You need to write good marketing copy to get people to buy. You probably have been there before… you see someone selling a product you think is not that great. They have the social “likes” and seem to have an endless supply of freedom lifestyle shots on their Instagram. Yet, you keep thinking that YOUR product is better. In fact you know it is!
You have more qualifications than them and more experience. Why can’t you seem to sell what you have?
You have the sales page on your site (because you have been listening to Andrew and Heather ;). You have your automation all sorted to take money on your website. You talk about your product on your social media and to your email list…. and all you see is a big fat zero in your Paypal account.
You probably are not talking about it in a way that entices people to want it. You need to write good marketing copy to get the world to notice what you offer and to buy it.
Our guest in this episode, Bret Thomson, is one of the highest paid copywriters in Australia and has been the secret weapon behind some of the largest (and most profitable) direct response marketing campaigns.
And get this! His campaigns have generated well over $220 million of new sales across dozens of different industries for himself and his clients! Crazy right?
Want some more tips you can follow to write good marketing copy? Then check out our article with plenty of case studies “How To Write Copy For Website Funnels: 11 Tips For Success“.
Don’t let overwhelm creep in with the next steps you can take to market your business. We will simplify it over here for you now.
In this episode:
01:58 – Learn more about why Bret Thomson is one of the highest paid copywriters in Australia.
07:45 – Will money REALLY come if you follow your passion?
09:25 – You might have a good product, but maybe how you talk about it is keeping you from making sales.
10:50 – Why someone in your industry, who is not even close to how good you are, might be selling more than 10x what you are.
11:30 – How you can boost your website conversions.
13:20 – How one company used the “big idea”.
16:20 – Go to the crazy end!
17:15 – Why you need to start with the idea and not the writing.
18:45 – How to take an idea and make it into a headline.
22:40 – Why you should use different headlines for web pages, emails and social media.
25:20 – What to consider when using headline templates.
26:50 – The problem/solution formula.
27:30 – Extracting the “gold” to write compelling copy after you have clarity on your Customer Avatar.
29:55 – How to find out why your current customers work with you and then use this in your writing.
32:00 – The power of storytelling.
37:25 – Scarcity and Urgency is so important.
38:20 – 3 things you can use now to improve your copy.
Andrew: On today’s podcast, we’re talking about copywriting with a very special guest. Hey everybody. This is Andrew McCauley. Welcome to podcast #112. We have yet another very, very special guest and for those that listen to our podcasts you know that we don’t have many guests; we only have good guests. We are looking forward to digging in with our special guest today.
Of course, Heather Porter is on the call as well. Hey, H.
Heather: Hi Andrew. How are you. Hey guys, thank you so much for tuning in. As Andrew just said, we rarely do bring guests. We like to force you guys to listen to us bantering instead.
Andrew: Yes. But when we do find good guests. We love to bring them on because we know that, unlike a lot of these other podcast shows where they just interview guest after guest after guest — it gets a little monotonous — we love to spice our podcast up with some special guests and of course the best ones are here on this podcast for you.
Heather: Cool. Andrew, I am going to go ahead and just jump straight in because there’s lots of cool things that we’re going to be chatting about.
I want to introduce you guys to our guest, Bret Thomson. Bret and I have literally just recently connected and I’m really, really surprised, because we share a lot of the same circles which I’m sure will come out as we chat. I would introduce you guys to Bret. Bret is one of Australia’s highest paid in-demand copywriters and conversion strategists, which we love. He’s also a speaker like us, he’s a coach, he’s an author and he’s mentored thousands of businesses.
And I like, Bret, how you say that you’re the secret weapon behind some of the largest and most profitable direct response marketing campaigns in Australia. Guys, you know what, he’s actually generated well over 220 million dollars of new sales across dozens of different Industries.
Bret, I’m going to welcome you to the call. Before I do that you’re going to have to jump in and tell us a little story about how you failed English at school and didn’t read your first book until your mid-twenties. How are you?
Bret: What an awesome intro. I can’t wait to hear what I got to say. That was great guys. It’s a pleasure to be with you guys and I feel very special and privileged to be one of your guests.
About the story, I guess to give everyone a lot of hype. Because it’s to really know one of the highest paid copywriters in the country, ten years ago I didn’t even know what a copywriter was and I went all through school and pretty much slept through English. English was at the lowest grade, English all through school, and I didn’t read my first book until my 20’s.
After I finished school, I remember celebrating, thinking “this is fantastic,” I’d never have to be asked to read another book for the rest of my life. I celebrated. Then I spent the next ten years as a full time investor. I invested about 90% of income in my social life. I did that very well.
I did really one thing I must admit when I was in my early 20’s; I came across a newspaper article that said how alcohol affects your brain. I went, “Oh no.” I said, “I better read this up.” I read that. I remember, finished that article and I stood up at the table, slammed my hand on the paper, said “From this day on I’m never going to read again.”
I became blessed with identical twin boys in my mid-twenties and then all that changed me as a human being. I just took that responsibility and I just decided… I had this desire to become smarter, believe it or not.
I was living in a shared house with eight other people and my best mate, one of them — he owned a night club which is our second home — and he was different than us because his room was full of books. I remember thinking what a stupid thing to put in your room out of all the things you could put in a room. But I walked in and I said I’ve got to start reading; I’ve got to become more intelligent. There were all those different books and one book jumped out and on its spine it said “Awaken the Giant Within” by this guy called Anthony Robbins. And I set my first goal; I said “Right, I’m going to read ten minutes a day” and it took me six months to read through this book. But that was the first book that I read and that kind of led me into my first business as well. So that’s a quick snapshot to give people hope. You don’t have to…
Heather: I love it.
Heather: I love it. I think it’s such a good point. That’s why I wanted you to start with that because those are impressive figures — over 220 million dollars of generation of business just from your copywriting skills. That’s impressive, but I think what I really wanted to highlight is that anybody can get started no matter where you come from to be a success and certainly you have quite the story.
Bret: Thanks for that. Yes, it’s one of those things… That’s why I love teaching people, because I know that people ask me “how do you get good at copywriting?” That’s what I’d love to share on this call. You don’t have to be a great copywriter; be more of a story teller and I’ll share some different techniques on how to do that. I love teaching people and business owners the art of writing compelling words and make them out about people to take action. So…
Andrew: So once you read the book, what led you into actually writing and writing copy and that sort of stuff? Where was that? How was that transitioned into there?
Bret: Good question. So this book — the title of the book, “Awake the Giant Within” — it was how to transform your life spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought, “OK well this is a good start.” And I just became a personal development junkie. I thought “this is amazing. I mean, I can correct my destiny? No one’s ever told me this before.” I went to seminars and what then got CDs and DVDs and became a bookworm.
Raising three kids, I thought, “I wish I’d learned this at school.” I’d been working the same job for 15 years and I thought, “I’m going to run workshops and seminars teaching kids how to improve their self confidence, self esteem, communication skills and life skills.” And I told all my friends and family, “this is my idea and what do you think?” and everyone goes, “fantastic idea, Bret, you’re going to be awesome.”
So I handed in my resignation, started my own business and I learned very quickly you can have a great idea on one side, but if you don’t know marketing, you can lose a lot of money. People say to follow your passion the money will come — I think that’s a crock.
Bret: You’ve gotta know marketing.
I found myself in a wealth creation seminar by a guy by the name Mal Emery who was known as “the millionaire maker” in Australia. I was at the back of the room and he came up on stage and said, “Righty-oh, folks, what I’m going to share with you now has put more money in my bank account than anything I’ve ever done in my life.” At that time I’d been in business for twelve months; I’d turned over $16,000 and that’s it. I said to myself, whatever comes out of this guy’s mouth, next, I’m going to do it, no matter what.
He said, “It’s the art of writing compelling words that motivate people to take action, better known as copywriting.” And I went, “Oh, no!” I was the one who just started reading and I hate writing. Then he introduced a guy on stage called Pete Godfrey. I spent my last 500 bucks on a copywriting course with Kate.
They pay a job very quickly and I started writing, applying these skills to my business and started getting some traction. Then people started ringing me and said, “Bret, who’s writing the sales page in your emails?” I said, “Oh, it’s me.” They said, “Listen, could we give you money to write for us?” And I thought — well I’m not earning any money so yeah, why not? You know? And cut a long story short, within twelve months I was Mal Emory’s personal copywriter earning six figures. I had started my own direct mail business and went from zero to 125k in five months, and outsold distributors all over the country without changing the product; all I did was just change the words and on and on and on. Then I’d got asked to speak on stage. That’s just kind of the journey; just really took off.
Andrew: I love how you say that — didn’t change the product, just changed the words. So many people we see come to us with bad results and sometimes they have a really good product, but they think it’s the product that’s the problem. So they go and spend all this money re-changing it and re-branding it and re-making it something different when in actual fact, it was probably the copy in the first place that said — this thing sucks, don’t buy it. So I’m glad you said that because that’s pretty important. How important is that across the board for most products do you think?
Bret: Absolutely. I’m glad you zeroed in on this because that’s one thing that drives myself. I’m in business with my beautiful bride, Monique, and we run seminars and workshops together. What drives us is we see so many talented people out there and they’ve got amazing skill sets and such vision and heart and all out to change the world but they’re just falling on deaf ears because their marketing sucks. My contribution is to help people with their marketing. It’s all about getting your message across. The sad reality is someone who is nowhere near as good as you are could out sell you ten times purely because they’re using better words in their marketing.
Andrew: Yes. How many times do you see that, where you think — oh my god they’re a competitor; their product is crap, yet they are raking it in; they’ve got full houses; they’ve got people lining up at their door. What’s wrong with these people? Why don’t they see that it’s a crap product? The reality is that they’ve sold them in the mean time to get there in the first place.
Heather: I know there’s a lot of people listening to this right now who are thinking — oh my god that’s me; I stare at all my competitors on social media and their websites; they’re not as good as me. So I think this is a perfect time, Bret, for you to give us some tips to these people that are listening, on what do they need to do to boost their website conversions?
Bret: The first thing has nothing to do with writing, OK. You guys know this but… I learned very quickly that I don’t get paid to write; I get paid to think. The reason why someone at my level gets paid high amounts of money to put marketing campaigns together is purely because I do the research and I research the audience and the avatar more than the business owner ever will or ever has time to.
There’s a few things that make a successful marketing campaign. 60% of a successful marketing campaign is come down to the audience, finding a hungry audience. 20% is to do with finding an irresistible offer that converts. I’ll promise you now, most people listening to this, believe it or not, in 95% of the cases, just finding an irresistible offer that converts will create the next big breakthrough in your business. The final 20% is the copywriting that carries all that through.
So I spend sometimes 70 maybe 80% of my time not writing, it’s just researching, trying to find the big idea and the big hook and the emotional triggers that’s going to make people respond. People don’t like hearing that but that’s where the magic is. You don’t have to be a wordsmith. That comes later. So that’s number one.
The second thing that I believe that people need to do is to come up with that big idea. So I’ll share — and that’s kind of what I’m renowned for; I’ve helped… One company, they approached me and they wanted to introduce a new product into the market and that’s always tough if you’ve got to tap into a new market. I crafted a three step marketing campaign. And I said, “Rally up, we’re going to test it in Perth first and if it goes well then we’ll make some tweaks and then we’ll go toward Melbourne, then Sydney, then Brisbane.”
So they put out step one, then step two, then I got an email that said, “everyone stop the marketing.” What happened is it exploded and it kept them busy for three months. They made 15 million dollars per month for the next three months. And they never got to the third. That was all to do with… I tell you what that was to do with. It was the big idea.
When I come up with big ideas, I always start in the ridiculous zone. What I mean by that is if there’s a spectrum of the safe zone or the ridiculous zone I always start in that crazy zone. Especially when it comes to full on events for instance, someone says, “It’s a very crowded market; what do you do?” So I say, “What’s the most — if you wave a magic wand and think of — what’s the ultimate result we can get people? What does that look like?” And I get the client to talk about that. I’ll say, “How close can we get them to that at the event?” We always start at that scary zone and then… Because playing it safe doesn’t work; there’s so much competition out there these days. So coming up with a big idea is a big thing and again, they still haven’t put pen to paper yet and I’m on point two.
Heather: Love it.
Bret: To do that; I rely heavily, believe it or not, on my intuition. I’m not some tree-hugging hippie; everyone has this.
If you’re at a seminar or a party and you see someone and you should know their name but you can’t think of it. You stress, stress, stress and you try to think of it and it’s just not coming to you. But when you drive home and you’re relaxing and listening to music, all of a sudden — ping! — the name pops in your head. That’s because… Some of my great ideas happen in that sleepy state. So I purposely give my brain embedded commands to think about something before I go for a nap or after — because I have little power naps during the day. They’re different; they’re not your usual way of coming up with big ideas but it’s amazing how many times you come up with big creative ideas in that sleepy state.
Bret: I’ll keep on going. I can talk really fast. I really apologize. You guys are . . .
Andrew: I love that whole end of the spectrum, go to the crazy… I was lucky enough to go on a tour backstage at Walt Disney World. The Disney philosophy… We’re in their Imaginarium where they create the ridiculous rides that we see and all the fun stuff. They have a big sign on the wall that says — think of something really crazy — and then the sign says “And then what?” And then what? It’s sort of similar to what you’re saying. What needs to be the best thing you could possibly have and then what can you do to make that happen? So that’s great. I love it.
Heather: The other thing I was going to jump in with too is that a lot of people or business owners I come across, they’ll have all the copywriting books and their little power words and all these things spread out across their desk. Then when they’re trying to create copy, instead of going to the exact place you said, which is in the heart and in the intuition, they’re trying to copy and paste things together without actually even thinking about the idea behind it.
I love what you’re saying because you’re actually starting at totally opposite spectrum. It’s more getting inside the heart of the problem, really, isn’t it?
Bret: Yes. And it’s also giving yourself space to think. I love the story of one of the famous scientists who went to Cambridge University and the university got closed because of the plague — this is in the 18th century — and he had nowhere to go to learn. So he had no choice but just to think and in that time he came up — it was Isaac Newton — he came up with the world’s greatest scientific breakthroughs, because he stopped learning and he started to think.
In my calendar every day I give myself space to think. It could be like on my to-do list; I’ll write ten different ideas down every day. Because I just train that muscle. As a copywriter and marketer, that’s life’s biggest currency is, come up with ideas. So that is a big part of it and I do see so many people are keeping busy, busy, busy without ever giving themselves time to think.
The other thing that I wanted to mention that can really help people get better conversions — and it might sound a bit by accident — but you got to take that idea and you got to transform it into a headline. In your sales copy or email — the email subject line is the same as the headline — so you can have the best irresistible offer, most insane guarantee or most compelling copy, but if your headline doesn’t do its job then nothing gets read. 80% of your success comes to only headline. What I do and I teach people to do is, I never just write one headline because there’s so much at risk with this. It’s very common for me to write 20, 30, 50 sometimes over 100 different headlines —
Bret: — just to fall on. Because what happens is — we all know what it is like when we’re in flow when your pen can’t stop or you can’t type fast enough you got all this download of information. Most people meditate and wait for that to happen. That could take a while. What I encourage people to do is to start writing and create momentum and that motion will actually start, create that flow. To do that, you’ve got to give yourself permission to suck at writing bad headlines to start with.
Even myself, I write primary school-type headlines because I got to get in the flow. Then I’ll warm up and I always try and move in the ridiculous zone and get there. Because those edgy headlines really what’s converting these days. You want to try and inject emotion into it, into your headlines.
Also if you see a headline or an email subject line that creates curiosity and intrigues you to want to know more, copy and paste it; put into a word doc and start a swipe file. Because when you have that blank screen and you don’t know what to write, bring that up; read through them and that will get you going.
Andrew: Do you write your headlines after you’ve written the copy or do you start with your headline and go from there?
Bret: Generally you start with the headline because the headline kind of frames everything. That’s one way. But then again, if in the process of writing the headline, if all of a sudden I think of a really good angle, because that’s what happens — you just stimulate in your brain for ideas — then I’ll just write a chunk of copy and I’ll place it in later. It could be around the offer or something like that.
A more advanced technique is getting good at writing bullet points and as pro copywriters, for when we have to write a sales letter we could write 3- 4- 500 or more bullet points. I wont go into that. Bullet points are mini-headlines really. The good news is if someone’s going to… I’m going to try and write 50 headlines — the good news is, you pick one or you might pick four that you’re going to split test; but the other 45, they don’t go to waste. They can be used as email subject lines; they can be used as the start of sentence or of paragraphs; they can be used as video or blog titles, so it doesn’t all go to waste. It’s one of the best things you can do and the payoff is huge.
Andrew: Love that. Re-purpose your work.
Bret: Yes. So…
Heather: What about headlines… You were just saying, it’s pretty much the most important thing to get people to read on. The way I would look at headlines — obviously you have them on your web pages or your web site on your sales pages and landing pages — but also technically, and you just touched on this, your subject line for your email could be like a headline or your social media posts. What… Is there a difference between a headline that you would create on a web page, for example, versus an email subject line versus, say, social media ads?
Bret: Good question. With the email subject lines I’m very conscious of length. Because most people — and one of my next points is going to be how to keep people reading — most people as a rule, hate reading. They might enjoy the odd read every now and then, but they don’t wake up in the morning thinking — wow, wonder what I can read today. You know? So I’m very conscious of length on email subject lines. But mind you that’s the only difference. A headline is… it’s OK to have a little bit more length for your sales pages as well. But for email subject line I’d try and keep them short and sharp and punchy as I can.
Social media posts… Here’s the thing, any type of text, the spacing and size really matters in a way that, if you look at a sales page and the first thing they see is a big chunk of text that could be eight lines deep, I promise you most people won’t even the read the first letter of the first word. Because it’s too intimidating; it’s too much hard work. That’s why if you look at my emails and the copy that I write, my paragraphs are one sentence long or maybe two, double spaced. Because most things get read on the mobile phone now so spacing is a huge thing as well. So even with social media posts… Obviously the headline is what matters, but I make sure there’s more spacing underneath it or left so it’s kind of a stand-alone.
It’s kind of like when it’s just a matter when people read, flicking through a newspaper, they stay on a page for three seconds, every page. What are they doing? They’re kind of scanning headlines and that’s what they’re doing on social media. Pages or all. They’re not committing to reading the whole thing; they’re going to read the first headline and that will decide if they’re going to read more.
Heather: Have you ever found that there’s a formula or a starting point somebody could follow to write their own headlines?
Bret: There’s plenty of templates, that’s for sure. It’s a really hard one to answer because, here’s the thing, with headlines or with any market, if a market goes through the stage where it’s becoming sophisticated in the way that the awareness level for the market and the messages are kind of getting “me too” — everyone’s kind of saying the same thing. You’ve got to keep on… You’ve got to mix things up. So for instance in the health industry, coming up with the headline that says, “how to lose weight,” is not going to fly because how many other people are saying that? You’ve got to throw in different mechanisms. That’s why you’ll see industry goes through different stages. For instance they might say, “Use the juice extracted from this Brazilian tree, will help you lose weight,” because that’s a new twist now. So when I help people with headlines, it’s OK to use those templates, but just be mindful that if everyone’s saying the same thing it’s not really going to work.
Bret: You’ve got to try and kind of mix it up. It is a hard one to answer, but for people who are just starting out, look, you can go to Google and type in headline templates. I guess the number one thing I’d suggest people to do is, a simple formula is “problem/solution.” If you can identify a problem and hint to a solution in the headline, that’s a pretty safe formula if you want to start there.
Heather: Cool. Good one.
Andrew: I want to go back a step. Back in your step one, I think you talked about avatars and how important it is to find the right hungry audience in the first place. Could you give us some ideas? What’s — and I know it’s a fairly lengthy process anyway — but what are some of the quick tips that people getting started can go and find an avatar for themselves? How do they find out what tools are there available for people to start researching who their best avatar would be?
Bret: I’m going to accent it in a different way because as far as me writing copy… I guess, just to give this answer a bit more punch, I want to show you how to not only find your ideal avatar but how to extract the gold that’s going to help you write really compelling copy when you find that person.
Andrew: Cool. Awesome.
Heather: We’re all ready; we’re taking notes.
Bret: Here’s the thing. If you went to a big, great copywriter and asked them to write copy, what they’ll do is they’ll probably send you a questionnaire as the business owner and they’ll ask you questions like, “What keeps your clients awake at night? What are their top three daily frustrations?” and all this kind of questions. So as the business owner you do your best to answer that. Then you give it to the copy writer and then they’ll take that and whip up some sales copy for you and give it back to you.
The problem with that is that the business owner is not the client. As business owners, we are not the client. We often like to think we know our clients but more times than not there’s a big disconnect.
So what I do — and the top copywriters do — I’ll get the business owner to fill out that questionnaire as well, but I’ll also ask, “Could you give me a list of ten of your most recent clients and if you can, include in those ten, some people that were hard to drag over the line, or maybe someone who has said no,” and I’ll get their phone numbers and I’ll give them a call. I’ll say something like — Hey, Joel, it’s Bret Thomson here. You don’t know me from a bar of soap. I’m working with Andrew and Heather on helping with their marketing and I asked them for a list of their top ten clients and you’re at the top of my list. So I wonder if I can, if you’ve got a spare couple of minutes I can ask a few questions?”
I get 100% positive response on that. Then I’ll ask them a very simple question. I used to ask stupid questions like, you know — if you could think of a headline that would work for you these days, what would it be? — but I got so many stupid answers I stopped that real quick. Now the safest thing to do is just say, “Tell me a story, how did you come across Heather and Andrew?” In that story, what I’m looking for is the space where they first came across you and they were hemming and hawing and they weren’t quite sure; they might have looked for other people. I’ll just dive in there, because that space right there, that’s where I live. Because that trepidation, that hesitation, the doubts, the objections — all that — that’s my world.
What I do, I understand people’s problems and their hesitation, all of that. I kind of equip myself so well in that space. Then I’ll find the magic to actually transition them over to putting their hand in their wallet and whipping out the credit card. I tell you that because if anyone really wants to understand their audience, send out a survey to them is fantastic, but jumping on the phone and asking them a story is where you get gold.
The reality is — and this is really important — if you can describe somebody’s problem better than they can, they will automatically think you have the solution.
Heather: That’s a good little jewel.
Andrew: Pretty awesome.
Heather: We should edit in big bells and whistles. Ding, ding, ding…
Andrew: We’ll tell the editor to do that. That’s awesome. I love that; it sounds easy. It doesn’t have to be rocket science, as you said. You’re getting the story from them. How much of copywriting is story? We hear about content being created at a ridiculous rate these days and people writing all sorts of content. But we also hear that story is an important part of the content. How important do you have story in your sales writing?
Bret: Awesome question. To be honest with you, talking about big ideas and where I start — I always, always try and start with a story because I know that is the number one thing that just cuts through the clutter. Where there’s so much, we’re bombarded with free information these days; we might as well be standing underneath Niagara Falls with a paper cup.
Stories, we’ve grown up on stories; we’ve been read stories as kids; we love going to the movies for some visual Valium and just chilling out watching a story; people kind of live vicariously through other people’s stories. So I always try and start with a story. Because stories… Here’s the thing, stories are believed; statements are challenged.
The other reason why stories are so powerful is because it isolates them and it suspends disbelief I suppose. It suspends them in time. When you start a story what do you want to do? You want to see how it finishes. One of my rules — or in the copywriting world — is the more they read, the more they buy. The more they read the more they buy. The reason being is because the Internet is the most distrusted place on the planet. So most people are reading your stuff with a level of skepticism already. So if you can pull them into the story, you’re suspending that disbelief and you’re building trust and belief. Trust and belief are the two narrow toll gates people have to pass through to get into the sale. So stories are a fantastic way to do that. As a copy writer I tell people don’t try and be a great copy writer; be a great story teller.
Andrew: Would you say that… We’re talking predominantly about sales pages, but you speak a lot on stages as well and you’ve probably been on webinars and that sort of thing. If anybody’s thinking about doing their own webinars or they’re speaking on stages and that sort of thing, do the same principles apply as what you’re talking about now?
Bret: Yes. Absolutely. 100%. Even though — this is bizarre — you think, as proficient as I am, I am able to sell pretty much any product in any market and then do it so well behind a computer screen with words, but put me on stage, I love talking on stage, but trying to sell from stage? I’m not that great at that for some reason. Don’t worry, I get lots of applause and claps but when it comes to sales it’s… So anyway, that’s something I’ve got to work on. But as far as the storytelling principles, it is. It’s just touching a human emotion and it’s all about belief and trust, isn’t it?
Bret: I think a lot of people are becoming aware of the importance of storytelling now. A lot of people, they feel compelled to write features and benefits — this is all what you’re going to do and this is what you’re going to get and all the rest — but someone could just come in here and just tell one story and just wave those in there and then they’re going to gravitate to that person because it’s more believable.
Andrew: Yes. Before we wrap up — because I can’t believe the time’s flying again — my background was in hospitality and when you work in hospitality, when you go out you go to a pub or a bar and you look at the bar and automatically, I’ve got my pub goggles on. I’m looking at how they do things and I’m looking at whether they should be doing this or that or what are the security doing. Do you do the same thing when you’re looking at ads and copy? Do you look at it and go, oh my god you’re kidding me; they’re not doing that, are they? Or do you just sort of turn your blinders on and say I’m not going to look at that for that reason?
Bret: I study human behavior. I think we are all on some level, people watchers. This is a good lesson; that’s a really cool question to ask. Because you’ve got to observe… Number one, I observe my own actions and I observe other people’s actions. For instance, the other day I was kind of walking down the shopping center and you see people over the side with a haul in food and I kind of subconsciously thought are they going to ask me some food; I’m going to say no and keep walking. Then she jumped out in front of me and said, “Hey do you want one of these?” I go, “Oh yeah sure” and I grabbed one and I thought — why did I do that? So there’s a psychological trigger there and I just observe things. Another time my mum — I was at her house — and unlike everyone else she has no junk mail. On her letter box, she has “give me twice the amount please.” She loves junk mail.
Bret: One . . . was there and she was kind of looking through it. Then all of a sudden she goes “ooh!” and she picked up the phone and started dialing. I looked at her and thought, OK this is interesting. So after of course, I said “Why did you do that?” She said there’s some specials only ten left in stock and only two days. And I love that. I love that. Because everyone says don’t use scarcity; don’t use urgency because it’s too “hypey.” And I tell people, “You’re right,” and they said, “Do I have to use . . . do I have to use that?” I said, “No you don’t have to — only if you want to make money.”
You know, you can do everything right; you can have a powerful headline, a really irresistible offer, great copy, product image, you could have a beautiful ad and they go, “oh wow, I really want that,” but if there’s no urgency, they’ll forget. So you’ve got all those kind of things. So I do; I study what makes people tick and respond and I’m a bit of a nerd in that way.
Andrew: Love it.
Heather: Love nerds. We’re all nerds here.
Heather: Bret, if you could leave our listeners with say, three little takeaway tips that they could go out and start doing in their copy to get better results, what would you say to them?
Bret: First of all, write in the conversational tone. We all grow up through — except for me, I slept through English — but we grew up reading textbooks and people feel compelled to use big words and write very boring. And you’re wondering — and this is the sad thing — there’s so many brilliant people out there and they write brilliant great blog posts but they don’t get one like, one share, one comment because it’s just boring and unemotive. So you’ve got to start writing conversationally. How to do that is you write as you speak. Or a caveat to that is write as your market speaks. So the little joining words like “one more thing, before I go, I’ll get to that later, oh, you’ll love this part.” The obvious things you don’t see in textbooks. But if you inject those into your copy it will add life. People will enjoy reading; it’s like a breath of fresh air. So I’d really encourage you to learn to write — just write in a conversational tone.
The other thing is — is brevity. Don’t fall in love with your own writing. If you get good at that conversational copy, don’t write to entertain yourself. Keep it short, sharp and punchy. So, conversational but with brevity.
The other thing I’d like you guys to do who listen to this, is spend a lot of time coming up with an irresistible offer. An irresistible offer can carry through sales even if your copy is only average. That’s the only exception, is if you have an irresistible offer.
And the fourth one is, this is sneaky…
Heather: Sneaky one.
Bret: — is proof. One of the greatest copy writers in the world, Gary Bencivenga who has more controls and — before he gets out of bed he makes five million dollars in royalties — and he said if you could do one thing, one thing to get a boost in an advertising campaign, what would it be? And he said, “I’d inject more proof.” So testimonials are the bottom of the barrel. If you want to 10X that, use video testimonials. Use case studies; use graphs and charts, whatever you can. Proof, proof, proof. People don’t believe what we say; they believe what other people say and you’ve got to try and weave that in. Up early as possible into your copy even in your headline because that’s going to get you the most traction.
Heather: That’s a little bit of gold. Thank you.
Andrew: Yes. Really.
Bret: I could go on for hours and hours. But don’t have the time.
Heather: I know, I know. You know, I was introducing you to Andrew and I was saying that not only you worked with some of the greats out there in the industry and you’ve created sales pages for all different industries, but you’re also now doing funnels for people as well. Right? So helping people actually get leads into their database and then do the follow up aren’t you?
Bret: Correct. That’s just really modern day marketing. For years Monique and I we ran a workshop called the “Seven Hour Sales Letter,” where a hundred people will jump in, will come in the room with their laptops with a blank screen and at the end of two days, they’d walk away with a long form sales letter written under our guidance because it was an implementation workshop. It was so popular it sold out within three weeks from announcing; I didn’t do any marketing; I just announced it and for six years running it was sold out. I stopped it, because sales letters don’t guarantee success these days.
Marketing is evolving. You need a marketing funnel; you need a lead magnet and a low upsell and then a quick ascension model that can take people from being a prospect to a client real quick. So that’s the space I’ve been living in the last three-odd years. We go to America three times a year to learn from the best. I have a team of copy writers. Not everyone can afford my deserved fees but it’s good a team of copy writers that can help people with all types of budgets and we build out marketing funnels for people. We help them with their ideas for their products and email sequences and Facebook ads, the whole lot.
Heather: Where do people go and learn more about you and these types of things that you do for businesses?
Andrew: It’s easy to find me on Facebook. You can also go to bretthomson.com, so it’s Bret with one T and Thomson without a P. Then I also have a business called Marketing Makeover HQ. But pretty much social media you’d be able to find me. If you want to reach out and say you’ve listened to the webinar, I’d be happy to give you some time and have a chat.
Heather: And guys, as you know that have listened to us a little while, Andrew and I have Digital Traffic Institute, and we often times put our little contacts and cool little things in there for you guys to get direct access to — and Bret, you don’t even know this — but I was telling Andrew that we need to stick you inside of DTI because of your incredible skill set and all that you offer. So we’re going to be popping you and some of your resources in there and that’s another conversation for the three of us. But I just had to shout that out to the world loud and clear.
Andrew: Bret, thank you so much for coming on; it’s awesome. Love hearing these little tips and tricks because that’s what we’re all about — helping small businesses and medium size, anybody really, to battle this whole online jungle. You certainly pulled back the curtains on what you do and we really appreciate you coming on.
Bret: Perfect guys. Thanks for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Heather: Thank you so much. Talk to you soon, you guys, in the next episode. Remember, as always, pop on by to iTunes; you can subscribe to us there so you never miss a beat and also aybpodcast.com is where can come and find all the show notes and some cool little tips and links in there about this episode.
Andrew: Leave us a review while you’re there. Alright, see you later everyone.