Ray Edwards Copywriter Interview – How to Write Copy That Sells
The Step-By-Step System for More Sales, To More Customers, More Often
When asked who impresses me most in selling and persuasion…
I don’t mention a great statesman or politician or business leader or even a top sale closer…
No, for me, the greatest salespeople are the writers of persuasive sales copy!
One such person is Ray Edwards.
Lets face it, sales often gets a bad name – but not with Ray Edwards.
He is a master at taking the sleaze out of sales.
Earlier this month I was fortunate to have some time with Ray and interview him for our new series of Podcasts.
Two things in particular stood out for me…
- The P.A.S.T.O.R Formula (a very easy to understand way to write persuasive sales copy)
- Plus Ray has some very wise words about SEO Copywriting – top advice for all serious bloggers (19.55 min)
=> Listen to this Podcast several times. It really is that GOOD!
Ray Edwards Copywriter | Podcast (Click to listen)
Ray Edwards – 5 Recommended Books on Writing and Copywriting
=> How to Write Copy that Sells By Ray Edwards (Get it!)
=> The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. (fantastic book)
=> Deep Work by Cal Newport. (highly recommended)
=> Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott,
=> On Writing by Stephen King
Ray Edwards Podcast Transcript…
Barry Dunlop: First things first, Ray, and the most importantly, how did you get started as a copywriter?
Ray Edwards: It’s an interesting question to me, because I didn’t know that I was getting started.I was about eight or nine years old. I used to go to my grandparents’ house on the weekends, and they had this newspaper that they got every week.
It had the most fascinating articles in it, the most fantastic articles about how you could use certain pressure points on your body to relieve pain, and how you could absorb books in just a few minutes that other people spent weeks reading.
Only later did I discover, Barry, that these were not articles. These were long-form, direct-response copy advertisements, and they were written by Eugene Schwartz, the great copywriter from the ’50s and ’60s.
The newspaper was the “Weekly World News.” It was a tabloid, kind of fantastical, the newspaper that had stories about UFOs, the boy who eats his own head, and stuff like that.
Barry: [laughs] We had them in Ireland as well, by the way.
Ray: People love that kind of stuff. That’s why it’s at the checkout stand in the US at the grocery stores, because people buy them on impulse.Later, I got into the radio broadcasting business, and I began studying copywriting to help small business owners that we were working with — they were our clients — to help them bring dollars in the door.
Those kind of business people did not care about building their image or building a brand. What they cared about was getting the cash registers to ring so they could pay the bills every month. That was really the beginning of it for me.
Barry: Got you. I like it, actually, because if I look at my own life, quite often people ask me how I did this. I often answer, “Well, it was really an accident.”I’m sure that it isn’t really an accident, but you didn’t know you were becoming a copywriter then – but you where.
Possibly maybe the question I should have started off with then is, “How do you define copywriting? What is copywriting, and why is it so important to us entrepreneurs and small business people?”
Ray: That’s such a good question, because usually with half the people I talk to, I have to clear up the confusion about the word copywriting. Most people, many people, think that it refers to that little symbol after the title of a book, a piece of music, or a work of art that protects your intellectual property.
That’s not the kind of copywrite that we’re talking about. We’re talking about writing the words that sell products or services or ideas. That is writing copy.
It is really salesmanship or persuasion in print.
Barry: : I like that. “Salemanship or persuasion in print.”I always prided myself in being very good at face-to-face selling, and over the years, I always said to people who might congratulate me on my sales ability, that “The salespeople I really admire are the salespeople who can move you from far, far away by something they’ve written.”
Those are always the most impressive sales people to me.
In your book, “How to Write Copy that Sells,” which is a great book, you refer to the magic building blocks of sales copy. Would you mind giving a little bit of information on what are those blocks and how we use them?
Ray: Sure, I’d be happy to walk through the basics of that.What I discovered pretty early on is that there is an underlying formula to how to construct a persuasive sales message. The building blocks of a sales letter, the perfect sales letter…I’ll give you the basic outline of the sales letter. It starts…
Actually, with your permission, I’d like to back up. I think there’s a better place for us to go with this.
The building blocks are a little lengthy to describe, but there’s something I can give your listeners that I think they could start using five minutes from now to be more persuasive, not just in their sales copy, but in their emails and their conversations with people. Do you think that would useful?
Barry: That would be spot on. We’d absolutely love it. That’s what we like at IncomeDiary, real actionable stuff we can take away today.
Ray: Good, because this formula that I’m about to give you, this framework, is really the foundation of the building blocks. If people want more information about the building blocks, they can refer to my book, which I think they can get on Amazon for eight bucks or something like that. Obviously, I’m going to get rich if I sell enough of those books.
Ray: Here’s the foundation. I call it the PASTOR framework. People look at me sometimes with the raised eyebrow when I say, “I’m going to give you the sales copy.” They’re like, “Do you want me to be a preacher? “My answer is, “No, this is about you thinking of yourself in the original meaning, context, of that word, which was to shepherd. The shepherd is in charge of caring for the flock, protecting them, feeding them, making sure they have water, keeping the predators away.”
I tell people, “If you will take that approach, if you will think of yourself as a shepherd to your customers, then you will never come across as pushy or salesy, because you’ll always be working in their best interests, to protect them.”
That’s the attitude that the word pastor is designed to invoke. The letters of the word pastor, P-A-S-T-O-R, actually stand for the outline of any persuasive messaging.
It starts like this.
The P stands for the person, the problem, and the pain.
You need to identify the person you’re writing to, the problem that your product or service is intended to solve, and you need to be able to express very clearly the pain that your person is experiencing, and you need to be able to express it in their terms, not in your terms.
What I mean by that — just a quick example — someone who is struggling to get into physical condition, into physical shape. Maybe they’re overweight, and they want to lose some pounds.
You might see their problem in the pain that they’re experiencing in terms of their cardiovascular health, the risk of diabetes, and so forth. You may see those as the big reasons they need to make this change.
They, on the other hand, don’t perceive that pain. That’s not what’s most real to them most of the time. What’s most real to them is the way they look, the way they feel about the way they look.
You need to talk about the pain the way it’s meaningful to your person. It’s a case of that old adage, that is, we sell people what they want, but we have to make sure we give them what they need.
Barry: Got you. That’s great.
Ray: The A of pastor stands for amplify, and this is where you stress the consequences of what will happen if they don’t solve the problem.
Barry, we are great creatures of denial. We are able to deny so many things.
I was a smoker for quite some time. I smoked a lot of cigarettes, about two packs a day, I was able to deny that that was really bad for me. That was creating a terrible risk for my heart. It was creating a terrible risk of cancer.
As I saw more and more people fall victim to those problems, I realized, “I need to stop this,” because the consequences of not stopping that behavior became more real to me.
That’s part of our job in the sales copy , to amplify the cost of not solving the problem.
The S in pastor stands for story and solution.
This is where you tell the story of someone who has solved that same problem using your solution, or even a solution like yours.
The T stands for transformation and testimony.
This is where you articulate the results that your product or service will bring, and you provide real, live testimonials to strengthen your case.
It’s really important to understand here that you need to talk about the transformation and not about the methodology.
The example I often like to give is if people buy the P90x weight loss and exercise fitness program, they are not buying the box of DVDs, the wall chart, and chin-up bar. That’s not what they’re buying.
What they’re buying is the six-pack abs, the muscular physique, the great-looking body that they really feel like they should have, the great-looking body that most people feel like they have, until they look in the mirror, and then they realize, “Oh, I look like that?”
They’re looking for that transformation. That’s also what you need to talk about in the offer, which is the next part of the framework.
The O is the offer.
This is where you describe exactly what you’re offering for sale. 80 percent of your offer talk, where you say, “Here’s exactly what you get,” 80 percent of what you say there is also about the transformation. This is where I see people mess this up a lot of time.
They talk about the methodology, the DVDs, the 800 pages of coursework, or the three-day seminar. That stuff, the deliverables, the vehicle that gets people to the transformation, should only be about 20 percent of your offer talk.
Finally, the R stands for response, and that just means you ask for one.
You ask for the sale.
Using those letters of the word pastor to build out the framework of your persuasive message works with any kind of messaging that you’re doing, including an interview like the one we’re doing right now.
Barry: I was almost going to say at the beginning, “Do you have a formula?” and here you give us one. I didn’t even ask you did you have a formula, and you’ve come right out with it. So many people try to make out that somehow you have to be some sort of special clever, if you like, or something like this. When you lay it out like this, it gives people like myself who, obviously, I’m fairly confident as a salesperson, but was never very confident as a copywriter. I think, “OK, well, I can follow a formula like that. That’s really quite straightforward.”
I know our audience would love that, Ray, and it’s really good.
If I may, I keep coming back to your book, How to Write Copy that Sells, but there’s something in particular that got my attention, which I think I know where it goes with this, but I wanted to get your clarification on it.
You mentioned in the book the secrets of writing blockbuster copy by watching movies. Can you elaborate? Can you go a little further into that? How in the world can I write really great copy by watching movies?
Ray: This is like the best news ever, right? You’re like this too good to be true.[laughter]
Barry: Something like that.
Ray: “I can watch “The Avengers,” and I can learn how to write copy?”
Ray: There’s a Native American proverb that says,
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”
I’ve written some blockbuster promotions. Some of my sales letters have brought in multimillion-dollar paydays for my clients and for me. Something that I recognized early on is that as I compared the successful pieces of copy that I had created, I began to identify the single biggest difference between copy that rocks, that really gets the job done and sells stuff like nobody’s business, is stories.
The way I came across this idea — which I’m not the first person to come across this, but I think my particular view of it is a little bit different.
I figured it out watching moves, and more specifically, watching movie trailers. You know, when you go to the theater, and they show the coming attraction previews, they have these super compelling preview reels that often more compelling than the actual movie itself?
Barry: I know I’ve gone to the movie and been disappointed. [laughs]
Ray: Yes, you walk out of the movie and say to yourself, “They put all the best stuff in the trailer.”
Barry: Sometimes. Not always, but sometimes.
Ray: Yes. I think that the secret of great movie trailers, and of great sales copy is something that I call the dominant story idea, or I call it the DSI for short. The formula — I’m into breaking things down into processes and formulae, and the formula that I see happening with the best, most successful movie trailers is they do three things without fail. There are other elements they may bring into it, but they do these three things without fail.
Number one, they give you the dominant story idea.
Number two a sample of the feelings you will get from the movie itself.
Number three, they provide proof that the movie delivers . I’ve selected a couple. In the book, I give a couple of examples. They’re older examples, and I do that because most people will recognize these films. If they don’t immediately recognize them, they were made so long ago that nobody will get mad at me for giving away the spoilers.
The first example I love to share is the movie “21,” which starred Kevin Spacey. The dominant story idea of this movie was a college math whiz professor uses his skills to beat the Vegas casinos, gets seduced by the dark side, and gets in trouble with some very, very bad guys.
The sample feelings are we see Ben Campbell and his innocent face. We see him start winning. We see him getting seduced by money, power, and very hot women, and then we see him getting into some really scary situations.
We’re already kind of tense, and thinking, “I want this guy to win, I don’t want bad things to happen to him.” The proof that the movie works is really social proof, because we see Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, and Laurence Fishburne.
These are proven actors that we love, and some very compelling scenes. They’re tightly edited, only the best parts are shown, and in the background, we’re anchored to the sound of The Doors playing “Break on Through to the Other Side.”
We get all these feelings delivered to us, proof that the movie works, and we instantly get the dominant story idea. We could walk out of the theater and say, “Well, I’ll tell you what that movie is about. It’s about this guy who learned how to beat the casinos, and then they start chasing him down.
“He’s in trouble with the mob.” It’s very easy to describe the dominant story idea. When we’re writing our copy, we need to first of all, showcase our dominant story idea, “What’s the big idea of our copy?”
Number two, give sample feelings. If we look at movie trailer examples, in your copy, you need to show some scenes that will help the reader feel the feelings they want to get from your product .
To go back to the P90x DVD product, if you watch their ads on television, their infomercials, what you see is transformation after transformation after transformation. You see people who look maybe like you do now, and then you see those people transformed into what you want to look like in the near future.
That’s not an accident. If you look at those commercials very carefully, Barry, you will see that the Beach Body people have selected an assortment of individuals who pretty much look like anybody.
Anybody in the audience who’s watching this is going to find somebody that looks sort of like them. That’s not an accident. Then proof the product works are the before and after shots.
That’s an example of how to use this framework that movie producers use to pull people in and get their attention, and get them interested in the story.
Barry: Wonderful. This is absolute gold dust, this is. Assuming that I’m a rookie copywriter, or I’m a business owner, which is most of our audience, who might be writing a sales letter or a sales copy for the first time in their life, in your experience, what’s the biggest mistake people make when they first start writing copy?
Ray: There’s absolutely one biggest mistake that wrecks and destroys most copy, and that is writing the copy for the benefit of the marketer instead of writing it for the benefit of the customer. We have such a hard time getting out of our own heads, and into the heads of the people we’re selling to. This is almost impossible to do without interacting with customers in some way.
Maybe it’s reading emails from customers. Maybe it’s reading your customer support desk tickets. The best way is to do it through talking with actual customers and listening to their language, the way they describe their problems, their situation, their life, and writing from their perspective.
One way to gauge this is to go through your copy and see how much of the time you spend focused on you, your awesomeness, your good product, your good reputation, your good track record.
These are all things that are important for people to know, but really, 80 percent of the copy should be about the problem that your customer has, how you’re going to help them solve it, and the pain that they experience.
Jay Abraham is the one who made the observation that if you can describe your customer’s problem in so much detail that you can describe it better than they can, they automatically assume you know how to fix the problem.
Barry: That’s wonderful. I get that, that’s clever.
Something that’s always fascinated me, Ray, about copy, and you will know the stats a whole lot better than me, is the difference between writing copy and also the headline.
In your experience, which comes first, the headline or the copy, or is there no right or wrong way for doing it?
Ray: Well, it’s like any art form, and copy is part science and part art. Sometimes the headline comes to me first, but usually that’s not how it works. I’d say 90 percent of the time I write the copy first, and the headline emerges. My experience is that the more time you spend in research, preparation, and writing drafts, the more discovery you do about the right language to use to express your main idea.
You need to have a big idea.
A corollary to not writing from the perspective of the consumer is not having a big idea that you can quickly sum up for people.
P90x, I don’t know that they would approve of how I’m going to describe their big idea, but I think their big idea is, “Spend 90 days working out so hard you will puke in a bucket, and you’ll look great.”
Ray: The unique thing about them is they were the pioneers of going the opposite direction of the whole market, which was to say, “This device, this exercise machine, this diet program is easy. It makes you burn pounds while you sleep.” The P90x people made their mark by saying, “This is really hard, but it’s worth it.”To get back to your question about which comes first, the headline or the copy, I think most of the time it’s writing the copy first, and the headline emerges, but as I said, sometimes it works the other way around.
I think every person has to find their own process, but that’s my process.
Barry: That’s very interesting, because a lot of our audience is bloggers. Generally speaking — this is not always the case — but bloggers quite often are into SEO, so quite often, they’ll write a title first, because they’ll have to include whatever term they’re going after for search engine optimization. They work backwards, which I know…It’s interesting, that your way seems much more genuine and sincere. It seems the right way. That’s why the question came up, because I wondered if there was a right or wrong.
What you’re really saying is there is no right or wrong, but you personally start with the copy, and then you go to the headline.
Barry: Talking of the headline…Go on. Sorry, Ray.
Ray: I’m going to jump in for just a moment, because you just brought up something that I’m a little bothered by, that is this idea of SEO copywriting. I understand how important it is, but I believe that you have to focus on good writing first and SEO second. If you start by focusing on SEO, and you build your writing based on that, I think you end up with a lesser quality piece of writing.
It may not be true in every case, so I don’t want anybody to get angry with me, but I think if you start from figuring out, “What’s the message that I’m trying to deliver? What’s the change that I want to make with people?”
I have a concept I call your unique core thesis. I think for every piece of writing that you’re creating you need a unique core thesis. One way of describing it would be it’s the one idea that you want people to walk away from your presentation with. If they don’t buy anything, if they don’t remember anything else you said, this is the one thing you want them to take away.
If you can figure out what that thing is, it will shape the rest of your writing. After you do that, you can figure out the SEO part based on what you wrote. You’ll attract the people you actually are writing it for, which may be a different group than you started out thinking about.
Barry: That is brilliant, Ray. That is exactly the kind of information we need. You’ve put it better than I could have ever imagined putting it, so thank you for that. It really is good.You might well be able to get a theme here coming up, because I’ve got a bit of a fascination with headlines. [laughs] Maybe I should see a doctor about it.
Do you want to give us some ideas? Do you have any particular headlines that work really well for you, and maybe can you explain why they work so well? Why did you think they worked so well?
Ray: I said earlier this is part art and part science. The science part is learning from things that have worked in the past and being able to use those forms to guide your creation process, especially early in the game when you’re just getting started, either when you’re just getting started with copywriting in general, or maybe when you’re just starting on a project.You need to have a little bit of a kickstart. The headline is a really important piece of copy, because its job is to get people to stop and then read what comes next. That’s the job of the headline.
John Caples, who’s a legendary copywriter said:
“If you can come up with a good headline and lead” — the lead is the first part of the ad — “you’re almost sure to have a good ad. But even the greatest copywriter cannot save an ad without a good headline.”
I think the qualities that you are looking for in a good headline, there are five of them.
Number one, it grabs attention. It needs to make people stop and think. Here’s a couple of classic headlines that worked really well on this score, on the grabbing attention idea.
“Can you really be younger next year?” That’s a great headline for the people that it would appeal to. If you’re a 20-year-old, you’re probably not going to be interested in that, but if you’re of a certain age you might be interested in that headline.
“Which of these five mistakes do you make in English?” That’s another famous headline that was a real attention-getter and made a lot of money for the company that hired John Caples to write it.
The second quality of a headline that works is it screens and qualifies your readers. The third quality is it draws readers into the body copy. The fourth is it communicates the big idea, which we were just talking about a little bit earlier. The fifth is it establishes credibility.
You can’t always get a headline to meet all five of those criteria, but I usually try. I shoot for at least three.
You asked me, though, for some examples of headlines that work really well. I’m going to give you a couple that people can start with, and they can use them today.
The first one is the how-to headline. The key to making this particular headline work is you need to tie it to a benefit your reader cares about. You’ve seen these so often you may dismiss them, but they really work extremely well.
“How to write a blog post every day.”
That’s one of the best testing headlines that I’ve personally used myself.
“How to land more clients as a freelancer.”
You can see that those are directly tied to benefits that readers are going to care about. That’s the key to making that headline work.
I’ll give you three.
The second form of headline I would give you that would work really well is what I call the transactional headline. This is all about making a promise of a trade.
You say something like,
“Give me 30 minutes, and I’ll give you more blog traffic.”
You’re asking them for something, but you’re giving them something that is much more valuable.
“Try these five tactics for a week and be twice as productive.”
That’s a transactional headline.
Barry: Interestingly, when you’re coming with those headlines — again, maybe it’s because I’m focused on blogging — those are great, also, for SEO, actually. Those are terms that people might use or want to use when searching for the information that you’re providing. It’s actually brilliant. I have, obviously, got a big fascination with headlines. We’re going to change the subjects, just for a little bit, because I do know that you personally do a lot of, have in the past, done a lot of writing for print.
Would you say there’s a big difference between writing for a printed material rather than the Web, or is there no difference between the two? What would you say the difference was?
Ray: There is some difference, but I think there’s less than most people believe. The main difference is you can click on things on the web and go somewhere else and explore further.If you’ve been using a tablet or a touch device long enough, you’ll find yourself in a restaurant trying to tap things on the menu and realize, “Oh, that doesn’t work on a paper menu.”
That’s the biggest difference, is the clickability, and the fact that you can incorporate videos and things like that into your copy.
The actual writing of the text is not all that different, especially when you consider that I believe one of the main principles we need to remember is we need to think about, “What’s the context in which people are coming to our copy?”
If people are coming to the copy that represents your product, your company, or your service, and they’re coming to it online after having read an ad, say on Facebook, that’s much different than people coming to your copy because a friend of theirs sent them an email and said, “Hey, you’ve got to go check this site out.”
They have a whole different attitude , or they have a whole different set of desires, and so, you have to think about, “How are most people coming to my copy online?” and having to write in a way that responds to that context.
If you think about it, the same is true of something in print. If you’re sending a letter in the mail, you know certain things about what’s going to happen. They’re going to get the letter out of the mailbox, out of the post. They’re going to open it, or maybe they’re going to throw it away.
What makes them throw it away? You need to think about what the envelope looks like. It comes down — again, I know I sound like a broken record, if anybody remembers what those are, but…
Barry: I do. [laughs]
Ray: Thank you. Bless you, my friend. It comes back to understanding the life, the worldview, the context of the people you’re writing to, and delivering content to them in a way that’s relevant to them and their situation.
Barry: Got you. We’re going to go slightly off at a tangent now, just because the question’s come into my head. There’s a question which I ask a lot of entrepreneurs when I meet them, so I don’t see why I can’t ask it of a copywriter, as well. If it doesn’t stack up and doesn’t make sense, obviously, you’ll tell me so.
But if you could go get in a time machine, and you could go back in time 5 years, 10 years, 20 years — it doesn’t matter how far you go back, is there anything you personally…This is a very personal question.
Is there anything, not necessarily that you would do personally differently, but anything that you think, “We should have done this,” or maybe, “This would have been something to have done then.” Is there anything that you would like to add there?
Ray: In the context of my business, I would have started much earlier building an email list that I sent email to regularly. A lot of people will say, “The money’s in the list.” No, it’s not.
The money is in the relationship you have to the list. You can have an email subscriber base of 100,000 subscribers, but if none of them open your emails, guess how much that list is worth?
Ray: Exactly. Then again, you could have a list of 1,000 subscribers, and if all of them are rabidly waiting and paying attention for your next email, that is an extraordinarily valuable asset, so I wish, a lot earlier.
Barry: You seem to have done very well with the catching up, put it that way, Ray. I’ve been aware of you for quite some time. One thing I’ve been primarily aware of about is your very good reputation, because you know that we’re in a world today where bad reputations get around really fast. Your integrity and your honorability is something that most…
They’ll say, “Ray, a good guy. A good guy.” I congratulate you on that, because that’s the kind of thing that I’d like to think most people would say about me. Whether they do or not, I don’t know. I think I would like to acknowledge that, Ray, because I think it’s very important.
Also, and this is where we’re going to come back to something you and I are involved in in a moment, is product launches. People have different opinions about it.
Actually, can I just make a recommendation to everybody here? I think most of the IncomeDiary people will have heard of you now.
If you’ve not heard of Ray, I would seriously suggest you get on his list. Go to his blog. It doesn’t even matter if you get a link from IncomeDiary telling you about Ray, just make sure you’re getting email from Ray Edwards, because it’s an education. It really is.
Today I had an email from you. I want to pick this one up in particular, Ray, because I thought it was great. It relates to a product launch. It’s a launch for your product, The Copywriting Academy Online Coaching Program. Your subject line for it was, “My Clever Scam.”
It related to me, because quite often, doing what I do in business and did all my life, you quite often find somebody who tries to see the worst in you, and tries to assume that you’re a nasty person. Maybe you’re just there to take money off people, and maybe not even deliver any value.
I know that’s not the case for you, and hopefully people know that’s not the case with me. I loved your email, and how you went about it.
How do you handle, may I ask ? I’m sure you don’t get a lot of it, but you get the odd negative person. Does it ever get to you? Does it get you down? How do you handle it? Do you let it go in one ear, out the other?
Ray: Obviously, I would be lying if I said it didn’t get to me. It bothers me, because none of us likes to hear that people don’t like us for whatever reason. In this case, I think it was for no real good reason at all.My wife sometimes will say to me, “Honey, don’t burn down their newspaper stand.” What she’s referring to is there was a television show in America called “Frasier.” I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it.
Barry: Oh, indeed, yes.
Ray: There’s an episode in Frasier where — for those who don’t know, in the series he had a radio show. They were doing a focus group where they brought in all these listeners to talk about what they liked about the Frasier show, and what they didn’t.Everybody loved his show except this one guy, who just didn’t like it, and Frasier became obsessed with making that guy like him.
He started following him around and stalking him, and in the end of this comedic sketch, Frasier ends up accidentally setting fire to the guy’s newspaper stand. That’s what my wife is referring. She’s basically saying, “Let go.”
Barry: I’ll use that next time, because that’s a good explanation, actually. I’ve seen this a lot in life. You could have a hundred really happy customers, one customer who really doesn’t have anything to be unhappy about, but just is a miserable person, if you like, and you worry about them. Terrific. Thank you, Ray. That’s a great answer.
Coming back to the product launches, I think most people now are familiar with what I would call a product launch formula, if you like, of how they work. In your opinion, do these still work, or if they don’t, what needs to be done to them these days to adapt them to work in 2017? What’s your view currently?
Ray: They still work. They work better than ever, in fact, when you do them correctly. I think the problem that happens is people have seen product launches from the outside, and they think they know how to do one, and what’s involved.What they’re missing is the fact they’re looking at the tip of the iceberg, and underneath the water, there’s much more substance than there is above the water line. They don’t really see the internal workings.
Often, they’re watching a person do a product launch who copied what they’re doing from a person who copied what they were doing from another person, who copied it from another person.
None of them actually went to the source, who is Jeff Walker, who created a thing called Product Launch Formula. He’s the guy who really has the latest data, because he’s at the center of this particular form of marketing.
The short answer is, I think you need to do product launches with intelligence, with grace, and for those who don’t know, it’s simply a matter of releasing a sequence of free, useful material that people can use and benefit from, whether they ever buy anything from you or not.
For me this is modern marketing.
You need to make your marketing valuable in and of itself, whether people buy from you or not.
I have a philosophy that if people don’t get something from my marketing that they can use, that benefits them, if they walk away from it saying, “Well, that was a waste of time,” then I haven’t done my job, because I believe that marketing is something we do for people, not something we do to them.
Barry: I love that. I think that’s the point, which I emphasize to people. In fact, I’ve said it to many people, because occasionally people will say to me — I actually would get emails, because people often just reply to the list email when we send it out, and say, “What’s he selling, and how much does it cost?” I would say, “Obviously, eventually Mr. X or whoever is going to probably try to sell you something, and that’s wonderful. However, that’s not what you need to worry about right now. Right now, he’s giving you a 30 minute video. There is a price to the 30 minute video.
“It’s 30 minutes of your time to watch it. It isn’t entirely free if you look at it that way. From the point of view that you’re going to have 30 minutes, and if you get some value out of it, it’ll be worth your 30 minutes investment.”
That’s what I like about product launches. In fact, I actually tell everybody to get on as many lists as possible, certainly of all the high quality guys, because there’s so much wonderful information that they’ll give away at no cost to you, except investing your time to watch it, or listen to it.
That’s something that I have really got from you, Ray. Sometimes, I look at what — and don’t take this the wrong way — at what you’re giving away, and I think, “Is the man really thinking right? [laughs] It’s almost too much.”
Like earlier on, you’ve given us this PASTOR formula, which is an amazing formula. If nobody does anything but just implement that PASTOR formula, they’re going to make money from it. They’re going to have value from it. All they’ve done is listen to two guys talking on a Skype call across the world, and they’ve got phenomenal value out of it.
I’m really grateful for you making the time to do this for the IncomeDiary audience, Ray. It’s really kind of you.
Ray: It’s my pleasure. If I may take just a moment, I want to button up this topic a little bit, because I think it’s important to understand that everything that happens to you in your business is an opportunity, if you’ll take the time to see it that way. The email that you referred to, the opportunity arose with me being really, honestly, Barry, I was upset with this person who made these comments about me online. Then I took a moment to calm down, and think about my spiritual practices, and thinking, “Well, this is not really the right way to respond to this. What’s the opportunity in this?”
I didn’t name this person by name, and I didn’t point out anything that would make them feel belittled. They’re not reading my email, because I made sure they were unsubscribed from my list.
I titled it My Clever Scam, and then I said in the email, “Every time we open the doors for the Copy Writing Academy, this happens. It’s just like it’s a full moon. The crazies come out.”
Then I said, “We had thousands of people go through my all-new free training. 99.9 percent of the people loved it, but there’s always a few jokers who just don’t get it, or maybe they do, they just like stirring things up, like the guy who posted, “Very clever scam, teasing before selling us something.”
Then he wrote in all caps, “SCAMMER.” I wrote — and I did get a little sarcastic here — I said, “How doth cluelessness show itself? Let me count the ways.
“Number one, if you think selling something is evil, then why are you watching a video about how to sell stuff?
Number two, did you not read the thousands of messages from other people who got great value from the series?
“Number three, well, you figured out my clever scam, which is to give away free stuff that’s so good, people want to buy my paid training.”
My message was, to my subscribers, if you become successful at all, you’re going to have these people show up.
These trolls are going to show up. I made the observation, “It doesn’t matter how good you are. I bet even Mr. Rogers had trolls. Take it as a sign that you’re on the track.”
Barry: That’s very good. I always say that to people as well. If you don’t occasionally sort of — I hate to use the word — “upset” somebody, or somebody says something negative to you, you’re really not trying hard enough. You’ve nailed it there. I, obviously, like everybody, see a lot of email, but I printed this one off.
Actually, I realized I only printed off the first page of it. I’m pretty sure you had a very clever PS on it. Did you have a clever PS, something about commies, or something like that in it?
Ray: I said, “I suppose I should be flattered to have a troll or two. This will happen to you. Want to see the free training that has Tommy Troll so upset? Go grab it soon. We’ll be taking it down in a few days.”
The PS said, “Yes, I might eventually sell you something, so if you hate capitalism, bunnies, and babies, you won’t be interested in this.” I made “be interested in this” into a link.
Barry: Indeed. That was actually, to me, the best part of the email.
As I said earlier, people, get on Ray’s list. If you don’t…Listen, you can hear the guy’s as genuine as he ever could be.
Look, the man’s saying, “Look, you don’t even have to buy.” He’s going to try reasonably hard to sell you something, but he hasn’t yet worked out a way to get the credit card out of your pocket and make it work.
Ray: If I could work that out, I wouldn’t do it, because that’s not a good thing to do.
Barry: Indeed, that’s not a good thing to do.
Many, many years ago, I remember a story I was told by somebody when I was starting out. Believe it or not, my entrepreneurial career started out as an Amway distributor. I remember my upline gave me this advice.
I had somebody, a family member, that was really laughing at me, and saying I was being silly to do this AMWAY thing”
My up-line explained, “These are the people you’re going to succeed in spite of.”
I found it a way to great way to turn it around. It was in spite of that person writing that really nasty email, or that person saying that nasty comment on Facebook. “You’re going to succeed anyway.”
They’re always going to live the life that they’re going to live, but the life they’re living isn’t going to impact on your life. Whatever they say, you’ve always got the opportunity to turn it around, and make it into something positive.
Ray: I love that. There’s a book I would recommend that talks about this, not just about emails or online trolls, but it’s about any obstacle that you run into in your life. The book is called “The Obstacle is the Way.” It’s by Ryan Holiday. It’s a fantastic book.
Barry: We will put a link to that in the show notes. That’s really, really good. In fact, actually, you raced ahead again there, Ray. I was going to ask you, apart from your own fantastic books, and I know you’ve got a number, is there a particular business book that you would say right now, “This is a book I’ve read recently. I really like it,” or even one maybe 20 years ago. Would you want to recommend a book?
Ray: I’m going to give you the one that is having the most impact on my life and my business right now. I’ve read this book three times, and I’m getting ready to do a fourth read through. It’s called “Deep Work,” and it’s by Cal Newport. The subtitle is “Rules For Focused Success in a Distracted World.”
Barry: Wow. Is it a big book, a small book? Is it a scientific book, or is it more of a…?
Ray: It’s not a boring academic book, but it is not small. It’s about 250 pages or so.
Barry: I think most of us can cope with that, just about.
Ray: In the notes to his book, he says, “One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results. Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.“Now, first of all, that’s great copy. Secondly, I think this is an important book for us, just as people, because the world is full of so many distractions these days, I think it would be easy for most of us to miss our real calling in life.
Your calling, it may be to be an Amway distributor. Whatever it is, if you get distracted by too many video games, too much Candy Crush, too much Facebook, whatever the case may be, you may miss what you’re really put here to do.
This book is really powerful. It’s had a big impact on my business. Many of my colleagues and friends whose names most people would know who are listening to this, they’re all loving this book. It’s something we’re all sharing with one another. I would really recommend this book.
Barry: Thank you. I’ll be on Amazon as soon as this call’s over and ordering it. I look forward to reading it. I really appreciate the recommendation. Ray, just a summary, actually, I was going to ask you. You’ve given us so much, I’m thinking, “How do I describe this particular interview? [laughs]
Some closing thoughts, if you like. Thinking again, our audience, a lot of bloggers, a lot of small business people, a lot of people who, or want to be, I would actually say they’re wannabe copy writers. What’s your pieces of advice you would possibly give us, if you like, as your parting thoughts?
Ray: I’ll give you a couple of things. For those who want to write, or want to be copy writers, Stephen King in his book, “On Writing,” which is another book I highly recommend — even though it’s about writing fiction, it’s still a wonderful instructional guide for how to write anything really successfully. He says, ” to write good stuff, you have to write a lot of bad stuff,” and that the one thing writers who become good have in common is they write a lot, so I would encourage you to write a lot.
The second piece of advice I would give you comes from Anne Lamott, who wrote a book called “Bird by Bird,” another strong recommendation for reading. This is kind of colorful language, so I have to clean this up a little bit. She says,
“Give yourself permission to write crappy first drafts.”
When you do that, when you tell yourself, “OK, this is my first draft, and it’s going to be horrible, and I’m OK with that.” It relieves so much pressure that you can pour out the creativity that’s inside of you, knowing, “I’m going to edit this later. I’m not going to edit it right now.”
Then the final thought that I would offer is something that is a powerful, formative belief that I picked up from a legend in the field of motivational speaking. He’s really the guy who invented, I believe, motivational speaking, Earl Nightingale.
Earl Nightingale said something that I heard him say when I was probably 19 years old, and it’s had a huge influence on the rest of my life. He said, “The best definition of success I have ever encountered is this.
Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”
If you think about that sentence, it means that you can become successful today if you made a little progress toward a worthy ideal today.
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