How to Engage and Captivate Your Audience … When They Don’t Want to Listen

Engaging and captivating your audience is hard.

Any nowhere is it harder than in a classroom full of students who don’t want to be there.

You see, I teach SPE111 at the local college — “Introduction to Public Speaking” — the most fear-inducing, anxiety-ridden ten weeks of any college student’s academic life.

And the only reason any of ’em are there is because they have to be. It’s required.

So … to help you overcome apathy and light a fire in your audience’s heart, here are three lessons I learned from not only writing for but being rejected by online powerhouses.

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Entrepreneur … All I’ve Got Is Good News

I’ve got good news.

In fact, that’s all I’ve got.

In a world dominated by twenty-four-hour news channels, it’d be understandable for you to think the world is constantly getting worse.

After all, the list of growing and ever-more-intrusive social ills presses in from all sides: recession, draught, disease, separatism, racism, oppression, violence, terrorism, addiction, broken schools, broken homes, broken families, broken people, and on and on and on.

The reality, however, is anything but.

Turns out …

The world is actually getting better.

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Marketing, the Resurrection & Everything I Know About Selling to the Human Soul

In a 2008 interview, Tim Keller was asked, “You reject marketing apologetics like, ‘Christianity is better than the alternatives, so choose Christianity.’ Why?”

His response?

Needs, desire, and truth.

In other words, you can’t argue someone into “believing” (i.e., converting in either a religious or marketing sense) until you make them want to believe.

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“The money is where the enthusiasm is.”

From May of 1984 to March of 1985, Gary F. Halbert — easily one of the greatest copywriters of all time — spent ten months in California’s Boron Federal Prison Camp. Not surprisingly, during those ten months, he wrote. Sometimes daily; sometimes, multiple times a day. All of it accounted for and nitpickingly time stamped by the institution he called home. What was surprising is this … Gary didn’t write his autobiography nor his mémoires. He offered no protests to his incarceration and produced no confessions or letters of regret. Even more astounding, despite his continued demand, Gary composed no headlines, no offers, no factsheets, no special reports, no marketing strategies, and no campaigns. No. Nothing as grand as all that. Instead, Gary wrote letters — personal letters — all of which were addressed to his youngest son, Bond. And what he imparted to Bond — alongside fatherly wisdom about diet and exercise — was the collective wisdom, the distilled accumulation, of an already billion-dollar career making money with words. Since then, Gary’s raw, straightforward, heartfelt, and loving correspondences have passed into the stuff of marketing legend: The Boron Letters. Today I want to take just a few minutes to share what is perhaps the most profound lesson from those letters on …

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Conversion Rate Optimization: 10 Questions. 38 Answers. All Meat!

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to appear on Unbounce’s #CROchat: a live, Twitter program devoted to all things conversion! Next month I’ll be doing the same thing with Content Marketing Institute. There was TON of great feedback from the audience and I couldn’t resist repurposing this amazing Q&A for anyone who might have missed it. (Actually, when you get to Q10 … you’ll see exactly what motivated this). It’s a super-fast and super-practical read. So enjoy and be sure to add any of your own answers in the comments …   Q1 What’s the first thing to consider when creating a content marketing strategy? Aaron Orendorff A1 Your audience. Always start by identifying a single – just ONE – target market and the ONE problem you solve. Singularity! Aaron Orendorff A1 Follow up … their pain trumps your product. It’s the only thing that’s real to them. Tia K A1: You definitely need to think about who you’re going to be writing for—and match it up with your expertise 🙂   Q2 How do you define your content marketing audience/personas? Aaron Orendorff A2 Schwartz’s 5 states of awareness Then 2-3 detailed personas Nadia Rozental A2: You need to …

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Be a Decent Freakin’ Person: The Third of Four (Self-Revealing) Case Studies on Growth and Success

“Is he a good dude who deserves a chance?” That was the question posed by Jerod Morris — VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media — to Demian Farnworth — Copyblogger’s Chief Copywriter. I had just submitted my very first guest post to one of the largest, most well-respected copywriting blogs online and — as crazy as this may sound — that question was the question everything came down to. Wild, right? Not, “Do you like the article?” Not, “Is it a fit for our readers?” Not even, “What’s the payoff?” Now, of course, all those questions weighed in. But what it finally came down to was, “Is he a good dude who deserves a chance?” I’ve written about my love of Demian before — “Build Relationships: The First of Four (Self-Revealing) Case Studies on Growth and Success.” Today I want to pull back the curtain even more and show you exactly what happened behind the scenes — the nitty-gritty, straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth email exchanges — that lead to this amazing opportunity. Let’s start with the back story … Early last year, I connected with Demian Farnworth. After a few months of Twitter banter, link sharing, and emails, I finally mustered up the courage to …

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The ONE Question that Will Determine Your Success

Last month I had the fantastic opportunity to host our local Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala. I was asked to put together a sort of TEDTalk focused on entrepreneurialism … something that would be above all practical. So, I buckled down, hit the books, and crafted what your about to see: The ONE Question that Will Determine Your Success. It’s all about the one, central, driving, most foundational question we face as (well) humans: “What do you sell?” The tricky thing is … most of us answer it wrong. That talk was just published last week by Business Insider and you can read it here. Hope you enjoy! Oh, and I’d love to hear your own answer to that question — along with any comments on how dapper I look in the tux — down in the comments.

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How to Add Value for Success & Breakthrough Networking: Write [Bleeping] Amazing Content

Wanna know the secret to success? Two words: add value. In fact, don’t just add value … add more value than anyone else. And if you can, do it for free. That’s not my advice. That’s according to Tony Robbins best-selling new juggernaut MONEY: Master the Game: Money is nothing more than a reflection of your creativity, your capacity to focus, and your ability to add value and receive back. If you can find a way to create value — that is, add value for a massive number of people — you will have an opportunity to have a massive amount of economic abundance in your life. Of course, this isn’t a post about finances. Not really. But it is about success. More to the point, this is a post about successful writing and breaking through networking. And Robbin’s cornerstone advice — add value — is the principle behind what I’m calling the second of four (self-revealing) case studies on growth and success: write [bleeping] amazing content. Why? Because if you wanna get noticed, build your authority, increase your traffic, and land more clients, that’s what it comes down to. How to Add Value to Big Sites In the world …

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Build Relationships: The First of Four (Self-Revealing) Case Studies on Growth and Success

A little over a month ago, I fired off this bombshell of a post … How I Wrote for Fast Company, Copyblogger, MarketingProfs, and Entrepreneur and Landed My First Nearly $20,000, Three-Month Client … in Less than 120 Days Despite how outlandishly prideful that headline sounds at first, the point of the post — its secret sauce — came down to three words: “Let’s get rejected.” Naturally, that’s counterintuitive, but check out the post. Since then, the streak has continued … mostly. To start, I had another article go up on Copyblogger — “The Ultimate Copy Checklist: 51 Questions to Optimize Every Element of Your Online Copy.” Currently, it’s number two on their most-popular-posts list thanks in large part to the printable poster their awesome design team put together. In addition, I had a second article accepted to MarketingProfs that’ll be published in a week or two and my first for Unbounce just hit the digital presses a few weeks ago: “4 Steps to Writing Emails with Drastically Higher Open and Click-Through Rates.” On top of all that, I’m looking at a a follow up articles for both Fast Company and Unbounce in January. But, best of all … I got rejected. Yep! How perfect is that? The story goes …

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Lets Get Rejected

Failure and Success: ‘Let’s Get Rejected’

Good news people … the dream is very much alive. How do I know? Because over the last 120 days, I’ve not only written for Fast Company, Copyblogger, MarketingProfs, and Entrepreneur, I also landed my first nearly $20,000, three-month client. Few experiences are as joyfully intoxicating as slugging through an outline, first draft, second draft, third draft, finally hitting “Send” … and getting back the glorious word: “Yes!” This is especially true for someone who constantly feels less than and a pretender — always on the cusp of being “found out” and exposed. In fact, rereading it for myself still feels unbelievable. You better believe I’ve done my share of fist pumping in the last 120 days. —————– Author’s Note: This post originally appeared in October of 2014, when I was just getting started as a freelance content marketer. But it’s lessons — and especially my motto — have guided everything since then. In fact, it was the heart of my 2016 presentation at Unbounce’s CTA Conference: —————– Enough about me. You’re not here to listen to me gush about how simultaneously insecure and awesome I am (except my mom, that’s exactly why she’s here). No. You’re here to see if I’ve …

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