Love + Active Verbs = The Start of Strong Copy

Donnie Bryant on direct response copywriting

“Make the verbs do the work.”

Writing “The new sales letter pummeled the previous version,” paints a more vivid picture than “the new sales letter is better than the previous version.”

“Pummel” paints a powerful picture. That’s what verbs do for writers.

I adore adjectives, but overusing them usually ends up sounding like hype. Hyperbole causes allergic reactions for many would-be buyers.

Anyway…

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being Adam Franklin’s guest on the Web Marketing that Works podcast. I’ve come to admire Adam quite a bit over the past few months, and I was honored to be on his show.

We talked for about half an hour, discussing what I believe are the most important elements of direct response copywriting and marketing:

  • a desire to understand, empathize with and provide value for your customers (which I refer to as “falling in love” with them)
  • communicating clearly and directly, rather than trying to be cute or clever
  • watching out for hype, without undercutting the strength of your promises and big ideas
  • etc.

It was a lot of fun. Have a listen over on the Bluewire Media site.

While you’re over there, check out all the other helpful resources and information Adam and his partner Toby give away. They give away 33 marketing templates from their book Web Marketing that Works. I highly recommend that you pick them up (opt-in required) and put them to use.

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Writing Copy to Crush Your Competitors

Copywriting

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.

 

 

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How to Write Sizzling Content

Sizzling Content and Copy

“If the woman howling from the backseat of Agent Carson’s black SUV weren’t already dead, I would’ve strangled her. Gladly.”

So begins Darynda Jones’ latest book. But the book is captivating even before the opening line. The title instantly sends your mind on a journey of curiosity.

Seventh Grave and No Body.

To be fair, I haven’t read anything other than the first page of the book. The book cover caught by attention yesterday at Barnes & Noble. My imagination isn’t ready to stop thinking about where the story might go.

That’s what sizzling content does. It grabs your attention and puts it in a headlock. It activates the movie screen in your brain and reaches down to pull on the ol’ heartstrings, at least a little bit.

This is not the kind of writing we were taught in school. The style we mastered between K and 12 is almost the polar opposite, when you think about it: matter-of-fact, even clinical in it’s lack of emotion. Without personality. Yet, a large percentage of business owners and marketers carry this dry, academic style over into their attempts at sales and marketing.

Then they wonder why no one opens their emails.

Now, I know YOU don’t have that problem. But there’s a good chance that you feel like your writing could be stronger. You’d like for your content to be more persuasive. You want your marketing to pack more punch in whatever media you’re using.

If so, I hope you’ll join Jeff Zelaya from Triblio and me for “How to Write Content that Sizzles and Sells,” a Google Hangout On Air tomorrow (Monday, November 17) at 1 Eastern. We will discuss turning your articles, blog posts, video scripts, etc., into “page-turners” your  potential clients will have a hard time ignoring.

Check out the Event page for more details. You can even ask content marketing, writing or persuasion questions and we’ll try to answer them.

Hope to see you there!

P.S.  I want to quickly emphasize a takeaway we learn from the book I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

The title Seventh Grave and No Body, is pretty interesting all by itself. Even more than the words themselves, this title is engrossing because of the mental associations the reader carries while he reads. The title doesn’t mention anything about crime scenes, tricky murder investigations or elusive serial killers. You read that into the words on the page. The pictures created in your mind have more to do with your own personal experience than anything else.

The meaning of a word is greater than its definition.

Leveraging the power of mental associations is an advanced writing technique we’ll be covering during the Hangout. You’re not going to want to miss this.

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What Being a Christian Entrepreneur Means to Me

I’ve never been one of those guys who uses his faith as a “hook.” It’s never been part of my sales pitch.

But I’m not shy about being a Christian.

I had the chance to talk with Roger Bush about where my business life meets my spiritual life on the Entrepreneur By Faith podcast last week.

Roger asked a question I’ve never answered publicly; he asked me to describe a failure I’ve experienced in my business. The story I told isn’t something I should be ashamed of, but a big part of me didn’t want to talk about this. Only a few people had heard this story…until now.

It’s strangely liberating to let the cat out of the bag. But I’m not going to let it out here. You gotta listen to the podcast.

Check out the 43-minute interview here: Entrepreneur By Faith Episode 3.

Listen to the other interviews on the site, too. You’ll get to know some great people and get inspiration, encouragement and direction at the same time.

Update: The URL where this interview was previously located is currently unavailable. You can listen to the audio at the bottom of this post.

P.S. Roger got in touch with me after reading Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt. 1. If you’re a Christian running a business — a secular business, in particular — you might find some helpful ideas in that series.

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Struggles and Success as a Marketing Copywriter

Michael Zipursky interviewed me the other day about the struggles and successes I’ve experienced as a copywriter and consultant for his Business Consulting Buzz podcast.

We talked about:

  • the power of guest posting to build credibility and find an audience (instead of having to build one from scratch)
  • the crucial mindset you must have to sell anything, in any medium — it’s a simple switch, but human nature makes it a perpetual struggle
  • some of my early inspirations as a copywriter (I still love all of ’em)
  • how I got my first clients
  • one thing anyone can do to automatically boost the persuasiveness of their sales copy.

Listen to Direct Response Copywriter and Consultant: Interview with Donnie Bryant.

Thanks for listening!

 

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Joe Sugarman, Drayton Bird and Me

A couple weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of speaking at length with Joey Bushnell about copywriting, marketing and finding ways to get your business through tough economies like the one we’re facing right now.

There are two reasons this interview was special:

1) You know it’s hard for me to stop talking once I get started. Joey gave me a full hour to speak my mind.

2) This chat follows interviews with some of the greats in our industry: Joe Sugarman, Bob Bly, Drayton Bird, Ted Nicholas, Chris Marlow and others. I was humbled to be named among these legends.

During the call, we cover

  • why unique selling propositions (USP) can be bad for your brand – and what you should replace them with
  • 4 ways many businesses are sabotaging their own marketing
  • the reason most people struggle to persuade others and plenty more.

Check out the interview, Compelling Marketing Messages, over on Joey’s Web Marketing Inner Circle site.

It’s free to listen to. You don’t have to give your email address or anything, and there’s nothing for sale. Just sit back and see how much you can learn.

Enjoy!

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Create Hard-to-Resist “Packaging” for Your Product or Service

Presentation is everything.

Do you remember the episode of the Cosby Show where Vanessa introduces her fiancé Dabnis to Cliff and Claire? (This is one of my favorite episodes on one of my favorite shows.)

In the final scene, the newly-engaged couple is sitting at the dinner table with rest of the family. Cliff tells Dabnis, in very graphic terms, that they would never like him because of the way Vanessa “presented” him. Watch the scene, starting at about the 1:00 mark.

You can have the most amazing product or service on the face of the earth, but if you “package” it wrong, if you present it to potential clients on a garbage can lid (to use Cliff’s illustration), you’ll never be as persuasive and successful as you should be.

I had the opportunity to talk with the brilliant marketing consultant Steve Gordon about this very subject. When creating irresistible offers for your product or service, packaging makes all the difference in the world.

Invest half an hour and listen to my interview with Steve at http://stevegordonmarketing.com/how-to-sell-your-product-or-service-with-an-irresistible-offer/. It could mark a real turning point for your business.

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30 Minutes to More Trust: An Interview with Charlie Green

Warren Buffet famously said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” But is that really true?

Earlier this week, I had the distinct privilege of speaking with one of the world’s foremost experts on building trust, best-selling author Charles Green. Boy, did I learn a lot!

During our 30-minute interview, Charles talked about

  • why trust is absolutely essential to your success in business
  • specific ways you can create more trust in your relationships
  • specific ways you might be sabotaging your efforts to gain the trust of your prospects and customers
  • popular myths about trust
  • how long it really takes to start building (or rebuilding) trust
  • and more

I was blown away by simple, yet profound truths Charles shared. I think you will be, too.

Building Trust in Business with Charles Green

Don’t forget to visit TrustedAdvisor.com to further develop your ability be the trusted provider in your industry.

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If Your Marketing Stinks…

Please join the inimitable Andre’ Harrell and me for what promises to be an exciting and insight-packed conversation on sales and marketing at 7pm ET tonight.

The show is called “If your business marketing stinks, so will your sales.”

Check us out at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/aharrell2000/2012/08/28/if-your-business-marketing-stinksso-will-your-sales.

No opt ins, no sales pitches. Just marketing, sales and persuasion concepts you can put into practice right away to improve your business results.

—–
Update: You can download a recording of the call at the link below the media player at the aforementioned link, or get pick it up on iTunes at itpc://www.blogtalkradio.com/aharrell2000.rss.
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Getting More Yeses Without Pressure, Hype or Dishonesty

Live radio is tough.

As an outsider, I don’t know how the professionals move so quickly, transition so smoothly and keep everything fun and interesting.

For those of you who missed it, I had a spot on George Kilpatrick’s show last Tuesday evening. (George is the consummate professional). We talked about how to get more yeses in sales, marketing and other situations where you need to be persuasive. I had 5 points and only 5 minutes to cover them. Needless to say, we weren’t able to discuss any of the concepts in much detail.

I’d like to flesh out the ideas a little more right here.

Here’s the list of ways you can get more yeses without resorting to pressure tactics, hype or any kind of dishonesty.

1) True Empathy
There are few things in the world more powerful than empathy. If you can demonstrate that you truly understand what your prospects is experiencing and how they feel about their experiences, they won’t be able to help feeling a bond with you. Defenses go down, skepticism decreases and trust flows naturally.

John Dewey is quoted as saying “The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.” Show them they’re important to you by asking genuine questions and really listening. Listen in order to understand, not just to figure out the best sales approach.

Henry Ford said ”If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own.” When people believe you want to know what they think and how they feel so you can help them, you’ll have less trouble getting your message through (when it’s your turn to talk).

Consider the African concept of Ubuntu. Bishop Desmond Tutu tells us that “A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.” Treat your customers like people, not walking wallets. You’ll get a lot more yeses if you do.

2) Appeal to the built-in motivations of the prospect.
No one can “sell ice to Eskimos”–at least not visiting igloos door-to-door.

You’ve gotta sell stuff people want. I talk about this fairly frequently (in fact, this point made up 1/3rd of my most recent newsletter), so I won’t belabor the point too much.

While you’re empathizing with your target audience, find out what sorts of solutions will help them get what they want or put an end to what they want to stop in their lives. Help them see the transformation it will bring; don’t focus on features, but appeal to their current thoughts, feelings and priorities.

3) Educate
Salespeople sell stuff. Teachers shape the minds of those who shape the world. Which do you want to be?

Every study you see indicates that there’s a shortage of school teachers in America. Classrooms are bulging with students, eager to learn. In private schools and institutes of higher education, people pay thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to listen to teachers who will (hopefully) equip them to succeed in life. When sales people greet potential customers, the reply “I’m just browsing” is all too common. Which do you want to be?

Teachers help interpret reality. Then they help their students act accordingly.

Education is an amazingly powerful way to persuade without pressure. Done properly, you’ll never have to pitch anything. The mental pictures you paint are so compelling that people naturally see the need for what you’re selling.

4) Tell (true) stories
This is another subject I address frequently, but know this: stories are rarely seen as sales pitches. Our brains are inherently receptive to narrative. We love them in every form: movies, music, magicians, etc.

Tell stories about past client successes, your own personal journey from doubt to domination or lessons from history that make a clear point.

5) Establish credibility, but don’t toot your own horn
The more you’re recognized as an expert, the more people will trust you and take your advice. But telling people you’re trustworthy usually gives the impression that you’re not. That’s why it’s counterproductive to toot your own proverbial horn.

Credentials, degrees, awards, media appearances and publications all work in your favor. Testimonials, personal recommendations and referrals probably work even better. Don’t forget about celebrity endorsements!

If you’ll allow me to act like a teacher for a moment, I have an assignment for you: Think about specific ways you can utilize these 5 ideas to increase your yes-to-no ratio. Make sure to raise your hand if you have any questions.

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