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,


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.

My first copywriting hack of 2019

Ok, so the holidays are over, the kids went back to school yesterday, it’s January the 8th and I’m back in the saddle.

How were your holidays?

I hope they were good. 

Maybe you took an Amish day or two and shut down all the technology and gave yourself a breather from social media?

I hope you also got to spend time with the family, no matter how annoying they can be at times.

It’s weird how when you stick people with the same DNA in the same house together for any period of time there’s this “magnets effect” that happens.

At times, there’s this intense, loving bonding. Then at other times, there’s a repulsion where you can’t get far enough away from each other. 😛

It’s funny, because other than the occasional fight over the video game controllers, the kids don’t seem to have this problem.

The biggest thing I hope is that you took some time for yourself and de-stressed, unwound and got your balance back.

It’s weird. Especially when you’re writing copy. 

Sometimes, maybe most times, you do your best work when you don’t have any stress bearing down on you.

Of course, there are other times when intense pressure to get something done or achieve a specific result carries the day.

But for the most part, I think killing yourself to get the job done is overplayed.

And that goes triple if you’re using alcohol or drugs to get the job done.

I know old timers will tell you tales of their copywriting exploits when they had a bottle of wine in hand to help conjure the muses.

But we know now in 2019, that’s unsustainable.

You’re better off factoring in some free time to unwind into your day rather than plowing through it with a bottle of Jack at your side.

It seems my research work these days is always uncovering strange connections between disease and stress.

In other words, you don’t just get sick for no reason. What’s usually the catalyst? 

A bout of stress.

Now this is a hard lesson to learn. Or a habit to break, even for me.

I used to have this mantra I say to myself when things got intense…

“The more pressure I can take, the more pressure I can take.”

And then I’d look at the most successful men and women in business and think about all the pressure those guys were under.

If they could handle all that pressure of running a Fortune 500 business, surely I could.

Now, I have nothing against hustling.

Hustling is the art of getting stuff done. And it’s essential to business.

Instead, I’m talking about stress. Worry. Concern over things that are pretty much out of your control or influence.

When it comes to stress, the biggest thing you can do for your health in 2019 is get some quality sleep every night.

I read somewhere that “sleep is your greatest physician.”

Based upon my scientific research, I truly believe that.

(I’ve done multiple offers over the years for infoproducts which helped people get a rejuvenating sleep. The success stories are phenomenal.)

And yet as a culture, we’re perpetually in a sleep deficit.

But I’ll tell you a personal secret.

Sleep is an incredible source of copywriting inspiration.

I can’t tell you the number of times I go to bed with a marketing problem or a challenge… and wake up with the perfect bit of copy or a novel solution for it.

So much so, I keep a notebook.

Not to mention all the business generating ideas I wake up with for my clients. I seem to throw them off like sparks in the morning.

In the afternoon? Not so much. 😉

But the morning is incredible.

My point is in business, there’s a line of thinking that says “sleep is for wimps.”

Like if you sleep, then you’re not serious about success.

I take a contrarian approach.

Your body needs sleep. Give it as much sleep as your body needs, when it needs it.

In Victorian times, Charles Dickens talked about a “second sleep”. A second time to sleep each day.

I say if you need it, then take it. Your body will thank you. I believe your business will prosper as well.

And you’ll write better copy.

Consider this my first copywriting hack for 2019.

And it’ll lead to a better quality of life. Besides making making you less grumpy and more agreeable. 🙂

Nil Obstat (“Let nothing stand in your way”) and Have a Stress-free, Prosperous New Year,


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