My friend, superstar copywriter, and regular Breakthrough Marketing Secrets reader Doberman Dan has talked about a concept called the “governor.”
When you rent a U-Haul truck, and you’re trying to book it across the country to get all your stuff moved within the rental window on the truck, you may be prone to pushing the pedal to the metal.
But no matter how hard you slam that gas pedal onto the floor, the truck won’t pass 65.
And don’t be mistaken for a minute — it’s not the engine, or aerodynamics.
It’s something called the “governor.” It’s a little device they put in the trucks to keep you from speeding. (It’s also the only way some hyper-powerful sports cars are street legal here in the US.)
It’s basically a little computer that watches your speed, and as soon as you’re approaching a preset upper limit, it backs off the gas for you.
No matter what you do, as long as the governor is on the vehicle, you can’t push it past the top speed.
Well, we all have governors, too. (It’s actually a self-defense mechanism of a fragile ego.)
And here’s what you need to know about how your governor impacts your copywriting…
The stronger your internal governor, the more your copy will suck (and fail to get response)…
Here’s the thing… I think 90% or more of your growth as a copywriter (from zero to A-list) is about removing your own internal governor…
There’s actually very little we do that’s magic, mystical, or secret. (Most things we do aren’t even that hard.)
Great copywriters (and great salespeople) generally don’t know that much more about human nature and persuasion than your average 4-year-old…
They just know how to get out of their own dang way — and do what they’ve known to be persuasive since preschool.
Doberman Dan told his own story recently of how he made 2014 the year he busted that governor right off — making it a conscious decision — and instantly started getting better results with his copy and in his business.
Compare that to the rookie copywriter who is too caught up in pleasing clients to actually write anything interesting. Because their ego is based on client reaction to the copy (NOT market reaction — what everybody in direct response should care about), they protect their ego by keeping that governor on and turned up high… And so their copy is lifeless, lame, impersonal, and not-persuasive as a result.
I’ve struggled from this too… I’m not chastising you — I’m sharing a lesson I learned the hard way!
Here’s the dirtiest little secret — clients can actually sabotage you by amping up your governor…
Most clients don’t really know how to get the best out of their copywriters.
In fact, most clients will actually screw up your copywriting — this project AND every future piece of copywriting you do for them. And they do it unconsciously.
They do it by nagging, correcting, and forcing you into their style of writing.
Now this assumes a basic level of competence with your writing. A basic ability to sell and tell a compelling story.
But if you’ve got that, the single-best thing a client can do is to help you settle on a compelling big idea, then get out of your way!
They need to let you be you. All the way down to writing in your own voice, and signing your own letter, if possible.
It’s only natural, after all, to filter what you say and how you say it if you’re writing on behalf of someone else. But it removes everything that makes copy interesting. It removes the most important aspects to resonating with prospects and getting them to trust you (a prerequisite to buying).
If you’re able to write as yourself, your writing suddenly sounds more human. More personal. And certainly more interesting.
Sure, some superstar copywriters end up being able to write as someone else without the governor — there are a few ways to do it including training yourself, and just knowing the client so well your voice almost merges with theirs while writing.
Here’s an even better way to write without a governor…
I mentioned this a couple paragraphs ago, but I want to underscore it.
If you’re able to actually sign your own name (or a pen name) to your copy, you can write far more powerful copy, without actually learning anything more about how to write powerful copy.
Because the simple act of speaking in your own voice (instead of trying to sound like your client) will loosen up that governor. It will allow you to become naturally more persuasive.
It will make all your writing more real, more human, more intimate.
And if you can’t get clients to let you do it (they won’t always, or they’ll sabotage this, too)…
Fire your clients!
Do your own thing. Get your own products to sell. And sell them however YOU want.
You will be naturally more attractive to money by being yourself (whoever you really are). Your readers and prospects will recognize your authenticity. It will make them like you more. It will make them trust you. It will make them want to do business with you.
A true story, then I’m done…
There was one financial client I wrote for exclusively for about 18 months… And I had some pretty big successes with them, including the biggest single-product promotion in the company’s history.
One of the partners in the business is definitely an A-list copywriter, although you wouldn’t recognize his name because he’s only written for businesses in which he’s been a partner for well over a decade (probably a lot longer).
As I was leaving that gig, he told me something that stuck with me.
He told me the best piece of copy I’d ever written for them wasn’t ever put on their company’s website. In fact, it was put on mine.
It was a letter to copywriters, offering them the chance to work for this client. In my voice. Telling my experience.
And it busted open the floodgates — bringing me (and the client) far more copywriters than we could ever handle.
(How that all worked out is another story for another day.)
Why was that letter so successful?
Because my governor was off. I didn’t have to write as the client. I could just write as me.
And it gave the copy a rare vibration that made it work exceedingly well.
Don’t dismiss this as dumb, vanilla, “Be yourself” advice. It really is a career-changing breakthrough when you get it.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets