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,



Dealing with citations when you're a direct response copywriter

About 7 years ago, some intrepid copywriter had the brain fart of inserting medical research citations into their alternative health copy.

Citations are the superscripts which denote the specific study where the copywriter pulled the claim, statistics or benefit.

Looking back, it was a brilliant idea and in the cases where I tested, while sometimes conversions were suppressed, most of the time, it boosted conversions anywhere from 3 to 15%.

But at the time? I had strong doubts.


Because while superscripts made the copy more believable/credible because they’re implied proof element, they could also disrupt the flow of the reader.

Think about it:

Someone’s reading your copy and they want to know where you got the information for a specific claim, so their curiosity takes hold and now they’re off running down some research rabbit hole–INSTEAD of continuing to be persuaded by your compelling copy.

Of course, that would be bad and show up in suppressed conversions.

So over the years, while I know they work, I’ve tried to temper going too far overboard with citations.

But a recent experience has given me cause to change my perspective yet again.

You see, normally I insert somewhere between 5 and 10 citations in a sales letter or VSL just for show, documenting the studies where I pulled the claims.

But now I’ve decided on doing it with every single claim, benefit and statistic.

I’ve done this before when the client has specifically asked but like I said, I haven’t done it all the time for the sake of readability.

Why the change of course now?

In a word, lawyers.

In my experience, lawyers have been pretty incredulous with the research I uncover.

Actually, they’re blown away.

So much so, when some of them review the copy, if I don’t have a strong claim cited, they think they’ve caught me in some fib that I’m trying to sneak past them.

They’re eager to point it out to the client, thus earning their keep in the client’s eyes. 😉

However, when I produce the research documenting the claim, they’re still incredulous–and they read the research studies themselves to see if I’m doing any wordplay or copywriting trickery.

All in all, it’s a big waste of time on everybody’s part.

So lately, I’ve just decided stick ALL THE CITATIONS in the copy and let the chips fall where they may.

In weird a way, I consider the lawyers’ questions as a sort of backhanded flattery.

Like “This claim can’t really be true, can it?”

I know I’ve done good if they try to call me out.

But I’ve decided if I cite comprehensively, they can just follow the breadcrumbs back to the studies to see for themselves.

For instance, there is an incredible yet overlooked herb that I was recently writing about. I had discovered scientific research that clearly stated the herb outperformed its pharmaceutical counterpart for a specific ailment.

(If you write copy in the alt health space you know, that’s like hitting the jackpot.)

At the time, I didn’t insert the corresponding citation into the copy and I should have anticipated this… I got pushback from the lawyer when I submitted the copy.

This scenario has started happening more than I would like. I’ll uncover some great research and the lawyers push back and say something to the effect of “you can’t say this.”

Then I send over the links to the relevant research to back up the claim, and what do I get back?


So even though citations may disrupt the readability somewhat, I’m going to start inserting them next to every claim, benefit and statistic.

And it’s not any more work really. I’m doing the research anyway, right?

It’ll save a ton of time going back and forth with the lawyers.

And who knows? We may even get more of a boost in conversions. 😉

Now if you’ve got testing results which either confirms or contradicts what I’ve said, or even just a comment, I’d love to hear it.

Just go ahead and hit the reply.

Nil Obstat (“Let nothing stand in your way”),


P.S. Years ago, I would analyze Eugene Schwartz ads for fun.

It’s a great copywriting exercise.

I bought some pdf of Eugene’s ads and I dissected them sentence by sentence, looking for what made them so persuasive.

In one exercise, I’d take a highlighter and highlight every single promise.

You’d be amazed at how many promises Eugene packed into a single full page ad.

Sometimes I counted as many as 25 different promises!

Now imagine, taking those 25 promises and inserting a superscript next to each one of them.

You can see how they could potentially disrupt the readability. Could prove intimidating.

But it could just as easily go the other way–providing overwhelming proof of the efficacy of the product.

So we’ll test and then we’ll know.

Sneaky Kindle Copywriting Secret

Do you want to know what the most referenced verse in all the Bible is?

Of course, you don’t.  😉

But YOU WILL appreciate how I know.

You see, in your Kindle you have the ability to highlight important paragraphs and phrases for later access.

You see this info for your own purposes, but more importantly, Amazon sees this. Better still, they have a feature that allows you to see the highlighted aggregations OF EVERYBODY ELSE who’s read the book.

So what’s the most highlighted verse in the Bible?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6–7

(It’s advice I should probably take.)


So let me give you a quick example of how I use this.

I’m writing a brain supplement offer right now and there’s a book on Amazon called Neurogenesis.

It’s a great book if your want to grow your brain.

So what’s the most highlighted paragraph in the book?

Whoa. 186 people took the time to highlight.

That’s pretty cool. I’ll bet I can weave that into the copy, for sure.

Here’s a few more…

Are you starting to see a pattern?

Readers don’t care about the science, they don’t care about how the brain works…

They just want to know how to boost their brains.

Let this be a lesson in Schwartz-like benefit-based writing.

It’s amazing to me that we have tools like this today that allows us to crawl into the minds of our readers and have a look around.

Go ahead and try it for yourself. And if you don’t have a Kindle, get one!

One Time Offers

Been writing One-time Offers for the past few days for a new ClickBank launch.

Just as a quick reminder, here’s some must-includes when writing the copy.  

No matter whether it’s for an OTO text letter or video sales letter, always…

  1. Make sure that little progress bar is at the top of the page to let them know they’re not in OTO hell…
  2. For highest conversions, use a benefit-based headline rather than a curiosity-based headline…
  3. In the first One Time Offer, pre-frame the entire OTO sequence as a series of “upgrades” or “accelerations”…
  4. Thank them for their initial purchase…
  5. Tell them the OTO complements their original purchase, that it’s an essential piece to complete the solution puzzle…
  6. Make sure there is little functional overlap between the frontend offer and the OTO…
  7. Give one strong reason why you’re making this offer right now…
  8. The best converting One Time Offers I’ve found tell people the OTO ACCELERATES results…
  9. No matter what, always contrast the price (I realize this can be difficult on ClickBank, but there are ways to get the job done)…
  10. Strongly reaffirm the guarantee…
  11. Make sure it REALLY IS a one time offer, that the price/product is only available this one time…
  12. Mild but still snarky “No, thanks” links work better than bland ones…
  13. The “pile on”: Ever see OTOs where they offer 10 or 20 reports for one ultra-low price?  These work like gangbusters. Two keys: The value is over the top and the titles of each of the reports have to crush it.

Like that? I hope it was helpful.

Nihil Obstat (“Nothing stands in your way”),


36 “My Life in Advertising” Ideas to Live By

Normally, I spend my days knee deep into “what’s working now.”

But occasionally reviewing the classics has always been rewarding for me. It never fails that I get an idea or two or three I can use on a project.

Today, I want to share the Cliff notes for Claude Hopkins’ My Life in Advertising.

I know several world class marketers who re-read the book every year. (At least they say they do!)


1. All advertising proves that people will do little to prevent troubles.

They do not cross bridges in advance. However, they will do anything to cure troubles which exist.

2. Superlative claims do not make a difference. To say that something is “The best in the world” makes no impression whatever.

Offer specifics–figures, facts, data.

3. Saying that a halogen lamp gives more light than other lamps is weak copy. Saying that it gives 3.5X the light of incandescent lamps is far superior.

4. Every ad should tell a complete story. It should include every fact and argument found to be valuable. Why? Most people read a story just once, as they do the news. There is no reason why they should read it again. So we need to get in that one reading every convincing fact.

5. Every effort to sell creates corresponding resistance. (It’s our job as copywriters and marketers to overcome this resistance. How? Quality content.)

6. The only way to sell is in some way to seem to offer superior service.

7. People follow the crowds. It is hard for them in most things to analyze reasons and worth, so they accept the verdict of the majority.

8. Boasting is the last thing people want to hear.

9. The “free” offer cheapens a product.

10. There is a certain resistance when we ask people to afterward pay for a product which came to them first as a gift.

11. It doesn’t pay to give either a sample or a full-size package to people who do not request it.

12. Products handed out without asking lose respect. (Take note U2)

13. We all of us love to study people and their accomplishments.

14. Stop offering samples to prospects who are uninterested.

15. Offer samples only to prospects who take some action to acquire them.

16. Remember that you are the seller. You are trying to win customers. Then make a trial easy to the people whom you interest. Don’t ask them to pay for your efforts to sell them. (Although I love a self-liquidating offer.)

17. Remove all restrictions and say, “We trust you,” and human nature likes to justify that trust.

18. Serve better than others, offer more than others, and you are pretty much sure to win.

19. Ask a person to take a chance on you, and you have a fight. Offer to take a chance on him, and the way is easy.

20. Analyze your offer until you’ve made sure that your customer had the best end of the bargain.

21. Argue anything for your own advantage, and people will resist. Seem to unselfishly consider your customers’ desires, and they will naturally flock to your offer.

22. Curiosity is a strong factor in human nature, and especially with women. Describe a gift, and some will decide that they want it, more will decide that they don’t.

23. People are crying out for new ways to make money. Discover those ways, find out how to promote them, and you will have offered ten times the work one man can ever do.

24. People like to deal with men whose names are connected with certain accomplishments.

25. Platitudes and generalities make no more of an impression than water on a duck’s back.

26. We rarely decide for ourselves, because we don’t know the facts. But when we see the crowds taking any certain direction, we are much inclined to go with them.

27. When we make an offer one cannot reasonably refuse, it is pretty sure to gain acceptance.

28. No other activating factor compares with curiosity. (Can you say “clickbait?” Claude knew this decades ago.)

29. We are influenced by our surroundings.

30. The road to success lies through ordinary people.

31. We do best what we like best.

32. A good product is its own best salesman.

33. Selling without samples is many times as hard as with them.

34. Get the leading men first. They will bring in the others. (I call this the big dog strategy.)

35. The man who works twice as long as his fellows is bound to go twice as far, especially in advertising.

36. My words will be simple, my sentences short. Scholars may ridicule my style.

Nihil Obstat (“Nothing stands in your way”),


P.S. Here’s the PDF if you’re curious:

Enjoy and good luck in your marketing and copywriting efforts.

Black Friday Promo Template

Today I saw all the retailers rolling out their holiday ads.

It inspired me to write this.

Be forewarned: You don’t have much time.

I encourage you to give serious consideration to conducting a Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale.

NOW’S THE TIME to figure it out and get your copywriter to work.

To take best advantage, treat Black Friday as a true campaign. Not just one or two emails.

For instance, here’s one template I use:

1) During the week leading up to Thanksgiving, I’m dropping hints about a Black Friday sale.

Once a day, in every email we send out, I let them know.

2) Then Thanksgiving day and night, I’m giving people a serious heads up. Benefits and opportunity galore.

Yeah, two emails get sent on Thanksgiving.

3) Then on Black Friday, we start early. 6AM east coast time, we launch. Maybe even 5AM to beat the other marketers to the punch.

You should know, the offer should be pretty amazing. Like they’d have to be an idiot, not to take you up on it.

In other words, don’t be a Scrooge.

It also helps to engineer some scarcity into the offer. Some sort of an inventory count down.

“Only 3 left!”

Then another couple of emails alerting people to the status that day of the sale.

4) Then, for whatever the reason you want to give them, keep the momentum going.

Don’t shut the sale down until Sunday night. On Saturday and Sunday, send out two emails a day, morning and night.

I’d structure them as “updates.” Again, keep the scarcity going.

5) Then Sunday night close it all down. Tell them thanks for playing.

6) Then Monday, start it all up again. 🙂

This time with a DIFFERENT, possibly even better offer.

Note: Always keep the emails fresh and original. Don’t drone on, like some marketers do.

Put some creative muscle into it. They don’t have to be long, but they DO have to be different.

And don’t be boring.

Now, about your offer:

It should be an offer Walmart shoppers would be willing to throw hands for.

You know what I’m talking about.

It should be a steal.

Don’t be stingy. No, you won’t cannibalize your sales.

In fact, you’ll be seen in a very admirable light if you position your offer as such.

(I’ve seen examples where it could be the start of a funnel process.)

In the past, what works best are high ticket offers. Things the majority of your list couldn’t afford anyway.

Black Friday gives you a reason to slash prices–and you won’t look desperate. You’ll look like a hero.

Now, you can add caveats, like:

“This doesn’t including monthly webinars, or one-on-one coaching or email interaction. This is bare bones.”

You make the rules, whatever works. But that’s the template I’ve seen work over the past five years.

Get into the holiday spirit and err on being generous.

Try it and let me know how it works for for you.

Nihil Obstat (“Nothing stands in your way”),


The Lazy Man’s Way (What Joe Karbo Taught Me)

About 7 years ago, I discovered a copywriting principle so powerful it makes AIDA look like the 100-year old has been it is.

Let me ask you a question.

Have you ever just sat there and gawked at the beauty of a piece of copy?

I’m not talking about design, I’m talking specifically about the words.

For me, it was Joe Karbo’s Lazy Man’s Way to Riches.

That was a beauty.

I mean there are definitely many others, but Joe’s full page ad kicked off my love affair with copywriting.

He was the catalyst. I’d say to myself…

“If he could write THAT and make millions, surely lowly I…”

You get the picture.

Which brings me to my point.

I’m sure others can back me up, if you’ve ever seen the product Joe was selling, then you know it wasn’t the greatest.

And that’s being kind about it.

The truth of the matter is…

It sucked.

As I recall, there was only two pages in the book that had any real value.

One was copy he wrote as a love letter to his wife. Totally blew me away.

The other was copy he used to sell a green Cadillac. I still remember it.

(It was BRILLIANT. And I’ve used the same exact strategy many times since.)

But Joe was right.

His little book that only cost fifty cents to publish, made me millions for myself, clients and partners.

Now the masters of copywriting will tell you that to write great copy, you need a great product.

Gary Bencivenga at his “100” seminar was particularly emphatic about it.

Yet I totally disagree.

Many times when I land a client, I don’t even have the product to work with to evaluate.

And even when I do, many times it sucks worse than Joe’s book.

No, a great product is definitely inspiring, but it’s not a necessity.

The reason why I say you don’t need a great product, is because…

People DO NOT fall in love the product, or even its features and benefits.

No. People fall in love with THE COPY first.

What they’re buying is:


They’re not putting their trust in the product.

They’re putting their trust, faith and belief in THE COPY.

It’s not the product that gets them to part with their money, it’s THE COPY.

When you work in hyper-competitive markets with hundred of different products that all look the same, you quickly realize the quality of the writing is what immediately differentiates you.

Spend some time analyzing the competitive on ClickBank and you’ll see.

Copy is what people are really buying.

And this is why marketers like Agora is so insistent on amazing copy–almost to a fault.

And if you look at the big time marketers today, I won’t name names, you’ll discover the majority of their initial products sucked.

Yet they made a go of it, didn’t they?

In fact, I recently wrote a promotion for a 2 and a half page “product”.

The copy? 24 pages. Yes, 24 pages to sell a 2+ page product.

Amazingly, the offer sold out in 15 minutes against a small list of 1000.

What’s more is that there have been zero refunds.

(I once heard Joe saying he had few refunds as well.)

The copy kickstarts the “first impression cognitive bias”. It sets the stage.

This is why the smartest marketers write the copy first, AND THEN the develop the product.

In fact, one of my copywriting partners on my team REFUSES to look at client products.

Remember how Eugene Schwartz used to take a highlighter to an book or something to pull out the best stuff?

I still do that. But my partner refuses.

He says most of the infoproducts depress him because they could be so much better. They take the wind out of his inspirational sails.

So he writes the copy based upon HIS research. He finds out what customers in the market REALLY want.

Unlike most

And I must say his copy is EONS better than the product.

So much so, the client falls crazy in love with it.

I’m not kidding.

Here’s his secret: As long as he DOESN’T have a peek at the product, he’s able to write without the limitations and restrictions normally imposed.

He can “unleash” and write pretty much whatever he wants. (Of course, he has morals.)

Here’s the thing:

The client is usually so impressed with the copy they often go back and add to the product, filling in the missing components until the product matches the copy bullet for bullet.

My goal of this email today is to reorient your thinking.

Perhaps to get you to appreciate why it’s important to put so much muscle into your copy.


P.S. What’s your favorite piece of copy? Leave a comment and tell me about it, ok?

We can geek out on copy together.

P.P.S. Here’s Joe’s copy in all its glory:



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