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In the video:
04:53 – All roads lead to Gary Halbert
07:56 – Every market is a market
09:33 – The best possible business plan
11:00 – Ed Dale versus Candy Crush
12:50 – Crack cocaine for florists
16:00 – Pain relievers and gain creators
19:52 – What does Kolbe say about you?
20:55 – Collecting “wow” facts
21:48 – Thinking like a beginner
23:29 – The power of constraints
25:40 – The foreskin of an albino seal
26:58 – Separate creation from editing
29:57 – The vomit draft
30:55 – What great artists do
31:52 – Where the magic happens
38:12 – Never do this
42:22 – Some 21st century Halbert
44:07 – There’s more than one front door
46:55 – You need this kind of endorsement
49:06 – Is Periscope a waste of time?
50:21 – Gary would have adored this
All the event videos are available when you join JamesSchramko membership
James: The next guest, I want to just really compound the point about going to events. You might recall that about 8 or 9 years ago I went across to Los Angeles for my first live event. Prior to that, I was sitting at home watching the sort of run out version of Traffic Secrets from John Reese, thinking, I know this, I know this, I know this, but I’m getting it years too late, and oh, I didn’t know that, I’ll do that. And then I doubled my online affiliate business. From this one tip from a video.
I thought, I have to go to the call face. I’ve got to get over to Los Angeles to this online event. I went to the event, and I entered a competition, and some of you know this story, but I’ll share it anyway. I entered this competition, and I won it, and I got to share with the audience all this training (I didn’t know a single person there) share with the audience how I won the competition. So it was the first time I spoke at a big event like that, it was about 550 people, in America.
And then I got to join the group called Mavericks, and from there I met guys like Tim and also Brad Fallon and Buck Rizvi. And through Brad Fallon, built up a relationship, and I met other friends who you know that I’m friends with now, like Dean Jackson, etc. And when Brad Fallon got a speaking gig in Australia with Universal Events, then I said, “Hey, why don’t you ask them if I could speak too?” and he got me on the dance card, so to speak.
And then through that, I met John Carlton, and then we all went down to Ed Dale in Melbourne, and we went to a football match. So I sort of met Ed, John, and Brad, quite well, and then through John Carlton, he invited me to his event in San Diego, and I sat next to Bond Halbert at that event.
And Bond Halbert’s the son of Gary Halbert, one of the sons, and Gary Halbert, some say, was the world’s greatest living copywriter. And in a weird sort of related twist, Ed Dale had quite a lot of involvement with Gary Halbert, and I asked him, specifically, “Could he share that. What was it like, what did he learn working with the world’s greatest living copywriter?”
And when all my stuff got stolen recently in California, it was Kevin Halbert who came and picked me up from Hertz where I was in my little sarong, if you remember, and took me to Target, and we bought some jeans. It never felt so good buying jeans in Target. The first time I’d been there for at least 20 years.
And they took me back and Nancy Halbert was cooking me home-cooked meals in the Halbert Hilton in Hollywood. And Bond came around. To spend time in that environment is a rare privilege, so I want to take you into that Halbert culture, I want you to put a big round of applause for Ed Dale, come on up.
Ed: Thanks, mate.
Ed: Thanks for putting on pasta out there, too. That’s awesome. Double helpings of really nice-tasting pasta.
Oh, dear. What does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in a forsaken hole in the Caribbean amongst much indifference – oh, sorry, that’s Alexander Hamilton, wrong speech.
What I learned from Gary, that’s right.
Why am I qualified to do this? This is an excerpt from Gary Halbert’s amazing newsletter.
All of the sons have put them up all online, talks about how I hired Gary exclusively, because when my first ever conference that I went to that had anything to do with copywriting, because I realized that is the single most important skill that any of us need to have. It’s the only one worth building up, really, because the ability to persuade somebody to be convinced that your ideas, and that you can help that person, and them actually then pull out a credit card and pay you money, that to me is the miracle of all time. And that ability to do that was everything.
So I went to the – you’ll love this – in 2003, the Dan Kennedy Retirement Conference, which was hilarious, because of course he did not retire, as it turned out. But it was cool. I was there and started on this trip.
All roads lead to Gary Halbert
But what I realized was that all roads lead to Rome, all roads led to Gary Halbert. You know, Dan Kennedy who comes from Ohio worked in Gary Halbert’s, literally as the mail boy for Gary Halbert in his incredible operation.
You know, one of Halbert’s amazing, the thing that made him all his money was the direct mail marketing of you know, those – I can’t even pronounce it – family crests. That’s another way of saying it. Family crests. And so he got the idea, well hang on, I can mail all the Dales, and say “Hey, do you want your family crest?” You know, there was no Internet, no email, none of those things.
All roads led to Gary. So I decided, ok, well, go and learn from the best. So I hired him exclusively. It cost me over $120,000. I hired him for 6 months, moved my family to the UK, because Julie wouldn’t go to the US at that time, because it was just after September 11.
And I studied with Gary, and we worked together, and I want to, if you’re interested, give you what I learned. And I’ve never done this presentation before, this is purely, exclusively for this. Because it’s funny to be thought of as a copywriter or a copywriting legend, because I consider what I do to be fundamental, that helping people out, and by presenting information in such a way that they understand that you’re trying to help them out, is core. Core to what we do.
And to be asked to be on this thing, there’s 2 Australians on there, actually, you know, with John Carlton and David Deutsch and David Garfinkel and the Halbert boys and Dan Kennedy, Joe Sugarman and James Schramko, who’s that guy? And me, it’s my first gold record too, on iTunes. Who knew? So that’s very cool.
What a time to live!
But so, I want to teach you what I learnt. And what you have to understand is what a time to be alive! You’ve never had it better! Seriously, what a time to be alive! For goodness sake, we can put animated GIFs in our keynotes!
Another world first for you, James, right there. Now I did this mainly because I knew James would review my presentation and I knew this would freak him out. Are you just going to do animated GIFs for 45 minutes? Yes, of course I am. No, I’m not.
First thing you need to understand is every market is a market.
Now, the question used to be 10 years ago, is my market online, or can I reach my market?
We used to use underwater kickboxing as a metaphor, because in the challenge in the old days, any time we mentioned a real market, everybody would go and do it. So we mentioned dog training, all of a sudden there’d be a hundred dog training ebooks before you could say “Father Christmas”. So we had to make something up. So we made up underwater kickboxing, because nobody’s that stupid. Go Google it tonight.
It’s a thing now. They have leagues. There is an underwater kickboxing league. There’s also underwater rugby, just for those of you who are interested, yes? This is a thing. So here’s the deal. Every market is a market.
So you spending time sitting there, and I had a conversation outside, “Oh, I’m not sure if this market’s a good one.” Here, let me shortcut this all for you, spoiler alert. Yes. It is a good market. You just need to figure out how to unlock it. Which, by the way, is the job of what? Copy. Right? Which Halbert was the master of.
It’s not a gift
Copywriting and selling stuff is not a gift.
There are not people that are naturally good at it. You have to work it. It’s a learned skill. Right? And I was privileged to learn from the best, but by the same token it’s a skill that any of you can learn, any of you can do. Like everything else, requires practice.
To me, the sales letter is the best possible business plan you can have.
Because if you can write a good sales letter about what you’re intending to do, then you’ve solved all objections, you’ve mitigated all risks. You’ve pointed out the benefits. Why spend your time writing a business plan? Because if there’s holes in your sales letter, guess what? There’s holes in your business.
So for me, it’s fantastic. I also think copywriting equals product design. Especially in this day and age.
Right, a great sales letter… now I’m using the term “sales letter”, I should say that I’m talking about any piece of communication that is designed to convince. And in this day and age, it can be everything from a Snapchat to a video to a VSL, Video Sales Letter. All of those things, right, I’m referring to. But I like, because we’re talking about Gary, I’ll talk about a letter, OK? The actual classic letter.
The attention paradox
Because here’s the problem we have.
Attention. Like Gary, when he was in his prime, the mailbox was the only direct marketing mechanism into a person’s house or magazine advertisements, and you’ve all seen classic examples of those. Now, my daughter’s year 9 class, just in the last 2 hours, has generated more social media than all messages combined in 2004. I actually made that statistic up, but you get the point.
Seriously, how many messages, how much attention, how many calls on our attention…I just start to go up into the fetal position and lie rocking there in my office thinking, how could I possibly get attention when there’s so many awesome things on your smartphone? The fact that you are not playing Candy Crush on your smartphone right now is a miracle, and I’m so grateful for that.
A couple of you out there are playing Candy Crush, but that’s cool. No, but do you see? It even freaks me out that I have to compete against Candy Crush.
So that’s my talk. Good luck. Live long and prosper.
As soon as you say “selling”, as soon as you say “copywriting”, people have automatic instant and well-deserved flashes to a sleazy used car salesman or some horrible experience that you have. To me, I think you were doing your market an incredible injustice. Given this attention paradox, when we have the privilege of having somebody’s attention for potentially just seconds, you owe it with every fiber of your being to talk directly to that person and understand their pains, understand what they want, what their desires are.
And you’ve heard this all throughout the fantastic presentations, so I’m not going to belabor the point. But the way Gary would explain it is it’s like the florist.
If you go into a florist and you walk in there and you’re a services based business, as many of you are, and you say to the florist, “Hey, I can get you more sales, I can get you more business”, they’re going to say to you, “Yeah, and same with the 14 other people who have walked in here today or sent me an email or done any of that.”
But what if, as Gary would explain, what if you walked in there and said, “Do you do weddings?” Now we all know that weddings are crack cocaine for florists, because they instantly double, the same bouquet of flowers, instantly doubles in price the moment the magic word “wedding” is said. That’s crack cocaine for florists. Any time you are talking to your market and you’re using generalities instead of speaking directly to them, you’re doing them a disservice. So doesn’t it make sense for you to understand your market better?
So instead of walking into the florist and saying, “Do you want more clients?” you’re walking in and saying, “Hey, do you do weddings? Have you got capacity for more weddings?”
Go into a mechanic and say, “Hey, do you service fleets?” And they go, woah ho ho ho, right? But don’t you owe your market that level of understanding? Yet the bad sales messages that we see use generalities and generics.
You have to understand the conversations that are going on in their head. It’s complicated. With all of that attention, we need to protect ourselves constantly from all the filtering. Your brain is doing an immense effort filtering out all the crap all the time. And so your instant state is “no”. To everything.
So if you don’t speak directly to somebody, and you’ve got to remember, in Gary’s day, personalization, just because of the technology involved, meant Dale or Smith or Jackson. Now, what’s your excuse? We can let people know who like Lord of the Rings, Hello Kitty, and Patsy Biscoe. We can target this, at least there’s 3 of us.
Yet we send generic emails. We send generic, non-specific, fluffy communications. You know, our bad.
Audience participation time! Woohoo!
Did you notice how I said that with a sneer? That was deliberate.
OK, I’m going to prove this to you. It’s going to take 6 minutes. For the next 2 minutes, I want you to think about your particular market. So pens and papers out, please everybody, get off the Candy Crush, just a second. For the next 2 minutes, I want you to think about your particular market, and I want to think about your particular pains. The market’s pains, not your pains.
I see that a lot in email, by the way. I see a lot of that in email. It’s all about you, instead of the person you’re sending the email to. But, for the next 2 minutes, I want you to just jot down, bullet point style, what pains your market are under at the moment. What problems are they having? What’s stressing them out? What challenges do they have? Is that clear, clear enough? All right, go, 2 minutes.
(Set a timer for 2 minutes, Siri)
Very good. Now we’re going to do exactly the same thing again, but I want you to write down gains, things that your market wants. What are the positive results of dealing with you that they actually want? So your product, your service, what are the results that you’re going to deliver? The emotional results, the actual physical real world results, just what are they?
You got 2 minutes. And I’m Snapchatting you, so I can see who’s not writing.
The point of the exercise
Alright. So, who struggled? Most of you had a pretty good time doing that.
If you found that you struggled, this is just a little test, it’s a test that Halbert taught me. If you can’t write for 2 minutes on people’s pains and 2 minutes of gains, what the frick are you doing selling to that market? And he used that word. Well, he actually used the slightly more colorful version of that. He was very straightforward.
Very, very straightforward. But he also pointed out that those things lead to these things.
Which is why sales letters are like product design. Pain relievers and gain creators. You’ve just got a list there in 4 minutes. I could do another 2-minute exercise, but we won’t, because of the time.
“Sales letters are like product design.”
But pain relievers and gain creators. Look at each one of those pain points, and how do you provide a solution? And where your product meets that, do you provide pain relievers, do you provide gain creators? Boom!
By the way, just as a side benefit of just that exercise you did in 4 minutes, how many blog posts have you got there? How many email content pieces have you got there? How many autoresponder sequences? You’re welcome.
What your job should be
I’ve been waxing lyrical about Scrum, and I can’t talk to you about it right now. Go look it up, it’s amazing. But you have to be the product owner. In other words, the product owner in Scrum is the position of the person who understands, their sole role in Scrum is to understand what the customer wants.
They live and they understand, and they breathe the customer, the person who’s going to use that piece of software…that’s their job. That’s their sole job in Scrum, the product owner, is to understand that and what’s valuable.
That’s what you need to be in your market. You need to be the person who understands value in that marketplace. That’s your job. That’s your real job here, not necessarily to be doing any number of the things that can be covered by a standard operating procedure.
Talk to your market
You know, Halbert would always be out talking to the market.
You need to be speaking. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of our beautifully connected world is that often we’re not talking to our audience that much.
One of the things I do with my private clients is encourage them to take their clients for a coffee. You know, just have a chat to them, because basically what you want to be doing is you want to be collecting the pains and the gains. Right? You want to be a collector in your marketplace of that.
Get the Kolbe test
Now, something I’ve got up here, which is really important.
Now if you’re in the SilverCircle, and of course James would be on to this, of course he would, how many people are familiar with Kolbe? Yeah, if you’re in SilverCircle, you’d know it, because James makes you go and do it. It’s a profile test, but it’s not a profile, it’s how you act. That’s all it is.
And it’s a huge thing in the upper echelons of people who are in the know. Kolbe is absolutely outstanding, and I encourage you to go get a Kolbe test if you haven’t already done it, because all it does, it doesn’t talk to you about your IQ, it doesn’t talk to you about your emotions, or your strategic profile, it just tells you how you’re going to act.
And guess what? Not everybody’s cut out to write and type. Some people are way more comfortable being up here, or speaking in front of a camera. And this is what Kolbe identifies.
Now, you can all do coffee, don’t you worry. But the way that you do it is crucial, right? So that’s why I encourage you to go and look at your Kolbe, and understand the process. Some people have to dictate. Some people will have to do some of the other things that I’m talking about.
Look for the wow
Gary would always talk about collecting Wow facts.
Ok, any time that you’re in your market and something makes you go, “Wow”, boom, you collect it. Now depending on your approach, you might put it in a digital thing (I would never put it in a digital thing, as much as I’m the biggest geek literally on the planet) because I’ll never look at it again. Right? People put stuff in Evernote and then never open Evernote again.
And I know that approximately 45 to 65 percent of you in this room are exactly the same. There are other people in this room who are just having cardiac arrest at the horror of you not following along with that standard operating procedure. We’re different, right? We operate differently. But however you do it, you need to collect wow facts.
The beginner’s mindset
Now the problem is, for a lot of us in our markets, and this is something that Gary would do all the time, is you become a bit jaded with your market. You forget what it’s like to be a beginner.
You forget that, you know, if we take up golf for the first time, well, bookstores, remember them? When you used to go into a bookstore, you would go, obviously, and you would take one golfing book off the shelf, and you would take that back and you would study and look at each page and for a year you would go the driving range and you would practice every single thing in that book until you’d mastered everything in that book, and then you would go back for your second book, right?
No, I’m playing golf, wooh! And you come out, and you come out with an armful of books and magazines and you order up a whole bunch of DVDs, and they’re all sitting there, and they’re awesome. And the cellophane really comes off. But you’re playing golf, you’re excited, you’ve got a new hobby, and you buy everything with regards to your new hobby.
So what can happen is you’ve got to put yourself in that beginner’s mindframe, the people that are just getting into that market.
Just one at a time
Just a crucial point: you can only sell one thing at a time.
You know, I see a lot of emails and newsletters that go out asking people to do multiple things in one email. You ask people to do multiple things, they end up doing no things. And this was a huge one of Gary’s, you can only sell one thing at a time. And that’s every communication that you put out.
To me, when you’re sending out a newsletter, you’re selling. When you’re doing a kooky Snapchat video, you are selling, you are communicating to your market. You can only ever communicate one message at a time. Anything more, you distract them.
You need constraints
Write to a timer.
All creation is governed by constraint, and the problem we all have in this room and you may not think it sometimes but the reality is we’ve hardly got any constraint, hardly any, really. And when you have no constraints, guess what happens? You don’t end up doing anything, because you’re just looking around, looking at all the opportunities.
So, whenever you’re creating something do it to a timer. Gary would set his timer for 50 minutes because he was really good, that’s the max by the way, you know any effort that requires that level of creative energy he would set the time for 50 minutes. He would get his pen and his yellow legal pad then go. And his pen would not stop.
I still do it to this day, right? And you might start if you’re doing this sort of thing, start with 10 minutes and build yourself up. But that is writing to a timer. You need that constraint.
It’s the MasterChef principle, who watches MasterChef or a cooking show? Right? How many times have you seen somebody completely screw up the mystery box challenge and not plate and deliver anything? The answer, you’re right, it’s happened twice.
In literally around the world, around thousands, how can that be? Somebody gets an asparagus, ginger root, and out of date pumpkin, and they somehow create and deliver something on the plate. Now it may taste like absolute horror, but they deliver something, why? Because they got a ticking clock and they are on national television. And they don’t want to look like an idiot, they have a series of constraints. Try it. It’s one of his best.
The albino foreskin
Gary handed me his copy, and he’d say, “Ed what do you think of this?” And it was for a new type of golf putter, and I’m reading along the copy and I’m going… and the special covering on this putter is the foreskin of an albino seal. I said, “What’s that?” and he said “I don’t know what the putter head’s made out of, it’s made out of something and I’ll pick that up in editing, right? I’m not going to break my flow now and go off and research what this stupid putter head’s made of.”
He was very disrespectful of the actual product, in fact he used to refer to the product as “the mud”, right? Because to him it was all mud, what did it do? And it’s actually useful exercise, because many people when they describe to me their business, they actually describe their product to me, happened to me out here just before, right?
No, who are you serving? That’s what’s important. What are their problems, what are their pains? Not the fact that it’s a membership system, not the fact that you’ve got 14 PDFs, that’s not important. It’s how you’re helping somebody. And that’s what Gary would constantly remind me.
So, he would put it, rather than go off and look for that fact, there’s no way he’d interrupt his flow, because flow of writing, flow of video creation, flow of any sort of creation, the moment you go off, and try to research that fact, before you know it you are watching surfing dogs on YouTube. It’s true, right? So he would write something completely outrageous, so he would pick it up in editing. That’s what he’d do. Smart.
Separate creating from editing
This is huge. Because most people don’t do it, except for professional shipping content creators…is you must separate creating from editing, must, by a significant period of time.
And what’s the danger of our world, unlike Gary where he’s literally 6 months process between coming up with the direct response copy, the testing and actually putting it out and sending it out via 6 months process, we can create that blog post and he’d publish and have it seen by thousands of people like that, and that’s a horrible danger.
Because if you try to edit something, straight after you’ve created it, and we know this, it’s not woo-woo right? This is science, it’s a completely different part of your brain, OK? So, if you try to go from creation to editing, straight after you’ve created the thing, you’re not going to do anywhere near as good a job as if you gave yourself time.
What Gary would do after he’d finish a draft is he’d jump in the car and say, “Come on Ed, we’re going to drive” And we’d go for a drive down the Florida Keys, and we’d jump on his boat and go over to one of the islands. Right? Because he knew that there’s no way he’d be able to look at his content in his sales letter, fresh. OK?
Break the story
So you got to break the story down.
And in fact if you’re wondering about uses of Snapchat, this was my Snapchat channel from yesterday where I was breaking this presentation down. He used a visual presentation, he used 3×5 cards, I used Post-it notes, but for most people who have low follow through Kolbe scores you need some sort of visual process to breakdown what you’re doing.
You have to physically get in there, he called it as he would, “card fondling”. Like he would literally fondle his card, that’s exactly how we would describe it. And that part of the process is so important, particularly for most of you and again this comes back to your Kolbe.
Interview your copy
Interview your copy. So for people who really struggle with writing, which is a fair percentage of the room, I suspect. I’m just guessing. Often the best way is to do what he did, which is recording your pitch. Get somebody to interview you about your product.
I just did Nathan Chan‘s launch recently and I wrote all the videos but I did it by interviewing him. Because you don’t go into salesy terms. If you’re talking to a friend you don’t use salesy sleek terms, do you? If you’re speaking over to a friend, you just talk openly, and that’s the tone that you want. You want to be talking with a friend. So, recording yourself and getting that transcribed and taking out those bite size pieces is a fantastic way to go.
The hardest thing
That first draft is the hardest thing, and whether it’s video script, whether it’s copy, whether it’s doing a video, just getting and doing that first thing is hard. And you just got to do it. And the way to do it is to tell yourself this, it’s going to be sh**. All right? It is!
But guess what? Gary’s first drafts were crap. Actually they were awesome compared to what somebody who haven’t been writing copy for 30 years could do, no question. But compared to where they ended up, after 15 or 16 edit cycles… right? But vomiting out that first draft is vital, recording that first video and getting it out, is vital. And this is the biggest problem. If you got nothing else… this.
I worked with a lot of people who are starting out in online marketing through the challenge, and they write, they actually get their courage up to write their first bit of sales copy or write their first bit of a product, and they read it and guess what it is? sh** and they compare that to the finely edited many, many processes… you know.
Do you think Charles Dickens wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? That was 43 sentences, right? He worked through to get to one of his classic openings of an English language book. The standard Gary Halbert sales letter will have gone through at least 16 to 17 edit cycles. The magic happens in the editing.
Great artists do this
Sorry for the abuse of the thing, but great artists do swipe. And by the way from my last, 6 or 7 major product launches, I’ve used exactly the same template, exactly the same.
If you line up my videos and Nathan’s that I just did, they’re exactly the same, exactly. Identical, slide per slide. However of course, one’s selling Instagram, and one’s selling a digital magazine, so obviously the content is different but the template is the same. How do you possibly get away with that, template’s rubbish?
Gary used templates all the time, all the time. But because of his understanding and intuition in a marketplace, every one was completely different. Now, I’ve poisoned this entire room to my sales letters because they’ll realize.. Oh! that’s exactly the same as the last one Ed, and it is. Because it works, works beautifully. Why change something that works? Gary was constant for that.
Refine your offer
The offer trumps everything. Gary would spend most of his time finding where facts and then the biggest chunk of the sales letter was refining the offer. Because if you have a great offer, the rest of the sales letter, the rest of the video can suck. Because it’s such a great offer right? How many times have you found yourself buying something because you say, “Wow, that’s such a great deal!” Doesn’t it make sense if you can work on part of that? Why not use that?
“The offer trumps everything.”
The thing that he next spent a lot of time on is removing risk.
Here’s the thing, you know all the questions right now of why somebody is not going to buy your particular product, you know it. So would it make a little bit of sense to actually list all of those out?
You could do a 2 minute exercise, this is what you do… (2 minutes, set the timer just like we did before). Just write down all the reasons why somebody wouldn’t buy your particular thing, ok? And here’s a cool idea… go through each of them, and say how can I mitigate that risk? You can do this. Now as entrepreneurs we tend to be glass half full type of people. So we tend not to think about our copy in that way. So, remove risk.
If it sounds salesy, kill all adverbs.
Now I’m reliably told because I failed VCE English which is hilarious, given the fact that I had to go back to my school, I was invited back to my school and my speech was an apology to my year 12 English teacher. Because I remember vividly telling her, “I’m not going to use any of this”. I know physics, and I was good at physics, like I was really good at physics. I’m going to use physics all the time. Now, of course in the last 10 years, I use English every single day and I don’t think I’ve touched a physics equation in a decade. So, those LY words, if you’ve got LY words in your stuff, they’re bullsh** words. Right? You’re just fluffing in all connotations of the word. You don’t need them. Kill them.
Speak the language of your niche
If you don’t speak the language of your niche, if you use a template and literally use a template like copy word for word, then you’re going to use language.
If all of a sudden you’ve been talking and building up, you’ve been using all of Jen Sheahan stuff, and you build up a rapport in your market and then you come to an offer and you start using all these other language which is obviously not from you, that’s a huge subconscious warning sign to people. So why do that?
Rather than telling…
Show don’t tell. Rather than saying how well your product works, show or describe.
Show don’t tell is obviously from the movies. Exposition is really bad in a film as a general rule.
You know those sign with the characters just saying… Wow you had to go through the bridge to forget… They basically spend two minutes just describing what happened so hopefully the audience can understand what’s going on.
That means they have not shown what’s going on. You can do that with your writing. So rather than say, “This stuff is awesome”, Why is it awesome? “Because.” Why because? Show the actual thing, right?
If you’re doing a video it’s easy. With Nathan’s stuff, it was much easier to show him and his likes looking like a jackpot machine, like it was just his Instagram things were going crazy. I could try to describe that, but it doesn’t make more sense to show it, and so much more powerful because we’re so used to being told that something’s awesome without any explanation.
Where the magic takes place
All the magic happens in editing. All the creativity, all the cool stuff, anything that you thought was really awesome and fantastic, and I don’t care whether it’s Frozen (the show) or some of my copy. All the magic, all the cleverness, all the brilliance happened in editing.
“All the magic happens in editing.”
If you want to enjoy a lot of these stuff and get good at storytelling, then Clint’s stuff was fantastic yesterday. Listen to the screenwriter podcasts, they are some of my favorite podcasts. Just awesome. It’s crazy that, that stuff is available, but the magic happens in editing. So it’s the editing process where you come up with everything.
The hook will emerge
Your hook, the thing that people will remember, the one-armed golfer, you know the classics. They laughed when I sat down at the piano but then I began to play. Do you think they started there? No, no way. We call those in the trade, the hook.
You never start with a hook, because you’ll sit there hoping for this angel-like happening of inspiration and hoping that somebody will come down and deliver the hook. Guess what? It never happens, never.
What happens, is if you have an idea, you write. Most of it is crap, but there’s some nuggets buried in all the crapness. Through editing, you’ll start polishing it, and it will just occur to you. And you’ll go, “Wow”, that’s it.
It happens every single time. But our muse rewards effort. It’s physics. If you’re not putting any effort into the work, whoever gives us our ideas is not going to give you your headline. It’s not going to give you your hook. You have to be in it, you have to be in the process, and it happens every single time, Gary taught me that.
De-that your copy
The other thing he’d love to do is do a de-that run in any of your copy.
It will blow you away how many times you use the word “that”. It’s freaky! And 99 percent of the time you can just delete it and the sentence sounds better. Who knew? Should have paid attention in English.
Read your copy out loud
This is awesome, read your copy out loud, or read your script out loud. OK?
If you skip or you stumble when you’re reading, guess what? Your audience will skip or stumble and when they skip or stumble their brain will suddenly remembers, “Oh hang on a second, I’ve got something I got to do”, and they’re off.
Expose your work, at the right time. This is a bit of re-enactment, are you ready?
(ring ring, ring ring) “Hello?” “Listen to this”. And then would be 15 minutes of Gary reading out a 30-page sales letter. Without me, and he would do this to anybody he knew. Once he got his letter get past that vomit first draft stage, he would be soliciting feedback from people that he respected.
The best work is polished and edited by outside parties and it was very scary for us to do, but you look at screenwriting, you look at TV’s. People say, people don’t have time to sit down for 2 hours anymore and read our stuff or read our big long sales letter. No, they just don’t have time to be bored. I sit down right in front of Brooklyn 99, and happily sit there for 30 minutes, laughing my ass off. Why? Because that has been polished within an inch of its life. But we’re just throwing content out there.
21st century Halbert
Before I do this, I just want to emphasize what Jen said before lunch. Yes, we want you to create great content, but do you know how you create great content? Is you put out a lot of crap content first. It’s the only way, alright?
Because if you compare your copies and my copy, when I’ve had 15 years of doing it. It’s unfair. You should read my stuff back then, it looked like somebody have lobotomized a Teletubby, it’s horrific. Some would argue that not much has changed.
So please, and here’s the thing, take your Kolbe test and discover which medium is natural for you to spend the least amount of energy creating stuff in. Because your Kolbe report will tell you, you’ll be looking at it… and I did the largest trial of Kolbe and entrepreneurs at the end of last year that has ever been conducted.
Everybody in this room, there’s 4 categories, there’s 4 types. And some of you will love written word, most of you will be much better recording what you do, but all of you are different so I encourage you to do that.
What I want to leave you with is some 21st century Halbert.
Because of course Gary passed away, very sadly… I remembered people laughing, we did a webinar and he said, “You should put a phone number on your webpage and not have an order button on the webpage”. And people went ape sh** about that.
They’re saying, “What are you doing on the net, you get the order stuff there”, and he said “No”. He said, “Put a phone number”. Now, insurance companies, like the highest of the high, your $70 to $100 cost-per-clicks, do you think they’ve got an opt-in on those pages?
Nah-uh, what have they’ve got? They’ve got a phone number. They want you on the phone. So, he was way ahead of his time in so many things, so I’d like to think that if he’s with us today, these are the things that he’d be in very colorful language pointing out what you should be doing.
Keep on testing
First thing that he would point out is, that you can only be right or wrong in hindsight. He would give his left arm to have the opportunities for testing that you all have in this room today.
“You can only be right or wrong in hindsight.”
Like it’s insane, he would have to do the logistics of organizing a direct mail test in his time compared to what we can… I can pull out and Snapchat right now. I can Periscope this sh** right now. So what’s your excuse? He’d be horrified.
Because you can only be right or wrong in hindsight. We don’t know whether copies are going to sell or not, we don’t know. And for you high fact-finders here, you have to know what is going to happen before you actually push the button and take any action, this is for you. And there’s a bunch of you in here.
Multiple front doors
He’d kill for this. How much does it cost to do a single web page? So why are you funneling everybody through one web page? Why? It’s crazy.
One of my private client is the largest chain of U.K. acupuncturist. There are 3 reasons people visit acupuncturists, whatever their plural form is. Because it’s not that I’m sure.
One, they’ve tried everything else and they are prepared to have pins stuck in them. That’s a bit tough to market, but that’s true. Two is migraine, treatment of chronic migraines. Does anybody know what’s the first most successful thing that people go to acupuncturist for and it solves? Fertility treatment. (I didn’t know), but here’s the deal, how can you possibly?
First of all, rule 1 of Gary Halbert, you can only sell one thing at a time. How possibly can you create a funnel that targets people trying to get pregnant, and people who have migraines? Now there is a small subset as I worked out, and it’s people who are faking migraines to avoid getting pregnant.
But here’s the thing, you create two different web pages, you create different funnels. And this is why understanding single target markets and this is all available to you and free. It takes so little time.
How does your copy look on mobile?
How does your copy look on a mobile phone? 90 percent of people who access Facebook today do it on a mobile phone, they just release that information in their last pool of results.
Now I’ve been the biggest advocate for mobile for those of you heard me talk, in fact at James’ event many years ago, I said it’s coming. But I didn’t think it would go that quick. So if 90 percent of Joe and Jane Smith, we’re not the civilians as I like to call them, they’re not like us, they’re accessing everything on a mobile phone and most presentations I see of any sort of sales copy on a mobile phone is atrocious. You use one of those plugins, “Oh yeah they’re great”. You’ve got a design for the mobile first, look at your own stats, don’t take my word for it.
The word of 3rd parties
3rd party endorsement at this day and age is everything, some people call it testimonials, but it’s more than that.
Joint venture partners, when somebody says, because if we’ve got thousands and thousands of people all trying to get our attention, what happens? We revert back to the way we communicated centuries ago, which is the village. You ask people that you know best, that you trust.
If I say to my list, “Look, this course is really really good.” Because if I say to my list “This course is really, really good” and it’s actually really, really sh**… I might sell a few, but I’m ruined. This social media, heard of it? Right? You can’t do that, you can’t. If I’m going to recommend something, it’s because I really truly believe in it. That’s vital, so cultivating that type of 3rd party endorsement is absolutely important.
Video scripts operate exactly the same. Halbert would operate with infomercials, and as he would say in all media, the thing that he’d be so fascinated about now is the fact that direct marketing follows the way we communicate with our best friends, and it lags. So, we communicated for years via email to our best friend but how do we do it now?
Text, insta-message, so that’s where it’s going. Make no mistake. You heard it here first, all of you SFB people. Email will move to messages as sure as eggs are eggs. Not maybe tomorrow, not maybe next year, but it’s going to happen, because it has happened at every single point since we have been communicating as mankind.
So you need to be ready, that’s why I was so pleased for Jen to get you all in Snapchat. By the way don’t go to a Snapchat guru to learn how to do Snapchat, find your local 14-year-old surly teenager. Throw them 30 bucks as I did, and say, “Han, teach me Snapchat”. Because they’ll teach you stuff that the social media gurus will never teach you, like for example, it is social Snapchat death if you put more than 3 videos on your story in a day. Like you would be ostracized from the millennial community, if you do that. That’s gold. That’s actually gold.
Twitter for headlines, Periscope for hearts. Why use Periscope? It’s a waste of time. No, it’s not. Go back and watch your Periscope where you’re floating the breeze, juggling up some ideas, and see where people hit the hearts the most. That sentence could be gold for use.
The new National Enquirer which Gary loved with a passion is BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed is doing everything right, they are legends. Because here’s the thing about a BuzzFeed headline as opposed to all the other scammers out there, they back up their headline. Yes they give you a listicle but then the listicle’s awesome, they buzz it up.
You need to learn native advertising
Native advertising is the future. We don’t have time to go through it today but you need to learn native advertising. That’s where watch companies like Seiko, and the people who are on James Bond…Omega. Right, 30 percent increase this year because Bond was wearing the thing in the movie. That’s where it’s going. Because if we’ve got ad blockers and all these other things… All the YouTubers are making money by using their products in their videos, just need to be on it.
Gary would have loved this
And Gary would have adored crowdfunding. He would have slayed and slayed crowdfunding. Because crowdfunding in his day was called dry testing and it was illegal. You couldn’t sell something that didn’t exist. Yet because now all these Brooklyn hipsters are doing this, and all these lean and Agilers are doing this, guess what? Crowdfunding is the best thing ever.
Why would you ever design a product without selling it first to your market on a Kickstarter or Indiegogo, get all the money for the development and then develop it? Why would you not do that? That is fundamental to copywriting testing. It is unbelievable if you have a list, it’s going to be fantastic. Gary would have loved it, he would absolutely adored it. So there you go that’s my lessons for Gary Halbert. Thank you for listening.
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Willie Crawford says
EPIC! Thanks James.
Willie Crawford says
EPIC! Thanks James.
James Schramko says
I appreciate your constant support Willie. If you ever find yourself in Sydney in March I have a ticket to my event for you,.
Matt Coffy says
Massive, cant wait to dig in. Reading cash copy right now..
Matt Coffy says
Massive, cant wait to dig in. Reading cash copy right now..
James Schramko says