What I’m about to tell you could be interpreted on two levels…
— On one level, it’s going to look like I’m trying to sell you my copy review service. And you know what? I am. To a degree…
— On another level, I’m delivering pure-value content — in fact, this is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned when it came to becoming a better AND a more successful copywriter…
(In fact, that’s a lesson for ALL great marketing. Deliver value while you sell, and you’ll have more readership and engagement with your selling message, which usually translates into more sales.)
Okay, on to the lesson…
The power of 60 measly minutes to change your life forever…
In either very late 2009 or very early 2010, I was starting the campaign that would go on to be my first big breakthrough direct response campaign.
This was a promotion for AWAI — the copywriting training company.
I’d written some early copy, and turned it in to Katie Yeakle.
She liked it, but thought it had even more potential.
Then, she said, “I’d like to show it to Mark.”
By Mark, she meant Mark Ford, then known under his pen name Michael Masterson. Mark was one of AWAI’s founders. His lessons are so deeply ingrained in what AWAI teaches that even trainers who’ve never worked with Mark still teach his concepts today. And, among his many ventures, Mark was then and is still a partner in Agora, which I believe today does somewhere north of $1 billion in annual revenue through direct response copy.
So we scheduled a copy review. Katie was on the line. I think Paul Hollingshead was, too. And Mark. And we all looked at my copy, and reviewed it.
The call itself was less than 60 minutes. But that hour was perhaps the most impactful hour of my marketing career up until that point.
Because with a few specific, pointed, and highly-experienced recommendations, Mark gave me breakthroughs on TWO levels.
First, Mark helped me improve the copy in question. I’m convinced that without that review, that campaign wouldn’t have made nearly as much as it did.
Second, Mark’s words stuck. There were so many lessons in what he was saying. Lessons it took me years to unpack. Lessons that still impact my copywriting to this day.
Don’t get me wrong. Mark wasn’t sitting down to teach me. He just wanted the copy itself to be more profitable. But because I took his recommendations to heart and asked myself WHY he made those recommendations, the lessons learned have continued to pay off.
I’ve had a handful of these 60-minute transformations since 2010…
I’ve been very fortunate in the clients I’ve chosen.
In nearly all cases, I’ve worked either one or two layers under an extremely-successful copywriter.
One client had over $5 billion in sales to his name (not a typo), from copy written.
Then there was The Titans of Direct Response, where I had my copy reviewed by Gary Bencivenga and Dan Kennedy. (In both cases, the feedback was fairly minimal and mostly about even better ways to position their own features. Gary’s came with warm praise, Dan’s was only considered warm praise by his lack of a scathing rebuke!)
I’ve also recently worked with Clayton Makepeace, and his team.
Plus there are a handful of other copywriters whose names you probably wouldn’t recognize — but whose experienced outside perspective had a mega impact on both the copy at hand AND my future writing style and results.
Why is this such a powerful way to improve your copywriting?
In short, all the book learnin’ in the world ain’t worth nuthin’ until you go out and use it.
And when you USE all the marketing and copywriting skills you’ve learned, you’re actually APPLYING the knowledge.
When you apply that knowledge, you can get feedback in three ways — here, ranked from most useful to least.
— MARKET feedback: the market is the ultimate judge and jury of what good marketing is. But it’s also expensive, and won’t necessarily tell you what to improve, rather what works and what doesn’t.
— MENTOR feedback: someone who’s been there, done that, and learned some lessons along the way. They can help you with copy that’s been tested or in development, to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders. What they’re basically doing is helping you bring your copy up toward the level they’d write it at, if they did it themselves.
— PEER feedback: this can be valuable, with a caveat. Peer reviews are great, if you’re working on a team that can bring you up. But peer reviews are also subject to the statistical concept of “reversion to the mean” where bad copy is pulled up but great copy is pulled down to the group average.
In a best-case scenario, you’ll actually use all three. A peer review might help you catch some basics, and it’s a great way to make sure what you’re writing is generally interesting to people. A mentor review will give you pointers as your copy is nearing market-ready, to really make it the best it can be. And then the market will tell you if you’ve actually pulled off what you’re looking to do.
My copy review service is basically a mentor review — I apply my experience in direct response marketing (since 2005) to your copy and your situation, and tell you how to refine and improve your message for maximum success.
When you get all this feedback, from all these directions, it tells you what you’re doing that’s right, and what you need to do to improve.
And, it’s an opportunity to instantly improve the performance of that copy, as well as your general applied knowledge to be used on campaign after campaign.
When is it relevant to get a copy review?
My general recommendation is to do it when your project is at about 80%.
There’s still room and time to implement some of the requested changes — and they can be big.
But also, you have a lot to work from — a lot of clay in place to mold into the final statue.
That gives the reviewer a strong idea of where you’re coming from, and what the final copy can look like.
From there, they can focus on things like how to best present the idea, where you need to tighten things up or increase believability, and so on.
This is a great way to bring maybe a second draft over the finish line quickly.
This is a service I’ve quietly offered for years…
I don’t spend a ton of time doing this. Because I’m focused on building my own business, helping my full-on clients, and so on.
But I do like doing peer reviews from time-to-time.
I can make a huge impact in a very little time window. And it keeps me stimulated, getting to peek in on what other marketers are doing, and help them create bigger winners.
I’ve helped business owners, marketing experts, top copywriters, and up-and-comers improve their copy.
I reverse-engineered what worked best for me — to create big transformations.
I have a questionnaire that helps me understand the context in which the copy will be used.
I review the answers to that as well as the submitted copy for an hour, on my own — taking extensive notes.
And then I get on a video call (via Zoom), and walk through the copy with the writer, both going over my comments and doing a higher-level analysis of what will create a powerful breakthrough.
Then I send the recording and the copy with comments to the writer, for them to run with.
I’ve had copy review clients dramatically increase conversions, break response goals, get the best-selling product in Clickbank for months on end, and even land new copywriting gigs, helped by the review.
And even if you don’t do it with me, perhaps you should look to an experienced direct marketer who you can trust to review your next piece of copy or campaign, to get explicit feedback as well as recommendations to boost conversions.
You might just experience a breakthrough.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,