Focus on One Thing (Copywriting Tip #1)

copywriting tip 1 thing

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.


In Pursuit of Elephants

Focus Business Growth

“The hunter in pursuit of an elephant does not stop to throw stones at birds.” ~ Ugandan proverb

The words rocked me when I read them for the first time. The weight of that truth. The multiple layers of application, personal and professional. The visual texture of the metaphor.

It’s amazing how much wisdom can be found on boxes of tea these days…

The ideas of purpose, focus and the proper use of time become increasingly important to me. There are so many demands on my time, energy and resources, it’s critical to figure out which are elephants and which are birds.

The cool (and simultaneously challenging) thing is, by and large, it’s up to you to decide which is which.

What are YOU pursuing?

One of the major components of the business growth model Michael Zipursky shared during last week’s training was defining who your ideal clients are. (FYI, you can see the replay of the 1-hour training here.)

Again, you get to pick who they are. You also get to decide, to a degree that would astonish many people, HOW you will work with them.

I don’t necessarily mean big-money clients when I say “elephants,” although there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean whatever is meaningful to you. Here’s the catch: most of us never define what’s important to us. We kind of just drift through life. Maybe we pat ourselves on the back when we avail ourselves of opportunities as they pass. But how many of those opportunities are “birds” that happen to land in our paths?

What’s important in your life? In your business? Pursue it like a hungry cheetah chases it’s next meal. Ignore as many insignificant things as possible. They’re wasting huge chunks of your time (aka your life)!

That means you have to figure out what your purpose is and focus on it.

A Stimulating Conversation with a From-Scratch Millionaire

Quick story.

On Monday, I had the chance to sit down and chat with one of my clients. His life is one of those true rags-to-riches tales. He showed me a YouTube video of his oldest son, who has also become a millionaire, giving a presentation at a major event.

I (strategically) asked what he attributed his son’s success to. He boiled it down to 3 main factors:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Insane work ethic
  3. Fearlessness

Both my client and his son have earned millions of dollars by choosing their elephants, expending massive amounts of energy pursuing them (working smart AND hard) and ignoring the insidious feeling of fear that would tell them to chase something smaller, less dangerous and easier to catch.

Sounds like good advice.



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


Big Ideas that Impacted Me in 2012

Happy New Year!

I’m pretty sure most of you will not be reading this newsletter in December, but for the record, it’s still 2012 here in Chicago as I’m typing. I really didn’t mean to wait until the last minute to get in touch with you this month, but this month has been crazy busy.

For this final communication of the year, I wanted to talk briefly about 2 ideas that had a major impact on my thinking over the past months. Maybe they’re not new to you, but I think they’re worth rehashing.

Let’s go!

The Necessity of (Servant) Leadership

People generally don’t like to be told what to do. But, people need leadership. They crave it.

Leaders create a vision for the future. They inspire others and give them courage to move forward. They know (or at least seem to know) just a little more than the rest of us and provide lantern-light so we can follow their path.

You have to start thinking about your business in terms of leadership. We’ve talked about becoming an authority in your field and demonstrating your expertise. Leadership goes one step further. Your customers and prospects are looking for someone to help them do what they already want to do. The person or business which can eliminate the risk they’re facing, help them make tough decisions with confidence and show them the best path they can take to get to get what they want in life will gain unconquerable loyalty from those whom they serve.

The kind of leadership I’m talking about is based on just that: serving people. You’re leading them because you care. Leading because you can honestly help them achieve something great. Believe it or not, making their best interests your priority will pay off for you. As the late Zig Ziglar said, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

“Didn’t Come Here to Read”

Rumor has it that during the World Series in 1957, Yogi Berra, catcher for the New York Yankees, was trying to distract Hank Aaron during a crucial at-bat. Well, Tony Evans tells the story better than me. Check out this 1-minute video –>

You have to know what you’re here for. What’s your purpose? Who is the audience you’re called to lead and serve? That’s really where business success starts.

If there’s any area I’ve struggled with this year, it’s right here. Knowing and being consistent with my “why” has been a challenge I need to tackle better in the new year.

Thanks for spending 2012 with me. I would love to hear from you, and I’d love to connect with you on social media.


As always, feel free to let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.


Copywriting Tips from CNBC

If you’re like me, you’re keeping an eye on what’s going on in the economy. I’ve found myself watching more financial news than ever.

Yesterday, I spent over an hour watching CNBC, analyzing whatever crazy moves the markets are making this week. During that time, I noticed five ways that the program kept me watching intently. These same concepts can help you become a better copywriter and marketer.

1) CNBC knows exactly who their viewers are and what they are watching for. So they are talking to one target audience, and only talking about one topic.

One of the legendary Dick Benson’s 25 direct marketing principles is that “You can never sell two things at once.” CNBC only talks about the financial markets.

Is your advertising material focused on one thing?

Read 4 more copywriting tips inspired by CNBC on the Diamond Website Conversion Blog at


7 Email Marketing Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Nowadays, I don’t spend very much time on LinkedIn Answers, but the other day I saw a question that I could help out with.

The questionWhat should never be included in an email marketing campaign?

My (slightly modified) response: 
1) Don’t make claims without proof. Skepticism is at an all time high. Everyone is scared of getting burned. If you make claims that you don’t back up in the body of the email, you’re setting your campaign up to fail.

2) Never use deception.

3) Generic language is a bad idea. Craft your message so that you’re talking to ONE PERSON. Be as specific & vivid as possible.

4) Don’t use untintelligible language. Overly technical terminology can kill a sales message especially in B2C campaigns. Refrain from using jargon unless you know for sure your audience will understand.

Confused customers don’t buy.

Use the language that your readers use in their own conversations.

5) Avoid links to unrelated sites. If the body of the email is about consumer electronics, don’t insert links to a Viagra vendor.

5.1) Don’t use any links or make any reference whatsoever to Viagra.

6) The copy should not focus on YOU (the sender). It really shouldn’t even be about your product or service. Rather, speak about the recipient and his/her needs/wants and how your offering can satisfy those desires.

7) Each email should try to accomplish ONE objective. You lose readership when you go off in too many directions.

Direct mail legend Dick Benson once said that “you cannot sell two things at once.” Choose one thing.

That’s what autoresponder sequences are for. Multiple emails allow you to focus on or sell more than one product or service

P.S. If at all possible, the emails should come from a recognizable sender. Even non-spam messages look like spam if they’re sent from strangers.

If you’re emailing cold, attach/associate yourself with someone your list knows and trusts/


Don’t Do It!

Focus is an essential element for success in business.

What do you NOT do in order to become even better at what you DO do?

Is your laser-focus on what matters in your business forcing you to abandon superfluous projects and pursuits?

Take a look at my latest article on the Evolution blog, “Who I Am Not.” Understanding and embracing who you are not, what your business is not, and who your customers are not will transform everything.

Change your perspective, change your approach, change your results.


Who I Am Not

“I am what I am and that’s all that I am.” ~ Popyeye the Sailorman

Knowing and embracing your identity is a major aspect of achieving real success. As a matter of fact, understanding who you are, as a human being or as a business, may be the most important step you can take to make sure that you experience success on your own terms. (If being a millionaire is not one of your goals, people may look at you as successful, but that’s someone else’s definition).

If knowing who you are is essential to getting what you want in life, the other side of the coin is acknowledging and accepting who you aren’t. You may not think about it very frequently, but it is something you need to consider. With that in mind, let’s consider this idea from three angles: recognizing 1) who you are not, 2) what your business is not, and 3) who your customers are not. Then acting accordingly.

Who I’m Not

“It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world. The great man or woman is the one who never steps outside his or her specialty or foolishly dissipates his or her individuality.” – Og Mandino

You’ve probably heard one piece advice more than any other over the course of your life. “Be yourself.” Your parents, teachers and good friends have probably said it on numerous occasions to keep you on the right track. It never gets less true or becomes less valuable.

In the context of this discussion, we can rephrase the statement. Don’t be anyone other than yourself.

Know your goals and aspirations. Don’t be afraid to chase after them or pay high prices to attain them. I’ve said it before, and I think it’s apropos: dreams are never too expensive.

Know your values and morals. Adhere to them no matter what, and be bold in standing up for what you believe. Yes, it will cost you, but integrity is worth it every time. Don’t bow down to pressure to conform to anything that violates your conscience.

Remember that being a copycat is usually a bad idea. Modeling exemplary people is fine, but never surrender your individuality. You are one of a kind.

What My Business Is Not

“When a man’s undivided attention is centered on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once.

“Many a fortune has slipped through a man’s fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time.”

These are the words of legendary showman P.T. Barnum (from his booklet The Art of Money-Getting). Smart guy.

Think about this: Ferrari doesn’t make family cars. They’re not trying to either. They just make the world’s most iconic sports cars.

Apple is not Microsoft. Neither is Google. Each company likes it that way.

Whether it is explicit (like Whole Foods– no un-wholesome food) or implied, what your business is not matters. What you don’t do makes a difference. This is true for a few reasons.

1) Taking a strong stand for something you’re against will put you on the same “team” as others people with the same opinion. They will more readily relate with you, like you and buy from you.

2) Deciding what you don’t or won’t do will make you a specialist. Being great at one thing or in one area is almost always better (and more profitable) than being decent at several things. Like the brain surgeon. General practitioners are well-paid and highly skilled, but the neurosurgeon can become world-renowned, in-demand and can earn far more than his less specializing peers. Specialists are in a class of their own.

All because they don’t do everything. The key word here is focus.

3) Choosing what you don’t do protects you from wasting time. There are things that you don’t want to do, or don’t do well. Why waste time talking about them with prospective clients? Do you really want to spend your time and energy working something where your results will be less than your best work?

This is very true for me. I am not an artist, graphic designer or HTML expert. It’s good that I know that. I have the can either learn these skills, or avoid situations where they are part of the deal.

It’s also good for potential clients to know, so they don’t have the wrong impression. They can save time knowing that I am not the best choice for every job. I know where I’m gifted, and I’m aware of my limitations.

Your business will see amazing benefits by knowing and making known what you are not and what you abstain from doing.

Who My Customers Are Not

Knowing who you customers are not is huge when it comes to providing them with products and services that they want and need. It will help keep you from creating products that flop. You hear that the foundation of marketing is knowing your customers. Understanding who they are not has great advantages.

Lifetime is “Television for Women.” They know the majority viewers are not men. They don’t try to speak to men. The shows, movies and whatever the heck else they provide is designed for adult women. Similarly, the commercials that run on that channel are designed for female buyers. The people who make the commercials and buy the advertising time slots know who’s watching, too.

When your business is what it is, and isn’t what it isn’t, that fact alone will go along way in determining who your customers are not. You’ll still have to look deeper to find out more. The better you understand your market, the better you’ll be able to serve them. The better you serve them, the greater success you’ll have.

You can think about your target customer in terms of gender (like Lifetime), age (do they still sell Sixteen magazine?), economic status (Rolex and Walmart), and a great number of other distinctives.

Getting to know what your customers are not is part of getting to know them. How well do you know the people you want to sell to?

Succeeding in business is difficult when you’re shooting in the dark. Flip on the light switch by getting in touch with your prospects and customers.


Start-Up Advice

I spoke with a new internet marketing student the other day. During the conversation, I gave some advice that I think is pretty doggone profound.

Here’s what I said:

“Just take it one step at a time, and keep moving forward.”

Deep, huh?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not minimizing how difficult it can be to get a business endeavor off the ground. That grind that comes at the beginning can wear down the toughest guys and gals out there. A lot of the time it does.

Studies show that as many as 9 out of 10 of business start-ups fail within the first 5 years. Ugly odds. So I’m not saying this is easy.

What I am saying is that success doesn’t happen by accident. You have to figure out the steps it will take to get you where you want to go. That in itself can be really difficult. How do you know what needs to happen? Who should you listen to?

I won’t go into depth on that here, except to say that you should be cautious taking advice from people that are not successful themselves. That success should be in your chosen field or one where the lessons are translatable.

Next, take one step at a time. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Put one foot ahead of the other, and get steady before you start to make your next move.

Then, keep stepping forward. Concentrate your efforts and conquer each step along your path to the promise land. One step after the other.

Sometimes you can make leaps rather than little steps. But don’t get over-anxious. Once you’re fully focused on what you’re doing, you’ll recognize your opportunities when they come.

If you follow the basic formula (determine needed steps — take one step at a time — keep moving forward) success becomes easier and more predictable.


Money-Getting Is An Art

I just added another of my favorite classic works to the website, The Art of Money Getting (alternately known as Golden Rules for Making Money) by the one and only P.T. Barnum.

I won’t babble for too long about how much I love this little booklet. I’d prefer if you read it for yourself. But let me make a few comments.

1) It contains very good, practical advice on being “economical.” You hear complaints about the bad economy. Well, the national and global economy is made up of billions of micro (personal) economies. Do you part!

2) Barnum presents a driving emphasis on focus, perseverance and hard work. “Hard work” is a dirty phrase these days. We’ve evolved, apparently. Work smarter, not harder. Even Scrooge McDuck taught us that lesson.

Tell that to Usain Bolt. If you think hard work and determination are not key elements in his success, you’re lying to yourself.

3) He keeps earning money in its proper perspective.

I’ll be the first person to tell you that money isn’t everything. Barnum puts it more eloquently than I could.

Getting rich is not always equivalent to being successful. “There are many rich poor men, while there are many others, honest and devout men and women, who have never possessed so much money as some rich persons squander in a week, but who are nevertheless really richer and happier than any man can ever be while he is a transgressor of the higher laws of his being.”

4) This stuff is just plain old good fashioned advice from a master businessman. Simple and straightforward, but rarely implemented tactics and strategies to success in life and in money-getting endeavors.

Check it out here. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed, and I guarantee you’ll benefit from reading it. It’s a 25-page PDF. You can read it in one sitting, if you like.