Posts Tagged ‘economy’

What every copywriter doesn’t want you to know

August 2nd, 2010 No comments

Don’t tell anyone I revealed this. I’ll get enemies left and right. But here’s the reason I always talk about missing 20% of your best opportunities. Because even the best copy only accounts for 20% of your results. There are two other factors that are twice as important: Your list, and an offer.

But before you even get started writing copy, or especially before hiring someone else to write copy for you, get clear on the two things that may account for up to 80% of your marketing success: The right offer to the right people.

Be the demanding client for a moment, and let’s see how this works.

The backpacker principle

Suppose you’ve earned some free time, and you want to do something special. You’ve always wanted to go backpacking in the remote parts of Hawaii. You want to climb volcanoes and watch them erupt at night. Hey, you’re even going to sleep in a lava tube if you get the chance.

Four hundred travel agents are competing for your business. But they’re not all on a level playing field. After some initial research, you start getting emails from 100 travel agents that are based in Hawaii, and specialize in travel there.

Which one will you choose? Out of 100 possible agents, fifty of them advertise on outdoor adventure websites. You now have 50 agencies that specialize in outdoor Hawaiian adventures. They know where to find the most comfortable lava tube beds. They can get your camping gear safely on and off the plane, and bring you to the best trailhead.

Ten of these companies are offering special discounts or premiums for the month you want to travel. Guess what? Out of 400 competitors, these 10 are the only ones in the running, based on choosing the right list and the right offer.

Who will be the winner? Assuming the 10 finalists offer comparable value, then and only then will the copywriting make a difference.

What the research says

A lot of market research over the last 30 years has produced the same conclusion. Getting the client is 40% list-building, 40% the offer, and only 20% the copy. A good copywriter will help you write a good offer, and could therefore contribute 60% to your success. But finding the right list is critical. Don’t waste your time selling lava tubes to clients who want a 5 star hotel.

Does copywriting still matter?

These are tough times. There are still plenty of people spending money, but everyone is more careful about where and how they spend it. Focusing on a narrow list is critical. (You can have multiple lists, but you need to market to each one separately.) Constructing a worthwhile offer is vital.

But then, in the end, when you’ve done all your hard work and research and you’ve made the right offer to the right market, all of your efforts can go to waste. Because when you’ve fought your way into that last handful of carefully-selected candidates, you’re competing with businesses that did all of their homework too. You’re up against the toughest and smartest competitors, and they’re going to fight you with everything they’ve got.

This is when you need a copywriter at your back.


Why is economic recovery so slow?

May 27th, 2010 No comments

Somewhere out there, for every person who has done business with you, there are maybe ten others who could or would, but aren’t because of several reasons:

They haven’t heard of you.

They don’t understand what you can do for them.

They didn’t need you when you approached them in the past, but they do now.

They aren’t aware of the advantages you offer over your competitors.

The aren’t aware of the need for your services, and the potential benefits of working with you.

What are you doing today to keep in touch and enlighten them?

Categories: marketing, selling Tags: ,

Try this if you’re feeling overwhelmed by social media

October 6th, 2009 No comments

Several years ago, a clothing retailer in Baltimore figured out how to save his family-owned store from the big giants like Wal-Mart that were moving into the neighborhood. What did he do?

He wrote a letter. By hand. He wrote it on a yellow legal pad, embellished it with circles and asterisks, underlined key sentences for more emphasis, and drew in some cute little coupons.

Then he ran off a few hundred photocopies, on the same yellow legal pad paper, and sent them to his best customers.

Marketing under the radar

This funky letter did the trick. Loyal customers flocked into his store the following weekend, and his immediate cash-flow problems were solved.

After that he instructed his employees to gather the name and address of everyone who bought anything in his store. Now he regularly sends out interesting, creative mail to his list–not just for the holidays and new seasons, but practically every month. At least.

His business is thriving, even did well during the past 12 months when so many businesses have been hurting.

His name is Bill Glazer, and you can look up his book on Amazon, Outrageous Advertising, if you want to read more about how he did it and see a copy of the fateful yellow letter. But there’s another point I want to make.

We’re in the digital age, and you should be putting some effort into making Twitter, FaceBook, websites and email work for you. But you’re a fool if that’s all you do. Here’s why.

Everyone gets mail, and at the very least they have to physically handle it in some manner before it ends up in the recycle pile. I can’t think of a better way to come in under the radar, and get right up in front of potential clients while everyone else is fighting for attention in cyberspace.

Get this right one time, and you’re set for the rest of the year

If you can come up with an eye-catching, creative mailing, you’re going to reach your prospects in a way that many of your competitors aren’t even trying to do.

And the beauty of it is that you only have to do it once. You don’t need to post a Tweet every half hour and spend your evenings on FaceBook. You don’t need to come up with a new blog post every day. Once you have a proven mailing campaign, you can tweak it a little and send it out month after month, possibly for years.

Now I’d like to introduce you to the man who can help you.

My friend Gonzalo Tapia runs A Plus Mailing, a family business that has been around for more than a quarter of a century. Gonzalo’s company has survived multiple recessions, and he’s helped other businesses do well when the economy wasn’t.

Gonzalo knows his stuff, from how to do a mailing that gets results to saving a few bucks on printing and postage. And now he’s put together a special guide so you can be direct-mail savvy, too.

You can’t find this anywhere on the Internet today, but we might give you a free copy. If you ask nicely.

There’s a good chance you’ll be able to get the guide from his website in the future, but in the meantime Gonzalo is doing me (and you!) a great favor. He’s giving me permission to offer a draft of his book to select friends and readers.

This isn’t something you can just download off a website. This is strictly a friends and family deal. It won’t cost you anything for now, but you have to ask for it. Call me or send an email with “direct mail guide” in the subject line if you want a copy.


Grow your business while you repair the world

July 7th, 2009 1 comment

Over the last two weeks, I wrote seventeen drafts for this post. I couldn’t find the right words to convey what I want to say, so I’m just going to spill it out and hope you’ll agree.

You know we’re in tough times economically, and I hope you’re not feeling the squeeze as badly as people who have lost their homes or their jobs.

I could go on and on about the importance of “giving back.” A bad economy must be much worse for non-profit organizations, and unbearable for the people, animals, and ecosystems that rely on them.

I could remind you of what Zig Ziglar said: “The only thing you need to do to get what you want is help enough other people to get what they want.”

But you know all this, and I believe you want more or less the same thing I want: To make money and do some good in the world. So let’s work together.

Ambition, Abundance, and Action

I’m trying something new this summer. Any writing I do for you in July or August, I’ll give 10% of your payment to the charity of your choice. I’ll even do it in your name, so you can get the tax deduction and the good karma. Plus, if it’s a big project you’ll get a big discount.

And of course you’ll get a lot more out of this than just a thank-you card.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not 100% satisfied with the wealth your business brings in. But my readers are a step above that.

I’m betting that you’re actually willing to do something about it. You know that results-driven content on your website brings more sales. You get better SEO when you have copy written for that purpose.

You bring in more clients from a targeted, direct response campaign.

If you’re letting your prospects see content that’s boring or unfocused, you know that you can do better. And in this current economic climate, you have to do better, or you’re not going to make it.

There’s never been a better time to spruce up your website, create content that prospective customers will truly read, and just do some good, honest marketing. I’m trying to make it easy for you to advance your business and support your favorite cause.

So what I propose is this. I’ll write fresh, new, results-driven copy for your website, brochures, or a marketing campaign. And just as I promised, I’ll donate 10% of the bill to the charity of your choice. In your name. You’ll get the credit, the glory, and the tax deduction.

Not to mention a discount.

Normally a large project would cost you $1500 to $3000 or even more. But for the entire month of July I’m putting a ceiling on every project at $750, which is only half, or even a fourth, of what you would normally pay.

If you want, you can also give the money you’ll save to a charity. Or you can add it to your coffers, and use it to build your business and enjoy yourself.

Coaxing the world back to life

I said that this was an experiment. I’m giving up my usual vacation time to do this, because I need to see if it can work. I’m hoping this offer will set an example for other businesses, and they’ll follow suit. Imagine when a thousand businesses do this!

Coffers will overflow. Good works will be done, and all the while you’ll be pumping the heart of the economy, blowing on the coals, coaxing the world back to life.

There are trees to be planted, hungry people to be fed, kids waiting eagerly for guidance and direction, or just a chance for some fun. Stray and wild animals need rescuing, homes, and habitat. Beaches and parks need to be cleaned up.

Very few people get to live at a crossroads like the one we’re in right now. I challenge you to think like a mountain and live like a rainstorm.

If this seems like a good idea, pass it on. Maybe you’re happy with your copy right now, and there’s no need to change. If so, forward this to someone else who can benefit.

This isn’t just about the writing, but the idea. Steal it yourself, if you want. More businesses giving away 10% of their earnings to their customers’ charities can’t be a bad thing.

So I’m asking you to take at least one of these two steps:

1. Call (213-427-92880 or email me ( to get your discounted, world-improving, wealth-attracting project off the ground.

2. Pass this ezine on to anyone you think could use a marketing boost.

Categories: marketing Tags: ,

How your passions can save the economy

February 10th, 2009 No comments

Last month I started learning Enbukan Battojutsu (a style of Japanese sword drawing) from a local master.  He also happens to be a physics professor, so he’s not teaching this class for the money.  He charges us a pittance, and we meet twice a week in a park, where we get to whack and slice at each other with wooden swords.

Our instructor talks almost nonstop during these lessons, jumping from specific techniques to comments about the design and structure of the sword to short lectures on Japanese history, language and culture. His excitement is contagious, and this class is clearly a passion far more than a “job” or even a profession.

But in his own small way, he’s stimulating the economy.

My girlfriend and I have made repeated trips to a local martial arts store to buy swords, tabi (the traditional shoes), various robes and belts and all the other uniforms and equipment necessary to practice the art. I’ve spent nearly $100 on books this past month, and Johana has probably spent even more.

These are small cash infusions that aren’t going to save the economy by themselves, but multiply it by dozens of other students who want to learn this art, and you have a potential handful of jobs saved or created. Especially when you consider how little it takes to make a difference.

All over the county, I suspect, there are managers and business owners crunching the numbers and saying, “If I don’ t make at least x dollars this week, I’ll have to let two people go.” In cases like this, one customer spending $50 might ensure that somebody else has a job next week.

If you’ve got something you’re passionate about, this is a good time to share it. People need inspiration and escape right now. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sail, or take a bike tour, or brew your own beer, this is a good time to get started.

It’s one of the most helpful and painless things you can do.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

3 kinds of businesses that will succeed in 2009

January 3rd, 2009 No comments
By the time you read this, I’ll be camping in the desert. A few months ago I would have thought of this as a terrible strategic mistake, but I learned something so shockingly useful, it’s almost impossible to worry about anything.

I had an aggressive New Year’s marketing plan all set to go, as soon as I finished up the work for my clients. It turns out a lot of them needed me for their own New Year’s plans, and they wanted to get the tax write-offs for 2008.

So I’ve been chained to the computer these last 2 weeks. I even worked a few hours on the 25th and most of the day on the 31st.

Then I caught the flu, (even now I’m coughing and sneezing as I write this) and it slowed me down a little. On the first day of 2009, I was in front of the computer bright and early with a mug of green tea, eager to keep all my promises and get to work on my own marketing campaign.

On Friday my printer broke down. Funny noises and protruding metal parts. I wish I’d filmed it for YouTube. I finished all the work my clients needed, but still no marketing, a dead printer, and I had promised myself and Johana that we’d get out of LA on Saturday.

Maybe I’m being irresponsible, but I’m not worried. I’ve got more campaigns planned out for Valentines, Saint Patrick’s, and a lot of other holidays that will keep me going all year. Not to mention I’m still harvesting the fruits of my Halloween and Thanksgiving campaigns.

That in itself should give you two useful lessons: First, continuous marketing will bring you continuous clients. Second, connect your marketing to whatever is already on your prospect’s mind.

Holidays give you an easy way to do that. News and current events work, too (and right now the economy and the new president offer you–ironically–two gold mines).

In fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to always start writing copy from the thoughts and feelings that are already in the target’s head.

But here I’ve ranted for ten paragraphs, and I haven’t even gotten to my main point. I still have a fever and my brain cells are overheated, but anyway…

I can relax and enjoy a few days of camping because I’ve figured out the three kinds of people who are going to rule 2009, and how I’ll be like them. If you can embody the traits of all three of these heroes, get ready for a prosperous year!

But I’m not going to delve into it here, because another resolution was to devote more energy to friends, relationships, and travel. I still need to pack so Johanna and I can meet up with some old friends in Joshua tree, so I’ll leave you with a special link:

Here you can learn all about the 3 heroes of 2009. Chances are you’re one of them, or maybe even all three.

Well, that’s it. I’ll be gone until January 8th, so if you want to shoot me an email about anything it’ll be a few days before I can get back to you.

Take care, and get off to a great start. You’re a hero.


Categories: marketing Tags: ,