Workshop: How to Create Irresistible Offers


Who is the most persuasive person in the world?

I bet it’s not who you think it is. In fact, it may be the last person you’d consider.

And I’ll be happy to tell you…if you attend Blue Top Marketing‘s workshop tomorrow (Saturday, June 7th) in South Holland, IL.

We’ll be talking about how to create irresistible offers. This will be my most in-depth treatment of this topic to date. We’ll talk about persuasive techniques as ancient as the human race, cutting-edge discoveries in neuroscience and the secrets behind blockbuster Hollywood movies.

Get the details on Blue Top Marketing’s registration page.

Here are a few of the specific topics we’ll cover in this 2-hour long session:

  • a method proven to “transform insignificant objects into significant ones,” so much so that people happily pay as much as 132.5 TIMES their original value. Your “significant” products and services can skyrocket in perceived value in exactly the same way.
  • why the truth isn’t good enough and how you can fix that — without the slightest bit of deception
  • what kind of marketing messages are magnetically repulsive
  • how one sentence changed the entire TV home shopping industry, breaking sales records left and right — and how you come up with a similar sentence to revolutionize your customers’ perception of your business
  • 3 biological reasons the human mind rejects most perceived attempts at persuasion and
  • how to flip the mind’s resistance using its own force.

I’ll take a look at your marketing materials and make suggestions on how to make your offers irresistible. You’ll leave the presentation with specific advice you can put into practice the same day.

Not sold yet? Let’s sweeten the deal a little bit.

All attendees will get

  • a DVD of all 3 of the Marketing Strategy Implementation sessions courtesy of Boss Lady at Blue Top, Stephanie Walters,
  • a free copy of my book Stealth Selling: Non-Pushy Persuasion for Professionals
  • a second round of sales copy critiques any time in the next 90 days. I normally charge $200 for critiques, but attendees will get a freebie.

When an offer is strong, saying “yes” is easier than walking away. During this workshop, we’ll help make that a reality in your business. Register now

P.S. Sorry for the last minute reminder.


Worst of Signs, Pt. 3

Same Day Appointment Sign - Calumet City

I took a picture of the sign above at a dentist’s office in my Calumet City neighborhood. (That’s in Chicago’s south suburbs, if you’re curious.) What’s wrong with this sign? On the surface, nothing. But think about the wording “Same Day Appointments” for a moment. Is this dentist so efficient that he can guarantee to look at your teeth the same day that you call? Or is business so slow that there are always open slots in the schedule?

(To be fair, I’ve never visited this office, so I can only speculate about any specifics about the business and it’s success.)
Speaking of slots, The next sign is a doozy.
Slots Sign - Calumet City
This photo is from a bar, also in my neighborhood.

The bar changed the sign after about a week. Must not have worked as well as they thought…

Either that or the slots really do pay out too much and they started losing more money than they made in drinks…

In which case the lead generation method really was brilliant. The lifetime customer value was just too low or the owners were too short-sighted.

Like the dentist’s office, I’ve never been inside this bar, so I’m speculating again.

A few people told me I took the whole thing too seriously; the sign is probably just a joke. And maybe they’re right. (I could just walk down to the bar and ask the owner.)

But even so, marketers have to be careful; if customers feel misled, they’re not going to be happy.

That’s one of the reasons humor is risky in marketing.

What do you think?

Don’t miss these related posts (with pictures from my neighborhood!):

It Was the Best of Signs, It Was the Worst of Signs

Worst of Signs, Pt.2

Small Restaurant, Big Lesson

Pork Chops and Big Promises


Marketing Lessons from a Snowstorm

We had our first real snowstorm in the Chicagoland area yesterday.

While I was outside removing snow from the sidewalk and driveway this morning, I felt a little pride. Shoveling is not my favorite activity, but I think I did a pretty good job. I took care of it early so that the kids waiting on school buses wouldn’t have snow invading their shoes, making their Monday morning socks cold and wet. (Mondays are tough enough on school kids anyway, right?) The walkways are well-cleaned and salted to prevent slippery ice patches.

Yeah, I did a pretty good job. I don’t like to brag, but I might even be the best on the block.

Despite the high quality of my work historically, no one’s walked up to me and offered to pay me to shovel the sidewalk in front of his house. I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen, either.

The same is true for your business. No matter how great what you offer is, having a customer randomly approach you with cash in hand is not very likely. Your product or service may even be the “best on the block.

This is why marketing is so important. You have to tell people who you are, what you do and how choosing you will improve their lives. They need to know why they should do business with you.

A few other thoughts popped into my freezing cranium while I was taking care of my winter duties this morning:

  1. There’s never a shortage of people willing to pay to avoid pain. I can’t think of any surer way to position yourself to win in the marketing game. I mean, who likes to have people ringing their door bells early in the morning? But when he’s offering to relieve you of the necessity to face frostbitten toes, he’s a pretty welcome sight. Think of ways to solve problems or erase pain for your prospects, and you’re well on your way to success.
  2. You don’t have to be the best. You don’t have to be the only person who does what you do, either. How many industrious individuals are out there making money cleaning up snow for other people? Quite a few. There’s plenty of action to go around. Don’t let the fact that you’re not one of the “big dogs” stop you. Davids beat Goliaths every day. Even if they don’t wipe them out completely, lots of them get big enough pieces of the pie to make it worth their while. Never let competition scare you off from chasing your aspirations. Find a chink in their armor, and go for it.
  3. Finding a “hot” market is the best way to go. A snowstorm like this one produces all the ingredients of a hot market. There’s a large group of people facing an ugly problem. Almost no one wants to deal with this problem (who doesn’t hate shoveling snow or scraping ice?), but it has to be resolved. The few people willing and equipped to take on the task have an immense potential to profit. Do you provide an solution to a pain, problem or fear that your core audience feels acutely? Are there enough people in that group for you to generate the kind of revenue you are looking to earn? If so, you have a very solid foundation.

December is a funny time of year. Depending on your seasonality, this could be the busiest time of year or your slowest. But no matter what, targeted marketing gives you opportunities to gain ground as a business, even if it’s just planting seeds that will begin sprouting a few months down the line. Keep at it.



Positioning is establishing your identity in the mind of your audience. Your positioning can be bad or good, strong or weak.

The best kind of positioning is when you can “own” a word or concept. Google IS online search. Kleenex equals facial tissue. Volvo is synonymous with automotive safety.

Sometimes, it can be appropriate to position your company, product or service relative to an established brand. Juxtapositioning, as it were.

There are countless ways to juxtapose your business, product or service with competitors. Here are 5 of the most common:

  1. Us vs. Them – offering uniqueness of a company or product over against a competitor
  2. Before & After – demonstrating a unique end result
  3. True or False – exposing the uniqueness of reality over common perception
  4. Exotic vs. Commonplace – uniqueness of origin, philosophy or perspective
  5. Ancient vs. Modern – discovering the uniqueness of ideas from a forgotten era

When your unique value proposition (UVP) is strong, but demonstrably different than the leaders in your field, Us vs. Them juxtapositioning is appropriate.

Slow Lube Lansing Positioning

As an example, take this photo from an auto shop in Lansing, IL (one of Chicago’s south suburbs). While Jiffy Lube and others offer 10 minute oil changes, emphasizing speed, this shop takes the opposite approach — a “slow lube.” It makes you wonder: what are the other guys really doing to you car? What are they missing or messing up? The contrast is stark.

Why try to compete with the other shops on speed? Quality and “proper service” aren’t even on their radar.

Before and After is simple, right? Think exercise machines and acne medication. Demonstrate how the future can be better and brighter with your product or service.

Where misconceptions are hurting people in the market, or just keeping them from buying from you, become a mythbuster. Remember those commercials sharing the “truth” about how corn syrup is as safe as sugar? That’s full-fledged True or False juxtapositioning at work:

Exotic vs. Commonplace can be best seen in the way we Westerners love products from the East, from green tea to yoga. The opposite is also true. People from around the world clamor to get their hands on American products and brands.

People get bored. We associate the familiar with the results and experiences we already have. To have a new experience or better results, exotic products hold special appeal.

Ancient vs. Modern plays on the notion that we’ve traded something significant from the past to make way for the electronically-enhanced artificial present. Technology, as much as we love it, seems to have trumped wisdom. Instead of reaching out to touch someone, we have touchscreen phones and tablets.

There’s a longing for “the good ol’ days.” (I reckon there has been ever since Adam and Eve.)

Titles including “The ancient art of…” or “long-lost secrets of …” have a mysterious attractive quality. They help sell millions of books, courses, classes and products every year.

The-Ancient-Art-of-Tea Positioning

How can you use these juxtapositioning techniques to strengthen your place in the market?



Worst of Signs, Pt. 2

Here are a couple more instances of crummy signs in my south Chicago neighborhood.

Teeth Sign Chicago

This is a billboard for a dental practice just off the highway. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems terribly offensive, or at least insensitive. But it’s been in the same spot for several months, so maybe it’s working better than I think. Of course, since the sign isn’t keyed to produce trackable leads (in direct response fashion), it’s hard to know for sure, even for Dr. Atcha.

Pops Sign Lansing

If I have to point out what stinks about it, you need some help, too.

If I ever sign up for Pinterest, I’ll be sure to have a board dedicated to the good and bad advertisements I see around Chicago. There are plenty of both.

Did you see It Was the Best of Signs, It Was the Worst of Signs Pt. 1?


It Was the Best of Signs, It Was the Worst of Signs

dad highest rank

This billboard by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse and the Ad Council is one of the best advertisements I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t qualify as direct response or direct marketing, but it is promotional.

More than that, it’s emotionally powerful. For proud dads like myself, for those who are saddened by the lack of father figures in our nation, and particularly for military families, these 7 words speak volumes.

It’s among the best of signs because it’s targeted, which makes it laser-guided towards specific emotional responses. The imagery aims right at the heart.

Does your advertising evoke the right emotions in your target audience?


I mentioned this sign in an interview I did last year as being one of the dumbest signs I’d ever seen. I went back to take a picture of it in the window of a shop in south suburban Chicago.

The handwriting is nice, but that’s about as far as the positives go. And if I’m not mistaken, that shop is no longer open.

This is among the worst of signs because it is wrongly focused. Businesses cannot walk up to would-be customers and say “Hey, give me some of your money.” Businesses only stay in business because they provide value to their customers.

The business exists for the customer, not the other way around.

The sign doesn’t offer any reason whatsoever for the reader to support the business. I could understand a sign that says “Support American Businesses.” That’s asking the customer to do something that is in the best interest of the economy of his country. That means it’s good for him in the long-term.

This particular sign comes much closer to panhandling than marketing. It’s just asking for support without promising anything unique or valuable in return. What reason does anyone have to support them?

Are you giving your audience reasons why they should do business with you in your advertising? Are you telling them what’s in it for them? If not, you’re completely missing the point.


Mousetraps and Snow Shovels

Falling snow can bring all kinds of thoughts to mind: Grandma’s hot apple cider, Saturday morning sledding or tackle football at recess in 4th grade.

Snow always makes me think of opportunity.

You can go to bed on a clear night and wake up with a foot of fresh snow on the ground. Suddenly everyone has an urgent need. Cities and towns that aren’t prepared for it shut down altogether. (No chance of that happening here in Chitown!)

But those who are ready with shovels, plows and rock salt can become neighborhood heroes. Some build businesses specifically for times like these.

My shovel saw action for only the second time this winter on Friday. In honor of my poor, neglected tool, I’m going to contort Quote of the Week 65 as follows:

If a man can make a better snow shovel, the world will make a beaten path to his door.” (On his freshly shoveled sidewalk, no less.)

As you probably noticed, this statement is no truer than Emerson’s quote about mousetraps.

Here are a few things to think about. No matter how good your shovel is

  • People who live on tropical islands aren’t going to buy from you. Inhabitants of desert-like climates will never be your customers
  • Many people will purchase a snow blower instead of your shovel
  • Those who don’t have sidewalks or driveways won’t be very interested in buying from you

… regardless of how strong your marketing is.

Are you concentrating on creating shovel innovations? Or are you focused on helping people handle their snow problems?

Which do you think is the better path to take?

The only thing that compels people to buy snow shovels is snow. The only people that buy snow shovels are people who know they have or will have snow piling up in their yards.


Pork Chops and Big Promises

Planet Porkchop Sign - Calumet City

There is a restaurant a few blocks from my house in south suburban Chicago (Calumet City, to be precise) that makes a pretty bold statement. Their sign claims that they are THEHome of the Giant Pork Chop.”

Right up front, I’ll admit that I’ve never eaten in this establishment. I’ve never seen their pork chops. But my lack of formal knowledge won’t stop me from making a few observations.

1.) When I read the tagline about the gigantic slabs of pig flesh you can buy at Planet Porkchop, I laughed to myself. How can this little restaurant have bigger chops than anyone else? Have they been around long enough to be the home of anything as readily available as pieces of pork?

The point is this: the marketing/branding statements you make have to be believable. Remember Al Gore’s claim to have invented the internet? Didn’t turn out so well for him.

Even if you’re telling the truth, you may never get the opportunity to prove it .

2.) On the other hand, bold claims are great. If you can make big promises, do it. If there’s something truly special, truly outstanding about you, your product or service, don’t be shy about it.

In fact, make the biggest, boldest claim that you can honestly make.

So many people wonder about how they can differentiate themselves and stand out from their competition. Find something amazing about what who you are (individually or as a business) and what you have to offer, and shout it from the rooftops. Figuratively speaking.

3.) Question: If you drove by this sign, would it move you to stop and eat?

Answer: Maybe.

For some people, this advertisement would never work. Some people don’t eat pork for religious or health reasons.

Other people like pork chops, but they’re not hungry when they drive past. Maybe they’ll consider trying their food another time.

Still others like pork chops, and seeing the piggy sign puts them in the mood to eat.

The lesson, of course, is that advertising and marketing cannot work for every single person. And it will not work every time. To get the most bang for your marketing buck, you have to put the right message in front of the right audience at the right time. Even then, don’t count on getting 100% to buy.

4.) You instantly know exactly what this business is about. They take pride in their pork chops. That’s what they do best. They’re specialists in that area.

Do you know your area of unique expertise? How well are you sharing that message?

Related Post

Small Restaurant, Big Lesson


Small Restaurant, Big Lesson

Just Turkey Sign - Calumet City

It only takes half a second to know exactly what this restaurant specializes in. You already know what they’re about, even though you’ve never been inside. You’ve never seen an ad for the place. In fact, most of you have never even heard of this joint. But you can tell a whole lot from the sign.

Question of the day: do your prospective customers know what you do? what you’re about? How clear are they about what you have to offer?

What condition makes for a better customer: confusion or clarity?

(This picture was taken at a restaurant not too far from my home in Calumet City, IL.)

Related Post

Pork Chops and Big Promises


My New Business Card

In my years a copywriter, I’ve never had a business card before. Never saw the need for one.

But recently, I started doing more face-to-face networking in and around Chicago, so I figured I needed something to give to the people I meet.

The above is my first attempt. Yes, I designed it myself.

I’ve love to hear your feedback. (I’ve already heard some great tips from my pal Wayne Buckhanan).