#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,



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!


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