Life’s Most Persistent Question

Martin Luther King marketing

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,
What are you doing for others?”

Here’s a corollary: are you persistently offering your uniquely valuable brand of help to people in your marketing

People visit your website or brick & mortar store looking for something. They sign up for your mailing list because they need your expert insight and help with something they’re dealing with

Your emails are helpful. Your offers are helpful

Are you holding back?

Chances are, you’re not reaching out to your prospects, current or past customers enough. They need your help and you’re not offering it to them.

What would Dr. King say about that?

Here’s what I suggest:

  • Clarify my appreciation of your unique value and your understanding of your audience’s needs and desires
  • Confidence develops as a result
  • Commit to being a leader for your tribe, even when you feel like Moses in the desert…
  • Communicate like a leader, consistently and as compellingly as I can
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Start Your Freelancing Thing

Direct Response Copywriter

“No man, who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward.” ~ Booker T. Washington

These wise words have served as a guiding principle for the way I operate as an entrepreneur over the past 6 or 7 years. I’ve said it a number of times; it’s my goal to be the most generous guy you’ve ever met.

One of the main ways I’ve added value to the “place in which I live” is by creating piles of instructional content. After working tirelessly to develop my craft and become something of an expert in copywriting and direct marketing, I always tried to help other succeed along the way.

Sometimes I got paid, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I should have been paid, but wasn’t. But I always had my sights fixed on making valuable contributions to the business community I came in contact with.

I had the opportunity to talk about this process on Monique Welch’s awesome new Start Your Thing podcast. It was quite a privilege. If you’d like to hear more about my journey, check out Episode 1 here. The podcast is also available on iTunes.

I hope there’s something help you and inspire you to build your expertise and go start your own thing!

P.S. Along the lines of creating value, I came up with a variation on that clever “2 secrets of success” quote you’ve likely seen floating around the internet. Naturally, this advice won’t work for everyone, but I can tell you, it has worked for me.

If you’re willing to work harder than anyone else, or do a “common thing in an uncommon way” to quote Booker T. Washington once again, you probably won’t have to worry about too many people stealing your ideas and your customers.

secrets to success content marketingI’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you more of an info-hoarder or an uber-sharer?

 

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Quote of the Week 63

“I think that some of the direct mail I get is spoiled by the old-fashioned sin of pride…it’s all too easy for us to start to feel superior to the great multitude of readers out there. And sometimes, without really meaning to, we write down to them. I think that this shows through in the finished product and turns readers off. So when I’m working on my stuff, I try to keep in mind two things from the Good Book of Direct Response. One: Write unto others as you would have them write unto you. Two: Pride goeth before a flop. – Martin Conroy

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Quote of the Week 62

“In a sense Ford was both the most brilliant and the most senseless marketer in American history. He was senseless because he refused to give the customer anything but a black car. He was brilliant because he fashioned a production system designed to fit market needs. We habitually celebrate him for the wrong reason, his production genius. His real genius was marketing. We think he was able to cut his selling price and therefore sell millions of $500 cars because his invention of the assembly line had reduced the costs. Actually he invented the assembly line because he had concluded that at $500 he could sell millions of cars. Mass production was the result, not the cause of his low prices.” – Theodore Levitt, The Marketing Imagination

Need I say more?

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Wasting Money on Short Copy 2

“It is simply common sense that the more of your story you can force your prospects to read , the more thoroughly you can sell him. To attempt to do the same selling job in ten words, instead of a hundred, or a thousand, is to shoot craps with your clients’ money. You might as well buy only enough space to print your headline, and use the rest of the budget for repeat insertions.”

– Eugene Schwartz, Breakthrough Advertising

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Wasting Money on Short Copy

“The truth is, the unmotivated 95% won’t read short copy or long! So if you shorten your copy in a misguided attempt to get a higher readership among the unmotivated 95%, you’ll lose that unmotivated 95% anyway. But you will also deprive the motivated 5% of the longer sales copy they need to make a favorable decision. You will waste 100% of your money if you downsize your message to accommodate the unmotivated 95%.

“Write instead only to the motivated 5% and upsize your message to include everything your most motivated, eager-to-buy prospects want to know!”

– Gary Bencivenga, from his 29th Marketing Bullet

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Set Your Sails

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”  – Jim Rohn

The economy is front, middle and back page news these days. Debt ceilings, the declining dollar and defaults are all we keep hearing about.

And lets face it;  the economy is in shambles. Experts across the country and around the globe are saying that a crisis is unavoidable at this stage.

Now I’m no economics expert, but I’m forced to concur.

The truth is, you and I can’t do much about America’s economy as a whole. The problem is just too big.

I’m not saying that to convince you to throw up you hands and take a fatalistic mentality. Quite the contrary.  Any good coach will tell you not to get caught up in things you have no control over, but to focus on what you can control.

So here’s the question that really matters: how’s YOUR economy?

You can get bogged down about the macroeconomic situation, but you should be more worried about protecting your personal microeconomy.

2011 has been my most profitable year yet as a copywriter. While so many of my colleagues are complaining about taking a hit, having difficulty finding gigs. On the other hand, right now, I have a waiting list for clients who want to work with me.

I’m not saying that to brag, believe me. I bring it up because if I can do it, so can you.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you a few insights into why my economy is not currently reflecting what we’re seeing in the economy at large.

1.) I’m continuing to give. So many businesses are clenching their fists, holding back what they could be sharing, for fear of being ripped off. Or, instead of taking the time to nurture leads and develop relationships, they are rushing the selling process.

Give as much value as you can. Giving information (in a strategic fashion) will firmly establish you as an expert, as an individual or business that cares about it’s customers and communities.

2.) Positioning. Don’t get caught in the death spiral of commoditization. You absolutely must be unique, especially during a downturn like we’re facing now. If your competitors can honestly make the same claims that you make about your business, you can only compete with them on price. You don’t really want to do that, do you?

Find your own unique selling proposition/competitive advantage and make sure your target audience knows why you’re a smarter choice than the other guy.

3.) Don’t react in fear. Define a plan of attack and be proactive. What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to work with? What  account are you aiming for? What do you have to do to get it?

Fear is killing your competitors.

Remember: “The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.” (George Bernard Shaw)

4.) Find out what your audience wants and help them get it.

5.) Don’t be afraid to negotiate confidently.

By all means, seek to understand the big picture. But also understand that no matter what the economy at large is like, there are always some people who are winning. Put yourself in a place to be one of the victors.

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Quote of the Week 58

“You cannot perform in a manner inconsistent with the way you see yourself.” – Zig Ziglar

This quote by the master salesman and motivator also applies to how your potential customers make purchasing decisions.

They cannot buy brands, products or services that are inconsistent with their self-perception. This lesson will benefit anyone involved with selling or promoting their businesses or ideas, and everyone interested in communicating effectively and persuasively.

I discussed this concept in the Ophiuchus Effect and 5 Judo Moves Every Copywriter Should Know over at on Dean Rieck’s ProCopyTips blog. Here’s an excerpt from the latter:

“…how many millions of dollars does Nike make selling equipment to people who are athletes? How many more millions do they earn from those who dream of being athletes?

“Find out how your customers identify themselves. Use the insights you gain from that research to make your business and your offers more relevant to customers.”

 

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Quote of the Week 57

It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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Better Writing in Just Six Decades

Here are 6 tips from legendary author George Orwell, writer of 1984 and Animal Farm. Use them to punch up your own writing.

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.

These directions come from Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language.” It’s 65 years old, but the content is just as valuable and applicable now as it was when it was written. You can read the entire piece here.

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