Maybe the better word is handcuffs…. Or, permanent shackles… Maybe, perpetual servitude…
My queue for Mailbox Monday has grown too long, so I’m making the arbitrary and totally revocable decision to dedicate the rest of this week to answering reader questions.
Today’s question is a good one — especially considering how many Agora insiders are regular readers of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets…
Perhaps I’ll cause a stir around the water coolers! 🙂
Here’s today’s question…
You’ve mentioned that only the Agoras of the world hire “copywriters” anymore. Let me ask you this: is working for Agora as a “copywriter” a dead end?
I have an offer in hand to go work for one of their divisions or affiliates or branches or whatever they’re called. And I’m not 100% sold yet because I’m trying to think about where I want to be in 10 years.
Is the Agora copywriting alley so narrow that if I go down it, nobody else will want to hire me down the road?
First, some context…
If you’re NOT an industry fanboy or fangirl, maybe you don’t realize quite what’s going on with Agora right now.
I’m not an insider, so I don’t know every detail (and wouldn’t be authorized to speak if I did) but here’s the gist of it…
Agora started in the 1970s, with one publication, International Living…
They’ve since grown into a behemoth multi-brand publisher that I believe does around (or more than) $1 billion in sales every year…
Many of their brands are $100-million-plus on their own…
They’re swallowing the health and wealth consumer publishing industries…
Their affiliated companies are buying competitor after competitor, bringing them all under the Agora umbrella…
Today, they have more subscribers and more reach than the investment world’s favorite Wall Street Journal…
The vast majority of top, top copywriters today in the health and wealth niches are either full-time Agora (or affiliated companies) employees, or on some kind of exclusive/retainer deal with their companies…
In fact, last fall when Clayton Makepeace was recruited to go join Money Map (an Agora company), I wrote to Perry Marshall…
SUBJECT: 99/1 in the upper echelons of direct response
I discovered today Clayton Makepeace, probably the last really great working copywriter of the old guard of financial copywriting, is moving to an Agora division, Money Map Press.
Agora, the parent company, is probably a $1 billion per year in revenue company (private, but last I heard they were close and still growing quickly).
Nearly all other financial newsletter publishers are falling further behind. Those that are still in business all want to be acquired by Agora.
99/1. That’s all I could think.
So naturally, this email.
Perry loved the observation. It’s 100% in line with his analysis of where markets are going, as outlined in 80/20 Sales and Marketing.
Basically, Agora has figured out how to dominate the market through direct response, and every year the advantage of that domination grows stronger.
What does that mean for a rank-and-file Agora employee?
Despite multiple offers to move to Agora’s two main hubs of Delray Beach, Florida and Baltimore, Maryland, I’ve opted against taking a gig.
I have freelanced, from Nebraska, but naturally that experience is a bit different.
So I can only tell you from secondhand experience.
But here’s what I know:
Working for Agora is THE BEST gig in direct response today.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a copywriter who is able to generate an average 3% response your promotions. All else being equal, you generate 3% response.
Now let’s compare opportunities.
Let’s say you were to work with a company that has a total readership base of 100,000. 3% response is 3,000 customers for whatever this imaginary offer is.
Or, let’s say you were working at an Agora affiliate that has their internal readership bas of 100,000, and are able to generate 3,000 buyers from that campaign. But then, because of the network effect that comes from working with so many affiliated companies serving the same niche, your promotion is put in front of another 2 million readers.
Suddenly you went from 3,000 to 60,000 buyers.
Short term, this is extremely lucrative.
But are these simply golden handcuffs?
I don’t think a lot of Agora insiders are itching to move right now. Not unless they’re simply being offered the same opportunity to work remotely.
In a business with traditional salespeople, the salespeople are often the highest-compensated employees in the business, short of the owner.
Agora is direct response culture, through and through. They see their marketing teams as salespeople. They know how their bread is buttered.
And so a large segment of the Agora staff, as I know it, is paid based on results and performance. The details may be different per person and per position, but they have a culture of rewarding results.
It’s in their DNA.
The two leading partners in Agora that I’m aware of were both copywriters. Most of the people running the spin-off divisions and affiliated companies are copywriters, or at the very least come out of marketing. They value great copywriting and copywriters.
Plus, they’ve constantly innovated in copywriting such that most of today’s leading “best practices” in direct response copywriting are either directly or indirectly descended from Agora.
I used to joke that AWAI was “The Agora Training School.” And actually, it’s not that much of a joke. While they’ve branched out a bit since their beginnings, they started as a bunch of Agora copywriters recognizing that they need a lot of copy, and there weren’t enough well-trained copywriters. So they created distance learning programs to get people started in copywriting, and hosted the annual Bootcamp and Job Fair to recruit the best talent they could find.
That’s all well and good, but is it a trap?!
Let’s sweeten this Kool-Aid a little bit…
When you get started at an Agora company, the want you to succeed. They pull out all the stops to make you a great copywriter or marketer.
They share the innermost secrets of A-list direct response success with you.
AND, they give you direct feedback, nearly every day, to make yourself better.
Why would they do this?
Simple selfishness and greed! That is, they win when you win. They profit when you profit.
If you’re getting paid on results, what do you think the compensation structure looks like all the way up the food chain?
Everybody does better when the business grows.
And so they’re constantly innovating and improving their training programs to give every warm body with direct response potential the best possible chance of succeeding.
This is how a great direct response organization flourishes!
When you show up, they want to make you a great direct marketer. And because of the current success of the Agora family of companies, they’re able to give you a huge opportunity to keep developing your skills, for as long as you’re willing to stick around.
Plus, they’re ultra generous with all kinds of perks to encourage you to stay.
And, assuming you get really good, even if you go they’ll be ultra-generous with the perks and compensations to keep your talent involved in helping them grow.
(That is, let’s say you get the gig, but don’t really want to stay around in Baltimore — a few years down the road with a track record of success, and they probably won’t care where you work as long as you keep cranking out winners, and are available as-needed.)
But what if you want to split paths?
You just got what is perhaps the best education in results-accountable marketing available today.
It’s real-world, in-the-trenches experience, with direct support, feedback, and guidance from the best in the business.
And, you got paid for the education.
And we’re not talking a $20k/year graduate school stipend, either. Because of the size and reach of Agora, their good in-house copywriters are the best-paid in the business. Six figures and then some is possible, if you follow their training and deliver the results.
And when you walk away?
You have a specialized skill that you can use to generate those results over and over again.
Want to build your own business? Want to partner with someone to build theirs? Want to go into other markets, or simply take on whatever freelance gigs you can find?
You will be sitting on a super power. You will have the ability to put words on paper (or into other media) that get people to take action and give you money.
Yeah, that’s a little blunt. But that’s exactly what it is.
And while it’ll take some tactical adaptation, a serious student will have picked up enough of the underlying principles, strategies, and techniques that adjusting tactics to any other selling situation will be easy-peasy.
In fact, the hardest thing you’ll face — if you think you’re going to move on after Agora — is overcoming the comfort and building inertia to get out.
They’ll make it too good to go.
I fear for my friendly correspondent that it’s too late…
I mentioned I’m playing “catch up” on my Mailbox Monday, so J may have already made his decision. But if you’re given the opportunity (or simply want to pursue it), it’s not too late for you.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
UPDATE: I’ve just shared some information from a friend who helps financial copywriters get in with Agora. Click here for full info.