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The Top 10 Online Copywriter's Top 10 Books: The Ultimate List

The Top 10 Online Copywriter's Top 10 Books: The Ultimate List | Marketing |
I love Top 10 Lists ... and so does everybody else.

In fact, after analyzing 100 million articles for traffic, shares, and
conversions, Noah Kagan calls 10 the “magic number.”

The only thing I love more than Top 10 Lists are books. 

That’s why over the last week I’ve reached out to the best of the best
online copywriters with a simple question:

What’s your all-time, top-favorite copywriting book … and your all-time,
top-favorite quote?

The response has been amazing. Huge thanks to everyone who contributed.

So, without further ado ... here are the “Top 10 Online Copywriters’ Top 10

1. Brian Clark CopyBlogger (Founder)

Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

When going back to the source of ad copy that is both audience and
benefit-focused (as well as backed up by empirical testing), many will
point to Claude Hopkins and Scientific Advertising from 1923.

I own that book too, but my favorite “old school” copywriting book is the
updated version of John Caples’ Tested Advertising Methods.

Timeless advice, but written in an easily-digested modern tone.

Favorite Quote:

There are four important qualities that a good headline may possess. They

1. Self-Interest
2. News
3. Curiosity
4. Quick, easy way ...

Advertising can never become completely accurate, however, because of the
human element involved -- in advertising you are dealing with the minds and
the emotions of human beings, and these will always be, to a certain
extent, unstable and unmeasurable.

That is why it is necessary to test, test, test -- to test copy, media,
position in publications, seasonal variation, and time of day in broadcast

2. Joe Pulizzi Content Marketing Institute (Founder)

Integrated Marketing Communications: Putting It Together & Making It Work
by Don Schultz

While Schultz’ book isn’t necessarily about copywriting itself, Joe calls
it “the most influential on me and how I thought about marketing.”

As the book explains, Integrated Marketing Communications:

Challenges business to confront a fundamental dilemma in today's marketing
-- the fact that mass media advertising, by itself, no longer works. This
landmark book reveals that strategies long used to deliver selling messages
to a mass culture through a single medium are now obsolete -- and shows
marketers how to get back on track.

The answer lies in customer-focused marketing, a key planning tool that can
-- in today's diverse, fragmented marketplace -- explain the lifestyles,
attitudes, and motivations of distinct buyer groups and predict their
likely buying behaviors in the future.

Favorite Quote:

If you have tried to do something and failed, you are vastly better off
than if you had tried nothing and succeeded.

3. Bernadette Jiwa The Story of Telling

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best
Selling Book by Paul Arden

Arden began his career in advertising at the age of 16 and for 14 years was
Executive Creative Director at Saatchi and Saatchi, where he managed
campaigns for British Airways, Silk Cut, Anchor Butter, InterCity and Fuji.

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be is a “handbook of
how to succeed in the world -- a pocket ‘bible’ for the talented and timid
to make the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible.”

Favorite Quote:

Do not covert your ideas.

Give away everything you know and more will come back to you.

4. Joanna Wiebe CopyHackers

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

With endorsements from copywriting giants like David Ogilvy, Gary Halbert,
and Jay Abraham, Scientific Advertising is another book worthy of the title

Written in 1923, Hopkins’ text is imminently practical and built -- just
like Joanna -- on the fundamental principle of testing, testing, testing.

Even better, if you buy the book from Amazon, you also get My Life in

Favorite Quote:

Good selling is based on good testing.

You see other ads which you may not like as well.  They may seem crowded or
verbose. They are not attractive to you, for you are seeking something to
admire, something to entertain.  But you will note that those ads are
keyed.  The probability is that out of scores of traced ads the type which
you see has paid the best.  

Don’t judge an ad by how it looks. 

Instead, judge it by how well it converts.


I can’t help but mention Joanna’s ebooks as some of own personal favorites.

If you write online in any capacity … stop reading this, jump over to
CopyHackers right now, and pick up The Super Mega Brainy Bundle: All 7 Copy
Hackers Ebooks in 1.

Here’s what you’ll get ...

1. Where Stellar Messages Come From (2nd Ed.)
2. Headlines, Subheads & Value Propositions (2nd Ed.)
3. Buttons & Click-Boosting Calls to Action (2nd Ed.)
4. Formatting & Better Body Copy (2nd Ed.)
5. The Dark Art of Writing Long-Form Sales Pages
6. The Startup Guide to Differentiation
7. The Great Value Proposition Test

The worksheets and swipe files are worth the price alone.

5. Demian Farnworth CopyBlogger Chief Copywriter & theCopyBot

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word: The Ultimate Resource on How to
Write Powerful Advertising Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters and
Mail Order Entrepreneurs by Joe Sugarman

Sugarman is a living legend. 

Once called the “Mail Order Maverick” by The New York Times, Advertising
Secrets of the Written Word not only lives up to its title -- The Ultimate
Resource -- but also its price ... the going rate on Amazon is just under

The book itself covers 17 axioms to write truly persuasive (i.e.,
sales-generating) copy and is full of swipe-worthy examples and tons of
practical advice.

Favorite Quote(s);

Copywriting is a mental process the successful execution of which reflects
the sum total of all your experiences, your specific knowledge and your
ability to mentally process that information and transfer it onto a sheet
of paper for the purpose of selling a product or service.

All the elements in an advertisement are primarily designed to do one thing
and one thing only: get you to read the first sentence of the copy.

The sole purpose of the first sentence in an advertisement is to get you to
read the second sentence of the copy.

6. Peep Laja ConversionXL

Copy Logic! The New Science of Producing Breakthrough Copy (Without
Criticism) by Michael Masterson & Mike Palmer

According Peep, “Most books are about writing copy from scratch. Very few
address the more common need: improve the copy I already have.”

That’s where Copy Logic! comes in:

In this book, direct-marketing expert Michael Masterson and master
copywriter Mike Palmer reveal their methodical, step-by-step process for
turning "B-level" copy into control beating "A-level" copy in just 24

This is the exact process that was directly responsible for helping one
company boost its revenues into the $300-million-a-year range (while
creating six-figure incomes for many of its copywriters).

Favorite Quote:

We realize then that we had been trying to compete with a disadvantage. We
were balancing our promotions on three legs. Our competitor was balancing
theirs on four.

Thus we initiated what we called the Four-Legged Stool Test.

A properly built sales letter, we concluded, must contain four distinct and
important elements:

1. A big or unifying idea.
2. A substantial promise of benefit supported by subordinate claims.
3. Ample proof for each of those claims.
4. Evidence that the product, product provider, and person behind the
sales letter are all credible and trustworthy.

7. Amy Harrison

The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells
by Bob Bly

Perhaps most famous for its definitive “features versus benefits” checklist
-- including a twenty-two point examination of a No. 2 pencil -- The
Copywriter’s Handbook has it all.

In fact, this was the first book I picked up years ago when I entered the
online world of copywriting.

And just like Amy, it’s hands down one of my all-time favorites.

Favorite Quote:

Many big agency copywriters and creative directors will tell you that
advertising writers don't follow rules, and that “great” advertising breaks
the rules.

Maybe so.

But before you can break the rules, you have to know the rules.

8. Henneke Duistermaat Enchanting Marketing

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

Again, while Made to Stick may not be -- strictly speaking -- a copywriting
book, it will “transform the way you communicate ideas”:

It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures) -- the Nobel
Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point
about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa
Effect”; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented
racial prejudice.

Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows
us the vital principles of winning ideas -- and tells us how we can apply
these rules to making our own messages stick.

The book is organized around Chip and Dan’s “Six Principles of Sticky

1. Simplicity
2. Unexpectedness
3. Concreteness
4. Credibility
5. Emotions
6. Stories

Favorite Quote:

Concreteness is an indispensable component of sticky ideas.

What makes something “concrete”?

If you can examine something with your senses, it’s concrete. A V8 engine
is concrete. “High performance” is abstract.

Most of the time, concreteness boils down to specific people doing specific

Concrete language helps people, especially novices, understand new
concepts. Abstraction is the luxury of experts. 

If you've got to teach an idea to a room full of people, and you aren't
certain what they know, concreteness is the only safe language.

9. Jen Havice Make Mention Media

The Fortune Cookie Principle: The 20 Keys to a Great Brand Story and Why
Your Business Needs One by Bernadette Jiwa

In Jen’s words:

That’s a tough one since I’m not generally a big fan of books on
copywriting. The only ones I’ve found super useful have been Joanna’s and
the one by Gene Schwartz.

If I had to pick a favorite, I’d say The Fortune Cookie Principle by
Bernadette Jiwa.

It’s a bit more of a branding book but it’s great at getting you to hone in
on what’s most important to convey to your customers.

The Fortune Cookie Principle comes down to two simple equations:

Product - Meaning = Commodity

Product + Meaning = Brand

Favorite Quote:

Think of your content and copy as being like a first date.

It's the way your brand starts establishing the kind of relationship that
leaves people wanting more.

10. Me ( you're already here! )

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

I’m sure that including myself on a list entitled “The Top 10 Online
Copywriters’ Top 10 Books” is presumptuous … and more than a little

But I couldn’t resist.

Not because I’m so great … but because Breakthrough Advertising is.

How great?

Well, if you thought $90 was a lot to pay for a book on Amazon, Schwartz
clocks in at $215.15. And it’s worth every penny.

In fact, it’s so good, I wrote up an entire series on it’s most practical
insights and applied them directly to online copywriting …

The 3 Unbreakable Laws of Breakthrough Copywriting

Mass Desire: The First Unbreakable Law of “Breakthrough” Copywriting

5 Ways to Systematically Craft Breakthrough Headlines from Inside Your
Market’s Mind

3 Audience-Enticing Headline Hacks: Power, Novelty & Pull

Favorite Quote:

Five to ten words will make up about 90% of the value of your ad.

If you are right, they may start a new industry.

If you are wrong, nothing you write after them will save your ad.

And One More:

The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising
work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy.

Copy cannot create desire for a product.

It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in
the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires
onto a particular product.

This is the copywriter’s task: not to create this mass desire -- but to
channel and direct it.


11. Oliver The Handsome Dog

Dancing Dogs: How to Make Palz and Win Ritz by Oliver

This is one name you probably don't recognize ... but he’s got an avid and
growing following on Twitter.

Few people would have the gaul to recommend their own book for a Top 10
list, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Oliver.

Favorite Quote:

Lots of people blog.

I tap dance ... and blog.

Oh, and I get paid in Ritz. Just ask my lady.

Did I leave off your favorite?

If I did, let me know in the comments.

And don't forget to include your favorite quote.

Get awesome stuff in your inbox every week!

Sign up with your email address and I’ll let you know when it’s fresh.

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Susan Anderson's curator insight, September 6, 2015 12:01 PM

Add to cart! My birthday's coming up :)

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5 Lessons from a “Failed” Copywriting Pitch

5 Lessons from a “Failed” Copywriting Pitch | Marketing |

Denis Waitley

Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker.

Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end.

Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing,
and being nothing.

I (deep breath) am a failure.

Well, that might be too harsh. Let me reframe …

I have failed.

Actually … you know what? In black-and-white, even that sounds kinda rough.

Maybe some specifics would soften the blow.

Four weeks ago I had a failed pitch.

(There, that feels right.)

I won’t go into the details about names and places. Not so much to “protect
the innocent,” more that I’m still hoping it turns into something. Although
after this post, who knows. ;-)

Here’s what happened …

A friend of mine called me up and said she and her company were looking for
some “help connecting with bloggers.”

“Why, yes,”  I excitedly replied, “I have had a bit of success on that
front recently.”

So, we set up a meeting with her and the marketing team, solidified that my
part in the consultation would be a freebie, and, a few days before our
sit-down, I received a handful of links to peruse, including one to her
company’s website.

This is where things start to get sideways.

The website was … not good.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was pretty. In fact, it was very pretty.

But (and this is an enormous “but”) everything else was a train wreck.

Weak copy.

Company-focused tagline.

Missing headline.

No value proposition.

No benefits.

No offer.

And, worst of all, no clear audience.

There wasn’t even a place to signup had I wanted to give them my email.

Instantly, my mouth watered: “This is a goldmine.”

Everything my friend had told me about “wanting to connect with bloggers”
lept from my mind. All that remained was, “How can I leverage this
murder-scene of a website into new business.”

Fast forward a few days and the meeting itself went well. At least, I
thought it did.

We talked for a little over an hour and, while my friend was pretty quiet,
her “boss” was more than willing to dive into the nitty-gritty of what I
said were their “big problems.”

I went after it. Or rather (as it became clear later), I went after them.

With all the tact of a unsolicited surgeon performing an unsolicited
appendectomy, I tore into ‘em.

I walked through the importance of identifying a single target market. I
pontificated about the difference between a motto and a value proposition.
I went on at length about how vital it was to have a headline that
addressed their audience’s “mass desire.” I pushed hard on the need for an
offer -- a single, driving call-to-action -- around which everything else
should turn.

I even asked if they were A/B testing.

“Not really,” was the response.

“What? That’s crazy.” And, yes, I could fix that too.

After the meeting, my friend walked me out and we talked in the parking lot
for another 15 minutes or so, happily basking in the warm glow of our
shared ignorance.

I got home. Smiled self-satisfactorily. And sent off a proposal.

Three days later, came the call.

The meeting had been on a Friday, and Monday I got a voicemail from my
friend that simply said: “We need to talk.”

Nothing good has ever followed those four words. Not in my personal life.
Not in my professional life. And not that night when I called back.

Turns out, after our little post-meeting pow-wow in the parking lot, my
friend had walked back into a lion’s den.

What we thought was a “good meeting” was, in her boss’ mind, not only a
complete waste of time … it was sabotage. An attack: a poorly disguised
attempt to get me in the door, and to push the regulars out. Regulars who
-- by the way -- the company had literally spent millions on less than a
year ago for a comprehensive “re-branding” effort.

I was shocked. Disappointed. And more than a little defensive.

After all, I’d gone in with the best of intentions. I was trying to help.
My soul aim was to add value.

Slowly, however, a strange sort of conviction began to settle in.

Sure, it’d be easy to just say, “Well, they shoulda listened to me. I was
right. They were wrong. If they’re not willing to face the truth, so be

But honestly, that kind of it’s-all-their-fault attitude gains me nothing.

So in lieu of taking the easy way out, here are 5 lessons from a failed
copywriting pitch.

1.  Honor Your Loyalties

You’ve heard it before, “You gotta dance with the one who brung you.”

In other words, loyalty matters. And there’s no better way to guarantee
failure than to try changing horses mid-race (especially if it’s because
the “next” horse is faster, prettier, and richer).

My friend had vouched for me. She’d put her neck on the line. And instead
of honoring that trust, I sold it out.

I didn’t champion her; I championed me. I didn’t address her needs; I
addressed my own.

The lure of new business replaced the value of an old friend.

Instead of making her look good, I tried to make me look good. And, in the
end (of course), neither one of us did.

Honor your loyalties. Dance with the one who brung you.

2.  Do Not Make It About You

The first thing my friend asked me when we connected after the meeting was,
“Tell me what it was you thought I’d brought you in for.”

She asked it gently, and with genuine inquisitiveness … but I knew what she

I’d missed the mark.


On the surface, because she’d brought me to talk about connecting with
bloggers. And I’d spent the entire time tearing apart the company’s online

I got distracted and lost sight of why I was there to begin with.

At an even more basic level, however, the real reason I’d missed the mark
was selfishness: I made the pitch about me … not about them.

I talked about what I wanted to talk about. I focused on what I thought the
needs were. And I ignored what it was they were really after.

This is what Geoffrey James calls “Selling before assessing needs”:

Probably the most common selling error in the world is to think that what
you're selling is so wonderful that you can just assume that the customer
wants it.

I've fallen prey to this kind of thinking repeatedly in my career and it's
probably cost me many thousands of dollars in lost business. And rightly
so. After all, if I can't take the time to find out how I can truly help a
client, why should I expect a client to hire me?

The real problem here is that I sometimes let my ego get in the way of my

Selling is always about the customer; it's never about you.

3.  Ask Questions

These next two lessons, aren’t quite as philosophical … but they are

As simple as it sounds, I could have asked questions, both before the
meeting and especially during.

If I’d have started our face-to-face time by asking, “So, tell me exactly
what I’m doing here? How do we make the most of this next hour? What is it
you need?” imagine the world of hurt I could have saved both my friend and
myself from.

The point here is so universal, that it bears repeating.

Questions are powerful.

Questions force you to stop thinking about yourself and to start thinking
about your audience, the people who actually matter. Questions generate
dialogue, genuine dialogue. Questions engage people. And (most importantly)
they build relationships and they make people feel together instead of

4.  ALWAYS Have an Agenda!

Oh, the pain and sorrow I could have been spared, if only I’d made an

Even a rudimentary outline of what I hoped to accomplish -- a list of the
key take-aways or essential topics -- would have immediately exposed just
how off course my plan was, especially if I ran it by my friend before the
meeting started.

Get clarity. And get that clarity on paper.

5.  “Speak the Truth in Love”

This last one might sound a bit touchy feely for a sales pitch, but that
doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

What does speaking the truth in love mean?

Two things …

First, speaking the truth.

The truth was their online marketing sucked. Period.

It was a genuine train wreck: quantifiably awful.

But, that was only half of it.

Second, speaking the truth in love.

Okay yes, the marketing sucked. But did they really need to hear that from
me? Did they need to hear that from some they didn’t know, like, or trust?

Forget about “need to” for a second ... did they even have the capacity to
hear me?

The more I think about it the more I think the answer is, “No.”


Because I didn’t take the time to love them.

This is what the other four lessons add up to.

We all have people in our lives who need to hear hard things. Sometimes
it’s professional. Sometimes it’s personal. But if they’re gonna hear us,
the common denominator is always love.

Only when we feel cared for, respected, and honored are we ready to hear
those hard things. Only when I believe you have my best interests in mind,
that you aren’t trying to get over on me, that you value me as a real
person and not just a dollar sign am I ready to truly listen.

So, what has failure taught you recently?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Mass Desire: The First Unbreakable Law of “Breakthrough” Copywriting

Mass Desire: The First Unbreakable Law of “Breakthrough” Copywriting | Marketing |

Where the Right “5 to 10 Words” REALLY Come From

I started last week with a story.

Actually, more of a legend … one that just happens to be true.

In 1976, Eugene Schwartz wrote a single ad for Boardroom Inc. founder
Martin Edelston that set Boardroom on its path to becoming the
multinational and multimillion-dollar company it is today.

At the time, that one ad cost Edelston over 70% of his entire operational
budget, today’s equivalent of just under $10,500.

Think about it. 70% of everything.

Imagine not only asking but getting 70% of your next client’s entire
operational budget?

Even if you’re not a copywriter, all of us are in the business of selling.
How’d you like a bankable and rock-solid formula to unleash your product or
service on the world?

So, what was Schwartz’s formula?

“5 to 10 words.”

To get the full scoop on Schwartz’s epic success check out the first post
in this series here: The 3 Unbreakable Laws of Breakthrough Copywriting.

Within his 228-page classic Breakthrough Advertising, Schwartz unveiled
three laws to mastering the only 5 to 10 words that matter.

This week we’ll examine …

The First Law: “Mass Desire”

Let’s start with a simple definition.

Another word for “mass desire” is emotion: “the public spread of a private

An ad’s ability to sell begins and ends with identifying a “private want”
and then channeling that want into “public” words. Only when an audience
and an ad share the same dominant emotion does that ad stand any chance of
compelling, converting, and closing.

Put more simply ...

“Breakthrough” advertising lives or dies by the right “mass desire.”

A friend of mine calls this the “Puppy Principle.” If you’re trying to sell
puppies, forget about all the logistics of dog ownership.

Just show ‘em the puppy!


Because unless how you’re presenting your product makes your audience want
to hold it, love it, and give it money … you’re not selling it right.

And chances are, you aren’t selling it at all.

Mass desire means majoring on dreams, fears, desires, needs, pains, and

However, this means the real question isn't "What?" or "How?" but "Where?"

Where does your market’s “mass desire” really come from?

The answer might surprise you.

It doesn’t come from your product, your benefits, your USP, your value
proposition, your copy, or even from you.

It comes from your market itself.

Schwartz explained:

The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising
work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy.

Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes,
dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of
people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product.

This is the copy writer's task: not to create this mass desire—but to
channel and direct it (3).

Naturally this assumes that you have a market -- a narrow and clearly
targeted group of people whose lives your product would be legitimately

You can read more about exactly how to choose and narrow your market here.

Once that group is fixed, the next step is to make a list of all the
possible emotions -- the raw emotions -- that might inspire someone in that
specific market to act.

On the negative side, it might be:

* Fear
* Anxiety
* Depression
* Anger
* Rage
* Uncertainty
* Embarrassment
* Envy
* Resentment

On the positive side, it might be:

* Joy
* Happiness
* Accomplishment
* Satisfaction
* Elation
* Desire
* Lust
* Pride
* Comfort

After you’ve selected two or three dominant, raw emotions, get specific.

For example, the most dominate human emotion is fear. But nobody (despite
FDR’s sound advice) fears fear. What we fear are people, places, things,
and events. We fear the future. Or we fear situations that may arise in the
future. We fear loss. We fear uncertainty. We fear failure.

On top of that, every market -- just like every person -- has its own
unique list.

Take the real estate market for instance. What do new homebuyers fear most?

Some of the obvious boogiemen are …

* The fear of being overwhelmed by the process.
* The fear of being turned down for a loan.
* The fear of picking the wrong neighborhood.
* The fear of not having enough money for a down payment.
* The fear of something better coming along and missing out.

Whatever it is, by selecting one of those fears and placing it front and
center in your copy, you “enter the conversation already taking place in
the customer’s mind” (Robert Collier).

Actually, what you enter is the conversation already taking place in the
customer’s heart.

Either way, the keyword is “customer’s.” Their mind. Their heart.

Mass Desire ... in Action

To put a little more flesh on this idea, here are some classic examples of
wildly successful headlines from Schwartz’s era that tapped into their
market’s mass desires:

* “Hair Coloring So Natural Only Her Hairdresser Knows For Sure”
* “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in a Rolls Royce is the
electric clock.”
* “The Skin YOU Love to Touch”
* “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
* “Stops Maddening Itch”
* “Do YOU make these mistakes in English?”
* “How a bald-headed barber helped save my hair.”

Of course today, with advertising exposure rising exponentially, you may
think that such straightforward appeals no longer work.

Just to prove they do, here are a handful of my favorite mass desire
headline from the web …

Apple’s MacBook Air: “The notebook people love.”

iTunes: “You’ve never been so easily entertained.”

Unbounce: “Build, publish & A/B test landing pages without I.T. The landing page builder for marketers.”

Square: “Start Selling Today. Accept credit cards from iPhone, iPad, or Android with Square. We’ll mail you a free card reader to get started.”

Evernote: “Remember Everything. Evernote apps and products make mondern life manageable, by letting you easily collect and find everything that matters.”

The Ladders: “Your career is our job. Get matched with the job that’s right for you.”

eHarmony: “Beat the odds, Bet on Love with eHarmony. Our bold, scientific approach to matching means more quality dates with deeply compatible singles that truly understand you.”

What each of these headlines (classic and contemporary) does beautifully is
identify and channel one desire: love, greed, entertainment, the fear of
inability, or the fear of difficulty. They use emotive language to capture
their audience’s hearts and minds. Emotive language that already exists in
the market they’re trying to reach.

To breakthrough, your ads must do the same.

One final thought about the word “one” …

Having generated a powerhouse list of market-inspired mass desires, your
greatest temptation will be to employ them all, like a sort of emotional
machine gun.


You only get one.

(Well, you may get to split-test more than one. But each ad only gets one


Because, as Schwartz put it:

Every product appeals to two, three or four of these mass desires.

But only one can predominate; only one can reach out through your headline
to your customer. Only one is the key that unlocks the maximum economic
power at the particular time your advertisement is published.

Your choice among these alternate desires is the most important step you
will take in writing your ad.

If it is wrong, nothing else that you do in the ad will matter.

So remember ...

Just. One.

Next week we’ll discover Law 2: “State of Awareness”

Why does your market’s understanding of their desire and your product
unlock even the most difficult audience? (Here’s a clue: it all comes down
to time of day, and I’m not talking about when you post or publish.)

To make sure you don’t miss out Sign up for the iconiContent list right
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How I Wrote for Fast Company, Copyblogger, MarketingProfs, and Entrepreneur and Landed My First Nearly $20,000, Three-Month Client … in Less than 120 Days

How I Wrote for Fast Company, Copyblogger, MarketingProfs, and Entrepreneur and Landed My First Nearly $20,000, Three-Month Client … in Less than 120 Days | Marketing |

First things first … I don’t wanna over sell this.

To be honest, I have NOT quit my day job.

I am not a full time writer … yet.

Nonetheless, those accomplishments in the headline are all 100% true. And
(just like it says) they’ve all happened since June of this year.

Now, for someone who constantly feels “less than” and a pretender -- always
on the cusp of being “found out” and exposed -- just reading that stuff
seems unbelievable.

I have definitely done my share of fist pumping in the last 120 days.

But enough about me. You’re not here to listen to me gush about how
simultaneously insecure and awesome I am (except my mom, that’s exactly why
she’s here).

No. You’re here to find out HOW.

Alright, so, let’s cut to the chase. You ready for the secret? It’s three
words. Seriously: just three.

Breath deep. Wait for it.

Here it is …

“Let’s get rejected.”

Yep, that’s it.

Let’s get rejected.

(Read it again, just for emphasis.)

Sounds weird, right? Yeah, I know. But the deal is that three-word phrases
was (and is) the ONLY secret sauce I know.

Here’s what I mean …

That cynical little mantra was word-for-word what I told myself each and
every time I went after one of those big, hairy, scary beasts in the title.

Submit a guest post to Copyblogger: “Let’s get rejected.”

Cold email everyone with the word “editor” in their title at Entrepreneur:
“Let’s get rejected.”

Direct message Ann Handley after a friendly email exchange: “Let’s get

Fire off my first $100 per hour blogging proposal ($150 for sales copy):
“Let’s get reject.”

Each and every time, those three words were my nearest friends. And let me
say, they served me well.

Now, they might be a bit dark for those of you with sunnier dispositions,
but don’t get me wrong. I’m not pre-loading sour grapes or setting myself
up to get let down easy.

The point is ... so few people actually freakin’ try. So few people go for
it. So few people put themselves out there. So few people risk.


Easy. Because of fear.

We’re afraid. We’re afraid of being rejected. We’re afraid of not being
“good enough.” We’re afraid of failure, of falling down, of looking stupid.

Every time I told myself “Let’s get rejected” I was saying, “So what? So
what if I get rejected? So what if they don’t think I’m good enough? So
what if I fail, fall down, and look stupid? So flippin’ what?”

Not to get too deep in a post about a few copywriting wins, but it’s like
Steve Jobs said in his epic 2005 commencement address at Stanford:

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever
encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost
everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of
embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of
death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the
trap of thinking you have something to lose.

You are already naked.

There is no reason not to follow your heart.

In other words, the only real way to lose is to live like I’ve actually got
something to lose.

By telling myself “Let’s get rejected” I embraced the possibility of being
rejected. I even welcomed it. Once I’d crossed that bridge, not trying, not
risking, not just going for it became the only guaranteed way to fail.

Of course, telling myself that little mantra wasn’t the ONLY thing I did.

In fact, there are a handful of very practical and repeatable steps that
have guided me throughout this process.

Next week I’ll walk through four.

For now, here’s a quick preview:

1. Build relationships.

2. Write [bleeping] amazing content.

3. Be a decent freakin’ person.

4. Go after it … again, and again, and again.

To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the 4 steps ...

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Scooped by Aaron Orendorff!

LITTLE BITS: A Short Video About Content Strategy Little Bits is a short video about content strategy by the small content strategy team at Hot Studio, an experience design company b...
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