Shipwrecking Your Ideas

In copywriting groups on Facebook, someone asks daily what they need to do to be a copywriter.  Why none of them don’t type those exact words into Google I will never know… 

Most responses are about books to read and courses to take but almost all of them forget one important thing.  The path to being a good writer is by studying other writers.  NOT copywriters. WRITERS.  

You wanna study copywriters too but not as much as you think.  You want to learn how to tell stories and make copy that jumps off the page.  Who does that better than Michael Crichton, Stephen King, or Mark Twain?

All business have struggles and if you spend all your time looking at what everyone else is doing you’ll end up shipwrecked.  You need to use your imagination.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”   

Albert Einstein

I remember I wigged out when I learned Einstein wasn’t a quantum physicists, he was a theoretical physicist.  I read his biography and so many of his discoveries were sparked by him using his imagination and thinking about space or riding on a light beam.

Sound like something from Captain Marvel or Guardians of the Galaxy, right?

In your business, get best practices and model them.  Use great ideas from different industries.   But also use your imagination and chill!  

This is why ideas hit us in the shower or right before bed.  Our bodies ooze dopamine when we’re relaxed. Once settled down we’re able to make connections and get inspired. 

Researching, analyzing, and combing the Internet for ideas, rarely helps us connect the big dots.  It’s like buying a box of cake mix, mixing the ingredients, and never putting it in the oven to bake.

Charging Like a Doctor

My friend Miguel is a fireman.  I’ve known him since high school.  Like me he’s creative, competitive, and entrepreneurial.  The fact that he likes running into burning buildings is where our similarities die off.  

A couple of years ago he started a t-shirt screen printing business.  He also does his own graphics and logo work for his clients.  A couple of weeks ago I was in his studio looking at his work.  

He was good.  For a guy who just picked up graphic design his work was solid.  I asked him how much he charged on his last project and he told me less than $200 (don’t remember the exact number).

My brain rattled the biggest WTF! I could manage without saying the acronym out loud!  

As Wayne Dyer used to say, there’s a fine line between being a prophet and an asshole.  I know what I know but I try not to annoy my friends (and strangers too for that matter) with my unsolicited wisdom.

But me holding this one back would be like a single beaver trying to damn up Niagra Falls.

I barked that he was too cheap.  He explained how he made money on the shirts, used software that made it easy, plus he was new…  Blah, blah, blah.

I fired back with, “when a doctor graduates and starts a practice he charges what a ‘doctor’ makes.  So stop making excuses and charge what a graphic artist charges!”  I did all this while smiling so I could come off more as a prophet and less of a Sith lord.

His wife worked in a dentist office for years so she got it immediately.  He got it too but who knows if he changed his prices moving forward.

I say the same thing to you..  Are you charging the right amount or are you playing small?  And if what you’re charging is good are you raising your prices every one to two years to keep up with inflation?  

I do and I recommend you do too.  It’s so easy to get faked out thinking we always need new clients.  Sometimes you need to charge the ones you have MORE. 

Story isn’t everything. No wait, it is.

In Hollywood story is everything. The story in the movie trailer. The story behind how someone makes it, or how a movie get produced, is what audiences remember and talk about.

The Empire Strikes Back had mind-blowing visual and special effects. It was gorgeous, had great acting, and introduced us to lovable characters like Yoda. And what do people still buzz about decades later? One of the most nerve-shattering story twists of the century, “Luke, I am your father.” And of course some great Yoda quotes…

“A good story makes a good film possible, while failure to make the story work virtually guarantees disaster. A reader who can’t grasp this fundamental deserves to be fired.”

Robert McKee, from Story

This may sound like a nice little quote about writing movies from a ‘screenwriter’ but don’t think for a second that this doesn’t apply to you or your business. If your story doesn’t connect with your audience YOU are likely to be fired.

Or maybe they still do business with you but they only buy one thing. Is cross-selling them products working about as well as Icarus flying towards the sun? Sometimes you don’t have to change your offering, but you do need to change the story behind it.

Your story isn’t some tangible thing that’s in front of them all day like a computer monitor, it’s something that rests in their mind. It’s what you believe, how you communicate to them, and how you treat them.

If they don’t FEEL any different when you interact with them or if there’s nothing unique about doing business with you, then why should they? They may as well go to or Walmart and buy whatever’s cheapest.

Don’t let this happen to you. Give them a story that is so compelling they have to share. Send e-mails they like so much they forward to friends. Have Facebook posts that actually entertain and don’t put them to sleep.

Craft great stories to sell everything that you do. Be interesting. And keep cashing them checks.

The value of an e-mail address

I was reading Donald Miller’s book, Business Made Simple and he said, “people consider the value of their email address at about $10 or $20.”

I agree with him 100%. I have never put a number on it before but honestly that’s just scratching the surface. Do you think Warren Buffet would give his e-mail address for $20? How about Taylor Swift? Not likely.

Of course there’s a huge range between the kid that crams food in bags at your grocery store and well…Oprah.

The bottom line is we’re are all competing for one of the most rare resources in the world. Not diamonds or an original Micky Mantle baseball card my friend, but people’s attention.

Without capturing a person’s attention, they don’t see your ad, read your post, or listen to your song. Your prospect is like a muggle in the Harry Potter series, they have no idea that the magic of your solution even exists.

So what’s the value of an e-mail address? Probably a lot more than you think it is. And like inflation it will continue to rise.

Crazy or Unique?

Crazy. Unique. Sometimes it’s a fine line. Wackos like the Unabomer? Defintitely crazy.

But what about people who buy into conspiracy theories? I would have thought they were a little bat sh-t, that is until I read about a study done by Prof. Roland Imhoff at the Johannes Gutenberg University.

He said people believe in conspiracy theories because they are searching for a feeling and not a logical truth. “Adherence to conspiracy theory might not always be the result of some perceived lack of control, but rather a deep-seated need for uniqueness”, he wrote.

Why should you focus on standing out and becoming more of what you are? Because your tribe is looking for you!

This is why the military constantly get candidates and adults go to Disneyland over and over again. The military and Disney tell a story that resonates with their tribe and gives them the feelings that they are look for.

What could you do this week to give your audience a unique feeling that matches your brand?