You are NOTHING as a marketer if you’re not interesting…
Just think about the classic “arc” of the selling process…
AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Getting attention isn’t that hard. Clickbait articles prove it. People will click on totally random s**t. Things that have absolutely zero redeeming value can get the click. A curiosity-provoking headline or picture is all it takes to get clicks. Clicks are cheap.
But you don’t make sales through clicks alone.
You don’t make sales just by getting that initial attention — even though it is the critical first step to selling.
You make sales and inspire action by going through that entire process: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
And once you have someone’s attention, you really buy it for the remainder of the conversation or persuasive message by stimulating their interest.
That is, you have to be interesting to them.
If you look at a graph of readership or viewership or listenership of a long-copy marketing message (let’s say ~10,000 words or 60 minutes), there’s a lot of immediate fall-off.
It varies, of course, but here’s the approximate trend for every 100 prospects who start your sales message…
50% of viewers fall off within the first minute.
Another 50% of that (for 75% total) fall off within the next minute.
Maybe another 50% falls off by the 10-minute market, so you’re down to the last 12.5%.
Another 50% fall off somewhere before 30 minutes, down to 6.25%.
Another 50% fall off by the end, bringing you down to 3%.
And of those who stuck it out to the end, 2 of every 3 order.
Imprecise, but you get the point. There’s a TON of fall-off early, from people whose attention you got up front, but whose interest you never captured.
And since you lose a full 75% of viewers in the first couple minutes just because you don’t have their interest, it would seem like you’d want to get really good at that.
That is, while rookie copywriters study headlines trying to capture those first few seconds of fleeting attention, pros know the way to go is by studying ideas that build and hold interest through those critical thresholds where you lose the vast majority of your prospects.
In one-to-one sales, this is solved by showing the prospect a mirror…
That is, if you’re selling to an individual, one-to-one, you can be interesting by being interested.
You can ask them all sorts of questions about themselves, and they’ll think you’re the most fascinating person in the world.
But that doesn’t really translate to one-to-many selling, in print or through other media.
You’ve gotta be interesting on your own — no shortcuts to this.
Well, there’s a kind of shortcut.
And it’s a shortcut that’s the exact opposite of what many novice copywriters and marketers do to get good at copywriting.
That is, a novice will study the work of other copywriters and marketers. They’ll comb through all the classics. They’ll dig into swipe files. They’ll hand-copy old ads.
I’m not hating — I’ve been there, too.
And while all of this is helpful, it’s actually harmful, too.
Because the more you think about MARKETING, the less interesting you are to your prospect.
That is, if you’re always trying to copy the marketing that came before you, and being a really good student of marketing, you’re missing a critical ingredient.
You have to be a student of MARKETS.
You have to understand your prospect.
You have to know what they’re thinking about, and what they’re feeling.
You have to pay attention to what has their attention, to what else they’re reading and watching.
And unless you’re speaking directly to a business and marketing audience…
YOUR PROSPECTS AT THE VERY LEAST DON’T CARE ABOUT MARKETING, AND THEY MAY EVEN DETEST IT!
Your headline formula is not only not enough to capture their interest, it feels derivative, manipulative, and flat-out void of the kind of originality that actually interests them.
You’re far better off IGNORING every marketing book and teacher and simply studying to find what your prospect is interested in than doing the opposite (studying only marketing, like many novices do).
If in one-on-one selling, you become interesting by being interested in them, in one-to-many selling you become interesting by being like them.
When you consume all the media and ideas they do — think about and reconceptualize them in novel and interesting ways — and talk about them in your marketing, you’ll be interesting and compelling.
I’m remembering one copywriter I worked with who did billions in sales, via his copy. His collection of marketing books was very thin, relative to most folks who haven’t done their first $100,000 in sales. But he was well-read on dozens of different subjects. And was a constant student of human nature, coupled with today’s trends in society and culture, and the economy (relevant because he wrote about investments).
Eugene Schwartz is rumored to have not had a swipe file, and he didn’t even keep his own ads, for the most part. While many of his headlines were repetitive of what he’d written before (e.g. “Don’t pay a penny until…”), I understand those were largely off-the-cuff and a product of his mind digging in its depths for the most relevant wording based on the totality of his experience.
Schwartz also once said that copywriters should see every great blockbuster movie that graces the theaters. Not because it’s what interests you, but because if it’s a blockbuster, it means the market is reacting to it, and you should be curious enough to investigate why that might be.
I do know copywriters who keep massive swipe files, and who are serious students of marketing as well as markets. But here’s the thing: they may study what works, but they spend even more time studying their market, and almost always go to that well when it’s time to be inspired about the actual idea and topics they’ll write about.
One more example from a GREAT marketer…
I’ve trotted this out from time-to-time, but it’s especially relevant.
Bill Bonner, founder of Agora, perhaps became the first billionaire copywriter. (Not 100% on his net worth, but his companies do close to that in revenue every year, and I did once see a promo that floated this as his potential net worth.)
I once sat down with Bill to interview him about copywriting.
He revealed that he and his team (including Mark Ford/Michael Masterson) had come up with thousands of rules for effective copywriting. All of which he may have internalized, but no longer thinks of.
Instead, Bill said, he simply tries to figure out what the most interesting, compelling, relevant story is to his prospect, and writes that. Then, he ties it to whatever call-to-action he has for them, and tests it.
When he has an interesting idea, there’s almost no amount of copywriting tactics that can make it better.
But when he misses on that, there’s also almost no amount of copywriting tactics that can make it better.
In other words, finding something to talk about that matters to and is interesting to your prospect is pretty much THE secret.
Tomorrow, I’ll be releasing a NEW training series in BTMSinsiders that walks you through the thinking process I’m using to really hone in on my prospect and what is most interesting to them right now. This is the thinking that takes place BEFORE I write a word of copy, or even consider anything like what headline I want to use.
Oh, and I’m going to start sending out invites for that Copywriters Intensive.
It’s an exciting week!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,