about making your steak tender and delicious, no matter how interesting the title looks.

2) Are your claims believable, or do they scream “Hype!”? It’s impossible for a machine to figure that out…

3) The formula used by the tool doesn’t know whether or not the headline is nonsense. As long as you put the right words in there, you’ll score high.

E.g. “how to startling orangutan spine surprises surprisingly” scores an 80 — but it doesn’t make any sense.

I entered the title of this post “6 Painful Reasons You Can’t Rely on Headline Analyzers,” which scored 66. When I switched “Analyzers” to “Awesome,” the score went up to 72 — even though the change destroys the headline.

(Both versions get an A+ for “structure, grammar and readability.”)

4) Some of the “right” words (“emotional” and “power” words listed in the free download Coschedule gives you when you opt in) are less powerful than you might think. “Awesome” is so overused that it will fall flat in many cases.

Again, you can’t know the right words unless you know who you’re talking to.

For example, financial copywriters know that “the Fed,” “Yellen” and “rate hike” have emotional punch that may not really work in any other industry.

5) As far as I can tell, this tool and the accompanying article focus on getting cold traffic to click on a blog post. It doesn’t — nor could it — calculate familiarity, relationship, name/brand recognition, etc.

The degree to which your readers know/trust you, enjoy your style and know you deliver value has a huge impact on your readership.

For example, if two articles have the exact same headline, who wins: Joe Schmoe or Seth Godin? More to the point, who wins a showdown between Seth Godin and Rachel Ray?  Of course, that’s a trick question. It depends on the audience and topic.

Many of you have heard that one of the most opened and responded to emails sent during President Obama’s reelection campaign had “Hey” as the subject line.

“Hey” gets a zero on the headline analyzer, and as a blog title seen by cold traffic, maybe it should. But to people who know the Prez (or whoever), it sounds personal and really makes you curious to know what he has to say.

Email is a different animal, so keep that in mind.

6) If it sounds like you’re trying to sell something, you’ll have a different response than if it seems like you’re just sharing content.

If you’ve ever tried selling anything online, you know what I mean.

Having said all of that, I think the tool could be very helpful in helping your strengthen you headlines.


Now, this critique is a bit of a nasty sandwich. One slice of positive at the beginning and end with a pile of negatives stuffed in between. I DO think tools like these can be helpful in making writers think creatively about how they’re crafting headlines and openers.

Just keep in mind that a you can communicate with your audience better than a machine ever could.




Are You Really “Connecting” with Your Audience?

Connecting Content Copy

Forgive the alliteration. It might get a little crazy in here.

Connection. Conversation. Content.

Eleven months ago to the day, I did a Google Hangout with Roger Courville. Roger’s question to me was “How do you connect with people?” It’s a topic I feel like pretty well-equipped to answer.

Roger, on the other hand, is the KING of connectorship (which is a term he coined). He’s a genius in every sense of the word.

During this 50-minute conversation, we talked about my dark past in retail management, how that led me to explore the copywriting and how even in that stifling environment, people can connect with each other through content, and giving.

We also discussed the forces that make copywriting and content marketing connectors, from person to person, business to customer and business to business.

This hangout will benefit you because you’ll learn

  • what makes deep connections happen
  • how to be more customer-centric, even when time are hard
  • why giving is so important, and how to be more intentional about your giving
  • the various forms content can take, in real life as well as online
  • the best advice on the planet for copywriting that really connects
  • and plenty of other stuff.

It was a fun conversation with a good friend I don’t spend enough time with (and one of my all-time favorite clients). Have a look:

We recorded this conversation the day after my then 7 year-old son broke his arm. In all the hustle and bustle, I forgot to share this with you sooner.

I recommend you also check out Roger’s website and look him up on social media. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, and also one of the coolest and most generous. You’ll like him. More importantly, you’ll learn from him.

(FYI, Brother Roger wrote THE book on how to create webinars that rock — in 2009.  His thinking is always cutting edge, yet practical. As I said, he’s the king of connectorship.)


Consulting Success Webinar Replay and My 2 Big Takeaways

Consulting Success Webinar

I hope you enjoyed the webinar I did with Michael Zipursky (CEO of Consulting Success) yesterday as much as I did. If you missed it, or just want to watch again, check out the replay here.

Michael explained step-by-step how consultants and coaches can set up a marketing system to consistently attract more clients.

At the end, he offered a way for you to get help with your marketing for free. You see, Michael runs a coaching program where he teaches and guides you to create your own marketing system. And if you were paying attention to the case studies, his students often get massive results — almost immediately.
If you’re interested in talking with a top expert about your marketing and getting help to attract more clients, take action on Michael’s generous offer. This complimentary call is available on a “first come, first served” basis, and his schedule tends to fill up pretty quickly.

Request your marketing strategy call here:

My 2 Big Takeaways

1) Authority is as long-term strategy.

You may have noticed on the image above that Authority is the LAST step in the process. That’s almost the opposite of what you hear other experts say. The standard advice is to establish your authority right away, then you can start charging premium prices, etc.

Mr. Zipursky looks at it differently. He teaches his clients to take the long-view on authority. Yes, you should always be working on it, but a perceived lack of authority should never stop you going after what you want, making the biggest, boldest promises you can make (as long as you can deliver) and setting fees commensurate with the value you provide.

It reminded me of Robert Ringer’s book, Winning Through Intimidation. You don’t necessarily have to be the #1 expert to do great work. Always look for opportunities to provide the highest level of value you’re capable of delivering — to the clients who will benefit most and pay you accordingly. If you’re good enough to play in the “big leagues,” step on the field. Don’t worry about “paying your dues.”

2)  There is a price for staying where you are.

We probably don’t think about business (or life) this way. We think of progress as moving upwards, mistakes and failures as going downward, and moving forward in a straight line when things aren’t changing.

During the webinar, Michael demonstrated how much we sacrifice when we don’t work with our ideal clients, on our ideal projects, on our terms. When we’re not charging as much as we’re worth, we’re throwing time and money away with every deal we sign.

If you’re not going up, you’re slipping down.

There’s also a price associated with progress. But isn’t success worth paying the cost?


Writing Copy to Crush Your Competitors


Wanna write great copy?

If not, have you ever wondered how you go about finding the right copywriter to partner with your business and make your competition tremble with fear?

Listen up.

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by former Olympic athlete, current podcasting machine, the one and only Fabienne Raphael, on her Marketing to Crush Your Competition podcast.

Episode 138: The Secret of Writing Great Copy

We talked about

  • why copywriting is so important
  • the right way for any copywriter or marketer to approach a project
  • the must-have ingredients of persuasive copy
  • when you should and when you SHOULDN’T hire an outside copywriter and
  • what success really means.

It’s just 31 minutes, but I think there’s some valuable content in there.

(If you’re at all interested in getting more familiar with me and what makes me tick, there are some personal details about me and my “backstory,” as well as a few insights into my worldview.)

Check it out. I hope you find it helpful.




Productivity Hacks – Hanging Out with Carey Green

Productivity Hacks

The early bird catches the worm, as the old proverb says.

Sometimes I think that’s a rather destructive piece of advice.

Earlier this month, I shared a few of my most useful productivity tips with Carey Green. We were talking about my contribution to his new book Entrepreneur Mind Hacks Part 1. The dual volume series is a compilation of tips from some of the brightest entrepreneurial thinkers in the game today (like Seth Godin and Cal Newport), as well as powerful insights from thinkers of the past (like Winston Churchill).

Somehow I sneaked into the roster.

During this interview, Carey and I talk about:

  • why “early to bed and early to rise” isn’t always best
  • one of the many business lessons I extracted from sermons of an itinerant 18th century preacher
  • generosity versus greed in business
  • why humans need to stop treating their brains and bodies like machines during the workweek
  • how two different Schwartzes (Gene and Tony) forever altered the way I set up my schedule — their advice will revolutionize your productivity if you listen and apply
  • step-by-step instructions to discover your unique rhythms
  • how God made you different — and what you need to do to make the most of that fact.

We also got into copywriting and marketing a little bit. I talked about how important persuasive copy is, but there are two things that have far more impact on the punching power of your sales messages. Most decent copywriters are aware of this. That doesn’t mean they’ll talk about it in public.

Carey was a great host. He’s also a top-notch businessman and MAN. The world could use more like him.

Get more details about Entrepreneur Mind Hacks books. Book 1 addresses productivity and creativity. (That’s the one I contributed to.) Book 2 dives into connections and success.

If you’re in business or thinking about going into business, pick em up. You’ll definitely learn something.


Selling Lessons from the Trenches: Interview with ClearSales

Selling Lessons ClearSales

Selling is a transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another.

This is one of the common definitions of selling — and it’s a good one. It’s the job of the salesperson to connect the inherent benefits of a product or services with the needs and desires of the potential customer. For the buyer, getting what they want is something they can get excited about. The person doing the selling oftentimes has to find the enthusiasm-inducing elements and bring them to the top. And the more impassioned he is about those benefits, the more persuasive his presentation will be.

We’re all selling something. We might as well get good at it.

Last month, Ash Patel over at ClearSales interviewed me about big lessons I’ve learned selling products and services face-to-face and through the written word. I answer sales-related questions for people who find themselves in selling situations but don’t always think of themselves as salespeople.

The interview lasts 40 minutes:

You can take a look at the raw transcripts in the ClearSales blog.

Ash delineated 11 separate takeaway lessons:

  1. Personalize sales message (generic is BAD; any sales conversation should feel one-to-one)
  2. Focus on the customer, not on yourself, your company, or even primarily on the product itself
  3. Keep following up
  4. Sell the outcome, not the tool itself. This sounds obvious, but I’m constantly surprised by how many entrepreneurs, marketers and salespeople revert to selling their “thing” rather than the transformational results it produces for the buyer
  5. Avoid jargon and corporate talk, unless that’s the language your customers speak. A conversational tone usually works best
  6. Educate your prospects. It’s a great way to share value and position yourself as an expert at the same time
  7. Be strategic
  8. Spend at least as much energy converting and retaining clients as you spend on chasing new ones. The best new customer is a satisfied old customer
  9. Sales don’t happen by themselves.
  10. Recognize your own value. Confidence is a huge factor in successfully transferring enthusiasm
  11. Communicate that value. It’s not bragging if it’s true, right? Plus, you’re not bragging — you’re helping potential customers see all the ways you can make their lives better. Don’t be shy about making the world a better place in your own unique way.

Enjoy the interview!


Big Ideas that Impacted Me in 2014

Big ideas 2014

Boiling 12 months of brain activity down into a few hundred words is an intimidating task. But rather than giving a full-on commencement speech as you “graduate” from this year and move into the next, we might as well get straight to the point.

If I was forced to share the 3 ideas that had the biggest impact on my thinking in 2014, it would be these:

The Immense Importance of Identity in Decision Making

One morning in January 2011, I was standing in a cell phone store when there was breaking news story came on the radio. A mysterious 13th zodiac sign had been discovered — and with Ophiuchus (as the new sign was called) squeezing itself into the calendar, every other sign was shifted. Scorpios became Libras and the world was all out of wack.

Half the people in the store freaked. The man playing with the laptop display searched to find out the new dates, and a small crowd gathered around him, wondering who they were supposed to be now…

(Do you remember that day?)

I share that anecdote to illustrate a point. Astrology falls into the fairy tale category, but people’s reactions were very real. Some people think about their identity largely through the lens of their zodiac signs. They had seen themselves in their horoscopes for years. What happens with that is called into question?

The way we perceive ourselves affects almost everything we do. As a marketer, copywriter or salesperson, you MUST understand the way your ideal customers see themselves. It goes deeper than just features and benefits…even deeper than problems and desires.

This incident happened 4 years ago, but I am coming to understand the power of identity more fully as time goes by and experience mounts.

We’re going to spend a good deal of time fleshing out this idea and applying this concept in my upcoming training/coaching program. In the meantime, you can read about this incident in greater detail in The Ophiuchus Effect.

The Gargantuan Difference Between Prospects and Buyers

This was The Business Growth Question I Couldn’t Get out of My Mind earlier this year. It’s been stuck there for the past 350 days or so.

There is a world of difference between someone who reads your free material but hasn’t sent you any money. I advise you to check out the link to the article, because I’m going to be brief here.

Interestingly, when someone becomes a paying customer, their identity is altered a little bit. As they become accustomed to being a customer, they may come to think of themselves in terms of your product or service. There are Pepsi people. There are Apple people. There are Chicago Bears fans (we’re a depressed bunch these days).

Some of us are as loyal to our preferred products as to our political affiliations.

Do what you can to convert your prospects into buyers. The relationship you build with your buyers is arguably the most valuable asset you have.

The Enormity of Leadership

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because leadership has been one of the Big Ideas that Impacted me in 2012 and 2013. The topic is both important and compelling.

I do not speak of leadership in the superior-subordinate sense. I’m talking about something closer to “I’m taking my flashlight in this direction; who’s headed this way?

Even if you’re not giving orders, you are a leader if you have an audience. And as a leader, you have a responsibility for the well-being and progress of those walking with you. You have to

  • Teach them. Help them develop a worldview that will serve them well
  • Warn them. You see danger they can’t see yet. You’re aware of pitfalls they need to know about. Have the guts to stand up and protect them to the best of your ability
  • Encourage them.
  • Inspire them. Share your successes and the successes of other members of the group. Never miss out on a chance to give them good news.
  • Exemplify the philosophy you espouse. Walk the walk.

I’ve pontificated on this topic some more at Leadership: Burden and Blessing, if you’re interested.

Happy New Year. May this be your best year yet. Let me know how I can help you achieve that.

P.S. Have you registered to get your copy of Creating Business Growth yet? It’s going to be available for free on Amazon Kindle from January 1-5.

Weighing in at more than 300 pages, this book shares expert insights on
– Google Adwords
– Getting Referrals
– Neurolinguistic Programming
– Networking
– Search Engine Optimization
– Email Marketing
– Public Relations
– Unique Value Propositions
and plenty more.

This will very likely be the most useful book you read all year. What’s more, you’ll get to know nearly 2 dozen of the smartest marketers I know…men and women who have earned my admiration and trust over the past couple years.

Get more details and pre-register to get a free copy on New Year’s Day at http://creatingbusinessgrowth.com/.


Business Growth Secrets for 2015

Creating Business Growth

My international secret society is officially coming out of the shadows.

Twenty-one of us have collaborated to write what’s sure to be one of the most useful books you’ll read in 2015. Creating Business Growth is focused on effective lead generation, but you’ll learn a ton of information that can be applied to other parts of your business.

This isn’t an ordinary marketing book written by academics. Some of the smartest entrepreneurs I know reveal the secrets they’ve used to grow their own businesses and make their clients very happy people. My co-authors include a TED speaker, contributors to the Washington Post, CNBC and BBC World Services, a Clinton White House speechwriter, several best selling authors… the list goes on.

You know some of these gentlemen:

  • Mike Seddon
  • Steve Gordon
  • Bnonn Tennant
  • Ian Brodie
  • Matthew Kimberly
  • Srikumar Rao
  • and 15 others.

Because we feel passionately about marketing and we want to help as many people as we can, we’ve decided to give the book away gratis. Amazon will only let us do that for a short period of time. So from January 1-5, the Kindle version will be free.

Remember: you don’t need to have a Kindle device.  When you download the ebook, you can pick up a free app for your phone, tablet, laptop or PC. Easy as apple pie. 

Get more details and pre-register to get your free copy on New Year’s Day at http://creatingbusinessgrowth.com/.



Get Attention With These Not-So-Average Marketing Ideas

Attention Marketing

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.” ~ Steuart Henderson Britt

Marketing your business using the same methods everyone else is using isn’t much better.

One of the biggest problems any business has these days is getting and keeping the attention of their should-be clients and customers. Another problem that many of entrepreneurs and solo professionals have is that they have no idea what to do to stand out from everyone else who’s trying to get attention (not just the competition).

Many also fear doing something they’ve never done before or something that seems risky.

During times like these, being bold enough to take risks and step outside of your normal comfort zone may be what it takes to make your marketing work. A lack of courage may leave you unnoticed and under-appreciated as the expert you are.

In his constant quest to share practical marketing insights, tactics and strategies, Steve Lahey invited me to share a few “outside-the-box” marketing ideas with his audience. Check out the 30-minute interview, Creative Marketing Ideas for Solo Professionals.

In the half hour, Steve and I spoke about 3 proven tactics that are rare enough to be ridiculously effective:

  1. direct mail
  2. “best buyer”/influencer outreach and
  3. a unique kind of live, in-person event.

If an injection of fresh thinking might rekindle the spark in your promotional efforts, I think this is a pretty good investment of your time. Even if you don’t use the techniques mentioned, the thinking behind them and the reasons they’re effective are sure to be thought-provoking and inspiring.

My personal philosophy of business and marketing comes out pretty strongly here, too.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the interview. I’d also love to hear about your favorite outside-the-box marketing ideas in the comments below.



Why Selling Is So Hard?

No Trespassing. No Selling Allowed

Most people won’t say this in public, but behind closed doors and in their innermost thoughts, you hear it with staggering frequency:

“Why won’t these dummies buy my product?? They know they need it! I’ve clearly shown them how much better their lives will be when they start using it.

Selling is HARD! Argg!!

Yes, selling is hard. The reason is simple: it is impossible to change someone’s mind. Literally impossible.

But you still have to get people to say yes or click a button for your business or career to survive. How do you do it? Why is there a small percentage of people who make selling look so easy? How do I become one of the ones who make it look easy?

Your prospects have “No Trespassing” signs posted at every one of the entrances to the mind. The guards are very selective about who they allow inside the gates.

If you try to punch a hole through their mental defenses, you’ll soon find out how ineffective (and exhausting) that can be. Using hype and high-pressure tactics is a foolish approach — no matter how cool the Wolf of Wall Street makes it look.

Here’s what it boils down to:

There are things that your would-be customers really want to do, but for numerous reasons they can’t bring themselves to take action.

They want to start investing so they can retire comfortably. They want six-pack abs. They want to meet their soulmate.

Your job is to give your customers the psychological, emotional and volitional strength to get out of their own way.

To empower them to grab hold of their better future.

That’s what we’re going to talk about during Monday’s Irresistible Offers teleseminar.

We’re going to tackle the topic of persuasive selling based on how the brain works…how human emotion works…how language works.

There is one psychological reality that puts all the pieces of the persuasion puzzle into a single, cohesive concept.

Instead of long lists of complicated techniques and formulas (which all talk about different things), you’ll discover a simple but incredibly enlightening illustration of the how the mind works and what makes persuasion work.

You’ll learn why people say ‘yes’ and you’ll learn what it takes to get more yeses from your sales and marketing.

Everyone who makes selling look easy leverages this reality, consciously or unconsciously.

This session is going to be a real eye-opener, with research gathered from

  • the U.S. Army
  • the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • the latest psychological and neuroscientific studies
  • social movements
  • millions of dollars of direct marketing testing
  • and Hollywood, possibly the greatest influencer of culture on the planet.

If you’re an entrepreneur, salesperson, marketer, copywriter or anyone who needs to be more persuasive, you don’t want to miss this call. The insights you’ll gain could change everything for you.

Understanding what makes people tick and learning to make offers they can’t resist — now that’s a good investment.

My promise to you:

The teleseminar starts from 8:00pm Eastern on Monday, August 11th. The cost is $58.

I’ve condensed the best insights I have on selling in person, print or pixel into an hour-long. I’m not holding anything back. I’ve only spoken publicly about some of this information once in the past 2 year (at my paid workshop in June). Parts of it I’ve never shared before, which is why the teleseminar is more expensive than the workshop.

At $58, it’s a freakin’ steal. I guarantee you’ll get 99 times more value than what you spend or I’ll happily give you a full refund — before I go to bed Monday night.

I can’t stand sitting in on presentations and listening to the “same old, same old.” Don’t you hate that? I’m not going to put you through that torture. If you don’t learn something brand new, I’ll give happily your money back.

Let me help you get past your customers’ “No Trespassing” signs. Sign up for the Irresistible Offers teleseminar here.