My first reaction was, “this is so useful!” My second was, “I can’t believe I’ve spent 9 years without it…”
Maybe it’s only become NECESSARY because I’m now working with junior writers.
In fact, that’s what led me to create this tool in the first place.
But now that I’ve created it, I can’t imagine writing a promo for a financial newsletter without it.
I got a draft from one of my junior copywriters who is newer to writing for stock promos.
And he’d been telling me through the draft and even up until sending it my way that he was having trouble with the stock examples.
Meaning: he wasn’t really sure how to put them together, much less present them.
He needed clear data. And I was failing him. I pointed to stocks and gave him a vague idea of what he should do. But I’d failed to make it crystal clear.
And when I looked at his draft, it was evident.
Where I’d failed to provide good data to back up his examples, he didn’t have good examples.
The logical next step of that is that I needed a better way to share this data.
I needed a tool for gathering stock data!
So I opened up a Google Sheets spreadsheet, and went to town.
I started creating, and labeling columns.
Each represented something useful to have around a stock story.
So there was, of course, the ticker symbol and company name.
I also included a field for company website.
Plus I created a drop-down selection field for type of example: a recommendation from the portfolio of the service we’re promoting, a recommendation from the guru’s other services, and a more general example relevant to the promo narrative.
I also created a tracking field to indicate whether an example had been used in the promo yet.
Plus buy and sell dates and prices, as well as a field to paste in the source link where those prices came from. (Important for fact-checking and compliance.)
Then, I used my spreadsheet wizardry to create a bunch of other useful fields.
I automatically calculated the gains percentage, as well as the multiple. (i.e. — a 200% gain is actually 3 times your money, and it’s useful to have both.)
I calculated the hold time between buy and sell, in both days and months (rounded up).
Since we often talk about hypothetical stakes of different sizes, I set it up to calculate a bunch of those.
And I even set it up to create a bunch of links automatically, to various pages where I can access news about the stock, a chart, and historical prices.
Then, I started to fill it in…
It was a breakthrough tool for a financial copywriter…
Which immediately created those mixed feelings. This is so awesome! And, I can’t believe I didn’t make this 9 years ago when I started writing financial copy.
Suddenly I had a place where I could put all this data in one place.
And, in fact, an easy document to forward to compliance, for fact-checking all the examples I use.
And, as a writer, this tool would help me write better copy, faster. Because an afternoon of stock research could easily be accumulated in a single location and easily referred to throughout writing the promo.
Plus as a senior copywriter working with juniors, I could very easily turn around and share all this info with them, in a way that’s ultra-clear and easy-to-use.
This is a simple, no-duh tool.
And it will absolutely help in growing my business.
Because it takes a process that was done haphazardly and in an ad hoc way, and standardizes it, brings efficiency, and reduces time waste.
Oh yeah, and even though I did most of the research on this last week, I needed another example added to the promo this week. And that was as simple as plugging in a few fields, and it was there and ready for me to use.
So it’s flexible enough to use at any point in the process.
Why am I sharing this story with you?
After all, while I have a large number of financial copywriters that read this…
Most of my readership base is NOT financial copywriters and doesn’t need this spreadsheet.
But you probably have a dozen or more tools that could be created in your business — any business — that would make your life easier, your work better, and your business more successful.
Personally, I’ve also added a client new project questionnaire in the last few months.
This one is very specific to my projects, so I haven’t shared it outside of the small group of copywriters I’m working with today.
But what it does is it asks all the core questions I need a client to answer about a project in order for me to bring my best.
Everything from a bio link for the voice of the promotion… To testimonials… To their current perspective on their Unique Selling Proposition… To the nitty-gritty details of the offer and what specific copy components are needed for the campaign.
Again, you may not need this specifically…
But you need something like it in your business.
How about a tool to run a better meeting?
Back in 2017 I published a video on YouTube on How to run an Effective Meeting (using the Traction L10 Meeting formula).
It was based on the book Traction by Gino Wickman.
Even as of that video, I’d already adapted the process to my own business. I’ve since deviated from the by-the-letter implementation, but still run a variation on those meetings.
My coach, Joseph Rodrigues, works with some incredible entrepreneurs (including my heroes). And yet he says the meetings we do every Friday, using this formula, are the most effective meetings he’s ever been a part of.
That’s yet another tool, and one that applies in nearly any business.
And in that case, I didn’t make it. I simply borrowed a proven tool someone else was using, and found a way to make it work best for me.
Here’s why you need to find and build tools for your business…
And this applies whether you’re a one-person shop, or trying to scale massively.
Tools save time and create efficiency in your business.
Just think of an actual power tool that a woodworker would use. Upgrading from a hand saw to a powered miter saw saves countless hours even over the course of a small carpentry project. Using a tool where there wasn’t one before or upgrading to a better tool will help you work faster.
Not only that, better tools create better results.
A powered miter saw helps a carpenter cut smoother, straighter cuts. You can even cut very precise angles. A skilled enough carpenter may be able to achieve similar results with hand tools. And, in fact, there’s a magic in those skills that’s incredibly admirable. However, for most jobs, simply having the better tool will give you much better results.
Tools also help you create scale.
If it took a certain level of skill to make precise cuts with a hand saw, and then a powered miter saw comes along and lets a hack like me make similar cuts, suddenly a bunch of hacks can do the same work it used to take a skilled carpenter for. Which means that skilled carpenter can focus more time on where they provide the highest value, and build a team around them to get more jobs done, faster.
And in case you aren’t getting the point, the above isn’t just about carpentry.
Saving time, being more efficient, creating better results, and scaling are the secrets to growing any business.
It can be a soft tool — like a process you follow to complete a certain task.
It can be a hard tool — like a physical implement or machine that does some of the work.
Or it can be somewhere in between, like a spreadsheet or document that helps you achieve one step of the process.
No matter what, finding the right tool for the job can feel like — and is — a real breakthrough.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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