Just changing a few words can change the power of your marketing by 10 or even 20 times. Starting with great material can save years of split testing. Read what Gene Schwartz – one of the best of historic copywriters ever – gives as his procedure.
“I Write With My Ears”
by Gene Schwartz
Copywriting is the simplest of all possible jobs. It consists solely of turning items into ads, of making the physical verbal, of constructing an emotional holograph of the product so convincing that people will part with their good money to share it.
To produce copy, therefore, is not really to write it into being, but to listen it into being. In other words, to be a semi-passive conduit between the producer of the item, and its needer. Between the man who makes it do what it does, and the other man — somewhere out there — who needs what it does.
The first step, therefore — the essential step — in turning an item into an ad, is turning yourself into a listener.
You listen two ways: first with your ears, and then with your eyes. You hear everything you can about the product, and then you read everything you can about the product.
The thing that astounds me, when I read most ads, or work with writers, is that they really haven’t bothered to listen deeply enough. This is most obvious in book copy, where you can check the ad against the text. But it also stands out quite clearly in product advertising, where you can check the ad against the way the product works for you.
Lazy ears produce bad ads. Here’s what I’ve discovered about sharpening mine:
1. Sit down with the owner of the product — the man who’s hiring you — and pump hell out of him. Put on a tape recorder and have him talk for 3 or 4 hours. Ask him where the product came from, what it does, what are its problems and how he’s tried to cure them, why it’s better than its competitors, who likes it, who doesn’t like it, what proof he’s got that it works, what strange uses have people got out of it, what funny stories has he accumulated in regard to its manufacture or use, what problems was he trying to solve when he created it, how would he improve it if he had unlimited money, what causes most of his refunds, who works for him to help him make it, how it is made, how does he keep up the quality, who writes him what about it, etc.
2. Talk to his customers. Do it in person or on paper. See if they agree with him. If they don’t, find out why.
3. Listen to his competitors. They often tell you more about the opportunities they’re missing in their ads, than the opportunities they’re seeing and therefore seizing. Let them write a possible head or two for you, out of the body copy of their ads.
4. Then put all the material down, in one big pile, and underline it. Start blending it together like you’d make a cake. Give it, first, priority (your head and sub-heads); and then, order (the body claims). And then type it up — preferably adding little of yourself except as selector and condenser.
Want examples? Well, Joe Cossman spoke my most successful fishing lure head “SWIMS UNDER ITS OWN POWER” — I just put it on paper for him.
Harry Lorayne blurted out my longest-lived book head: “GIVE ME 15 MINUTES AND I’LL GIVE YOU A PUSH-BUTTON MEMORY.” Again, I just put it on paper.
Martin Edelston dreamily pronounced my best-known newsletter head: “READ 300 BUSINESS MAGAZINES IN 30 MINUTES.” I just picked it out of a 17-page transcript a day later.
And Bill Bartman came up with “FLOATS FAT RIGHT OUT OF YOUR BODY”… Dave Ross with “INSTANT LEARNING” … Clem Martin with “WORLD’s FIRST EFFORTLESS EXERCISER.”
You see? People constantly ask me why I haven’t burned myself out by now… how I can write three or four fresh ads each week without going crazy.
The answer is simple: I don’t write them. I listen them. And you can too.
So how does your business stack up in the “halo” stakes?
No idea what I am babbling on about? Good. Maybe it will snap you out of the “I know everything” mental birdcage that makes you miss seeing the bleeding obvious.
Actually – all of us have a mental box like that. We miss the obvious. The more we see it – the sooner it becomes almost invisible.
In this article you will get an insight that may make the difference between your business thriving in a tough economy – and “failing to thrive”. So read it to the end.
One of my favourite books is called “Thinking Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. It is the second hardest book to read that I own – but each time I clunk through a page I get an uppercut from the obvious in hindsight.
That was where the idea of this business halo was whelped. You might already know about the “halo” effect in team recruitment – their is a bias towards the people you see first, or for a single time. (And you know that is why you ALWAYS use the “Rule of 3” before you hire anyone, right?)
So from Kahneman an activity that will save me typing, and that will snap open your obvious blindness to what your business presents to people who visit it.
Two people are presented to you with the following descriptions, and your task is to comment on their personalities. What do you think of Alan and Ben?
Alan: intelligent – industrious – impulsive – critical – stubborn – envious
Ben: envious – stubborn – critical – impulsive – industrious – intelligent
Because you are affected by bias – yep – like all of us – it is likely that you viewed Alan far more favourably than Ben. The traits listed at the start of the list affect the meaning of the traits listed later.
For example – “stubborn” and “critical” traits are improved by having “intelligent” preceding them. The stubbornness of an intelligent person is seen a reasonably justified, and may even evoke respect. But intelligence in an envious or stubborn person makes him more dangerous! (p82)
When I first read the lists of Alan and Ben – I did not see that the traits were the same – only reversed in order. When I did see it – a whole choir of Obvious Angels swooped down and slapped me until the massive implications of this bias started to overflow from my ears.
But let’s just cover a couple of the important business (read sales rocket boosting power) elements!
The sequence in which we observe characteristics (or a person or place) is often determined by chance. Sequence matters – the halo effect increases the weighting of the first impressions. Read that again. Weighting is greater in the first part of the sequence. Not only that – this effect is driven by our unconscious biases – that we are completely unaware of for 99% of the time.
Are you with me yet? Come on – think!
As I arrive at the front of YOUR business premises – which might be offices, or retail or a hot dog stand – the sequence of the flow of observations in play. If I trip over a box of cigarette butts next to a grubby bench, then step into your business over a broken tile or a ratty “We-come” mat – then guess what observations get the HEAVY weighting?
If I then see your wall full of awards for being supremely clever – then I probably conclude that you are just a grub who “got lucky”.
But if your physical welcome zone is like the portal to Disney World, and then I see your awards, or pictures of you with respected figures, or some other “priming” items – then I am in a different place.
And you already realize that my exposure to your business began well before I turned up in your carpark. It applies to your website if that is where I found you. Was it still from 2008 when you had your cousins kid-brother whip up a basic site that has not been touched since? Is your website mobile device friendly – this means it can be read on a phone or ipad thingie – or does it turn to 1 mm high text on an empty screen?
Here is the lesson for this case. “PRIMING”. Every single thing that we see, do or experience “primes” us for something that is next in the sequence. EVERY thing. And the priming either adds or subtracts value to your business presence – there are no “neutrals”.
Here is your action step for this week:
Put on your “I see the bleeding obvious” hat – and approach YOUR business and list everything you see in the order you see them. Then put a + or – next to each item. Does what you see “prime” you to be more positive or more negative toward the next thing that you will see as you enter.
Hopefully that will create a little gap in your obvious blindness – you will start to see what others see. And THEN it can get interesting – because you then have the power to manipulate the sequences that drive other peoples unconscious biases. Cool! Use “halo” power only for good, ok?
But that is content for another post. Be sure to subscribe, and comment below, and if you are not on my Newsletter you are again missing the bleeding obvious. Get the “bleeding obvious hat” out and slap yourself with it until you finish subscribing.
Ps – oh yeah – THREE steps:
1. Look everywhere for the bias effects that our brains give to items we observe EARLY in a sequence. Notice them. Review them – brainstorm with yourself for how you could alter the sequence if you chose.
2. Revisit EVERY item that might be early in the sequence of new people discovering your business. From cleaning your service vehicles inside and out, to the presentation of your team (you see your supervisor at the pub wearing his company uniform that is a mess, and he is swearing badly), to your digital and printed assets, to your processes and procedures (what you say when you answer the phone, and even whether you “dump” the handset when you end a call – this makes a very rude CLUNK in the ear of the other person and DOES affect their observations. Check your “on hold” noises. Check all your advertisements. You get the idea.
3. Take a decent amount of time and add some positive priming events or items to the most comment sequence that your prospects and clients are exposed to. Eg put some testimonials on your “on hold”, make your vehicle drivers become overly friendly in traffic (wave, let them enter the lane), put some positioning items at the entrance to your premises – be manipulative here – they will not notice consciously.
☁ Instant Improvement Tip ☁ Jan 2015
Chances are that you recently reviewed goals, or at least thought about it.
Based on your past success – you may have decided NOT to play any more. There is some very solid thinking that says SMART goals may do you more HARM than good – unless you know the HOW to make it work for you! (Later in this series, I will cover an alternative that may just TURBO your life success – so be sure to CONNECT with me.)
So – what is one of the biggest errors that most people commit when doing “GOALS”?
Here is clue. I believe that up to 85% of the value created (or lost) in a process is in the FIRST 15% of that process. Get it wrong – your results will be mediocre.
Ready? Number one error is:-
Choosing your objectives/dreams/goals/preferences/values WHEN YOU ARE IN A LOUSY STATE OF MIND.
One of my tenets (cool word for principles) – is that ALL beliefs are STATE dependent. Beliefs include all things you believe true, important, possible, allowable.
Simple example – creating your goals, creating your life plan when you have a stiff neck or headache or hang-over, or feeling like cr@p – WILL affect what you believe is important, desirable, possible.
It is like putting a massive wet blanket over your strategic plans. So – here is the key. BEFORE you make the most important decisions in your life – STOP!
Stop & check your “state”.
There are dozens of ways to alter ANY state to a more positive/empowered one. Just read any Tony Robbins stuff.
I have some simple drills that will move ANYONE to a more resourceful state – but FIRST STEP is the AWARENESS that state is very important – and to CHECK it before you begin your life designing processes. Drills can be physical – just do ANYTHING fast – do 10 jumping jacks (fast!) and your state will move. Even just READ words that infer a better state – you will change (a bit).
BELIEFs are _ _ _ _ _ dependent. Put it on your pre-flight checklist!
☁ Instant Improvement Tip ☁ March 2015
☛☛☛ Do The Opposite of The People That Fail…
Welcome to March. You are almost one quarter through your year – and if your starting activity has been a little lame – there is still time to recover and have the best year ever. But start now.
Yeah, sure James. Start doing what exactly?
Well, maybe just start with the obvious. You know that about 95% of businesses fail, right. Most in their early years. Then more in their later years. Some truly achieve, and others are only still open because of either the obstinacy or the cash resources of the owners.
Well, in any industry – statistically – most of the businesses are either going to fail, or at least fail to thrive. And therefore…
Therefore if you do what the herd is doing – you are in the group where 95% fail. So don’t do that.
Look at other industries – see what they do that your industry does not do to get more business. Get some “hybrid vigour” happening. Cross pollinate. But DON’T be the guys that are driven by “expected” margins or “industry averages” or “norms”. Because most of your industry competitors will not be around all that long…
Yes – it really is March. And if you are like the majority of your industry – whichever that is – chances are that you have wasted months paddling around in circles because your strategic plan is either “do the same as last year”, or that making your plan is “one of those things you meant to do”?
You do have a strategic plan? Right? Perhaps a 1-page version like I use? That includes all the important elements, timeframes from 20 years to 90 days, includes the big rock actions and who is responsible for them? Used daily and updated each quarter? No? Better call me then, and be prepared for more progress than you have made in years.
Oh – I wonder what percentage “un-thriving” businesses have one of my strategic plans? And if you have thrived without one? Dude! Think about the concept of “turbo”.
Well done to Brad and the whole team on winning the big award for 4 years in a row. Now bring on the national finals!
It is a pleasure working with you!
HIA Awards Townsville
Taken from my LinkedIN profile page article. Connect with me. I don’t usually bite.
☁ Instant Improvement Tip ☁ Sep 2014
☛☛☛ 6 SHORT, EASY STEPS TO AWESOMENESS
Last month I wrote about the “best ever shortcut to solve business problems FAST”, about our “biases”. (http://seminar.com.au/linkedin-instant-improvement-tip-july-2014/)
This month, in this tiny space, let’s 80/20 some metaplanning.
Step 1. Decide that you both deserve and intend to have a great life. People DON’T get what they deserve – they get what they properly PLAN and resource.
Step 2. Figure out the difference between FEAR and DANGER so you can stop fighting yourself. Easy way – watch movie “After Earth”.
Step 3. Having decided you deserve and intend to have a great life – establish what that means in 3 categories: Health, Wealth & Happiness (HWH).
Then you decide on the coach “Hat” – the one that is in charge of ensuring HWH. For me it is a WISDOM hat. If my coach hat is “wise”, it balances my focus in the roles that produce HWH. Kind of a coach/designer.
Step 4. Choose ONE of HRH. With your WISE coach hat on, decide on the plan you will follow to deliver your life experience of that category.
Eg in Health – first choose the single most potent pathway to move your health towards ideal. For most people this will be about nutrition. Then the next most potent path, probably to do with dynamism (MOVEMENT!).
Repeat for Wealth/Business) & Happiness. So you end up with the Top 3 & Top 6 places to focus in each. Goal: get these done in the right balance given your resources.
Step 5. With “WISDOM” hat on, create a suitable ROSTER for investing your time (focus) on the Top 1 movement in each role. This is completely up to you. YOU choose. When you allocate time – you MUST meet that promise.
Eg FOCUS fully on the TOP 1 item for your Wealth Role for 1 FULL hour per day – you win big. Your wise coach oversees the actions, is reported to each day, reviews the wisdom of each strategy weekly & checks roster.
Step 6. Follow & Love your plan. Not rocket science.
A “meta” program is one that runs at a “higher level” – that guides (controls) programs below it.
One example is “ethics”. Your general and specific rules that greatly determine what happens in your life. Becoming clear on your high level rules can make an enormous difference to the pathway you find yourself on.
We have complete freedom to examine, review, accept, drop or rewrite our rules and guidelines. Here is a great example from Einstein – and if you adopt it in your business framework – every part of your philosophy will be upgraded?
Consider this program each time you review your strategies, tactics and results.
Dance like you do when no one is watching – and savor each morsel of your precious life.
Several times per week, I now invest the time in using an “altitude machine”.
In the comfort of my office, this device intermittently simulates high altitude oxygen levels, then sea level altitude oxygen levels, while I sit calmly.
Why do I do this?
Several reasons – that I will share in this post, now and later.
At the forefront of my mind right now is something called “subclinical hypothyroidism”. For several months I have been guinea-pigging to test the affect of altered metabolic rate (as measured by my morning body temperature) – on my energy levels and a mild digestion challenge at appears at night.
I have altered my diet significantly – and have put on approximately 3kg – mostly of fat. My digestion has improve markedly, and my body temperature is up 1 degree Celsius (on average). My energy levels are better – but not at the levels of 10 years ago – ok that would be miraculous.
Why am I messing with this rather than go to a medic and get prescribed an anti-indigestion medication? Firstly because I espouse finding the causal processes that lead to an effect, rather than treating the effect. So I literally have to eat my own cooking.
That has led me on an interesting (for me) ride through the systems that make up my body. Why am I getting indigestion? After a few different theories and tests – my best theory at this time is that my stomach is producing less acid than it used to. This variation has led to the downstream theory that not only is my food not being digested as it ought – but that the changed pH now allows bacteria to live my small intestine that previously did not live there.
And they produce gas. Lots of it.
After lots of testing – involving taking HCL with Pepsin – hydrochloric acid in a tablet you can swallow – you get it pharmacies over the counter. It is a “digestive aid”. Taking this product resulted in my digestion and symptoms being improved. Good.
Now – why was my acid production dropping? This turned into a rabbit hole of adventure.
After several theories tested and discarded, my current is that a reduced activity in my thyroid, directly alters a great many other systems – including acid production for digestion.
There are a great many other factors that can alter our digestion – including the simplest which is that NOT allowing our bodies to drop out of FLIGHT/FLIGHT/FREEZE mode before eating – is the equivalent of trying to have lunch while being chased by a tiger – in terms of hormones. You may get the food into you – but you body will not deal with it very well. Generating stomach acid while you are “in danger” is not a high priority for our bodies. After a few years of such a habit we begin to see the manifestation of this habit.
Anyway back to the thyroid. If you do a search on “subclinical hypothyroidism” you will find something like this from WebMD:
“No symptoms or mild symptoms of hypothyroidism. Examples are fatigue, cold intolerance, consistent weight gain, depression, or memory problems. A mildly high thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level. Some people with subclinical hypothyroidism may test positive for antithyroid antibodies.”
|High-altitude effect in lowlanders|
|Memory (digit-symbol-test)/depression (beck-depression-inventory/hopelessness (beck-hopelessness-scale)/cortisol/TSH/respiratory-rate||→|
|→-no change; ↑-increase; ↓-decrease.|
Conclusions: Thyroid hormones and emotionality during high-altitude acclimatization are influenced by ethnicity, and social-isolation/fear-of-death influences freeT4.
Did you ever get into the rut where you and “your story” were completely different?
Where you were living a story, that you felt disconnected to – but could not stop acting as your story “demanded”?
Napoleon Hill taught about the concept of ‘accurate thinking’. About our human habit of getting caught up in the story, and then the stories about stories.
Deming taught about the pointlessness of trying to change an outcome or results directly. “What was the process??!”
And then thus move focus to making changes in the processes that created the undesired results.
It is too late to change what already is.
We can alter how we give meaning to what is – but if your belly is layered with extra fat, or your bank balance looking too skinny – your goal can be to alter how it will be in the future. Or it can be to play with your stories so you “feel better about it”. And the stories with their inbuilt excuses, blaming, shaming and guilt – are attractive.
Because they allow us to retain our fear, the fear that protects us.
I watched a movies last weekend by Will Smith. “After Earth”. In it he tells us that fear is completely imaginary. That we create it in our minds – and we allow it. That imagined story then makes our bodies produce physical changes – including pheromones (scents).
In the movie, an alien monster has been introduced that can only find you by smelling your fear pheromones. It then kills you.
In the midst of a battle with the monster, as he is about to die, Smith’s character becomes calm, still, centred, and accepting. His fear dries up, he becomes invisible to the monster, and slays it.
During the film he explains that fear and danger are different. Danger WILL kill you. Fear is only an idea.
If fear was only imagined for you, as you accepted that, would you become more free now to take small action steps that were previously impossible for you?
And each step would be further evidence to prove to you that fear was only imaginary and could be dissolved?
Like when you were a kid, and there was a scary noise from under your bed?
We can lie there, frozen in fear. Or we can lean over and look under the bed to discover there is no monster, or if there is one – it is more afraid of us than we of it.
Are you living your life frozen in fear?
Lester Levinson suggested to me the idea of “trying things on for size”. Like a sweater – just try in on. See if you like it. You can always take it off again.
He was talking about testing a method that allowed me to realize that thoughts and feelings are NOT part of me, any more than a sweater is.
They are things that can simply be “dropped” or “let go”.
Any thought or feeling or emotion can be let go. Including a freezing level fear. Accept that fear and danger are different. Allow yourself to feel the fear fully, and realize that feeling is the worst that fear can do to you. Not so bad really?
And once you feel it fully, and now know that it did not hurt you – you can just drop it. Like your old sweater into a charity bin.
Let it go.
And once you drop any fear – notice that your fears about other “scary” things you have created stories about to protect, has been weakened. Shine your torch under your bed and the fear will disappear – but only if you eat the fear and have a look!
Perhaps fear is a bit like Pavlova. Looks impressive, but as soon as you bite it – it dissolves in your mouth leaving a sweet taste.
Have a groovy week
Ps When I was in Russia, they frequently used a saying that stuck with me: “The Devil does not like to be watched.” In this moment, I can see that one face of the devil is “fear”. When I set it apart from me, to move from being fear (I am afraid) to only having feelings of fear – I am watching the Devil – and he returns my power.