This interview was so great we couldn’t include it all. Get our bonus notes including things like Colin’s ‘4 Beats to a Story’ which will have you creating stories that sell in 4 simple steps. Plus learn more about how he positions free content versus promotions and advice for a newbie copywriter. Lastly you’ll even get our personal notes from the interview on everything we talked about.
After 5 corrupted Google Hangouts and 3 Skype calls, we have an incredible interview with Master Copywriter Colin Theriot.
He accidentally fell into a job writing copy and helped create sales material for a campaign that did $24 million with StomperNet.
Since then he’s had a very successful career as a freelancer and now focuses instead on products rather than client work. His ‘Cult of Copy’ Facebook group has grown organically to over 11,000 members as of writing.
This is a packed interview and we cover topics such as:
Interview with Colin Theriot
Sweeney: Welcome to another episode of the TriggerCast. Today we have on reverent, doctor, Sir Colin Theriot. Thank you so much for coming on!
Colin: My pleasure man! Good to try with you again.
Sweeney: We’ve been trying to get this one work a few technical issues. Now, the reason why we’re having you on is because you are a “Master Copywriter”. He is the cult leader AKA the owner of the Cult of Copywriting Group which is recently at over 12,000 members. One of the more active Facebook groups that I see anyone use or refer to. I, myself do use it anytime I need copy advice and it’s not even paid. Most of the good Facebook groups I know are paid. That says something right there. He’s done copywriting for StomperNet. He also switched over to his own products as well as doing some client work. We want to bring him on. Tell us more about this transition and how he got to start and how he moved over into products as well. Colin, give us a little bit touch into this StomperNet days. You just fell into the copywriting job which I don’t think anyone doesn’t know the story what to expect to hear. I’m sure everyone expected you have the beard, you have the glasses, the hat like this guy is writing since he was 6.
Colin: That’s all recent. Now, what happened was I went to art school and I worked my way through school doing web design for local businesses. When I moved to Atlanta, I fell into managing ecommerce stores. One job that I have is I have one of the co owners ended up starting StomperNet and having their big, famous $24M launch day or whatever like I was there. In fact, I did the HTML for that sales letter. I worked there and that’s what I did as my job. I helped out with that. Eventually as the company progressed a little bit, they hired me over from the e commerce then one day I still can’t remember if she was sick or just they had too much to do that need they need another writer like 5 of us working there at this point. It was very early. We don’t have an office yet or anything. Basically, it’s like we need the sales letter to add all these new stuff that we put in because we’re going to re launch it. Can you do it? I’m like, sure man! Whatever! I don’t care. So I did it. My boss at that time Andy Jenkins is like this is pretty good. Do you like doing this? I’m like, sure man! It beats wiring your house for WiFi so we can work here. He’s like we’re good. You’re the chief marketing copywriter. That was that. That’s how I got my job as a copywriter. It was a good place to learn because we got a lot of experts there. I had good existing material to use as my templates to learn from. We had very responsive audience so you test things and get real reactions and figure out what was going to work and what wasn’t going to work. I learned by the sea of my pants full speed. Even now, it’s like who’s your favorite copywriter? Who influences you the most? Like I barely know any copywriters because I didn’t have this big, long period of study. All the famous names like Gary Halbert make pieces and all that. I learned those maybe in my first 6 months on the job. I learned who even the famous copywriters were. For anyone out there, I think you have to spend all this time studying. I recommend just go get a job, writing, copy or learn faster than anything you can learn from the book.
Sweeney: How do you feel about the traditional old school method which takes some of the greatest sales letter, rewrite them by hand? I guess it beats in your subconscious.
Colin: I guess I get why some people say that works for them like understand what the mechanism would be. For me, it didn’t do anything for me. It was a kind of thing where like the point of it is supposed to think about what the copy means while you’re writing it. It supposed to put you in the frame of mind like understanding the language from the point of view of the writer. I would get bored copying. I would just start thinking about other completely different things that I have nothing to do with it because my mind would wonder because it was so mechanical to be like look here, write here, look here. It had the opposite of the intended effect and what it supposed to do. What works better for me was to take pieces of copy that I knew will be working and take them apart and turn it in outlines, look at bunch of different successful pieces, see what they have in common and make a template. It’s the same purpose which is to understand it from a writing point of view and understand what the patterns are and why certain things are said certain ways. I just approached it from a different way because the copying didn’t work for me.
Sweeney: It makes sense. It does seem to a degree nothing sells better experience than actually doing it like the best substitute.
Colin: Yes, what I heard is that it was Gary Halbert who I think popularized that idea like that take this famous letters and rewrite them. I have it on good authority that his behind the scenes opinion on that. I hope I’m not disclosing anything that would get anybody in trouble. What he said and again Gary could have been this part but it was is when somebody came in and like what do I have to do to become a writer? He’s like, go write this pile of stuff I’ll hand in and get talk to me after you finished. He said that we will weed out all the people who weren’t serious. It’s like I get why it’s supposed to be a benefit but it’s one of those things where if you don’t have the fortitude to sit there and write and write and write, you can’t do it. A lot of people are like; it’s nice to be writing. Like writing a lot is hard. It really is like try to write a novel or something. That’s like 50,000 words. I write that much in a long time but in bits and pieces because I’m not actually that disciplined at writing but definitely not as good as I was when I was still freelancing. Its real work and physical labor. It takes time and that’s the part people forget about it. It’s like having the idea, that’s the easy part. You can have a million ideas today but can you sit there and grind that out right? 10,000, 30,000, 50,000 words and turn it into book or sales letter or whatever it is you need to write. That’s the part that’s hard. It’s like people learning guitar, will sit there and do like not even play. Just practice the fingering of the chords. Just to build up like restring or whatever. It’s the same thing.
Sweeney: I think it depends. I think there are certain times where you can practice skills and you can get the foundational elements. A lot of times that’s just doing the work. It’s like you want to get better headlines? Cool! Here’s the product. Go write 50 headlines.
Colin: Right! That’s what I tell. I just did a video script training thing where I was trying to get people to do sales videos on camera like we’re doing now just in one take. The trick of it is do not allow yourself to be able to practice. Just record your practice. Once you realized that your practice take is probably not going to be that much worse than you’re doing it 10 more times. You’re not an actor. You’re not going to get a more settle performance like growing that out and then you have something. Then you can fix it if it’s not great.
Sweeney: Alright! We were talking about copy, the best way you can get into copy. Doing copy is not practice. It’s not writing a bunch of full letters. It’s really just putting work and writing things down and writing 50 different headlines for example rather than studying about different ways.
Colin: Right! Most importantly like actually publishing it. It’s like Karate. There are books on Karate. They got photos and show you different stanzas and all that but you can’t learn how to spar or fight from a book. You can learn how to stand or whatever but it’s different than actually getting out there and practicing. I think writing especially copy is not writing like writing a novel or writing a short stories or poetry. Copy doesn’t matter until you put it in front of people that you’re trying to persuade and see if it works. Copywriting is like the only writing where you can actually directly m,easure its value. Otherwise it’s just subjective on like, do you like it? I guess it’s valuable. It’s like you send it to some people that they do. You wanted it to do? Yes or No? If no and didn’t work, tweak it. You never learn that part of it unless you actually publish your copy and try to see if they get people to write. Every once in a while, someone in the call to copy will ask the question like how do I get clients as a copywriter. If you can’t convince people to give you money to write their copy, why would they even believe you can do that all. The number one thing you can do to practice if you don’t have clients yet, you can practice on. Just write your own copy to sell your own services. If you get clients then it’s working and keep tweaking it.
Sweeney: It does make a lot of sense. If you can’t sell a client, how can you expect to sell anyone?
Colin: Yes, it’s one of those things where people are like should I give copy away for free? You got to understand like someone who needs to buy a copy, you’re basically telling them you don’t know what you’re doing if you have to give it away for free. Copy is salesmanship. If you can’t sell your own product, how would anyone have any expectation that you can sell which is what you’re trying to get them to hire you to do.
Sweeney: It does like a little bit more of a trick in the scenario. I can convince anyone to let me sell for them so can I get better convincing people at selling things for people?
Colin: Right! The converse of that is true. People don’t know how can I start charging dollar. I don’t know if I can do this. If you wrote the sales letter to get people to hire you and they hire you and you charge them a lot of mone toy and they gave it you then you’re good enough. Use what you did there and apply it to selling their product.
Sweeney: Yes, very true. I’m curious and I do want to get back into your transition from StomperNet into your own personal practice and creating products and such. Something I’m seeing more and more being around the industry for a while. I’m curious your opinion on it is what do you think about learning and dominating one skill and then really sticking your claim on like I’m great at this one thing and then expanding outward?
Colin: Yes, that’s why I build my own career. Like this is actually going to overlap with my career path that you wanted to ask about. My goal wasn’t to have a really long career in writing copy for other people because working with StomperNet the way that I did. My job was basically to pretend to be the owner’s aid to their audience. I was just a staff writer so the sales letters would be from my bosses, emails should be from my bosses, the blog posts were from my bosses but I’m the one who wrote it. They signed off on it and a lot of it was their idea. I was just basically writing down on things they said out loud and turn into content at first. What I realized is that, a lot of the success of that company had to do with the pre existing reputation those guys have as experts in their field. They were making way, way more money as experts teaching their expertise rather than doing the actual things that they were experts at. For example, for those guys they taught ecommerce store owners how to do SEO and stuff to get organic traffic and more traffic to ecommerce store means more sales. So if you rank #1 for dog food bowls or whatever, you’ll get the money versus the other guy who’s 2 spots below you in the search results. The trick was they did have each of them as part of their expertise, multimillion dollar ecommerce stores. They launch these things where they’re training other ecommerce store owners and that launches like $24M a year because it was like $800 a month that had 2,000 members or whatever.
Sweeney: So you’re talking about creating value for the end buyer to the eCommerce store.
Colin: Right! When you create that value for the end buyer to ecommerce store, that’s like a small amount of value to a customer, who only has a certain amount of money spent. The value created by having the knowledge on how to reach that customer is worth a lot more to people who have a lot more money to spend namely business owners. What I wanted to do with my copy career specifically was have a successful short career. Couple of years, I ended up retiring after 2 years of copy for other people deliberately to set up authority so that I could use that to position myself as an expert on the whole field of copywriting so that I could switch to creating products and interacting with people and being on stage and talking. Be the vocal expert in the field like spokesman as a opposed to just a practitioner grinding out sales letter. I didn’t want to follow that path. Because of the peculiar way, I got my job. I didn’t have the solution like I got to pay my dudes and grind out sales letter for 30 years before I get the respect to these old dudes. I already am writing multimillion copy as part of this company. Why don’t I just figure out how to manufacture that positioning for myself? I don’t need like faking. I wrote a bunch of really successful sales letter from my clients. When I went freelance, I just didn’t feel the need to grind that out or keep doing. It is the easiest work I’ve ever done. It’s still work like the pressure is uncomfortable when someone give you $10,000 or $25,000 to write a launch package. You have to deliver something that’s going to make them more than that money back. I just didn’t enjoy the pressure of it. We’re starting our family so I don’t want to be on stressful deadlines. We have a baby in the house because my creativity is sensitive. If I don’t get enough sleep, I might be not producing at my best. The whole goal was really to figure out how to leverage what I learned working as these write copy for them and put that to work for myself by creating a better term like group or zone.
Sweeney: I’m curious in the same vein with the StomperNet guys. Obviously, there’s no question about the success that they have with ecommerce or teaching ecommerce. So often in this market, people tend to put cart before the horse. They teach when they know very little. How do you keep that bounce especially now that you are more of just teaching level of still knowing the expertise or the knowledge if you’re not doing this much.
Colin: The trick of it is nothing new has been invented as far as like the art of copy for like hundred years or so. Once they’ve figured out that you could write things down and get people to read it and would make them have a reaction, do what you wanted them to do, it has only got easier and easier as technology is progressed. None of the stuff I do is necessary strictly tight to a particular type of technology. It’s more about the strategic implementation of persuasion so that in the future, you could use my same templates. Only the implementation of the technology used to deliver the messages. The technology people used to consume the message is going to change. The underlying software of the human brain is always been the same. The technology is different but people aren’t. Specifically when it comes to copy, I don’t have current experience in the newest advertising methods people are doing. Like can you write copy for a Facebook Ads and it goes to a Tripwire page. I’m like I don’t know what that is. Explain it to me and I will tell you how to use to get someone to get clicked and then pay that off on the page to get them stick around unless whatever you going on there. That I know how to do because that’s more general persuasion. The idea is specifically with my type of information; you don’t need like current expertise in order to still be an expert. Somebody actually asked me that on the conference. I was like how can you sell the fact that you’re an expert copywriter when you refuse to write copy for anybody? I’m like, I write copy for myself and he had trouble getting his head around because he’s in the real estate investing field where there are a lot of selling and how to buy houses but no money down flipped on big cash and they don’t know what they’re talking about because the market changes constantly. It’s volatile. If you’re not actually doing it, you don’t know the ins and outs. Even if you are doing it, it’s very regional. What you can do with one area of the country may not be as applicable anywhere else. I fully get where he’s coming from. What I compare myself more is say I’m a famous chef and I own a famous restaurant. That made me famous enough to make me a celebrity talk about cooking. Now, I don’t actually cook in my restaurant anymore. I have a cooking show where I teach people recipes and talk about the stuff that I cook in my own house. Did that chef forget how to cook just because he’s not cooking at the restaurant anymore? No, he still knows how to cook. That’s what he’s teaching. It’s not invalidated just because I don’t do it for clients because I still experiment in my group. What I’ve segway more and more teaching is this peculiar kind like guru positioning to build yourself a fan based of dedicated, addicted fans of your topic. For anybody who just can’t get enough copywriting information. They want to read about and talk about and dig into it and learn and learn and learn. Once I have those people there, I know they buy stuff about copy so it’s pretty easy. It should have fish in the barrel to make a sustainable income from that audience. Now, I teach that because that’s what I’m hands on with versus necessarily messing with people’s sales letters or that kind of thing.
Sweeney: That makes a lot of sense. I think the key there is the fact as you said the principles haven’t changed much. Video sales letter will come out or the medium might change but the principle stay the same. If you’re maybe an expert or guru on SEO or Facebook Ads, something that might change every day or week to week, you have to be a lot more hands on to stay on the cutting edge.
Colin: Yes! One thing that’s interesting about copy is sense. I don’t have to not freak out the clients. I’m not dependent on clients. I can say some of the stuff I feel like all copy writers I know but they wouldn’t say because it devalues being a professional copywriter. Really, most of the reason that professional sales copy writers can make so much money is because they’re charging people who have that money. To them, they have the amount of money and it doesn’t out way how scared or unwilling they are to it with themselves if that makes sense. You can always make money doing anything someone else is just unwilling to do. As long as it falls within what they’re willing to spend, right? I hate cutting my grass. The guy who cuts it for me charges little enough that I rather just pay him to do it. It doesn’t hurt me to just pay him. So, with copy because of the value that it provides to people who can afford very expensive copy have a lot of money to spend and they don’t want to do it themselves. They’re more than willing to spend that amount. That’s a huge part of it. Another part I think a lot of copywriters don’t admit is that the power of suggestion is like at least 80% of the power of copy. It’s just getting out there and suggests to people what you want them to do. The last part of it and it’s a huge factor is just finding the right audience for that suggestion to hit home. If you find jobs where you have a client with deep pockets who are willing to pay for good copy and they just don’t even want to deal with themselves, so that they’re not going to micro manage you or whatever. You have an audience that is big enough just letting them know things exist will get them to buy and then knowing how to reach that audience. If you have those 3 things, the copy doesn’t have to be that good and you’ll have a successful offer.
Sweeney: It’s almost more about making pieces fit to a degree.
Colin: Yes! Calling it copywriting is almost a misnomer because people who are really good at it aren’t necessarily what considered to be good writers but they’re good at putting together a compelling offer because they know who it’s for, who it’s from, what it’s about. The writing part is the least important bid of it. If you can strength 2 sentences together, you have enough writing skill to become copywriter. The rest of it is salesmanship and has nothing to do with actually writing if that makes sense.
Sweeney: It does! I think too part of that is it gets beat over again and again with paid advertising, knowing their demographics and knowing their market, knowing whether to put an old guy with grey hair and a 1964 Mustang in your Facebook Ad or a young 23 year old with a Porsche. Or if should be an old lady on a scooter and knowing who that person is. I know copywriting is the same thing.
Colin: Yes, especially with the advent of the internet. You’re talking about like hundred years ago. Dudes might buy like a mailing list. I have no idea who’s on that list but you’re just paying for all these stands to mail all these letters. The letter has to convince them to cut out a little coupon and fill that out and write a check, put it in an envelope, put it in the mail. The hurdles were insane. Now it’s just so easy. I can send the message direct to someone’s phone. If they poke it with their finger, I make money. Nothing else has to happen. They literally have to take their phone out of their pocket and touch it and that’s it. To get it easier, they would have to be able to buy without moving at all. We’re not there yet. Maybe Google will figure that out. Just blink if you want to buy to us. It keeps getting easier and easier but the principles behind it are ancient. People are people. The flaws in the programming of the human brain will never get fixed. Basically, good salesmanship is about taking advantage of those flaws not in a devious way but just knowing how to predict. How people are going to behave when you give them certain kinds of information. It’s valuable. For example, if you want to buy this thing, it’s $50. You have $50 in your pocket, you’re like that’s all my money. If I tell you for a while and when I talk to you how great it is and then I tell you it’s $300 but for today only you can get $50 because of somewhere reasons if that makes sense to you. You’re like I happen to have $50, how lucky that I can spend all my money on this thing because I’m getting a great deal. People are bad at calculating decisions that way. Tricking people into seeing your side of things and doing what you want as the reason language wasn’t there in the first place I’m sure. At some point, some proto humans are sitting there at the cave and a guy comes in. Instead of grunting, he makes great effort to grunt specifically to say there is food over there. I’m almost positive, the whole reason language evolve was to sell something.
Sweeney: It makes sense. We should go this way. Now we should go this other way.
Colin: Right! Language was almost invented so that the leader could identify them as leader. The ones that’s most persuasive are the ones that’s in charge. Normally, that’s the strongest guy. If the guy is not the strongest ones to compete, he has to do something else. That’s how persuasion was.
Sweeney: Now, with scarcity something I wonder and those other kinds of bumps. Do you have any tricks or tactics that you use to make a team a little bit more believable, a little bit real, a little bit authentic?
Colin: Sure! If you have an offer and you want them to make it more pressing, you want to put pressure on the buyer to make a decision without leaving the page to cool off. You want to make the decision right there while they’re hot. There are few factors that people smash together and confuse with each other. I look at it as 3 separate things. Urgency, I call them limitations because it’s a limit somehow on what you’re offering them. Urgency is a limitation on time meaning time is limited if they leave this page, time might run out. You can express that in a number of ways either it’s a short term sale and we’re closing it or stocks are going to run out or we’re only running it for this day. Any number of possible reasons why this is only available for a limited time. The next factor I like to put in is scarcity. Scarcity is about how few of something there are. One twist of scarcity is to make sure people know this isn’t just information about X. This is my take as an expert on the topic of X that you can’t get from anywhere else because this is my particular take. So, you’re telling them that it’s something that they can’t get in other places in other words. If you can also say this offer isn’t available in stores. This offer isn’t available at this price once you leave the page. Anything like that makes it scarce. We only have a limited number of copies. That’s only certain number of people that can fit on this webinar. Any of those are scarcity based. Some of them obviously can apply to urgency. Can you follow so far?
Sweeney: Yes, I do. I was typing there so I muted myself for a second.
Colin: The last one would be rarity. Rarity is how a lead and special this particular type of offer is everywhere else in the world. Again, if you make it unique to you then it’s rare. If you make it so that only awesome people were experts to able to look at this information. That makes it rare. That’s to spend all my products because I have to sell them inside the call to copy. Whenever someone outside my circle wants to buy on products. I explain it as this was an exclusive live training that are only for my mastermind members that raises the level of value that they see because it’s rare. When you put any of those 3 factors together in combination maybe the multiple instances of each. That’s how you use this limitations to drive up the perceived value of your product in a way where they know now has to be the decision is because all of these awesome stuff that’s part of the offer is going to go away. Only few people are going to get to buy it. Only people who are awesome that I want to be like have been able to get it before. Now I can be like them. All of these little things messed with their head in particular to make them want to take action now without leaving the page. There’s no reason any of those things have to not be true. I would say this is a piece of software and we only have limited copy. It’s really digital. You can download it in infinite amount. If you say I’m only selling 10 copies of this and then you stand by your guns and make it clear. Like no, it’s sold out. I’m not doing it again because I wouldn’t. You can validate any claim of scarcity or urgency if you actually keep your worth when you make those promises in the first place.
Sweeney: I guess the key is having a decently real reason and stick into your guns.
Colin: Yes! There have been studies like if you read that book, “Influence” by Cialdini. They did a study where some people at university were waiting in line make copies at the copying machine. They found that if someone walked up and someone waiting in line like can I cut in front of you, they would say no. But if you say, can I cut in front of you because and then if you gave a reason, they would let you cut. The trick was they didn’t stop at just can I cut in front of you because I’m in hurry and I have to go to class. It sounded like a possible reason. They also tested a stupid reason like can I cut in front of you because I have to make this copies? Just having the because drastically increase the amount of compliance they got from people. It doesn’t have to be a great “because”. As long as you get people a reason, it’s almost like their brain is smart enough to raise an objection is not very articulate. If you can put whatever it is that unspoken urge at once in a hand. The hand closes on that objection is gone. For example, if you have something that seems like you can buy this on this page for 50% where we sell it elsewhere. Before their brain can even put it in the language, it’s starting to raise the objection of what’s wrong with it. Why is it so cheap. If you just say “because” and give them a reason, give at grunting from their cave man brain something to hold and then it closes on that objection is gone. All it needs is the “because”. It doesn’t have to be a great one. If you give people “because” reasons why for every little factor of your offer, you’ll drastically shut down the number of objections that they have because you’re answering before their brain can even fully articulate what their problem is.
Sweeney: That seems to be a big part of copywriting too is sequentially going through getting enough interest and then sequentially going through objection they might have?
Colin: Yes, the trick is play with their emotions so that they wanted like irrationally. Then it’s just a matter of stopping their logical mind from talking them out of it, by giving it reasons why it’s a good idea and reason why it’s a bad idea to pass that offer. Once you get them to wanted deep down in their gut where it’s like, man I should have got that then you have them. You can do that by talking to them emotionally, getting them emotionally invested, talking to them about their future and how awesome it’s going to be when they use this product. They pass and how bad it was and they can get over that and forget and how they want to avoid the nightmare scenario of what their life might be like if the dominos continue to fall against them if they won’t pick up this offer. All of those things in their brain like I want it, I want it. I got to have it. Then the logical part is like wait a minute, I got a few questions first. Once you get them into that position, it’s easy because it’s just knocking objections down. The copy can be almost mechanical and they’re literally reading the copy to look for excuses to not bound their objections if that makes sense. That’s when you have someone is when they’re literally almost like praying that your copy answers this stupid objection that their brain threw up in their head. It’s not going to let to buy it if you have an excuse to get away with it.
Sweeney: That makes a lot of sense. Are you following templates or part of it is audience research to know like these people are probably going to have this objections?
Colin: I started out like every copywriter does thinking like you have to have different customer avatar for every different type of thing you were selling. You have to do this in deep research and that was very satisfying to my client when I was in freelance world because I would send them this questionnaire and all these questions about who would they sell to, what they’re about, their values. But then, my mindset of making templates where I look at the stuff that I’m using over and over and try to find common threads to simplify things. What I found is that, people sort to all secretly suffer their problems. They don’t tell people about them because they’re embarrassed or they just don’t want to see him whining or whatever the reason is. If people are having internal problem, something that’s bothering them usually they’re the only ones who knows about. No one knows they have that problems. They just don’t talk to people about it, right? What that means is that people because they don’t talk to each other about their problems, they don’t realize that they all have the same exact reactions and complaints. To them it feels like their suffering is unique. The trick is you can very easily guess it. Like I said everybody’s got the same problems. When you guess it, they feel like this guy is reading my mind or else he knows exactly how it feels because he must have suffered from it. Once you describe their feelings to them, they’re like he knows how it feels then you agitate the problem. You explain to them how it’s much more complex in detailed and specific than they even imagine. Remember, they don’t like to talk to people so their actual understanding of this problem is actually very blurry. It’s very vague. You help them crystallize and sharpen it, makes it scary and threatening because you’re giving it so much detail but at the same time they’re like if he knows this problem better than I understand them myself. Any solution he suggests must automatically counteract all these problems or else he wouldn’t suggest it. You just let them have that presumption and then never address it. Then they assume anything you’re going to offer them. It’s going to solve all the multiple facets of this problem that you made them familiar with. When they decide to buy it, it’s their decision. It’s their idea. They’re the one making the presumption about this is going to solve their problem and it’s going to be everything they need and more. They don’t realize it’s connected to because you’re the one suggesting it and you showed them that you understand the problem better than they do. To give you something tactically, you can use with that. This is from my sales letter template. The 3 common emotions and sensations that people feel relative to any problem they might have whether it’s weight loss or they need to buy something to fix their car or they want to start gardening. Anytime someone has something they want to do but can’t and are in the market to buy some solution to that, these are the 3. It’s actually 4 but the first one is useless and it’s really hard to get over. The first is that they’re oblivious that the problem didn’t exist. That one is hard because you have to educate them and know that the problem even exist and they got them to take action. That’s a lot of work. So 80/20 rule, that’s very hard. If you are trying to sell something to an audience that’s oblivious, it’s really, really hard. There are much easier things you can sell. The 3 that are actually relevant to copy because they already know the problem exist and trying to solve it are stagnation is number 1 meanning they fell stuck somehow. They know they want to be somewhere else but they’re stuck where they’re are right now and they’re not moving for whatever reason. The specific little details will be different but that internal feeling that you’re stuck and you can’t make progress and it’s frustrating you, that’s universal. The next one is uncertainty. So they’re stuck, they don’t know how to get unstuck. They don’t know who to trust. They don’t know what tools there are. They don’t know what the options are. They don’t know why they’re stuck. It’s just this big feeling of question marks floating all around their head. They don’t know the answers to any of those things. Like we said, they barely understand the nature of their problem. At least to them not be able to make a decision even though they might know there are 50 things they can buy today that would solve their problem. In their mind that’s just all question mark because they don’t even know how to compare those things. They have nothing to grasp onto. That feeling of uncertainty is universal. The last one is unsuccessful. That means anything they tried on their own to solve this problem has failed or they have good to believe either they’ve heard it from other people or they suspect or they fear, solutions that are available aren’t going to work. They’ve hit the edge of just giving up and suffering that problem silently and just ignoring it as best as they can without addressing it. That’s like we said because they don’t talk about their problems. They sit there and experience it silently and try not to think about it too hard and minimize it in that way. But by you bringing that up and talking about these pains, it gives them a reason to hope because they see you and you obviously don’t have this problem but you seem to know it really, really well. Could they possibly by talking to you figure out how to get where they are right now to where you are? That’s the thought process they have in their heads that’s happening sub vocally. They’re not thinking this in those words in their mind but that’s what they’re little animal inclination is starting to think. They’re starting to make that assessment themselves in their own mind. That’s you up to where when you say it and let me tell you about this product. It’s like if you went to the doctor. It’s like the bad news is you have the super rare bacterial infection that only 15 people in the history of the world have ever been known to have. You’re like what do we do? Presume he knows the cure if he can identify, right? Doctor is obligated to be like, I’m sorry there’s no cure here. But when you’re selling things and your audience makes that presumption it’s better for you to not interrupt them. Let them make that presumption that you’re product is going to solve all of your problems that you brought up. They’re the ones in their mind who are going to apply this product is being the solution that they need. That’s their decision. They may delete and that’s what creates that feeling of desire. The trick with that is of course, I want people to not be evil like if you sell real products that actually do help people, I don’t see anything wrong with pushing little hard to buy it. If you’re tricking people and make them think that this thing that they’re going to buy is going to solve their problems that are really won’t, you’re jerk. You should go out of business in my opinion. That’s the power of this stuff. That’s why these sneaky people can trick seemingly intelligent individuals into giving them a lot of money because it just hits the right button in their head to feel like this person understands me. I know he’s got the solution for me.
Sweeney: It tends to be focused on these 3 different common emotions and sensations rather than trying to drill it further down to authe dience.
Colin: Yes, I’m an 80/20 guy so I’m trying to find the smallest thing that’s the easiest to implement. I found that those 3 points like triumph. When someone seems like to have an issue with something, just guess and use those 3 factors and see how crazy it makes them. It could be anything like weight loss. Let’s say you’re stagnant meaning you’re stuck in the same way that you’ve been for a long time. Maybe it’s getting heavier. Even though you flirted with a bunch of diets, nothing seems to stick and you seem stuck at this overweight state and you can’t get where you want to be. You’re uncertain because with all the different diets you’ve heard of, you don’t know which one to pick. Some people say it’s your metabolism. Some people say it’s the food you eat. Some people say you’re not getting enough exercise. You just don’t know who to believe because there’s so much different claims. What you do know is that you’re unsuccessful because the diets and exercise routines you’ve tried might have got the short term games but they didn’t turn into long term game. You just fell back into your old habits, am I right? I guarantee you 90% of the people who want to lose weight are going to start knocking their heads furiously. By the end of it they’re going to be like, take my money. Tell me whatever magic thing is that you have that’s going to fix this problem even though I didn’t tell them I have a magic pill that’s going to fix the problem. They start presuming it automatically on their own and they wanted. Does that make sense?
Sweeney: Yes, it does.
Colin: You can apply that to literally everything like gardening. When we say gardening, that’s pretty boring. Are you stuck in your gardening process where you keep buying dirt and seeds and you plant it and water and nothing seems to happen? You don’t know what you’re doing wrong. Is it that you’re in the wrong climate? Do you have too much sun? Is it too cold where you live? You have no idea. What you do know is you waste a lot of money setting up this garden and you’re not getting any vegetables out of it and you’re still sending all these money at the grocery and spending money trying to get your garden going and it’s not doing at all what you wanted. Does that sound familiar to you? People that are trying to grow vegetables in their garden to eat at home. Yes, please sell me whatever it is that you have that am going to fix this.
Sweeney: Do you want to give us one for copywriting?
Colin: Sure! Are you stuck staring at a blank page every time you want to start a sales letter? Do you feel that you have to reinvest the wheel and do a ton of research and trying to figure out how to hit this moving target with your magical perfectly crafted message? Do you feel you’re not sure why your previous offers might have failed that you don’t have specific enough customer avatar? Did you not use enough power words? Can you split test enough headlines? Was your offer not positioned correctly in the marketplace? Who knows right? Maybe you’re unsuccessful at this because you’re not writing to a proven formula. Maybe the reason that other things that you’ve tried are because lots of professional copywriters have invested interests and making it seems very complicated, very creative and very challenging which justifies the higher fees that they charge for the seemingly, magical manipulation that are able to do. But what if I told you I have a template that you can follow and fill out so that you’re never looking at a blank page where you’re stuck and not able to proceed. You don’t have to worry about what comes next or what goes on each section or how to say it. You don’t have to worry about being unsuccessful because even if you’re completely uncreative, you just fill out the template that I gave you and it will do all the heavy psychological lifting for you and guaranteed whatever letter you produce using that template is going to be decent. If you happen to have an awesome idea, it could even be excellent. You don’t have to worry about flopping completely because it has been proven again and again. How’s that?
Sweeney: I like it! Now, for the sake of conversation. Have you ever written copy from the approach? Do you have examples of when they are oblivious tthe o problem?
Colin: I’ve tended to avoid those because again, I wanted to have a very short copy career. What I was looking for when I selected my clients for that short career is those short factors I was talking about. I wanted to find people who could hit triple and needed help getting a home run. I didn’t want people who couldn’t swing the bat to get on first base ever. I wanted that specifically because the knowledge that I had is worth way more to people in that position even though it’s the same knowledge I would give to anybody. Therefore, those people are willing to pay the most for it. When they give me credit for helping it was worth the most to me reputational wise to focus on those jobs. With that said, when you’re dealing with an audience that’s oblivious you want to do something similar to what I did with the copy except even wider because I don’t really do outreach. If I wanted to expand it and do an awareness thing, I would be publishing articles in other places talking about copy and then bringing them to the call to copy where there are indoctrinated with the fire hose of information. If they like it, it’s an infinite well that will never undry. I would like to tease them into that world. That’s really the only way to get people who are oblivious is to figure out where they are and figure out a way to educate them without forcing them. There are sort of coming across it on their own becoming aware of it. You can use the emotional experience to describe to them this feeling that they never knew they had because they knew they had a problem.
Sweeney: Do you think that this part at least would be oblivious to the problem overlaps a little bit with pre sale copy for better terms? If you’re sending out few emails before the product comes out or before you go into launch sequence where you’re teasing at the problem?
Colin: No, I think when we’re talking about true obliviousness like they’re not even on a list. It would even occur to them to go find the website subscribed to a list to get solutions mailed to them. That’s how far separated they are from problem. Pre selling is definitely something you should do no matter. Like I was talking about when people are in invested in a particular topic and they’re already willing to buy information based on that topic, of course they’re interested in free information also. If they’re willing to pay for it, of course they would like free information also. The trick with pre sale content that makes it different than just regular content you would find on the internet is that presale content should be 100% focused on elaborating and bringing more fidelity and deepening the problem that they face. If I give you a list of the top 7 mistakes beginning copywriters make and delivering to their clients for example. That is going to be mentally valuable to people who were in my target market. They’re going to feel like it’s altruistic because it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to sell them anything. I’m just pointing out the problems they’re going to face. The trick of it is it doesn’t do anything for them. All it does is give them more of a problem they had before. It feels like I’m pointing out potholes in the road but they still have to walk down the road. But then a little later than that if they see he’s got these templates for sale, it must automatically all those potholes. They make that presumption and they want the product without me having to push on then. For the most part it never connects in most people’s heads if you’re the one who agitated their problem. They don’t ever feel like it’s sneaky that you offer the solutions. Instead they feel like I was just thinking. I needed that exact thing. How amazing that he put that in front of me.
Sweeney: Could you give more examples? I’m curious as far as the angling, I’m wondering if it keeps or fall ta o similar pattern or not. Obviously like the top 7 mistakes copywriters make.
Colin: Yes, anything like that or like if I wrote an article about nightmare clients and how to deal with. I wrote an article let’s say I have a product that is for writing rapid video scripts where for people that have struggles doing the slides and doing transition, watermark, animations and all that. It’s basically how to write a simple script. Get in front of the webcam and record it in one take. Then post it and you have a remarkable sales video that you can tweak later if you want to. Having one is better than having none. That’s the general idea. If I was going to do a pre sale content campaign for that, I would make a list. I would start with a list of all the problems that I can think of that this product would solve. You don’t like to make a bunch of slides. You hate editing software. You always get an idea for doing a video when you’re in front of your computer and you wish you had the ability to do it on your phone. You’re not a good writer and you don’t know how to write a sales script. All of these things are things that I would then look at say how can I write a content piece about that and explaining the problem and getting people why that’s a miserable experience to sit there and try to create hundred slides and do the timing perfectly or try to edit your audio and your video together to make it sense or hiring a voice over guy from Fiverr. Any of these things that might come to mind. I can talk about all of those in a negative way and people in the audience that have had those negative experiences or fear that those negative experience wouldn’t happen if they would try, all of them are going to start knocking their heads. Like a week later when I say, I will do this video scripting, this, this and this. They’re like, that’s going to solve their problems I was just thinking I have with making videos. Like I said even if they remember you’re the one talked about problem in their, it doesn’t register as he set me up to want this and registers as he created this to help solve this problem we both have.
Sweeney: OK! It tends to focus on the negative and more on poke it to bare other things.
Colin: Right! The trick is it is valuable to point out to someone a problem that
they’re not careful but it doesn’t advance them along the path at all. You’ve given them preparation versus execution. They still have a big gaping hole in their execution plan. In fact, if they have an execution that did count for the whole that you pointed out now they’ve got a broken execution plan. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing that on purpose. That’s just the side effect of talking people about their problems in this way where you’re zooming in. In their minds, the problems are blurry. It’s easy to turn your head away from it and not worry too much. If you give them a piece of content that breaks in to sharp focus, it’s a big scary monster over there. It’s not just a blurry shape that you’re pretending not to see. You can’t ignore it anymore. At the front of your mind and then later on when I show you a product that has a checklist, features and benefits and one of those checks off that monster in the corner and takes care of them, you’re like this guy is bothering me. How can I buy this thing and I know I won’t have that problem even if I don’t need it right now. Just put it in the toolkit and the problem is solved into the future and I don’t have to worry about it. That’s also a good way to get people to buy things even if they don’t have an immediate need is you’re preparing them for this journey that they’re going to go on. They might need. If they wanted, they should get it now because it’s cheaper, exclusive and all that good stuff that we talked about before.
Sweeney: It makes a lot of sense. We’re talking a lot copy tricks here. We’re talking a lot of copy getting into the needy-greedy. We’ve gotten pre sale copy. We’ve gotten objections. We’ve also gotten scarcity. The big other ugly monster is headlines. I know from watching some of your interviews in the past that the way you’ve say you like to do it is you’re taking someone from the lowest of interest and you’re trying to activate them. You like to have a pre head that sets up the problem. A headline with a solution and then a post head which is a little bit more on a certain benefit or feature. Can you go into that process a little bit more of what makes a good headline or how you like you put your headlines together?
Colin: Sure! The idea we talked about before about people having these problems that they are suffering silently. They know they have them but they don’t really talk about that much with people. Say that person has that problem and they’re searching for a solution on their own on their computer. They’re searching for it. They hit a page and the very first line on that page tells them yes. You’re in exactly the right place because it calls out that specific problem that they have. It doesn’t get more precise and there’s no better spot to give people. If you’re in the wrong place, leave now. That’s the perfect place to put that line. If you don’t have that problem, the product on the page is going to be no interest to you. Better you leave right away. For everyone else it tells them yes like you are in the right place. So then we follow up with the headline that introduces the existence of the solutions. What I like to do is promise not only that it’s going to solve the problem in said amount of time if you can get away with that. It’s going to reverse the negative effect of having suffered from that problem. Not only will you lose weight in the first week but it’s going to give you tons of energy than you have when you’re living in an unhealthy lifestyle. That would be an example of what I mean where I’m promising a solution exist and it’s going to solve the problem but it’s also going to reverse negative effects. Does that make sense?
Sweeney: It does!
Colin: Then the 3rd part, if they’ve read that pre head like yes I’m in the right place, that solution does sound interesting. Then post head, I’d like to throw in additional benefit that maybe contains the bonus. Maybe it’s just something above and beyond to actually solving that problem so that it sweetens the deal. It’s like do you have this problem? Not only can I solve it and/or reverse the negative effects but it does this extra thing too. An example with the one that I just use about the weight loss if I’m going to do a post head for that I might say, plus you can still eat the food that you love the most almost whenever you what. It’s throwing then this additional benefit that has some expectation they might have. Does that make sense?
Sweeney: It does! How would you actually instruct someone to go about sitting down and writing headline like this?
Colin: I give them the formula where step 1 you call out the main problem that the product is going to solve. Step 2, you promise that you’re going to solve it and reverse the negative effects that they may have had from suffering from that problem. Then the 3rd one is an extra additional benefit that goes above and beyond just solving the problem that they have. The way I normally write those is if I’m writing variants out but 3 columns on a page and then a bunch of ideas of problems. Really, you want to go with the biggest ones. The biggest, most glaring, broadest problem that anyone may buy a product. Then write out the description of the solution and what reversing the effects would. It can be any number of things for like weight loss products that reverses negative health benefits. It could just be reduces your grocery bills or gives you more energy or makes you look better. For the last one, I would bring in additional benefits and then I pick the best 3 and then I pick the sort the 2nd best 3 and the 3rd best 3 and how many variants the client wants to test. Then beyond that, I give a plug to my buddy Colin Shawn who is a copywriter. He put a worksheet that he uses called the Headlines Matrix. What that does is like any headline formula you already have, you can still apply this matrix thing to it. It gives you different angels to come at the headline from different approaches. If you want to try testing completely different positioning of your headlines in your audience’s mind like maybe you’re teasing them, maybe you want to be a little bit of a bully. If I really, really want to develop much of variants, I’ll use that tool. I found that very handy but it’s not mine. He gave for free for anybody that wants to grab it.
Sweeney: Number 1, I want to check that out. I’m curious with headlines. What is the balance between not being too outlandish and also the balance of proof. The kind of example I can give is maybe there is a guy that lost 50 lbs in one month. How I lost 50 lbs in 30 days. If it sounds, what’s the right balance I guess with being believable or as long as you have the proof to back it up, you’re ok.
Colin: Yes, you definitely somewhere in the letter need to pay on any claims that sound crazy. If you feel that it sounds crazy, the easiest way to address that objection remember is just to give that cave man grunting open hand. If you make an outrageous claim but you say, listen I know that sounds outrageous but it’s really not. It’s true. I will tell you exactly how in a second. That hand closes and goes away. It’s the same way as that copy won’t work. Our audiences are smart and sophisticated. All you have to do to make it work is put a sense at the top that says, I know you’re too smart and sophisticated to fall with the usual kind of stuff so I’m just going to tell it to you straight and you got the exact same sales letter. When you acknowledge that they have, it falls. You just say, you’re too smart for this so I’m just going to be honest with you then you can give them the exact same pitch. It’s sort of the same idea that you just acknowledge. That fits into those headline formula that Facebook is cracking down on. They’re telling you it’s unbelievable but they’re promising to show it to you. It’s almost like yes we know this claim is outrageous but we have evidence.
Sweeney: That makes sense.
Colin: Then the thing for headlines the way that most of the work that I’ve done works is that, that headlines are not actually the first thing that the reader is reading. They’re usually coming from an email or an Ad or video or something that let them to that page. Really what those headlines are doing are not starting a conversation. They’re continuing your conversation. A lot of times if you’re in control of the piece of copy that sent them there you can make that really hit at home. If I have an article that was a problem focused article and I said if you have problems with this copywriting thing and you want some help maybe you should check this page and I might give a link. If you click that link and first line of that page is do you struggle a writing good copy even though you think you’re a decent writer? I set you up for that. It makes it feel even more like you’re in the right place. The audience doesn’t see it that they. They don’t notice the trick that happened where you set that page up to pay off because you framed it for them.
Sweeney: With that being said, that was actually the question I was going to ask you. I know one of the things that tend to be popular are webinars. Holding someone’s attention for a long form sales letter, at least they can scroll through it and take it at their pace via sales tend to be on auto play. On webinar, if they jump on live or even if you get them to watch replay, that’s 60 minutes of content. I imagine some of that is the webinar has to sell itself. I’m curious as far as the lead up to do something like that. Is there different angles or hooks that you’re trying to do to get someone to bring their attention or is it more to get someone to watch 60 seconds and let it do its job?
Colin: Anything you can do to get them pre invested and paying attention helps. Even just saying silly things like you should bring your notebook because we’re going to start, we’re going fast because we have a lot to cover. Things like that will make them show up and be ready to pay attention. If you come, come early because I will give it to you before we start our recording. In the first 5 minutes I will teach you XYZ and then I will blow your mind with what I teach after that but it’s so awesome I can tell you. Just stupid tricks like that but they work. If the person is already interested in the topic and they are already thinking about showing up, now you’ve quantified it. The guy thinking maybe or I don’t know, he’s going to show up to hear that thing that you’re going to give that’s awesome in the first 5 minutes at least. If you’re sufficiently good at the copy in the webinar, you’re going to blow as hair back with that and of course he’s not going to leave.
Sweeney: It makes sense. I wonder too especially when you said anything that’s getting pre invested, it makes me wonder how well paid webinars work compared to free? Traditionally, it seems like almost everyone’s doing free but you hear about the random guy that does paid.
Colin: All of my products are technically paid webinars because when I get an idea that I want to teach something, I sell tickets to the live events. It doesn’t exist yet. People show up. I perform in front of them on the webinar and then they get to ask questions. That becomes part of the product and then I sell that recording later. All of my products are like that, where people pay to attend the webinar that didn’t exist before.
Sweeney: I guess the difference there is that your webinars are 100% content. Most webinars are more on setting up for a pitch.
Colin: Right! I’ve never done one where I charge someone to listen to a long form of commercial but I would not be opposed to tracking for a pitch for additional products inside my paid product because I design my product line so that they all work together. They cover each different topic but if you have them all, you have tons of templates to do all kinds of different things. I do it like it’s set up in such a way where I almost can’t avoid talking about the other products in the product line because I use a lot of the same structures and examples. I’ll say something like in my video script template, I’ll say if you have my sales letter template that sounds familiar to you, all I did was chop it down and make it fit for video instead of on the page. For the people already have that sales letter course they’re like, yes he does do that. For the people who don’t they’re like, I might have to write a long form sales letter. I get this, I’ll go check that one. I’ve never done one where the whole point of the webinar is to pitch a different product than the webinar itself.
Sweeney: It makes sense. That’s where I think I’m wondering especially with the paid webinars. I guess the point is if you give away some great training and you charge a lower front end then you still pitch a product on the back. It’s fine as long as you actually giving away good content.
Colin: Yes, if it’s the kind of thing that people would pay that price for to get by itself. I think it’s fine. For most people, if what you gave them is valuable and what you’re going to offer ties into that in some way, brings it to a deeper level, pushes it to a new avenue, makes it easier. It’s like done for you kinds of stuff, those are very, very profitable. When you do the webinar, teach them how to do it by hand and then say if you just want us to do it for you, here’s how you buy that. Those are usually successful because you’re proving to them the value of what it is that you’re doing. At the same time that cave man hand is reaching out grunting. It’s like I don’t want to do this but in the end you just give the rock that has it. I do it for you. It’s one of those self solving problems.
Sweeney: It makes sense. Time wise, I want to be respectful. The last things I want to get into basically are 3 main questions. The first question is how to go from services to retainer to products, a kind of transition that you’ve done. The second question is obviously some of the lessons or things that you’ve learned from growing your call to copy group and how you would maybe change if you have to do it again or what you currently recommend to people? Then the third question is if there are specific questions or any questions that no one ever asked you.
Colin: OK! Let’s go back to the first. Can you ask me that one again?
Sweeney: Going from copywriting especially seems so service based. I think a lot of people that could even imagine taking that from writing copy for clients to just selling my own products, my own templates.
Colin: The trick with that was when I went freelance, I wasn’t getting a pay check whether I was working or not. I have to very quickly get productive on a level that I didn’t have to working at a company. Let’s say I was lacking at the company but I wasn’t in charge of the production rate. I only wrote sales letter when they gave me and say we’re launching a product. Can you do a sales letter? When I’m on my own I need to be writing copy or else I’m getting paid. That was the point at which I really got serious of creating these templates because I want to make sure I could deliver a product on time and complete, do the whole draft and then fix the draft. I wanted to be able to write quick complete basic sales letter and then give myself time to make it excellent. If you sit there and wait until you have an excellent idea and the letters are not getting written, that’s when you get you screw yourself over with deadlines and blow your reputation as a copywriter so I don’t want to do that. That’s when I got serious about the templates. Then, when I transitioned a way from writng, that was an opportunity in the market to say I’m a really expensive copywriter that you normally can hire but what if you hire cheaper copywriter and you hire me to review it, I’ll use my template. We’ll through a checklist and I’ll tell you everything that’s missing or broken in your sales letter and how to fix it. I started offering that as a service. That was less work for me and more ability to have a bigger and bigger client based. What started happening there, I didn’t plan this but it was an awesome thing that occured. When I started reviewing copy, vendors started putting that on their JV page to say call and review this copy so you know it’s going to convert good. That really vaulted my recognition in the marketplace. The double effect of was new copywriters come again to the market, saw me as a dude who is like in charge of whether your copy is good or not. It positioned me like as a copywriter’s copywriter. If I get hired to read your sales letter for the same amount you charge to write it, I must be badass. That positioned me to do something I planned but it did better than what I planned to do. I taught this at the breakout event 2013 when we first met is you got to turn your competitors into your customers. Instead of competing with all these copywriters for the same jobs, I just took my tools, my templates, tools that I use to do my job and sold it to the competitors. If my solution was better than the solution they had in place, now all of a sudden I’m the resource that they have come to learn how to do their job. Once you turn your competitors into your customers, that’s huge. That’s something I learned from the StomperNet guys because a lot of them had people who had ecommerce stores in the same niches as they did and we’re competing against each other. When they did the StomperNet thing they took it to the next level and they’re like we’re going to try and manufacture the stuff and become wholesaler. All of our competitors get the top search results. We don’t care because they’re selling our product and they have to buy it from us to have supply. Turning your competitors into customers is usually profitable and it saves you a ton of work because you let them do the work. Once I build that network, I had people that I can refer jobs to. In some cases where people wanted to, I got referral fees for saying no. Someone who would come to me for a project and I’m like I’m busy but I know the guy and he’s awesome, check him out. If you use him, I got a little referral fee but that’s not why I’m sending you to him. The reason he pays the referral fee is because he’s serious about doing this work. That was yet segway even more out of doing service work. Once I did it for myself, I teach this too. If you’re an expert and you want to be seen as an expert, you want to show people that what you’ve done has worked for you, what you’ve done has worked for your clients and then what you’ve done has worked for your customers when they’ve gone off and done on their own. Then I just took the templates and made products out of them and said, I am to walk you through this template on this live webinar, pay in. You can come and watch and then I sell the recording after. That’s where all my products came from or basically my professional tools in me teaching how to use them. That was the big step. It’s turning your competitors into your customers once you have this officially respectable profile. Once your competitors are your customers, all you got to do is make sure that your stuff works because it keeps making them successful and then they keep coming back to you to spend more money.
Sweeney: It’s interesting because in a lot of ways, that’s more simple than it expected to be but that’s not to devalue.
Colin: That’s one of the things I have to keep people. It’s way simpler than you think and it’s even simpler than that. It’s so hard because it’s like a magic trick. When a person sees the magic trick and then you explain the trick to them and it’s stupid, they’re that was stupid. They don’t get. Yes it’s stupid but that’s how easy you are to trick. You could be doing this. Again, I used words like trickery and stuff. I have legitimate value that’s why it was important to me to have a real freelance copywriting career. My results were real and I knew my stuff works before I started teaching it to people. They had success with it. My clients had success with it. I know the information is all legitimate. I don’t have a problem selling it. I’m not tricking people in that way but the whole set up of I will become a copywriting guru and sell copy products instead of writing copy, that was a plan. I did that on purpose but it’s not a trick. I don’t think most people have that kind of plan for their career path. They’re like I will write copy for 30 years. When people start asking me for advice then I’ll make products. I want to go that route so I deliberately try to make it as short as possible.
Sweeney: It makes a lot of sense. I think the problem is most people are so quick to shortcut the process. It’s like let me figure out. I can publish your product on it compared to to let me do it then from doing it as you said, you don’t really have the templates so you have to need for the templates. They’re created organically. They’re created naturally. From there, by switching to the copy reviews, it gave you a way to leverage your skills, start sending closer to where you want to go. Also, get that one on one feedback. I’m sure with the templates you probably tweak that a bit after the copy reviews because you noticed people are always asking about this one particular part or this isn’t working for other people. We get that hands on feedback to make the product better and get those results, thus showing the proof that they work for other people, clients/customers. By time you go to the product side, it’s game over.
Colin: Yes! The products are all, I’m not saying really good to pat myself on the back. I’m saying they’re like robust. If not polished in the presentation and polished in the delivery especially things like the sales letter template because I use it to review so many sales letter where I’m going through it over and over and explaining it until I came like a comedian doing a routine. The timing got better. The explanations got better. By the time I did that training, it was a tight set that I could do almost with eyes closed because I knew materials so well. That’s what I encourage people do. If you want to do that guru thing, do it deliberately. Developing the materials you do, you use to do your work because you have something valuable to sell to your competitors. Once your competitors are buying your expertise from you, you’re the alpha. There’s no higher position than everyone in your field buys their education from you. That’s the top. Be delivered about that and you can do a lot faster than if you just sit around waiting for guru to show up at your door.
Sweeney: With this transition I’m curious because you do have a mastermind. What does that fit in? The way you did this obviously, not service is going to be the same. The transition can be different for different people. With your colds of copywriting or your mastermind on how to be a leader, set and just on how to influence groups and control them.
Colin: Yes, making a fan group about your topic of interest and then positioning it so that they see you as the curator of that particular niche which positions you more as an expert. The trick with that was like I just keep teaching the stuff I’m doing and using. I don’t have to make weird high promises because I’m just like did you see that thing I did? Did you like it? Do you want to do that? Then I teach people how to do it. It’s going to continue to grow in that way because I’m going to keep teaching them but the trick is, I did it every step of the way. Now, whatever it is I’m going to hit doing this. I’m going to keep turning out products that are like this is just what I just did. Do you want to learn how to do it? That means people from the very beginning of their career; they come in and want to follow my path. I know have trail of products that I’ve released that filled that whole spectrum from beginner to where I am now. I released it piece by piece while it’s still fresh in my mind while I was doing it. What that serves to do is along the way, I had people that are following just 2 steps behind me. A ton of those people at that breakout event where you and I met, I came up at the same time as those people. We are neck and neck as far as developing our little internet marketing career and fortunes and all that stuff. That peer group of people that I shared all that stuff at first, now we’re associated with each other. The awesomeness that they’ve been able to accomplish sort to rubs off on me and vice versa. We’ve been associated throughout our career. Not only do I have these high level apostles that don’t necessarily follow everything that I do. People know we’re associated and connected and then we came up together. From the very beginning of someone’s career in copy, there are like Gods who have used this stuff to much success. There’s something to look up to make them want the client on that ladder. I have something for them to buy. That’s very valuable and I’ll get more than what they paid for out of it. For me it’s valuable to my business because the price tag keeps going up as you learned more and more valuable stuff as you follow me up the ladder. All I’m doing is I learn the new thing and grew my business in this way. I turn around and teach that to the people just behind me.
Sweeney: I think that was very interesting. To rewind back, the question I have is still why/how to get your own cults? Why is it a mastermind group compared to why isn’t it a product or why is it one on one consulting?
Colin: For that it’s because it was a more complicated topic than I felt would fit in one single training. I set it up as recurring so that it’s basically incentive for me to keep showing up and creating more and more detailed content plus the people in the group get to dictate what’s missing and what’s left out. The same way when I develop the sales letter template, I had all those sessions using it to review copy to polish it, make it good, fill in the blanks, made sure everything makes sense. This was the same thing. I spent this past year. I did 2 sessions of it. I joined the group. Here’s the overview. You tell me where you need help. Let’s talk about that in the group and build it from there and then I did trainings to address those specific needs. Now, I have a serious content on that topic. I have a variety of things I can do with it. I can sell them standalone. I can bundle that up and sell them as a package. I could keep re doing this as a membership and maybe just drip it and make it automatic. I could take it and expand it and do worksheets and plans on what order you need to do things in. I just did an extreme of consciousness but I didn’t want to sit there and develop content and then sell it. I had people pay me to develop it as we went and they help make it what it is if that makes sense.
Sweeney: Yes, it does! It makes a lot of sense. Is that similar to why you tend to do paid webinars for you training compared to just recording a video?
Colin: Yes! I invented that hack for myself. I’ve swiped it. Other people have done that but I deliberately developed it as a specific product creation methodology because I suck at creating products upfront. I just do. I get stucked. It’s not that I’m a perfectionist. If I give myself an infinite time, I’m just going to keep coming up with more and more ideas to throw into it. I have to limit myself creatively in some way to produce. On top that, getting paid puts me on the hook. If I sell a live webinar and let’s say I will teach XYZ and date of the webinar is set a week from now, people are registered after they paid. I know I have to create a mind map and I have to focus on X and Y and Z and nothing else. I have to show up and deliver it on this certain day. So that means I have to get my notes in order. I have to make sure I could fill the time. I got to make sure everything’s set up. That way I’m able to produce. What I end up with on the back side of it is a recording I can sell over and over again. If I want to I could take that recording and do a full sales letter or sales video and a follow up sequence and all that stuff. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet because I spent 1 year doing products every couple of months. Then this past year, when I did that mastermind, I also did it because I didn’t want to do any client retainers because we have another baby this year. It’s easier to just show up every couple of weeks or every month to do a webinar than to have 5 or 6 clients where you’re on call. Anytime they call you and need something, you need to jump on it when you have a baby in the house.
Sweeney: Yes! It’s a way of reversing it so that people are kind of cutting up your time.
Colin: Yes, exactly! That’s another thing I taught on that break out event. The 2 ways I look at everything about whether to grow my business is either how to make more money doing the same work or how to make the same money by doing less work. If you focus on both of those, you end up making a lot more money than you thought doing a lot less work than you thought.
Sweeney: OK! In that breakout, I know you have some slides on that. Is that available on the Cult’s Group?
Colin: I think the whole talk is available for purchase and you can watch the first quarter of it for free. That would be in the pinned post at the top. You get the slides if you buy it but I don’t think I have the slides available on their own by themselves. They wouldn’t make much sense without the taught because I made a very spar slides. They’re really just there to remind me what to talk about. Unless you have me sit in there, talks in there just like 5 words on a page and no explanation as to what they are.
Sweeney: OK! The next part here and close to the end is what are some of the things that you’ve learned creating and growing this group?
Colin: I really can’t think of an easier way for someone with my temperament and personality to have a successful business than to build this kind of fan group. When I say fan group and I’m talking about these things like making yourself into a guru, I don’t want anybody to think like I have this desire to be famous and I’m very ambitious and all that. You’ve met me in person. I’m not really like a put-the-spotlight-on-me kind of person. What it is, is that I’m actually introvert but the way that I’ve tried to put this together like I was saying, I keep teaching what it is that I’m doing right now. The way that I end up being seen as a leader is because I make myself easy to follow because I’m always showing people what I’m working on and what I’m doing and how I do it right as I’m doing. The people that want to follow along, I become a leader because I have so many followers rather than declaring myself the leader and try to build an audience that way. The trick with that is, the real beauty of it is that you can start immediately and you don’t even have to succeed. Anything it is and you’re trying to get good at, you can start a group of interested people that want to learn how to do that thing. Get them into a group with you. You’d start doing it. Just start sharing with them the things that you do. Eventually you will be like the leader of that group. People that do actually following your footsteps will those apostle level we talked about. Eventually by the time that you are actually awesome at what you do, you will already have an audience that watch you become awesome. You have that hold before and after thing already proven before your audience’s very eyes.
Sweeney: It makes sense by showing what you’re doing. As far as on the tactical side of growing, once you have whether 100 people or 200 people or 500 people, you have enough people and you have enough people that are active. Maybe it’s just a focus. It really doesn’t matter what numbers. It’s more just having 25 active people.
Colin: The idea would build in the group is that originally the Cult of Copy was a private Skype group with just clients and peers and just people I was friends with like you and the guy that we hang out with in breakout and various other events where we all bumped in each other. It’s just that gang/people we chit chat. Since that’s working, we might be hanging out on Skype for an hour in the morning every day. Just shoot in the breeze, talking about whatever. I knew I have a group of people that were chatty. Some of them were active on Facebook. I’m starting to mess around more on Facebook. I figured if I make a Facebook group like I’ve seen some other do and trying to make a thing out of it then at least it justifies me spending time in Facebook. I got to be about who’s posting the stuff that I like in my newsfeed? Will they come in my group and post it there and set? I found out that yes that will if you have an audience there that’s going to like it. If you sort of give them a cookie. When you say that thing is awesome and I post it on my group, better yet when you join the group you can post it in that way you can get all the cool comments directly to you. They come in, they post. I leave them an awesome comment. All the people who are like me too jump in and they comment just because for me the comment on it and highlights it in that way. It’s like you should pay attention to this. Everybody else jumps on the compliments. Since then the next time they go to post something, they have the urge to come and post it in my group because the feedback is going to be so much better. Through that behavioral conditioning experiment, I got a lot of good posters to come into my group. It was just about making sure it’s date on track to be something I wanted to read everyday. If I want to read it every day, I know other people who are addicts about persuasion are going to read it every day and then it becomes a snowball effect. With Facebook in particular, people use it to avoid doing other stuff. As long as that little red numbers going up, there’s something to look at Facebook, that’s an excuse to not log off of Facebook and do something else. Whereas I felt like if I started my own forum, people would have to remember to go login to that forum. It would to be a special part in their routine. Whereas as a Facebook group, I’m just piggy backing on to their already existing routine.
Sweeney: An addiction hijacking.
Colin: Yes! A lot of people fail with Facebook groups because they try to put their customers in it especially for something like what we do; internet marketing, your best customers are too busy to be on Facebook posting content. They’re all doing the things that you told them to do in the products. The big factor is realizing that the people who post frequently on Facebook about your key topic may not necessarily be your customers but you want to recruit them because it keeps your group busy. Once your group is busy, the people who will buy from you have a reason to check it out and hang around. If you only put in like your buyers, it’s never going to kick off to an active community because there’s nothing there to read or interact with.
Sweeney: It almost sounds like it’s better as more of a general interest group.
Colin: It needs to at least be high up on the interest chain of what it is that you want to talk about. For me, I have very specific applications of copy but the group is about all forms of persuasion to various degrees.
Sweeney: I retract that. I don’t mean general interest because it needs to be a focused interest but it needs to be general.
Colin: Right! It’s not tight to specific product or a specific method or anything like that. It should be the broadest possible category of things that you want to allow in the group for discussion.
Sweeney: With your paid mastermind group, I’m assuming that’s a Facebook group as well.
Sweeney: Have you had trouble with getting people to be involved and getting like you said some of the most high level customers that are doing those things or is it because people constantly asking like what do I do next?
Colin: No, it suffers from that same problem and it doesn’t become active engaged community because the people are actually doing what I advised them to do or not hanging out chatting there. It does turn into a go sound. What I found is at about 6 months is when people who haven’t ever showed up start dropping off and people who are active and did everything all along don’t need me anymore. Whatever they’ve done that I told them to do is taken off and it’s occupying their time and give them the return they want. That’s been the experience as far as that goes. Because it’s a paid group and I’m not letting in chatter boxes to create content, it does have a whole different feel but that’s on purpose too. If I’m charging them monthly to do this stuff, I don’t actually want there to be distractions in there. I wanted to be keeping you from doing other things because as long as you’re in there, the more my stuff you read, the more my products you’re going to buy. I want you to be in there wasting your time. You learn, it’s not like in you’re the celebrity gossip. It’s all very useful stuff. I would rather you be in there reading that and reading news week or whatever.
Sweeney: It definitely makes sense. With the mastermind group, what’s the Facebook group more used in? If people want to reach you and you being able to answer at the same time.
Colin: Yes! Some come already on Facebook all day. So, if I just make another Facebook group like the way that I post the content, the way that I interact with people, the way that I put questions are just identical for me. It’s no extra work. I don’t have to login to membership’s site and any of that stuff. It’s just super simple. Just directly in Facebook where I already am.
Sweeney: Gotcha! Keep it easy. Well, that will wrap it up for now. I’m not excited to splice together the other pieces but overall I am excited to have the interview turned out and I want to give it a little more time than usual because we tried so hard to get together. Once I got you going, I want to keep you going.
Colin: It’s good man! That’s why I’m glad we picked today. Today is actually better than the previous day where we failed doing it because I was able to spend more time chit chat.
Sweeney: There you go. Obviously, the group is private. What’s the easiest way for people to find the Facebook group?
Colin: You just go to CultOfCopy.com. That currently redirects to the group if you’re listening to this. On some far future date where that URL links to a new site, it’s still me. There will be a link in the menu to join the discussion. That’s where I will be. Right now that’s the shortest way to get there. CultofCopy.com
Sweeney: Cool! As far as people that want to reach out and hear more from you or get in touch with you, is there an email or another way that people can reach out?
Colin: Just get on Facebook and connect with me by name; Colin Theriot. You can private message me. Or if you just get on the group and usually post questions to the group and tag me, that’s where my main focus is. I spend all my time there.
Colin: I don’t want to seem like it’s a work, I can’t get away. I spend time there because I like. I built a place that I like to be. I tried to avoid spending time elsewhere. It’s the way that I should put in. If you want to find me, I’ll be hanging out in that bar that I own.
Sweeney: It makes a lot of sense. You create something that you enjoyed being a part of and be a part of it.
Colin: It’s actually one of the questions people in the mastermind have like how much time do you spend running this group? I’m like I have no idea because I like. I don’t consider it work to check in on that place 10x a day. Everything in is interesting to me. I would recommend to anyone who wants to start that kind of group, build around something that you’re in passion about because in order for it to be successful in the level that the Cult of Copy is you have to be in there a lot. The only way you’re going to be in there a lot is if you pick the right people to put the content in there so you like too. It shouldn’t just be you answering the questions from your least educated customer over and over and over again. It should be people that you find inspirational and educational in there as a peer, sharing that stuff and sharing with them, chit chatting. Definitely make that a component of your group if you want to do what I did.
Sweeney: Sounds good! That’s a good way to sign it off.
Colin: Sounds good man.
Sweeney: I’ll be in touch man. Thanks a lot for coming on.
Colin: My pleasure, Sweeney! Thanks for having me.
Sweeney: Take care!