Overcoming Friction

It used to be that every copywriter under the sun was trying to figure out how to get attention online, in an AIDA sort of way.

We were all screaming at the tops of our lungs, trying to outdo each other.

I believe those days are over.

Not because we don’t need to get attention anymore, but that over time, we’ve all figured out how to do that pretty well.

Maybe too good. 

Because today, social media platforms have a silent conspiracy against us, dictating rules of engagement behavior in their terms of service.

Using threats of suspension and banishment into the outer darkness of the net, social media platforms have learned how to check us at every desire to rise above the noise of the marketplace.

So now, with eye-catching headlines and subject lines being squelched, our focus has gradually shifted to making our copy and content more consumable and more actionable.

As you may have discovered, this is A LOT harder to do.

The Herculean goal is to reduce the natural friction a prospect experienced consuming a page.

As copywriters, we do this by writing to a 3rd grade level… using subheads… transitions, etc.

Let’s think about this for a second, because it requires a delicate balance.

Because yes, you want your messaged consumed–but not too fast. 

In other words, we want to overcome friction, but we don’t want to be “friction free” as the gurus would have you believe.

Because if consumed too fast, your copy will not have sufficient time to connect with the reader emotionally. 

(This is where John Carlton’s “greased chute” metaphor falls apart.)

You want to pump the brakes.

If a reader is scrolling down, “skimming” too fast, the copy doesn’t have the chance to sufficiently tug at the heart strings and you lose the sale.

They’ll just hit the back button once they scream through it. :\

So how do we accomplish this balancing act?

It requires an integrated approach. Intimately understanding your audience… web page design… funnel architecture… content creation… as well as copywriting.

Not to mention conversion optimization.

As you can appreciate, this is a far bigger challenge than the good ol’ days of seeing who can scream the loudest. 😉

So let me give you a quick, simple example.

One very successful promotion is John Rowley’s Old School New Body offer. 


(Folks in the health and fitness market know of this offer very well.)

Instead of creating one L O N G web page, John took a contrarian approach. He and his team split the content up into 5 SEQUENTIAL pages, followed by a regular text sales letter.

Think about how crazy this sounds: 

The reader has to click through through 5 pages of content… followed by a sales letter… till they finally hit the order page!

Incredible, isn’t it? 

Yet it converted like gangbusters when it first launched.

To pull off something like this, you must know more than how to write good copy.

That’s the situation we find ourselves today. In order to convert well, you need an integrated, multi-disciplined approach.

Now if you’re a copywriter, you have a couple of choices:

One is, you can master your area of expertise, and bring in other experts on an as-needed basis.

The other is to become a jack-of-all-trades.

For the most part, I’ve focused on copywriting, although I do have experiential understanding of the other skills.

But it’s taken me more than a decade to acquire that knowledge, by basically looking over everybody’s shoulder to see how it’s all bolted together.

I’m not going to give anybody a recommendation other than to say this:

Being a jack-of-all-trades will consume every second of your day. Not only trying to learn the skill, but to stay current with all the changes which occur practically on a daily basis.

So to each his own. It’s up to you.

Teeter tottering between overcoming friction and being “friction free” is a balancing act. 

That’s your mission, if you choose to accept it. 😉

Talk soon,


Triggering FOMO

Fear Of Missing Out.

If you’ve ever been influenced by some type of scarcity play… a hard deadline, a timer, a limited amount of product available… you’ve probably been influenced by FOMO.

Sometimes, the scarcity play is real.

But usually, it’s contrived.

So when marketers open up memberships once or twice a year, there’s no logistical reason why enrolment can’t occur ongoing.

They’re doing it because people put things off, like making decisions.

So to counter that natural inclination of people, FOMO is introduced.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like contrived FOMO. It feels kinda icky to me.

It works like gangbusters, but it feels kinda crappy when it’s used on you, doesn’t it?

However, there are other ways of introducing FOMO.

One way is to introduce some sort of exclusivity.

For instance, people love clubs and secret societies. 

Think back to your childhood. Remember the forts and treehouses and secret places in the woods you built along with “No Girls Allowed” signs?

Exclusivity is not just for kids.

As adults, nothing attracts attention like some exclusivity.

Being part of a special club is an amazing FOMO motivation.

And it makes complete sense if you think about it.

You can invoke the exclusivity FOMO for all kinds of things, not just membership offers.

For instance, if you’re selling a supplement, create the impression of an exclusive club of people who have benefited from it.

“I encourage you to join the hundreds of lucky people, just like you, who have experienced the lasting relief only PainAway has to offer.”

It makes people feel special. People want to feel included.

And of course, they don’t want to miss out.

You can get rather elitist about it, if you want.

The way I do this is I create an imaginary “velvet rope.”

Look at it this way: 

I’m sure you’ve been in situations where an usher or bouncer allows only certain people into a venue.

Maybe they’re on a VIP list. Maybe they’ve paid for special privileges. Or maybe they’re a certain sex or look a certain way.

If you’re behind the rope waiting to get in, THAT’S the feeling we’re trying to convey.

Words like “special”, “elite” or “private” help trigger their FOMO gene and motivate them to sign up.

That kind of FOMO has much more integrity to me, than a countdown timer.

Listen, I don’t care if the FOMO devices you use are contrived or not.

That’s not my call.

However, I encourage you to test them. Test various FOMO tactics and see if they work for you.

I think you’ll be amazed at the response you get. It’s almost like they’re salivating

It gets worse…

One of the more useful phrases in a copywriting toolbox is…

“It gets worse.”

If you see any of my sales letters or videos, you’ll notice I use this phrase almost all the time.

Why is it so useful?

Think of your copy as an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Of course, you start off with something impressionable.

Something that gets their attention.

From there, where do you go?

Well, according to AIDA, the next thing to do is build some interest.

So how do you do that?

There are multiple ways. And after you’ve exhausted the interest building and BEFORE you start building desire, emotionally it’s time to drop the bomb:

“It gets worse.”

Done right, your reader’s heart drops and their eyes are riveted to whatever you have to say next.

This is exactly what you want.

And all you have to do, is make sure whatever you say next delivers on the implicit promise of it being really bad.

Now is there another way to use this phrase?

Yes and it’s even better. You can use it in your calls to action.

Next time you write a call to action, try this phrase:

“If You Don’t Do Anything, It Just Gets Worse.”

What you’re doing is anticipating them considering doing nothing.

They’re going down the road of ambivalence.

So you’ve got to shut that line of thinking down.

So you drop the bomb and reveal the consequences of doing nothing.

For instance:

“Please don’t ignore the subtle signs of diabetes. If you do, it just gets worse. You start to experience painful neuropathy… and foot ulcers… and if you really ignore it, you might have to someday amputate a foot or a leg…”

Now that’s a little over the top, but you get the idea.

“It gets worse” creates that emotional “Uh oh”… they’re waiting for the other foot to drop.

So try it next time and see what happens in terms of conversions.

And if you don’t, it just gets worse…


Talk soon,


The Myth Of One And Done

I’ll admit, I was lured into marketing, and more specifically copywriting, because of a fascination with the concept of “one and done.”

Who wants a job, right?

Just set up searchable pages which offer your own or an affiliate product, connect them to your PayPal account and watch the money roll in.

The reality however is FAR DIFFERENT.

What I didn’t realize was…

1) the sheer amount of effort required to put to a converting offer together, and…

2) ongoing maintenance, optimization as well as compliance with social media platforms

3) and the constant need for traffic.

And not just any kind of traffic…

We need targeted traffic, don’t we?

And paid or free, that takes work.

Make no mistake, optimization, maintenance and traffic are an ongoing affair.

And even if you think things are “dialed in”, the market is always in flux.

For instance: we’ve all heard how autoplay videos convert better than play to click videos.

And I tested this years ago on an offer and that was indeed the case.

But something peculiar happened recently.

As a lark, I retested the same thing recently on the same offer, and guess what?

Autoplay videos lost. And the margin was significant.

Clickable videos won, hands down. By as much as 35%.

I was blown away.

When you’re playing with paid traffic, that’s significant.

My point is if you have a converting offer, you’re never sitting on your hands.

And if you have MULTIPLE offers that are converting, you’re always keeping the wheels on the bus.

So my coaching today, is to put some muscle into your offer every step of the way.

Don’t get complacent. Otherwise, it’ll eventually suffer a slow death as it silently slips into obscurity.

And when your offer does start converting, don’t let up on the gas, ok?

And put the one-and-done myth behind you, like I did.

Talk soon,


#1 Thing You Need To Know About Your Customer

Are you an optimist?

Odds are, if you’re a marketer, you are.

If you’re not an optimist, you may not say you’re a pessimist, you’d say you were a realist.

And how did I know that?

Well, not because I’m a realist. 😉

But because after 15 years in the business, I can spot marketer a mile away.

I can spot a rookie marketer from a veteran, successful or not.

How can I do this?

The reason is I understand how marketers mentally make decisions.

This is the key that opens the lock in research–to learn how your market makes decisions.

Most copywriters don’t understand what research is.

They think it’s about learning information that may prove relevant in the sales letter. And yes, there is some of that.

Others think research is about finding the hook. And yes, that is true…

But if you don’t understand how your market makes decisions, these efforts will be fruitless.

Your first objective is to research how your customer makes decisions.

We’re looking for decisions about where they spend their time online.

We’re looking for what they focus their attention on.

We’re looking for buying criteria… what makes them buy in the market.


And that’s why I love reading the reviews at Amazon.

Because real customers tell you exactly what influenced their buying decision, as well as whether or not they like the product.

Sure, it takes time to read these.

But I find them fascinating, especially when I’m working on a new project.

And it’s worth it–especially if you don’t have a list you can survey.

But if you take nothing away from this email today, take away the idea that research is about discovering how people make decisions in the market.

Start there!

Good luck and talk soon,


The Weight Loss Industry’s Secret Selling Mechanism

You’d think people would be jaded by now.

Seems like everyday, there’s a new weight loss offer promoted.

Whether it’s a food, infoproduct, service or device, it seems we can’t get enough ways to lose weight.

If Gary Halbert were writing this, he’d say the market was “rabid”.

“It doesn’t matter if the last five products I’ve bought didn’t work.

It doesn’t matter if I didn’t lose a single pound.

It doesn’t matter if they won’t give me my money back.

This next time will be different.

This next time, I’ll lose the blubber and be able to finally fit into my skinny jeans.”


Maybe, maybe not.

I’ve worked on dozens of weight loss offers over the years. The majority of the products worked. 

Their testimonials were legit.

So why do people continue to buy?

Yes of course, they want to “torch the fat.”

But why do they continue to buy when all their previous efforts have failed?

And this becomes the lesson for the marketer and copywriter.

The answer is… HOPE.

When you’re in markets where there is a high amount of failure for people to get results, you want to press the hope button.

And continue to press it, until they buy.

In these markets, hope is an integral element to the copywriting. It’s essential to the sale.

Look at it this way:

You already know you’re in a rabid market.

A rabid market prone to high amounts of failure.

First thing you must do is justify those previous failures and make them a non-issue.

This opens the mental door to see your product in a new light, which is fairly easy to do because the desire to melt fat is so incredibly high.

Then with every opportunity that makes sense, you ratchet up hope.

You can do this, for instance, with the guarantee. 

“We’re so certain you’ll lose 10 pounds the first month, if you don’t, we’ll give you your money back. And you can keep our gizmo as a token of our appreciation for trusting us.”

 This implicitly creates hope.

You’re calling out to their previous attempts when you say “and if you don’t”.

And yes, your certainty (if it’s strong enough without being overpowering) will also provide hope.

The point is, once you get to the introduction of your product… and once you justify away why those previous products haven’t worked… you instill hope all along the way.

Of course, the testimonials help.

And yes, the risk reversal.

But also the price contrast and reveal, the future pacing, the closes and the calls-to-action.

Do it where it makes sense.

And keep in mind, this email isn’t just about weight loss.

Golf… business opportunity… alternative health… internet marketing… these are all markets where you should be selling hope.

The way I do it is I mentally assume they’re already buyers.

They just need to have hope–ONE. MORE. TIME.

They just need to…


Talk soon,


P.S. And don’t forget to keep banging that drum. 😉

Afraid To Pull The Trigger

I have some clients and partners that can’t wait to test the next thing I write for them, to slip it into the funnel.

However, I’ll often notice other marketers, and copywriters for that matter, afraid to pull the trigger on a promotion.

(No, I’m not naming names.)

I’ll talk to them, and they want everything to be perfect.

And of course, perfect always gets in the way.

And sometimes they may never pull the trigger and miss the launch window.

It’s like they’re afraid to approach the girl, for fear of being rejected.

Then some other schmoe jumps in and snatches the girl away.

Collectively, after spending months on a project and sometimes a lot of money, some clients can’t quite seem to “click the button.”

Maybe that’s it. Maybe they fear the market will reject them.

Maybe they fear they’re going to be hated on.

Maybe they can’t bear the potential self-humiliation.

I mean if you’re a copywriter or you’re a marketer and you have these kinds of fears?

Then you’re going to have very skinny kids.

My advice?

Adopt the attitude of a honey badger.

Have you seen the honey badger video?

“Honey badger don’t give a sh*t.” 

That’s hilarious! And exactly the attitude.

Listen, a lot of time, we hold ourselves back from doing what we really want to do. 

I’m telling you the honey badger is my new spirit animal.

Just pull the trigger and see what happens.

Just not like things are locked in stone these days, right?

You can twist an offer, test a headline, change up a funnel in no time.

You’ll cross that bridge if or when you come to it.

Just pull the trigger for now and find out, ok?

I can’t wait to see what happens. 

And I hope the results exceed your expectations!

Talk soon,


The Art Of Just Trying Stuff

There’s something that’s just plain fun about trying stuff and seeing what happens.

As marketers though, we think we’re rather strategic-thinking people and pride ourselves as such.

It’s pretty serious business. 

And usually, someone’s money is on the line.

So we tend many times to play it safe.

I can be guilty of that on rare occasions.

I mean being reserved is in my British nature–but I’ve overcome that a long time ago. 

(I’ll share how in a sec.)

But marketers like Gary Halbert didn’t see it like that.

I can remember listening to tapes of him telling story after story of him just trying stuff.

He’d live for it!

Scraping some money together just to test an idea to see if it could be rolled out big time.

Many times his ideas were off the wall.

Jay Abraham is the same way.

He’s always trying stuff. Even crazy stuff that he knows better not to.

For instance, one time he took his list to task for not buying one of his products.

This was years ago and I still remember it.

He wrote this email called:

 “You don’t know jack”.

A third of his list unsubscribed over that one!

I can also remember a time, when one of his seminars was doing poorly and he totally stopped his launch midstream, he wrote an ungodly long email titled:

 “Houston, we have a problem”

I mean, who would do that?

Jay would. And did.

It was a gamechanger. And it put 1000 people in the ballroom for the seminar.

But like I talked about previously, he and Gary Halbert were bold.

They tried stuff. They’re just wanted to get a reaction.

It’s where I got the idea of testing wide swings of ideas as opposed to obsessing over the details and standard copywriting stuff.

Sometimes, I’ll agonize over, for instance, the minutia of a subject line and test that.

Other times, I pretty much say “f–k it, let’s try something wild!” You know, something you would never in a million years think of trying…

That’s what I want to test.

It may work and it may not, but that’s not the point.

The point is to get a reaction.  

Of course, you want it to be successful, of course, you want it to convert.

But if you just got a reaction, and perhaps no reaction whatsoever, it’s still a good day at the office.

(Like Edison’s 9000 tests when inventing the light bulb, you know what doesn’t work.)

And after over ten years in the conversion optimization game, that’s what I’ve learned.

It’s about THE REACTION.

Because you just never know–until you test.

Until you try. Until you experiment a little.

Creativity aside, the only thing keeping you from doing this, I suspect?


Permission to fail. Permission to mess up. Permission to look stupid for a bit. Permission to lose a little bit of money.

So you have my permission. 😉

Gary did it. Jay still does it. And you can, too.

What to do when your offer falls flat

It can be a frustrating experience.

That moment in time when you know your offer won’t land.

When your offer is weak.

When your offer looks like everybody else’s out there.

When your offer is a plain ol’ dud.

Maybe you thought you could just ride on somebody else’s coattails, and swipe what they’re doing.

I’ve done it, and sometimes it converts and sometimes it doesn’t. 

So I know that strategy can be risky.

But let’s say that for whatever the reason your offer falls flat.

How do you resuscitate it?

Almost every time I have an offer that doesn’t convert it’s usually because I’m playing too small.

I’m just not thinking big enough.

For instance, years ago, I wrote this fitness info-product offer for a guy who was a Navy Seal.

We thought just mentioning the words “by a Navy SEAL” was pretty compelling.

Surprise! Surprise! It was DOA. 

So whenever something like this happens, I do a mental post mortem.

And almost every time an offer falls flat, I conclude…

“Either I somehow missed the market, or I’m not thinking big enough. Maybe I need to think bigger.”

So I imagine what my offer would like if it was 5X better.

Then I ratchet up to 10X better. Doodling on paper as I refine it and make the better.

Then 100X better. (Which is more for a mental stretch of what’s possible.)

In other words, it’s time to be bold. To get bolder.

That’s what I did this with Navy Seal offer. I got really bold.

And I thought “Damn, I want to BE a Navy SEAL! Nah, what I really want is that ripped Navy SEAL body!”

(Which is weird for a Brit to say, but whatever.)

And I got excited when I came up with this headline:

“Claim Your Navy Seal Body Below”

And what do you know? That did the trick! The offer did exceedingly well.

So try it the next time your conversions are less than stellar.

What can you do to really knock it out of the park?

Because there are so many things you can do. Maybe someday, I’ll make a list.

But for now, be bold!

“Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

Talk soon,


P.S. For inspiration, I often look at Eugene Schwartz headlines.

That man knew how to think big.

==> Pretty cool Eugene Schwartz PDF


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