It’s hard to believe.
Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of my first issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.
As of yesterday, I’ve published 500 posts to the site.
Approximately 686,000 words, according to the Scrivener file where I write every day’s issue.
And I’ve continually gotten praise as one of the best marketing and business newsletters out there. That I consistently deliver more value FREE every day than many self-appointed gurus charge $99 a month (or a whole lot more) for.
A lot of good has come from it.
Clients. Status and positioning within the market. Revenue. True fans.
But most of all, if there’s one big takeaway from it all, it’s that it’s forced me to step up my game. Having to consistently deliver a high-value post every day has forced me to consistently seek out new inputs and new inspiration, to form new connections and integrate the best strategies and thinking.
My depth of understanding of direct response marketing — 686,000 words in — has significantly improved.
From the beginning, I based these essays on a simple principle, learned from one of my most important mentors (mostly from afar), Gary Bencivenga.
Improve 1% per week.
By taking just 5 minutes per day to read my emails (though sometimes a little longer when I get on a tear!), you’re setting yourself up for that constant improvement.
Through the miracle of compounding returns, that leads to tremendous growth of your capability in your field. It is, above anything else, the path to the top. I won’t do the math here, but this is how someone like Gary Bencivenga seems millions of times better than us mere mortals. Because, for decades, he’s improved his skills 1% per week. And 1% on top of 1% on top of 1% adds up. Until you literally are millions of times better than you were at the beginning. In four decades (roughly how long Gary B has been involved with direct marketing), you’re billions of times better.
Well, if anything, challenging yourself to put down your best thoughts on your field every day will actually accelerate that improvement. Maybe instead of 1% improvement, it’s 1.25% improvement every week.
I will do the math on this.
1% improvement over 2 years (the current lifespan of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets) leads to skills that are about 180% higher than when you started. Bump that up to just 1.25% per week by clarifying your thinking through writing and teaching, and your improvement over those 2 years goes up to almost 264%. A tiny change yields far greater results when compounded. In just 2 years, your growth has accelerated an additional 30%.
Through time, it gets far more dramatic. After 10 years of growing at 1.25% per week instead of 1%, and you’ve actually improved a total of 3.6X as much. That’s 63,788% improvement versus 17,565%. And the separation will only grow dramatic, the longer you keep up this accelerated growth.
The key is to consistently challenge yourself. Daily writing is a great place to do it — even if it’s just journaling for now, and you never share it with anyone. Teaching is another great way (e.g. — a podcast).
The secret here is not in just going through the motions. It’s in really dedicating yourself to stepping up your game, and using this constant content creation as a way to do so. Increase and improve your input, to use to improve your output. The process of doing it and forcing thinking so you can share what you’re learning is what makes this such a powerful accelerant of your growth.
Before I sign off, I thought it would be interesting to share my FIRST post, published April 14, 2014…
Sophisticated marketers only (Darth Vader with an ecommerce shopping cart)
My second freelance copywriting client EVER was Ken McCarthy.
If you don’t know who Ken is, you’re missing out.
He was literally the first guy to hold an internet marketing seminar. Back in 1994 — just when Netscape came on the scene, and the visual internet was in its infancy.
He had Marc Andreessen there — the guy that created Netscape and the internet as we know it.
Along with all sorts of other Silicon Valley geniuses.
And all the way back in 1994 Ken was talking prophetically about things like marketing with video on the internet. The need for digital, interactive multimedia content. (And the death of the CD-ROM!)
Mind you — this was when web pages were one-step out of the text-only bulletin-board world.
Plus Ken called for the end of the middleman as we know him — and the dawn of a new era of direct contact and interaction with customers. Creating the “new” model of building a following online, and connecting and engaging directly with your followers.
And — his most important observation of all — he beat the pulpit on the fact that the internet was JUST a new medium. That the techniques that work in marketing in any other medium could be adapted and applied to this new technology and method of message delivery.
Ken also created the definition of the internet as “direct mail on glass.”
Emphasizing that the internet takes everything that’s good about direct mail — one-to-one contact, ability to generate a direct response, efficiency of delivering a selling message — and only makes it better.
Ken went on — in the early 2000s — to create one of the most important internet marketing training programs anywhere.
The System Seminar.
Most of the gurus of internet marketing today can trace their beginnings back to The System Seminar. Either they were students of Ken’s. Or they were students of Ken’s students.
Almost every major lesson taught in the internet marketing world today goes back to Ken. (He’s no longer hosting The System Seminar and now only speaks to a close-knit group of his most dedicated students.)
And it doesn’t matter what new turns the internet takes. Social. Mobile. Whatever.
Ken taught STRATEGIES and PRINCIPLES. Not tactics.
And so, his lessons are enduring.
And this is the big BUT.
I was talking to Ken a while back, and he was lamenting how he would always fall short.
You see, Ken operates from a place of fundamental integrity.
He teaches sophisticated internet marketing strategies and principles. And he teaches them for sophisticated marketers.
He doesn’t hype up the flavor of the day.
He doesn’t sell magic pills.
Sure, some things are simpler than others. And some will generate cash faster than others. But that’s not how Ken decides what to teach.
He finds out what works. The TRUTH about internet marketing strategies. And he shares the truth.
He’s like a friggin’ good Jedi.
But what happens when a student without principle gets a hold of Ken’s good Jedi strategies and principles?
You get Darth Vader with an ecommerce shopping cart.
You get the corrupt, shady world of Internet Marketing today.
And Darth Vader — the bad Jedi — earns all the money he needs to build a Death Star.
While Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda live like hermits and paupers.
“It’s okay,” Ken told me. “I’ve already made all the money I ever need.”
He doesn’t need to be at the top of the money pyramid. (The good Jedi never needs to be.)
And he can be content going to his eventual grave knowing he played the long game. He taught honest, ethical marketing strategies and principals for sophisticated marketers. That he made a living doing good in the world.
He taught his students how to be a good Jedi.
But then he looks at the Darth Vaders. The folks who took his strategies and principles and spun them into flavor of the day tactics…
The drug dealers pitching you a marketing magic pill…
And he sees how much money they make…
How high they fly…
The power they enjoy…
And sometimes wonders, “What if?”
But the good Jedi always remembers…
“Live by the lightsaber, die by the lightsaber.”
He watches as Darth Vader after Darth Vader dies a tragic death. Brought down by the dark forces that oh-so-temporarily lifted him up and gave him seemingly unlimited power. And the good Jedi goes back to teaching the enduring principles and strategies of effective marketing.
He goes back to doing the right thing.
Helping good, honest, ethical and sophisticated marketers who are in it for the long haul generate even better results… Creating more value for themselves and their clients and customers.
Like Ken, I’ve seen the dark side of the force. I’ve gotten up close and personal with more than one incarnation of Darth Vader.
I’ve also had the fortune of working closely with more than one good Jedi. And understanding that when you use and trust the Force, you’re playing the long game.
That the fortune will come. And when it comes, it stays.
In the marketing world, part of the decision is ALWAYS in who you speak to. Who you take on as students.
If you want the flavor of the day tactics and magic pills… If you want all the deadly power of Darth Vader…
You’re not welcome here.
If you want to learn the ways of the force… And use them for good…
If you’re willing to put in the work and effort… And sometimes make the hard decisions required…
If you want to be a good Jedi…
If you’re a sophisticated marketer looking for strategies and principles that work…
You’re always welcome here.
To hear a 1-hour interview I did with Ken McCarthy, go here:
May the force be with you,
After two years, I think this holds up…
In fact, I think I’ve gone even further in the Good Jedi direction. Yes, sometimes I make promises and claims that may seem pretty magical to the uninitiated. But they’re ALWAYS backed up with experience and fact, and often understated or only a glimpse of an even brighter truth.
As a result, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets probably hasn’t grown nearly as fast as it could have.
But the readers I have are loyal. Tracked opens (which are always lower than real opens) are off-the-charts for a daily email. A significant number of people who signed up — many as long as two years ago! — still read every day, within an hour of me sending it out.
Unsubscribes are low — and most are early, when I want them to be, because they’ve realized we have a misfit and they shouldn’t be subscribed.
And momentum keeps building.
So here’s to a few more years of these amazing daily emails — and perhaps even more opportunities for you to get at what’s in my gourd. 😉
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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