You will have heard the term “Cannot see the forest for the trees”.
For me, this means that it is very difficult to see the detail when looking at the big picture. And, it is very difficult to see the big picture when closely studying the detail.
Many business owners I meet are amazed with this simply analogy is applied to marketing and growth.
Consider – you have a brilliant strategy – you have nailed the big picture. It is clear and you can see precisely how the segments all fit together. You are ready to ROCK!
And then comes time to take action. The details that were not so clear in the big picture are not clear. What EXACTLY will our adverts say? When EXACTLY will we schedule our radio ads, or adwords spends or webinars or TV or ReLaunching Celebration?
We enter a state of marketing hell.
The other variation – which may be more common in our part of the world – is that we get deeply entranced in the DETAIL, without having the big picture even partially outlined.
This is where we organize the channels (media like radio, web, adwords, TV, press, instore colour schemes, and even the artwork on our vehicles – BEFORE we have established the VALUE content that is the message that will educate and attract our targeted groups.
There is a clear order in making your marketing work for you. And the biggest mistake made here in Townsville, or in any part of the world – is NOT getting the powerful content that will attract and retain your leads generated FIRST!
And then you can use this information while considering your ideal prospects – to choose the most potent, most predictable, most profitable methods to get that message out (ie the “media”).
A summary version of your Marketing Message might be your “elevator pitch”. Some people ignore this concept because they believe it is only of use in “networking” – and they don’t “do” networking so avoid the powerful thinking needed to create this tool.
The reality is that this tool is a short version of your marketing message. And it needs to be applied consistently to ALL your marketing efforts. Your website, for example, is lame and ineffective if you do not communicate your marekting message clearly.
For 99% of the sites I see in Townsville, you could easily just swap the names and contact details for you and your closest competition – and no one would even notice, not even YOUR team…
In the coming month, I am launching a new Marketing Business Development Course designed to first educate you on exactly WHAT to do, and guides you to take simple, step by step actions that gets that done for your business.
If is perfectly designed for businesses who have room for growth – who could double, triple or 10x their revenue without having to turn off the leads tap so they can build new systems so they can “keep up”.
You know that in business, the constraint to explosive growth is either in the marketing, or in the ability to deliver the product or service to your standards. You get really (too) busy, then you have to focus on building up capacity. Then you have extra capacity, and can turn up your marketing again. And over the top – is the need to remember that if you deliver poor quality experiences – your marketing is doomed anyway…
So – this new program is designed for micro, mini, small and medium businesses who at this time have the constraint of no growth.
I am still crafting the guarantee for this program – but it will be extreme. Right now my guarantee stands at
“With use of this program you will increase your revenue by 5 times it’s cost or get your money back or I work with you until you it does.”
The program will sell out – there are limited numbers available – because I am serious about the guarantee. I have set up levels that allow any business owner to participate – no matter how restricted your cashflow. In fact the first part of the education has the ability to focus first on getting some money in the bank quickly.
Please use the contact form (click here) to make initial contact.
Ps the process will be for you to make initial contact, then we will organize a 14 minute phone call to talk about it. There is no sales pressure, the aim of the call is to find out if you and your business suits this amazing program.
Attention Ambitious Townsville Business Owners
Are you ready? Ok.
First we are going to simplify exactly what you are doing. There are two components to your marketing:
When I ask Townsville business owners about their marketing plan – the answer is always about tactical marketing – “doing” websites, sending mail or email, running radio ads, all that stuff. (often depending on which media sales rep visited).
Here is your first COMMANDMENT: Master Strategic Marketing FIRST!
What you say in your marketing and how you say it – is usually far more important than the medium where you say it. And when your campaign BOMBS – there is a tendency to blame the tactical part of the plan eg media (radio, press, web, FB) rather than the strategy behind the marketing piece.
Once you get your marketing strategy planning skills out of the storage cupboard that is way down the back, past the perilous swamp, over the scary swinging rope bridge behind the door with the “Beware of the Leopard” sign – your business revenue will rocket.
There are some fundamentals that EVERY business can use to fire up a scramjet on their profits.
I was going to fully describe exactly what you need to know in detail, but I decided that unless you give this your full attention, and be fully committed to finding out how to stop wasting at least 90% of your marketing budget (if you even have one calculated) – you are just wasting your time. Go to Facebook and look at cats if that is what you are doing now. Don’t pretend you are “working” – unless you fully intend to apply this business revolution creating knowledge. Is that fair?
What I am going to give you here is a summary of points to get your brain out of neutral and into “turbo-profit mode”.
That is why people are so jaded with marketing, and resist it. Prospective buyers want and need to be educated so they can feel confident when making their purchase decision, and rarely do they receive this education.
The good news is that the first marketers to deliver this WINS very profitable customers.
When Your Marketing Is Done Wrong…
The end result is predictable – you start to feel INTENSE pricing pressure from your prospects and leads – and you usually have to cave, drop your prices, destroy your margins and make much less money. You get to spend more time at work. Yay…
2. If you are competing on price – it is your own fault. It means your lack of marketing strategy has given your prospects no other criteria to separate you from your competition. You have not educated, or guided with knowledge or info.
(Luckily I know how to fix this. I have a step-by-step system that will innovate and then strategically market your business. You become the obvious choice for your prospects to smile and say YES to.)
3. Even if you provide Super, Duper, Hooper-level service that unmatched in your market, and your customers smile widely every time they think of you – THAT DOES NOT MATTER TO YOUR PROSPECTS IF:
A. They do not know you exist as an option or
B. If they do see your marketing and advertising – your ability to market your business is so inept – that THEIR perception is that you are no different, no better, no worse than your competitors.
I believe that over 9 out of 10 businesses are in this “inept” marketers category created by the tidal wave of ignorance of the fundamentals. Dan Kennedy shares the idea of “Do the opposite” based on this statistic. If 90% of the operators in YOUR marketplace are ignorantly inept marketing – then just by NOT doing what they do you are in a better lane on the business highway.
If you can learn the process to make your marking strategic – you get to create a pipeline that delivers eager, qualified prospects into your funnel.
More Bad News…
Right now is the time to change your marketing thinking – the internet has made your marketing ignorance even worse. Everyone is focusing on wasting their time and money going nuts for online marketing. Splashing money around on adwords and social marketing?
And this makes decent sense because prospects these days usually begin their buying process by researching online.
And thousands of Townsville businesses are “investing” to get leads from Adwords or FB to come to their websites. And when they get to these sites – they see the same rubbish marketing they used to see in brochures before the interweb existed. “Service, Quality, Price”, “Commercial, Industrial, Domestic”. And your new lead just goes back to the Google Search and picks the next choice… (This is called “bounce rate” – it is people who visit and then just bounce away. Google knows your bounce rate – and charges you more per click if it is high.) So you lose the lead, AND pay more.
And if you even look at your bounce rate – it is likely you look at tactical ways to get more “qualified” visitors. Rather than notice it is your low converting “Lame” website that is the real problem.
The internet for most is simply another medium to stuff up their marketing with bland messages. If you are going to fix your website – the only way to do fix your strategic messaging that we spoke about above.
That is enough for today, but with one last little drill to tighten your thinking.
If you now take your website, and the website of your closest competitor – and you changed the business names on the pages – would a new prospect know who was who?
Note: I have an educational program that you can use become a strategic marketer and learn how to rake in the gigantic piles of cash that you used to dream about…
And then the nice looking sales rep from the local radio station “drops in”. They have an “incredible” deal on a 12 month package – that seems “perfect for your business” according to the rep.
It is only $2,000 per month, and has spots on the most popular shows. So – how do you decide what to do?
Firstly – it is evident that your “marketing plan” needs some attention. Because you think you need more leads, and because you think it is fate that a wandering sales rep has a “nice” package. If your marketing plan was in place you would already know what works best for your business – and do more of that.
Secondly – selection of marketing tactics based on “rep visit” is very high risk. Your choice of what choice will depend to a great deal on your own marketing education, and in some cases “mis-education”.
Most of what is taught to business owners is simply wrong, and will not predictably work well.
To illustrate this – let’s pretend you have a budget of $2,000 per month to “grow your business”…
And with that money you MUST get great results or a nasty man will come with a giant Bowie knife and chops bits off you. (ie – you HAVE to make it work!)
From that perspective – will you review everything you have been told about getting new business? You can “gamble” to one degree or another.
Me – I like to minimise the risk of any marketing not paying for itself. I know that the probability of different tactics working – varies immensely.
So – I would consider that getting a 10% increase in my average sale value (the total of sales divided by the number of sales events) has the same impact on my bottom line as 10% increase in the number of customers.
Or that if I can get my current customers to come back to my business just 10% more often – that has the same impact as well.
I might even consider that many people come to my business, get a price or quote, and then buy from somewhere else. If I can increase that “conversion rate” – it also helps with my sales.
The point is – each of the three tactics just mentioned are much more predictable ways to increase your profits – if you already have customers. And you can do it (in many cases) for free!
Some finer tactics include contacting your old customers and “resurrecting” them with a great offer and a good reason for them to return. (I call them Zombies – and just contacting them will often bring them back to life.)
Lead Generation Has Many Components To Master
I know about 130 different ways to increase your sales and profits off the top of my head. But the category which requires the most clear thinking, creative writing of emotional copy, and precision in scheduling and testing – is lead generation!
With a gun to my head – I would look to other strategies first.
And at the same time – I would begin to create and test lead generation activities to discover what works – and I would know because I would ensure it was measurable.
With $2,000 per month available – you could do radio. Or you could put that cash in to a referral system. Eg Refer a person to my business this month to go into the draw for “something”. Perhaps $1,000 cash? An accommodation deal that costs you $500 that is valued at $2500? Or simply buy 2 cars with your $24,000 and use them to get your current customers to buy more…
Or any number of different approaches.
And how do you know which approach is best for your business? Well – it depends…
This post was just to get it into your head that you have many different choices available, and they all have different probabilities of success. STOP doing your marketing based on what rep walks into your business. Get a marketing plan so you know all your marketing events for the coming year.
Or contact me for a Marketing Audit. It may be the difference between you getting really rich from your business, or not.
☁ Instant Improvement Tip ☁ November 2015
☛☛☛ Basic Fractals To Rock Your Business Life…
Sitting on a plane this week, some wave of bizarre-dom rolled in and I found myself in a discussion about fractals, strategic business development and the role of progesterone in slowing the aging process. Yep. And before your eyes glaze over and you slip into a coma – how this turns out may surprise you…
Usually I use “plane” time to smash some concepts together and get some different ideas. For some reason travelling at height softens my resistance to new thoughts. Anyway – the process is called “mashing” – and it is a bit like when musicians “mash” 2 or 3 different songs to make a new one…
So – there I was manically shuffling my index cards and making notes in my ideas books, and I notice the woman next me is kind of doing the same thing. That is different – hardly ever happens.
Conversation ensues and for some reason my mission of ‘making complex things simple to follow’ comes up while talking about her corporate strategic planning process. She says “I hated physics at school and uni – fractals are wasted on me…”
A red flag to a bull perhaps – but fractals are intrinsically useful, and are about maths!
One way to understand part of fractals is that part of it is about positive feedback loops, that feed back on the new versions, over and over. Eyes glazed over!
So – a long time ago, there was a slight indentation in some land in Nevada. Because of the indentation, when it rained water first sat in the indentation and then ran a little. The flow of the water caused the indentation to become a little deeper (positive feedback) – and because it was a little deeper, MORE water came into this gully. This extra water made the little gully deeper again – making it more attractive for more water to enter with the next rain. That is a positive feedback loop. And each rainfall is called an “iteration”.
A fractal is simply a process that continually works again and again ON it’s output. In this example the increasingly deeper gully – eventually became the Grand Canyon.
Oh – that kind of makes sense, she says. Cool.
And then conversation moves to Deming ( you know – the statistician/consultant who helped Japan become a manufacturing superpower). It moved to Deming because we spoke of processes and systems (fractal!), and Deming was HUGE on ensuring that the FIRST parts of the processes were correctly set up (to three levels deep).
Deming maintained that up to 85% of the value generated in a process was determined by the accurate and decisive planning of the first 15% of the process (again 3 levels deep).
For the Grand Canyon – right at the very beginning – the slope of the ground had to be right or there would be no positive feedback to feed the fractal. If the slope was not set up properly – there would be no Grand Canyon like the current one.
This led to discussion about the general confusion in the world about the “missions, visions, values and so on” that must exist BEFORE an organization can generate an effective strategic plan. Unless you know the purpose of a system – and what it will >>ideally<< produce – you cannot design the drive mechanisms that will create those outcomes.
In the corporate world the leaders often do not even have a common vocabulary – so they do not even have the same definitions of visions and mission statement.
As part of this discussion the term BHAG rose – which was new to her – but possibly might be the key to getting a far better result from her “Strategy Session” the next day.
A BHAG is a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”. The term was coined by Jim Collins – and in my planning process, the BHAG is a goal that would indicate HUGE levels of success in a timeframe 10 to 20 years out. From your BHAG, you can then more effectively generate 3 to 5 year milestones, strategies, focus points and key numbers. Then from your 3 -5 year clarity – you can complete your 1 year program of priorities. And down the chain to your Quarterly priorities, key numbers and focus.
And only then can you generate weekly and daily schedules for each division or department or person that can guide them congruently and with inherent accountability.
This “plane” discussion happened only in a 40 minute period as we commuted from Mackay to Townsville – it was just a little dense and condensed!
And how did we get to progesterone?
Simple. We both had backgrounds in both science and business. And the overlay of science (fractals, processes, positive feedback loops) made the insights to business far more simply explainable. Our bodies are the result of the interaction of dozens of different systems – and the outcome is strongly affected by the environment the systems operate in. Same as in business – which is why simple things like lean manufacturing and 5S can radically transform both the appearance of a business and its success levels.
Our bodies (both male and female) essentially have a balance of many different hormones. Two of the most misunderstood are Estrogen and Progesterone. Despite what you likely believe – these are not just “sex” hormones. Male and female require both of them, and importantly they are ANTAGONISTIC. This means they cancel out each others effects.
As we age, both male and female produce LESS progesterone. This means we become ESTROGEN DOMINANT. In men this means that not only do we get the inflammatory effects of too much estrogen (swelling, autoimmune disease), but we also get “man-boobs”. PLUS – the excess estrogen stuffs up our also decreasing supply of testosterone – making us less manly!
In women, the estrogen dominance can have a lot of symptoms from menopausal to a wide variety of other inflammatory disease.
I mention this here because this post is about systems. If a variable is wrong at the beginning of a process – it has massive effects on the outcomes. And the outcomes then change the environment to allow the error to iterate repeatedly until all other systems must adapt to try to keep us (or our businesses) alive.
In our bodies, an estrogen dominance will result in us getting fat, our blood pressure goes up, our arteries get clogged, our limbs swelling, our brains become foggy, our energy systems function less efficiently which changes our chemical systems which feedback and affect our other hormones. If we try to lose weight – we are trying to make alterations DOWNSTREAM of the unbalanced variable. We can take blood pressure tablets – but we are DOWNSTREAM again.
In our businesses we can do some TV adverts to try to overcome falling sales, or renew our stationery and signage, or get some sales training or increase our adwords spending. BUT – if the unbalanced variable is in your vision and mission statement not matching your environment – then all those changes are also DOWNSTREAM.
In essence, things that are at the beginning of a process that iterates are the difference between a little creek and the Grand Canyon.
I really do enjoy science and business MASH-UPs!!
Ps if you believe you have estrogen dominance – there are steps you can take. One is to reduce your own production of estrogen – which is affected by your diet. There other is to take supplemental progesterone. This is for both men and women. There is strong evidence that progesterone shortage in men may be a major factor in the epidemic of prostate misery that is sweeping the world. Progesterone is cheap as it is not protected by patents – and can be bought over the counter as a skin cream. Be sure to get your levels checked before you do anything )- just as you would review your business before making radical changes.) When you change an environmental variable it has more fractal power!
Thanks for still being with us. And for opening and reading these Bites. This week has a tool that is guaranteed to change your world.
You are really busy these days, right?
And everyone wants a piece of your time. There is always more to do. Something to be finished, or started. So many things to think about and remember…
What if there was a way to create a whole bunch of new energy, time and potency (what a great word!) – in your day?
A way that was free, could be applied any time, and could be repeated any time you like?
Oh God. “Another fricking time management process!” I hear your mind yell out. That wont work. The last dozen didn’t…
But this is not about time management.
“Oh – well what is it then? Goal setting?” Nope.
“Focus?” Nope. “Priority management?” Nope.
“All right, I give up. What?
Well, before I get to that, I want to tell you a story about computers. And it will make massive sense soon...
You know how in computers – sometimes they get so full of data in short term memory that they just “freeze”?
It is called RAM [Random Access Memory]. And if you turn on too many different programs at once – you use it all up – and the computer dies. Then when you turn it off and back on again – that clears all the RAM so it can be used again – and the computer works. (Yay!)
Yeah, yeah, I know..
You already know what I am going to say. You think I am going to say that your mind is like the RAM on a computer – and that we should just do one thing at a time – or something like that. Right?
Almost. What I am saying is to consider all those other little programs that start themselves up when you turn on your computer. You know – the reason why it take so long for the bloody thing to start? They check for updates, create buzzing noises and they also put little logos on the bottom of the screen that no one actually knows are for but are not game to cancel – you know them.
Well – those little “background programs” don’t usually do anything at all to make your computer more productive – and they take up chunks of RAM – and they actually slow your main tasks down.
And – if you now consider that our brains have a kind of RAM that they use to “do” our thinking – then you will start to get a sniff of what I am saying.
And here it is. There is a horde of attention “leeches” that live in your head. They consist of lists. Lists of things that you must, should and would like to remember. Things that are not written anywhere easy to find – so you keep them in the forefront of your brain.
Remember the milk. The address of the new house. The days that Sally is away and you need to organize a replacement for her. Call Steve today between 2 and 3pm. That great idea for an article. Get fuel for the BMW. Undivert the phone. Transfer cash to the tax account. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Now – while keeping all those things in your mind – start your actual “work”. Create that proposal – or whatever you do. The amazing thing is that you CAN actually do some work – with all those lists still intact. A bit like juggling three balls and saying the alphabet backwards. Our brains are awesome!
And the business building, life changing, [SUPER BITE] from awesome James is?
Take One Pencil Daily – With Coffee (if you want)
Before you start the day, take a piece of paper (or type if you need the practice) – and simply write all that stuff in your head down. Yep. Get the list/s out of your head and onto some paper.
It is like turning off all the little vampire leech programs that run on your computer. Your computer runs faster, better and wont crash. Your brain is the same. Writing it all down – frees up your mental RAM.
This is first part of what I sometimes call “James’s Amazing, Life Changing, One Page, Productivity Multiplying, Goal Obliterating Yet Blindingly Simple in Hindsight Guaranteed (if you do it) Success System” (TM Pending!). My clients know about it. It works 100% of the time when clients commit to it. And now you have the first step to this system.
But for starters – do just this step once per day in the morning – and feel the boost in your productivity (and confidence) instantly. You can do it after lunch as well. Imagine what might happen in your business if your own productivity increased even 10%? Start with yourself – share later when you see results. [Send me an email with your results and insights!]
Next Bite I will show you how to supercharge this effect with another part of the system. You wont believe how simple and powerful it is. I will also add a list of ways to get FAST CASH into your business.
Another BITE about this effect is to consider that 99% of the people you meet have these lists sucking their brainpower as well. No wonder people often appear like zombies as the marketing world smashes message after message at them.
This is why we need to get ATTENTION before we start to communicate with them.
They wander around, eyes glazed, mumbling silently “Remember the milk, charge the iphone, the car needs 10W40 oil not 20W40…” We have to INTERRUPT their chant before we can ENGAGE with them.
Expect more from yourself,
Ps Have you been to joined our Members List and downloaded the Cashflow Forecasting Tool and the Impact of Price Increases & Discounts Effect Tool yet?
Pps have you forwarded any BITES to your friends yet? Remember it is part of the deal – – and send it to everyone who needs some more productivity… (Or any Zombies you know…)
☛☛☛ 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”.
Welcome again…. One of my own quotes that I like to repeat too often is
“As soon as you move, you are in a different place.”
To me it means the simple action of taking a metaphorical or actual step – a single step – changes my view.
And with every change of view comes a whole new world.
It seems humans are at their best when moving forward. When standing still we have no momentum, no power. Think how much easier it is to change direction slightly once you are moving – just swerve a bit!
Dr. Seuss wrote: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” I add that: ” Learning is moving, and moving is great. Taking action on your learnings is when you best create.”
You don’t “get it” until you do it…. Knowing how to touch-type is not the same as touch-typing…
This weeks Bite is one of my favourites and most powerful tools. I believe most it to be the most potent “framework” for strategically growing any business (or career)
Hierarchy of (Dynamic) Value.
(Created by a seriously clever man called Marshall Thurber.)
Here is how it works.
In a market where there are:
1. Fully informed buyers (now almost every where because of the internet) and
2. Alternative sources of supply –
then the only defense against competing solely on price is to have UNIQUE value (and constantly improving). This means there is NO alternative source of supply. ie the value you bring must be unique – because in a fully informed market and with alternative sources of supply – unless you are unique – you will end up competing on price alone.
According to Thurber there are different levels of value.
From the lowest level:
Commodity – where the only difference is price. This will give you the lowest possible margins and most competition. No loyalty. Eg coffee beans – grind them and make your own.
Product – better than commodity. Eg a phone or a cup of coffee. Margins better than commodity, but not much. Hard to defend.
Service – same as product – and these two levels (product and service) are merging – eg phone with a phone plan. eg coffee made for you at a standard coffee shop. Products and Services are MERGING to create “offers”.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++Minimum Target+++
Experience – by definition – every “experience” is UNIQUE. Selling the experience rather than a product/service or commodity means protection from competing on price. eg Starbucks sell the experience – not the coffee. Disney sells the experiences – not the rides. And we pay much more for it. (How can you make your business into an “experience”?)
Transformational Experience – Can charge even more if you can “transform” them. Eg lose 20kg. Get hair. Become attractive to women/men. Become a ‘different/better’ person in some way.
Predictably Transformational Experience – Can charge even more because you can guarantee it – risk reversal.
Your goal is for your businesses to ALWAYS move to at least the “Experience” level. Not only that – it is DYNAMIC – people will copy your and the internet makes information flow faster and faster – so your value creation must keep changing and improving…As soon as we are not unique – we are subject to price pressure.
This is a heavy duty model – and I will revisit it in the future. Right now make a list of what you do that your competitors do not. And then make a list of what you could possibly do…. I promise it is worth it.
Ps – your list does not have to overpowering. Plumbers who give chocolates, balloons on signs, specific guarantees (eg quotes to you within 3 days), different colours (pink cement trucks!), loyalty programs, smile!, get details and send birthday gifts, newsletter (seriously) – and make it “human”.
Most “competition” is vanilla flavoured beige sameness. If you cannot create a difference that increases value (???), then make it a cosmetic one.
Pps – if this makes sense – forward it to a friend…
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.