Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Oh The Times They Are A' Changin..." Except one thing...

Howdy,

This morning - in an act comparable for most men to reading Playboy - I was reviewing my copy of The Robert Collier Letter Book.

Robert Collier - one of the greatest direct mail wizards of all time - wrote his book about 100 years ago. 1910, if I'm correct.

And something immediately struck me.

It was something I already KNOW. I've told people about it.
I've preached it.

But it still caught me off guard.

The fact is that - despite society 'changing,' despite the social norms 'changing,' despite the fact a CENTURY has passed since Collier did his work... one thing has not changed.

Human. Nature.

Let me be clear: the expression of desire changes. The receptiveness to certain words changes. Even emotional interpretations change.

But it's only a surface change - purely a matter of time and circumstance.

The underlying principle hasn't eroded in the slightest with time.

People still respond to urgency. They might be more callouse to it because of saturation, but they respond to it. The desire to 'get it before it's gone' is ever present.

Fear still motivates. Greed. Love. Hate.

Human nature.

People dressed differently in the 1950's. We know this.

But it's only because SOCIETY has changed how it views the way you dress (and not even that much, truth be told).

Perhaps I haven't done the best job of describing my point here. But that's only because we're trying to explain a rather simple idea: as a whole, humanity is fundamentally the same.

We want to be wealthy.

We want to be healthy.

We want to be considered or viewed as wise.

We want to be great parents.

We want to be respected.

We want to be loved.

We want to be looked up to.

We want to be appreciated.

We want to be understood.

We want to be happy.

Do you see?

These things haven't changed!

And a hundred years from now, they will still be the same.

Anyway, hope you had a great holiday (though I'm a bit late on the well-wishing).

Over and Out,

Angel 'Skinner' Suarez

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Secret of Writing Limpd*ck Copy

Howdy,

If ever you want to make sure your copy bores your reader to tears... there are two things you should never have.

On the other hand, if you want copy that is engrossing... persuasive... and sells your product or service like hot cakes...

Well chief, here's the proverbial 'secret sauce.'

At the end of the day, your copy - and marketing in general - must have two elements.

It must be bold and it must be bias.

End of story.

Even copy that comes across as fair ("All our competitors are smart folks, too") eventually comes to the conclusion that they are the best.

I cannot think of a single successful promotion that violated this principle.

David Ogilvy's "Man in The Hathway Shirt" (cleverly ripped off recently ala "The most Interesting Man In the world") is bold by saying and behaving in a unique or unusual way. It's biased because the product they are endorsing is the ONLY one they will accept.

"I don't usually drink beer. But when I do, I drink Dos Equis."

A simply sentence, but it oozes both things we've discussed.

This is what makes prediction packages so potent in the financial world. The sheer ballsyness of saying, 'The Dow will hit 3,300' or 'The stock market will crash by 2013' is irresistible.

The human mind is programmed to want someone who can show them the future. Someone who says, with confidence, "This will happen."

Enthusiasm is infectious. And when you're making a prediction - and you do it well - the enthusiasm radiates from the copy.

Of course, this works anywhere. Not just predictions, but coming out and saying, "All of those guys are great at lawn care. Amazing in fact. But... they're not willing to take the extra step. that, or they can't. But I will. I have. And as a result, I can offer you something much better than any of them ever will."

People are charmed by that sort of talk.

Anyway, I'm off. Had to make this quick. The spawn (my children) are calling.

Over and Out,

Angel "Skinner" Suarez

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Come Take A Ride With Me

Howdy,

I have to be quick today.

Lots of stuff on the agenda to take care of - not even sure if you'll get one of these posts tomorrow.

But let me get to it.

Today, I want to address something I just recently had an issue with.

Not personally, though. A fellow copywriter had a bit of trouble with a client.

Here's the gist of the scenario: my friend wanted to use a "hero's journey" in his copy.

However... the client didn't want the conventional hero's format. On the contrary, they wanted more of a 'deification' story.

There are several issues with this - and my friend's client is not the first.

The truth is that we all get carried away with hero's journeys. We want to portray the editor/client in the most positive light. As the true "best of the best."

Hell, the clients want that.

But doing so brings great risk.

The farther removed from the "everyman" you become, the less impact the journey has.

Let me put it bluntly: at every step of the hero's journey... from motivation to means of success... the reader MUST see themselves in place of the protagonist of the journey.

They don't read it like "I" as in your client. The brain tricks them. It says "I" and they think themselves.

They become the character. This becomes their story. Through it they live the experience vicariously.

Which is why you must tread carefully.

You cannot be inhuman. You cannot be far removed from the human experience, emotions, and trials.

Every film that has a superhuman being puts the superhuman being through very human experiences. Every film that has anthropomorphic creatures features them going through human experiences.

Think of why they have something as simple as love. Love is all too human and it can make even the wisest, most cunning men act like your average person.

They do this for a reason.

We have to relate. without relating, there is no connection. No connection, no rapport. No rapport, no trust. No trust, no action.

And there's only failure.

The hero's journey isn't meant to paint you as the expert. Or wise. Or super successful.

It is there to make your prospect feel that way.

Keep this in mind - it's absolutely ESSENTIAL.

Don't screw it up.

Over and Out,

Angel "Skinner" Suarez

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The King Pin of Copy Mistakes

Howdy,

Today, I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart.

And if we ever 'talk shop' in person, chances are you'll hear my gripe about this to some extent.

Because, in my opinion, it is the BIGGEST mistake made by copywriters today.

I say that without blinking.

The biggest screw up.

It's really not what you'd expect, either.

My friend, it truly is the 'King Pin' of copy mistakes.

It's not...

...A bad offer

...A bad headline

...Bad writing

...High price

...Too short a guarantee

...Wrong font

...Wrong font color

...Lack of subheads

...You get the idea.

Truth be told, all of that's important. Some more important than the rest. However, none of them are the biggest mistakes I've seen made.

But not having this ONE thing pretty much invalidates all of the rest.

It's going to surprise you. Quite frankly, it flies in the face of what most believe. Or at least what's being taught about copy.

But if you've read the masters - Caples, Ogilvy, John E. Kennedy, Collier, Hopkins, Schwartz, Reeves, etc - then you'll understand what I'm saying on some level.

The missing ingredient?

Logic.

Did you feel the earth shake?

I did when I first learned about having a logical structure to your copy.

Makes perfect sense, too.

After all... 'reason why' is the foundation of all copywriting, marketing, and advertising.

When you have a logical structure, you're simply finding a reason why from point to point and assembling that argument in a persuasive format.

Lack of logic leads to confusion.

Your copy becomes unreadable because, as the old saying goes, 'The confused mind always says no.'

Start with clear points.

Your first point should be something they already believe or can easily wrap their minds around OR can be easily and quickly proven.

And you build your argument from there.

Think of this as your copy's skeleton - it is simply the structure that gives everything shape and form. You still have to put the blood vessels, muscle, flesh, hair, and so on. But it's easier to do when you have direction.

It's easier for you to write and easier for prospects to read.

And when they're done reading, they'll have a crystal clear understanding of WHY your product is great. Why YOU are the ideal person to buy from. Why everything about this makes sense.

Master the logical structure - make sure it's always present - and you'll be ten steps ahead of your competition.

Over and Out,

Angel 'Skinner' Suarez

Monday, December 19, 2011

Guess Who's Back?

Howdy,

I'm back.

Here to sweep away the dust and give everything back its ol' shine...

But more importantly, impart some powerful, game-changing marketing and copy strategies.

Now, you may be wondering, "Oh Angel, you dirty little man... where have you been?"

Busy, chap. Busy, busy, busy. And in this industry, 'busy' is important. Never good to be an idle copywriter or marketer.

As they say, idle hands are the devil's tools.

However, I've been getting bored. Too much routine. And now, some big things have happened that shook up my foundations.

So here I am, back to pulpit to do what I do: preach.

And it just so happens I preach for an orthodox religion - one which has taken its licks, been kicked, demeaned, dragged through the mud, and still comes out strong.

We have our heroes, we have our saints.

Direct response, my friend. This 'mad world.'

Anyway, I've blathered on long enough.

Let me kick off my return with something good.

How about a little lesson in 'finessing'...

How To Turn Coal Into Diamond At The Stroke of A Pen

When writing copy, there are times when you simply can't get rid of the 'crap.'

If you're a freelancer, it might be the client's unwillingness to bend on a guarantee.

Could be a price point.

Could be a difficulty with the product itself.

Who knows - there's a lot of stuff.

And when it comes to writing copy and marketing, you will inevitably have to tackle these issues.

That's why it's important you know how to finesse.

Let's take the financial world for example.

Currently, there is a trend most financial publishers will not bend on - after 60 days, 90 days, whatever it may be, the customer can get a refund of all there money... minus a 10% processing fee.

That's a bitch, isn't it?

Especially when you consider it's usually the higher priced products who have that stipulation... so if they pay $800, they can still only get back $720 at the end of the guarantee period.

However, there is a way to finesse this. It's subtle, it doesn't seem like it's a big deal... but you cause what Gary Halbert called a "paradigm shift."

Fundamentally, it's a reason why.

And therein is the 'trick' to finessing: tell them why, and make it a reason they can instantly wrap their minds around.

Stansberry & Associates, one of the most successful financial publishers in the world, has said before in their copy... "(this is only to dissuade people who will buy our product, take all the reports and investment ideas we give our members, and promptly cancel their subscription)."

Simple. But it makes a lot of sense, right?

I mean, it almost feels like betrayal. Like theft. Like this generous thing you're doing is being abused and your members deprived of the proprietary information they have paid good money for.

Hell, if you have to do something for legal reasons, say it!

"naturally, this would NEVER be my choice to do. If I could, I would do x, y, and z. But I can't. The law of The United States Government prohibits me from doing so. I hope you understand I'll do what I can to make this as easy as possible, in spite of that."

There's the ticket.

Finesse.

Anyway, that's all for today.

Over and Out,

Angel

PS. I got a new nickname recently I like: "Skinner."
Think I'm going to use it from now on. We can even call this blog "Skinner's Slice."

Clever, right?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Death By Perfection

G'day Friend,

I'm not a perfect guy.

Truth be told, I have a large number of imperfections. I can be rude, blunt, and sometimes pretty dismissive. I'm also quick to get heated, sometimes.

I feel uncomfortable writing that, but I'm being honest. I use some vulgarity in my writing (as you'll notice in my other writings), and I don't suffer fools lightly.

It's disappointing, because I try to be tolerant and level-headed. And typically, I pull it off. But that's for the sake of being polite.

Well, screw it.

I'm just myself. And I wanted to tell you that.

BUT, what's the point?

This: being YOU, just you - warts and all - will make you more attractive to customers. Not only that, but it'll make your business FAR more profitable, and attract to you the kind of people you want to work with.

Listen, people KNOW when you're not being yourself. There's an awkwardness to the way you speak, or a "blank," when you don't quite understand how to proceed on that train of though.

There are just obvious, gaping holes in your writing and presentation when you're not being you.

So why not just be you?

Let your personality shine through your marketing and your copy. Let readers see "You" (or at least, the "you" which is your client, if you freelance).

People are attracted to people. And the moment you start showing them that you're a person - that you put your pants on the same way, one leg at a time- the hotter they'll be for you.

Anyway, that's all I have time for - sorry for the briefness.

Over and Out,

Angel

Monday, February 14, 2011

You're Talking - Are They Listening?

G'day friend,

Sorry for the delay. I broke my daily post vow. Let's see if I can get back on track. It's a fresh new week - I hope the weekend has seen you to good health.

Happy V-Day, by the way. (Just in case you forgot)

By the way, if you didn't take advantage of the fact today is V-Day, especially if you own a restaurant, a florist shop, or anything or that sort... You should give yourself several hundred lashes. Right now. A big, fat, burst of profit to be made. And to make that profit, all you had to do was send a postcard. I mean, that's not so hard, right? Yeah, of course not.

Anyway, enough preaching from the pulpit. If you don't mind, I'd like to jump right into this.

My topic today is something near and dear to my heart- conversation.

You know, I swear... When I read the copy some people write, I feel like they're speaking to me from a podium. And not speaking to me in an inviting, "faux-conversation" sort of way. Really, I just feel like I'm being told something.

That's a no-no. See, whenever you're writing, you're trying to imitate face-to-face selling. Makes sense, right? I mean, copywriting is "salesmanship-in-print" or "multiplied selling."

If you sold anything face-to-face or on the phone, I'm sure you know what's the one thing you MUST do... Can you guess? Don't worry - take a swing at it.

Build rapport? Precisely, amigo.

And how do you build rapport? Conversation!

Look, I've covered "research" in some depth. I have a few posts dedicated to just that subject, so I recommend you look through a few of the back-issues.

But truthfully, even if you know your prospect SO WELL he thinks you're sleeping under his bed... It means NOTHING if he feels like it's a one-way conversation.

The goal is this: you should make each sentence "feel" like it's being spoken. Be casual. Write as if you actually ARE speaking to someone. Read your writing out loud- read it casually, with all the question marks and exclamation points...

Would you REALLY talk to someone like that? If not, then you drop it. Because the MINUTE your prospect picks up on the fact this is all artificial - that you're "talking at him," he's going to toss your letter... delete your email... or click away from the page (no matter if you have 30 downsell mesages).

OK, would you like an example? You rascal.

Well, you should have one right now. Take a gander at my writing. Pretty simple. You should be trying to gauge each sentence. The sentence itself must be organic. Once you do that, the words flow into sentences, the sentences into paragraphs, the paragraphs in more paragraphs... And they do it all seamlessly.

The best advice I can give you is "writes likes you talks," warts and all. I mean, you can clean it up after you're done. That's the beauty of typing/writing letters.

Anyway, hope this helps you. Do some practice, and you'll get the hang of it.

Over and Out,

Angel

PS. By the way, another great way to get better at "clear" sentence flow is to handwrite the successful ads of other copywriters. Try and capture their ebb and flow.