I swore I wouldn’t talk about Trump… (Copywriting Tip #5)

Trump copywriting tip

Quick Copywriting Tip #5: In most cases, you can get away with infuriating 95% of your list/audience in an effort to win over the 5% who are your best buyers and referrers.

Donald Trump is 24 karat gold.

For comedians, journalists, content creators and lovers of funny memes, anyway. Maybe not so much for the American people, or citizens of the world at large.

Marketers and entrepreneurs can learn quite a bit from him, too. Far more than we have time to discuss here.

As the subject line states, I’ve avoided writing about The Donald, but for this Quick Copywriting Tip, I can’t think of a better illustration.

As of 1 hour ago, 60.4% of Americans dislike/despise Trump, according to data aggregated from 171 polls. Just 2 weeks ago, his unfavorable rating was as high as 67.8%.

These are historically BAD numbers for presidential nominees. (Hillary Clinton’s numbers are not much better.)

And yet, he’s amassed the most primary votes of any Republican ever. Voters are taking action. And it’s not because Trump’s trying to appeal to the masses.

Everyone has an opinion about him. According to the polls I mentioned, only 2.6% of people are undecided about him.

Amazingly 3.1% of people are undecided about President Obama because they “haven’t heard enough” to rate him. After over 7 years in office — and a bazillion news stories about him.

What does all this mean for you?

Your customers aren’t looking for people who can “kinda-maybe” solve their problems. They don’t want their lives to be 2% better. They want total transformation – or as close to it as they can get.

They want to start winning. Or win more “yuge” victories.

“… there is one thing you can count on: your family, friends, customers, clients and even everyone you have yet to meet will have these needs met by someone. The only question is, will it be by you?” ~ Blair Warren  (accents mine)

You can’t control who is in the market for what you sell and who isn’t. It’s your job to be the clear-cut choice for a specific someone. That may mean offending someone else in the process.

copywriting tip - attract or repel

That’s cool. Those people are not your ideal customers. There’s a good chance they’d never give you any money anyway.

Watering yourself and your message down to avoid ruffling their feathers means…well, it means that you’re watered down. And that will have an adverse effect on those people who love who you are and what you stand for.

Attract people or repel them. Just don’t be boring! You can’t bore people into buying.

So stand boldly for something — and don’t be scared to be (appropriately) loud about it.

Read all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips


Bumper Sticker Revelations (Copywriting Tip #2)

Quick Copywriting Tip #2: Speak to just one person. Copy should be a one-on-one conversation.

Bumper stickers aren’t just clever jokes designed to entertain or infuriate other drivers. They are tiny (and sometimes not so tiny) glimpses into the car owner’s inner world.

A few square inches can reveal profound insights into who that person thinks about himself and his place in the world. You can learn something about the priorities, values and worldview of the person who stuck the sticker.

Here’s a fun, mind-expanding exercise you should try: pay attention to the bumper stickers you see. Try to deduce what the messages tell you about the drivers.

A simple example that comes immediately to mind is the “26.2” sticker.

26.2 Bumper Sticker copywriting

In four characters (the coded language of an insider), that person identifies himself as a proud marathoner.

Now, here’s a clever spin-off on that theme: the “0.0” sticker. Makes me laugh every time.

bumper sticker marketing

These two parties see themselves differently and move through the world differently – in at least a couple areas. They probably respond differently to messages about exercise, diet, etc.

As a marketer, you have to figure out which bumper sticker your ideal customer has on his car.

There’s a big difference between distance runners and couch potatoes. Decide which one you’re going to serve and speak to him…in his language.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.


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.




Learning Salesmanship from a Kid’s Toy

Today’s lesson is inspired by and based on a 31-second video. (None of this will make much sense if you don’t watch it now.)

Why Does This Ad Work?

I wasn’t able to find any verifiable figures on how this particular device is selling (or how much can be attributed to this 2-week old commercial), but according to Inc. Magazine, the company that created nabi, Fuhu, is the fastest growing privately-held company in America this year. With 42,148% growth over 3 years, they’re clearly doing something right.

Let’s go with what we know. This commercial is:

1) Laser-targeted. Fuhu knows precisely who the main buyers of these tablets are: parents (mostly mothers) of children in their Pre-K and early school years. This commercial makes its appeal directly to them. They’re not trying to win over any other audience. The commercial is running on channels where Mom, in full parenting mode, will be most receptive to the message.

2) Emotionally-driven. The classroom drama plays on the heartstrings — and does so mostly without words. It isn’t about tech specs; it’s not even about the device itself. The quick plot focuses on the triumphant end result: your child is fearless, unstoppable, even when her peers tremble.

3) Visually compelling. Again, the words are almost an afterthought here, although they do strengthen the visuals. But if you play the video again with the volume off, it has just as much punch. Video is powerful that way.

Viewers who don’t have kids can still appreciate the impact of the message.
Parents who see the commercial are deeply moved.
Parents with kids struggling academically…well they’ve probably already gone to buy the thing.

You can make your message visually compelling even if you’re not using video. Good copy can create the exact same effect in print or audio. Robert Collier said it well:

“The mind thinks in pictures, you know. One good illustration is worth a thousand words. But one clear picture built up in the reader’s mind by your words is worth a thousand drawings, for the reader colors that picture with his own imagination, which is more potent than all the brushes of all the world’s artists.”

Your Action Steps

1) Get to know your target audience. I sound like a broken record, but this point can’t be stressed enough. You can’t make a truly persuasive marketing message if you only have a vague idea who you’re talking to and what they care about. If you don’t get anything else from this newsletter, I’d make this the thing you pay attention to.

Your ideal client is like your spouse: you can never know her too well.

2) If you are intimately familiar with a promising audience, consider customizing a product or service for them. Fuhu saw a big opportunity to market kid-friendly, drop-proof tablets (you know you always cringe when your little one grabs your iPad with his slippery, slimy fingers). They went from $279,000 in revenue in ’09 to $118 million in 2012.

Maybe there are some 9-figure doors waiting for you to open them.

3) Add emotion to your messages. Aim for those heartstrings.

You’ve got a great product with all the bells and whistles. Who cares? Potential customers want to see their own triumphant end result. Paint that picture.

4) Make sure you have a good copywriter on your team.

5) Get your laser-focused, emotionally-charged message out in places where your best buyers will see them — and be in the right state of mind to listen attentively. Maybe it’s a radio ad during drive-time. Maybe it’s an snail mail letter from someone they trust. (That’s another one of those things you’ll have to figure out with study and testing.)


Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt. 4

“Go! For I will send you…to the Gentiles.”Acts 22:21 (NASB)

In Part 2 of this series, we talked about finding your message and standing for it boldly, no matter who doesn’t like it. We described your true audience as self-selecting. The message determines the audience inasmuch as the people you most want to work with and who will get the greatest benefit from working with you will respond to the message. Those who don’t probably aren’t your ideal clients or customers.

While I believe that’s 100% true, I’ve neglected an important factor.

Your message is made for someone. You are “sent” to reach a certain market, as it were. Paul had a very clear message, one that he couldn’t alter or water down. But he also had a target audience. The Lord had called him to preach that message to the Gentiles.

Paul is totally committed to the gospel. He was determined to concentrate solely on Christ and His completed work on the cross. This message is of the utmost importance: Paul could never tweak it to fit his hearers or to make it more appealing. But the message is precisely what those hearers need at the deepest level.

While the Apostle is dedicated to the message, he’s also passionately committed to his audience. The two can’t be separated. Both are utterly essential.

Consider the following:

1) By all means, your business should stand for something. Some people will be offended, and that’s okay. Stand firm.

2) Your message should be based on your provision for someone’s needs. If you stand for something irrelevant, you’re missing the point. Your message is only important in that it meets your market at a point of need.

3) Your message (and even your business) is not more important than your market. It’s important because of your market.

4a) Make sure you know who you’re “called” to serve. Otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time.

4b) Knowing who you’re called to serve implies that you know who you’re not called to serve. In Galatians 2:8, Paul explains that he was sent to the Gentiles and Peter was sent to Israel. There is value in knowing who not to focus your efforts on.

5) Unless your message is the gospel of Jesus Christ, you don’t have to be as stalwart as Paul on the wording or positioning of your message. But the changes you make should be for the purpose of improving your ability to reach your target audience.

Read Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the Unexpected Insight series. Or move forward to Part 5.


Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt. 2

Read Part 1 of Unexpected Insight for the Christian Entrepreneur.

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you?

“From this time many… turned back and no longer followed him.” – John 6:60-61,67 (NIV)

Although Jesus’ spoke His words to everyone, they weren’t accepted by everyone. In fact, scripture says that many people deserted Him because of His teaching.

Was this a surprise? Of course not. Verse 64 indicates that Jesus knew some would stumble. So why did He say what He did, knowing that He would alienate a significant portion of His audience?

Because the truth is the truth, no matter who rejects it. The truth will appeal to some and offend others. But the essential message itself must never be changed or watered down to make it more palatable to a wider “market.”

What in the world does this have to do with your business? More than you may think. Take a look at this Charles Atlas advertisements from the 1930s:


Can you think of anyone who might find this (or the many other similar ads he ran) offensive? Did the potential backlash stop him from running them (and making a huge impact on the culture of the day)? Clearly not.

Atlas wasn’t worried about the people who might not like what he had to say. He wasn’t trying to convince them of anything. But the men who could relate to these messages were more than happy to send him money.

This is what Charles Atlas stood for, and he became an icon taking that stand in his unique, in-your-face manner.

So, what’s at the heart of your business, product or service? What do you stand for? Boldly take your stand right there, even though some people won’t like it.

(Example: In the copywriting arena, there’s always the long copy vs. short copy debate, or direct marketing vs. Madison Avenue-style general advertising. It’s simple enough to pick a side, and when you do, you instantly inherit opposition.)

There are 3 kinds of people you’ll encounter: 1) people who want what you offer, and with whom you can have a mutually profitable relationship, 2) those who never intend to buy from you and 3) people who don’t know you. If you want your business to become everything it’s capable of becoming, you need to tell your story, stand up for your position and be yourself. You and your message will resonate strongly with the people in group #1.

Who cares about group #2? Does it matter if they hate your ads or are offended by your stance on issues?

Individuals in the 3rd group will self-select their way into one of the first 2 groups as they get to know you.

Here’s the thing: if you dilute your message to appeal to everyone, it’s more difficult to tell the difference between people who are really with you and the ones that are “tire kickers.”

“Hard sayings” have a way of pre-qualifying your crowd.

In His 3 year earthly ministry, Jesus never backed away from the speaking the truth, even when it was harsh. As a result, He made more enemies than true followers. But in the subsequent months and years, those faithful few turned the world upside down for Him.

So here’s the point (which I’ve probably taken too long to get to): you can water down your message or choose not to take a bold stance on issues that are important to you and you’ll have access to a bigger crowd. But that crowd will be full of lukewarm listeners.

On the other hand, you can tell your story full-strength and create fired-up disciples and evangelists along with some folks who really dislike you and your cause. But there will be no lukewarmness.

Which way will you choose?

Tags: “christian entrepreneur”  business  marketing  advertising  messaging  bible


How to Pick Your Target Audience, Quick Thoughts

Many business owners think that everyone is an ideal customer for their product or service.

Sound familiar?

They’ve probably heard that they should focus on a certain customer type, but it can be hard to choose one.

Here’s a quick tip. If you have trouble choosing a specific audience to target your business and marketing towards, ask yourself this:

Who is the most likely person to buy this product? (Who wants it? Who can afford it and is willing to pay for it.)

That’s a good place to start.

Create a character out of that imaginary customer. Give him/her a name. How old is he? What does she do for a living? Where does she live? What are his biggest problems and fears? What goals and dreams does he have? What does she want out of life? Etc.

Asking and answering these questions seriously will help clarify in your mind who your best customers are likely to be. You may also learn something about what it is that you’re really selling.

You’re not selling suits. You’re handing out confidence and prestige.

Now that I think about it, even if you have a pretty good idea of who your target market is, this little exercise could still be informative. Give it a try!


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 https://www.diamondwebsiteconversion.com/2011/10/28/5-copywriting-tips-from-cnbc/.