A Super Simple Hack to Make Your Next Meeting “Suck Less”

(or, How to Vastly Improve Your Group Productivity) Meetings suck. At least, most meetings suck. That’s the consensus anyway. Laborious, inefficient, and draining. So, how do you make your next meeting suck less? Here’s a super simple hack that’ll vastly improve your next meeting’s productivity. 24-48 hours prior, send out an email or memo with two points. First, provide a brief summary of your meeting’s central purpose. Keep it short: just one to two sentences at most. Only include the one key objective: the meeting’s must-accomplish takeaway or action item. THEN … Ask for each attendant to respond to at least one of three questions: 1.  What am I most concerned about? 2.  What opportunities do I see? 3.  What accomplishments should be recognized? Remember: they only have to respond to one. And let everyone know that their answers will be anonymous in the meeting itself. After you get the responses, craft your agenda around the central purpose you identified and use the three questions to structure the rest: concerns, opportunities, and accomplishments. Even better, incentivize responding either by carving out company time to complete the questions or by genuinely rewarding everyone who writes back. Not only does this simple …

Read More

3 Audience-Enticing Headline Hacks: Power, Novelty & Pull

“Verbalization”: The Third Unbreakable Law of Breakthrough Copywriting In 1966, amidst a staggering career, Eugene Schwartz penned what is arguably the most profound copywriting principle ever. As Schwartz put it: Everything comes down to “5 to 10 words.” If you are right, they may start a new industry. If you are wrong, nothing you write after them will save your ad. Of course, by “5 to 10 words” Schwartz didn’t actually mean that every ad should be composed of 10 words or less. What he meant was that the success of every ad — really the success of everything you write — will always depend the simple and singular idea at its core. The genesis of these 5 to 10 words is what Schwartz termed your market’s “mass desire.” That’s the first unbreakable law of breakthrough copywriting. Last week we focused on law two: how to compose a market-driven headline built directly on your market’s “state of awareness.” You can check out that post here: 5 Ways to Systematically Craft Breakthrough Headlines from Inside Your Market’s Mind. Today we’re gonna turn things up even more. You can think about the first two laws as creating the skeletal structure of your ad: …

Read More

S.E.A.L. Team Market Research … seriously, S.E.A.L. Team!

I just listened to a fantastic interview with Tim Larkin over at the always amazing I Love Marketing. Besides being a world-class marketer, Tim runs Target Focus Training (TTF), an insanely successful self-protection program with 52 instructors across the globe. In their own words, TTF is “the most devastatingly powerful, scientifically-proven self defense system in the world today.” So, what does a 20-year veteran of elite military special forces and law enforcement units have to do with marketing? In a word: research. (In two: market research.) Here’s how Tim described his secret to not only surviving but dominating what the S.E.A.L.s call “hell week”: My boat crew won every major event. We won something called “hell week,” which is a five-day event where they keep you up for five days doing all sorts of physical evolutions. And the reason I did so well … was because as a young kid—at thirteen—I did all the research. I knew where to hide food. I knew where the instructors looked and didn’t look. I knew the best routes to take. I knew certain ways you could protect your guys so that while everyone else was working you could be hiding and saving up …

Read More

State of Awareness: 5 Ways to Systematically Craft Breakthrough Headlines from Inside Your Market’s Mind

The Second Unbreakable  Law of “Breakthrough” Copywriting We all know how vital headlines are. As Brian Clark puts it, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.” That means your headline isn’t just your audience’s first impression … it’s more than likely their only impression. So here’s the question: Where do “breakthrough” headlines come from? You know what I’m talking about. The kind of headlines that pop up, stop your market in their tracks, and compel them to read every word after it. Now sure, there’re a ton of great cheat sheets out there to get the creative ball rolling. Jon Morrow’s “52 Headline Hacks” is among the best. The problem is most of us start out wrong because we start with us: our idea, our product, our service, our copy. But … What if there was a way to systematically craft breakthrough headlines based entirely on your market? What if there was a proven formula to pull your prospects into your copy because it actually started with your prospects themselves? And what if that formula worked because instead of coming from you, it came from inside your market’s mind? I opened this series — The 3 Unbreakable Laws of Breakthrough …

Read More

Mass Desire: The First Unbreakable Law of “Breakthrough” Copywriting

Where the Right “5 to 10 Words” REALLY Come From I started last week with a story. Actually, more of a legend … one that just happens to be true. In 1976, Eugene Schwartz wrote a single ad for Boardroom Inc. founder Martin Edelston that set Boardroom on its path to becoming the multinational and multimillion-dollar company it is today. At the time, that one ad cost Edelston over 70% of his entire operational budget, today’s equivalent of just under $10,500. Think about it. 70% of everything. Imagine not only asking but getting 70% of your next client’s entire operational budget? Even if you’re not a copywriter, all of us are in the business of selling. How’d you like a bankable and rock-solid formula to unleash your product or service on the world? So, what was Schwartz’s formula? “5 to 10 words.” To get the full scoop on Schwartz’s epic success check out the first post in this series here: The 3 Unbreakable Laws of Breakthrough Copywriting. Within his 228-page classic Breakthrough Advertising, Schwartz unveiled three laws to mastering the only 5 to 10 words that matter. This week we’ll examine … The First Law: “Mass Desire” Let’s start with a simple definition. Another …

Read More

The 3 Unbreakable Laws of Breakthrough Copywriting

SPOILER: It all comes down to 10 words or less. The year was 1976 and Martin Edelston, founder of the now more than $50-million annually producing and direct-marketing powerhouse Boardroom Inc., was broke. Well, not quite broke broke. More like down to the nubs. 42 years old and working out of his basement, Edelston had burned through almost half of his start-up capital with nothing to show for it save an empty desk, furnace adjacent. Enter Eugene Schwartz: the hero of our story and a man who knew what words were worth. “He came to me,” Schwartz recalled, “with $3,500 in his pocket, and I told him I’d have to charge him $2,500 as a copy fee.” $2,500 might not sound crazy, but today that’d be a $10,497 price tag. Of course, even more amazing is what that number represented for Edelson himself. Imagine it: “Yes, Marty, I will write you an ad … just one. And all it’ll cost is 70% of everything you have.” Such is the stuff of marketing legend. Thankfully, Edelston agreed. The two met. And that night Schwartz wrote it … all of it. Of course, when you finagle someone out of 70% of their capital, you …

Read More

Fear Formula: How to Unleash the Most “Primal” Human Motivator in Your Copy

In this post you’ll learn: Why fear is the most “primal” human motivator. A two-step formula to ethically and effectively leverage fear in your marketing. 13 emotionally-driven questions to drill down and drive home your audience’s deepest fears. Warning! This post is about fear, which (like any psychologically informed method of persuasion) is ripe for abuse and manipulation. So, I’m going start by assuming one thing: you will use this power for good, not evil. That means (1) the problem your business solves is a real problem and (2) your solution is equally real. In other words, this post isn’t just about using fear effectively. It’s about using it ethically. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into it… Fear is a primal motivator. In fact, according to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, it’s the most primal: “Fear, in evolution, has a special prominence: perhaps more than any other emotion it is crucial for survival” (502). Why? Because up until the last few centuries of human experience, baring a hardwired “neurology of fear” that rustling in the bush behind you was the last thing you ever heard. A split second was all it took and “rustle, snarl, …

Read More

2,146% Increase in AdWords CTR: Common Killers, Simple Solutions & the “Secret”

Let’s be honest… A 2,146% increase in AdWords CTR sounds crazy. And it is. So in the interest of full disclosure, here’s a bit of the back story. (And don’t worry, there’re screenshots below to prove that crazy claim.) I started working with Client X last year around May but didn’t get into their AdWords for a couple of months. At that time, they’d been running your average, let’s-just-put-something-up-and-keep-our-fingers-crossed campaign. That meant they were committing at least… Five Common (CTR) Killers 1. The keywords weren’t focused. To give you an idea of what this means, they were running 18 keywords groups with 54 individual keywords. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a high number of keywords (and, of course, Google is always tempting you with more). The problem was: those words weren’t the actual words their ideal prospects were using. And even more CTR killing… 2. The ad copy didn’t include the keywords. Instead of customizing each ad to match the triggering keywords, just two run-of-the-mill ads (no promise, no pain) were servicing all 54 words. 3. Nobody was optimizing for losers or winners. Not for CTR. And not for ultimate conversions. 4. The landing page didn’t match the ads. Actually, …

Read More

9 Rules for Giving Negative Feedback (plus a Bonus)

1. Always go it alone. Pulling the “recipient” of negative feedback aside and sticking to one-on-one interactions promotes honesty and openness. Plus it lets your recipient (and you) save face if the issue is a serious one. 2. Identify your overarching goal: “What I want is…” Start the conversation on a positive note by letting the recipient know exactly (in no uncertain terms) what you want for them, for the relationship, and for the outcome. In other words, establish expectations early and revisit them often. 3. Be specific and direct: Just spit it out! With negative feedback, you’ll be tempted to beat around the bush. Don’t! Not only will this indirect approach keep you from addressing the real problem and getting what you want (see #2), it’ll also frustrate your recipient and leave them anxious and uncertain. 4. Support feedback with evidence: The power of “because.” Building off of #3, remember, you’re not “crafting a case” against your recipient and trying to beat them down with your proof… But you are presenting facts. Facts are objective. And (as Robert Cialdini famously pointed out in Influence: Science and Practice) giving people a reason for your request—namely, using the word “because”—drastically improves …

Read More

10 Rules of Successful Communication

Here’s a dangerous way to start a post: Love him or hate him: Frank Luntz is right. Not necessarily about this… or this… although this bit from the Colbert Report is pretty awesome. The Colbert Report No. What I mean, as the subtitle of Luntz’s 2007 book Words That Work claims, is this: It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear. In the digital realm, we might more usefully translate that line: It’s not what you write, it’s what people read. Either way (written or said), Luntz’s is right. How your audience interprets, perceives, and responds to your copy is the ultimate standard of success. And so, since “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” here’s a shamelessly stolen summary (along with a few bits of running commentary) of Luntz’s… 10 Rules of Successful Communication   Rule 1 | Simplicity: Use Small Words “The most effective language clarifies rather than obscures.  It makes ideas clear rather than clouding them. “The more simply and plainly an idea is presented, the more understandable it is—and therefore the more credible it will be” (5). In other words: simple sells. In fact, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article the “single biggest driver” of a …

Read More