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WARNING: Good Writing Kills The Sales and Profits In Your Business

“There is little sales value in fine writing. It is what you say that counts, not how you say it. A valid argument presented in blunt language will sway the reader more than a less valid argument beautifully presented.” — John Caples, Tested Advertising Methods, (p. 27)   Let’s get one thing clear before we get started: the purpose of copywriting is to produce results. If you agree, then continue reading. But if you think copywriting is about being creative, clever or expressing yourself then stop right now. Because you will only get frustrated at what I’m about to share. If you’re still here I’m assuming you want to discover how to harness the power of the written word in order to grow your business. And one way to learn how to do this is to first learn what not to do. One sure way to sabotage your marketing message is believing “good writing” will lead to more sales. This is not true. In fact, good writing will do more harm than good. This is why many good writers fail to get results with copywriting. They don’t understand why their beautiful ads fail while other, “poorly written” ads succeed. They’re confused. But after reading this you won’t be. After you read this you’ll know why good writing gets in the way of your marketing message. The reason good writing fails to produce results is because the focus — the emphasis — is on the writing and not the reader or the product. Since the purpose of the copy is to get results nothing else matters. Style, grammar, punctuation, and creativity are all...

Book Review: “My Life in Advertising” by Claude Hopkins

I recently finished reading My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins. Hopkins is recognized as one of the “founding fathers” of modern advertising. Although this book was written over 85 years ago it contains important lessons for those of us doing business in the twenty-first century. Hopkins was hired by Albert Lasker, owner of Lord & Thomas advertising at a salary of $185,000 a year. That’s a good salary, right? Well, that was in 1907. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that’s the equivalent of roughly $4.2 million in today’s money. Why would an ad agency pay one man $4.2 million a year? After you read this book you’ll understand the reason why. And if you don’t have time to read the book right now you’ll find some of my favorite quotes below. On Higher Education “To poverty I owe the fact that I never went to college. I spent those four years in the school of experience instead of a school of theory. I know nothing of value which an advertising man can be taught in college. I know of many things taught there which he will need to unlearn before he can steer any practical course. Then higher education appears to me a handicap to a man whose lifetime work consisted in appealing to common people. Of course we had no advertising courses in my school days, no courses in salesmanship or journalism. I am sure it would be better if we did not have them now. I have read some of those courses. They were so misleading, so impractical, that they exasperated me. Once a man brought...

How To Use Email Marketing Effectively (Without Being a Spammer)

Email is one of the most powerful tools you can use to grow your business. Even today it continues to outperform social media as the marketing tool of choice by savvy business owners. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing gets a $51 return for every $1 spent on it. And when you think about it you can see why. Imagine you have a list of 50,000 people who have asked you to email them on a regular basis. And let’s say you have a $47 digital product you’d like to sell. if only 20% of your list opens your email… and out of those, only 5% make a purchase… you’ve still sold $23,500 worth of your product as a result of that ONE email. Without a list of your own you would be forced to market your product like everyone. And this applies not only to businesses who sell products online but also to restaurants, dental offices or anyone else who has a product or service to sell.   So How Do You Do Email Marketing Without Becoming A Spammer? That’s a common question I get when I deliver my Email Marketing 101 presentation to business owners. And my answer is shockingly simple… “Don’t be a spammer.” Not rocket science, right? If you don’t want to be rude, annoying or intrusive then DON’T BE! Instead, provide valuable, relative content to your reader and ALWAYS use an opt-in form to get their permission before sending email. I’m still surprised at the amount of business owners who ignorantly spam people with email. I say, “ignorant” because after I talk with them...

7 Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring a Freelancer

If you’re considering hiring a freelancer for a project then this post was written for you. Small business owners come in all shapes and sizes but there’s a common experience every business owner can relate to… Unfortunately that experience is known as “chaos.” And freelancers can be an effective way to reduce the amount of chaos in your life and business. Finding the right freelancer is a dream come true for a business owner. But hiring the wrong person will only make matters worse. So here are seven questions to ask a prospective freelancer BEFORE you hire them. These are questions you MUST answer if you want to find the right freelancer. 1. Can I see a sample of your work? If the freelancer you’re considering is unable to immediately direct you to an online portfolio then move on. Yes, I’m sure they have a very good reason why their website is down. And chances are they will have an equally good “reason” as to why they can’t meet your deadline. With tools like WordPress it doesn’t take a lot of work to showcase a portfolio online today. And if they can’t accomplish this simple task imagine what would happen when they run into a problem while working on your project. So if there’s no portfolio then move on.   2. What do other people say about working with you? I know this question is direct, but who cares? You need to cut to the chase or else you’ll waste unnecessary hours interviewing candidate after candidate only to find out later they’re not a good fit. As the person in charge of the project it’s your responsibility to ask direct...

Copywriting Legend Eugene Schwartz Was Paid $54,000 for 4hrs of Work…Learn Why

If you want to become a master copywriter then you should stop reading this right now and find out how to get a copy of the classic book, Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. Then read, study and obey it. Seriously, if you want to look it up in your local library’s website or purchase a copy on Amazon or eBay I’ll wait while you go do that. (You might want to start with the library because even the second editions still sell for around $300 used on Amazon.) Let me tell you a little about this legendary copywriter. Eugene Schwartz was one of the highest-paid copywriters of the 1950s and 60s. In fact Rodale Press once paid him a commission of $54,000 for four hours work. And the book I just mentioned, Breakthrough Advertising, has a reputation of being the most stolen book from public libraries (I have to admit I was tempted. But I returned it lest I receive “The Curse of the Schwartz” and never write a winning ad as long as I live). He also lectured and taught extensively, built one of the most famous collections of modern American art in the world, and was a respected Biblical scholar.   The Schwartz is Strong with this One So what were some of the tactics, strategies and secrets Schwartz used in his copywriting? That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? Today I want to focus on just one important truth Schwartz taught. It’s something I think about every time I get ready to write copy now. And I believe it’s one of the reasons why my copy...

5 Simple Ways to Keep Copywriting Clients Happy

As a freelance copywriter you understand how valuable quality clients are. If you’ve been in this business for any amount of time you know the most challanging part is not the writing but getting and holding on to quality clients. And before I go any further I feel like I need to be honest and tell you what my current copywriting workload is right now. (If you’re anything like me you want to know if the person giving you advice is actually “practicing what they preach.”) Since this post is about you and not me I’ll keep his part brief. I’m writing this post on Thursday March 1, 2012. I have a lot of work to get done which motivated me to wake up and be in my home office at 9:00am (OK…maybe it was more like 9:20 but whose keeping track?! Really?). I just turned in 2 emails for a big national email marketing campaign this week and I’m starting my 3rd. I’m also starting research for another client’s email marketing campaign. He’s based out of London and I did some work for him last year which he was pleased with. I’m also putting the final touches on website copy I’m doing for an industrial construction company. This project should be completed no later than Saturday. Then I have some blog posts I need to write. One due tomorrow for a company who teaches business owners how to assess and improve their business models. He’s been a loyal client this past year and purchases a couple blog posts every couple months. And finally I have 2 more articles...