UNMUTE Your Business

A life, business and marketing lesson I learned from my first voice lesson with an OPERA SINGING teacher. Yes, really! Oh, and James Brown. Make it funky!

What happened? Singing!

  • I went and got my first singing lesson
  • The first, most basic thing he taught me was to hold your head up and keep your mouth open really wide.
  • It was really uncomfortable! 
  • It was just me and the voice teacher in the room- but people who don’t even exist are making fun of me… There’s no one there making fun of me but in my head people are criticizing me.
  • He’s trying to teach me to create this ideal singing sound in my vocal cords… to get those cords to vibrate freely. There’s a certain tone a really good singer has. It’s very open it’s joyous.
  • When people sing with that natural, free, open tone, a joy comes through that listeners resonate with. It emotionally impacts them, the way that one tuning fork will cause another one to vibrate to the same frequency.
  • He says “stop that.” Stop what? “You’re bringing your head down and constricting your vocal cords.” I’m closing off my voice making it harder for myself to sing! 
  • I’m muting myself. Why am I muting myself? Why am I automatically subconsciously choosing to turn off my own voice?! Isn’t that the ultimate self-criticism? It’s creative suicide. It’s personality suicide. why am I making it harder to express myself and why is it so hard for me to open up and not want to make fun of that?

What did I learn? Express yourself!

  • I’m a marketer with an ad agency. I write books. I’m a keynote speaker. I do some comedy with that. There’s a lot of creativity in my life. I’ve done music. I’ve done a little bit of visual art.
  • But I shut off a lot of that creativity. I’ve been in business focused on profits, results, analytics and all that left-brain, practical stuff.
  • The way that I showed up trying to sing said something about where I was at expressing myself in other areas. The way that I tried to sing says something about how I’ve been showing up in business.
  • I muted my singing voice and I’ve been muting myself in business. I haven’t been writing books. I haven’t been putting blog posts out. I have been doing videos or podcasting.
  • I’ve been conflicted about how I should show up and how much of myself should I let out.
  • What I learned in marketing is that to affect people psychologically, to get those business results we all want, you need creativity. You need creative people. You need to express yourself.
  • If I want to achieve full impact in business, I have to express myself and ship it without worrying about how it’s going to be received.
  • I’ve also learned that as an author and speaker trying to brand and promote myself that, when I hide my light under a bushel, when I don’t put myself out there, when I’m afraid to be myself, I’m less powerful. I’m blah, I’m like everybody else. I don’t stand out.
  • Plus being more creative and expressing yourself is essential to achieving your full potential.
  • I was just watching a James Brown documentary and he talked about you know be yourself put yourself out there being you, being weird, being unique, loud and proud. 
  • There’s only one you. One of the most valuable things you have is who you are… that’s your gut instinct, what your heart says. Even when it’s different, express it. Speak your peace.
  • The right people will hear your honest, confidence expression and respond to you positively. Who cares about the other people?
  • If I want to really sing and really express who I am, stand out and find the people who wrote resonate like a tuning fork with my particular expression then I have to sing out.
  • Ignore the critics. There are a lot of people out there when we’re growing up or even now as adults who seem to want us to conform. To be normal. To be like them. To be mediocre. To stay quiet. They may not intend to suppress personal expression. It may be a kneejerk subconscious reactions sometimes to be critical or sarcastic or judgmental. If it’s subconscious, who cares? They may not really mean it. If they do mean it, why would you care what a mean person thinks? Don’t take critics personally.  And don’t let fake or past critics live in your head. They aren’t real.
  • I learned I need to hold my head up and express myself. I can’t mute myself or turn myself off.
  • Keep your head up and keep your mouth open expressing who you are.

How is that a change for me? I’ve done it before but I got stuck!

  • I’ve been really stuck. I’ve been overthinking it. I’ve been trying to figure out systems. I’ve been learning a lot of stuff and working with clients and keynoting but
  • I haven’t been creating a lot of business content. I haven’t been finishing blog posts. I haven’t been finishing the editing of videos. I haven’t been diligent in finishing my book ideas.
  • This isn’t who I am. I wrote 5 books in four years. I’ve a written hundreds of blog posts. I’ve created tons of videos. I’ve written thousands of stand-up comedy jokes and routines since 2006.
  • Somewhere in the last few years, I became afraid to be myself- afraid that, if I express myself, I will lose business.
  • Looking back, it was just time to reach a new level of expression.
  • I had compartmentalized business. I thought business was different from creativity or that personal development should be separate from from business. I’m finding I can’t live that way. I can’t keep business creativity and personal development separate, because they’re not. I also think that it might be helpful to other people if I combined them too and showed how my creativity and my personal development helps my business and my marketing.

What I’m committed to doing:

  • What’s brought me out of that- I’ve been on this path… I read The Artist’s Way (highly recommended- one of my top 100 non-fiction books of all time) and I started doing “Morning Pages” which is writing 3 pages every morning in my composition book. Sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more, sometimes creative, sometimes it’s journaling, sometimes I’m learning things… and it’s it’s helping me evolve. I’m building a creative studio. I’m taking these voice lessons. I’m making music.
  • All that stuff doesn’t seem directly related to marketing or business but it is really related…
    • It’s about who I am- knowing and expressing that instead of being a frustrated, unconscious drone.
    • It’s about Expression, about creativity and inspiration and feeling motivated.
    • How I show up as a marketer with ideas and energy for clients and my team.
    • The skills I bring for that work to get the business results they need.
    • The presence, power and confidence I can bring to a keynote speech.
  • I’m a learner. I need to be stimulated. I need to go out find new things.
  • I’m going to continue to take the singing lessons and see how that affects my expression.
  • I’m writing music and discovering what I have to say the world and how that affects what I want to write in a nonfiction book.
  • I’m committed to doing these videos and expressing what’s going on in my real life and how that relates to business…
  • I’m showing up as a real person to express, to not be afraid to show you who I really am, to not be afraid of judgement or of losing business as a result of that.
  • I’m holding my head up, opening my voice and singing my heart out.

My Challenge for You Is…

Take a look at how this relates to you:

  • Is there some other thing in your life like this- a limitation holding you back?
  • A stuckness that might be hurting your business as well? 
  • Is there is there something in your golf game that you have trouble with it that relates to your business or your marketing?
  • Is there something about how you go to the gym and work out- where you overdo it or under do it or your challenges there that relate to the way you do business?
  • Is there a problem you have with your your spouse or your significant other- with the way that you approach that relationship that shows up the same way in your business?
  • Take a look. It may be there for you. It may not be.
  • You may find inside there you may find there’s a block. Something you’re doing that you’ve always done that way, and if you can break through that you’ll get to the next level. You’ll get what you really want, whether it’s profits or more freedom or a more enjoyable experience of your work…
  • Don’t be afraid to to look at yourself and face these challenges.
  • If you’re like me you have always been growing. You’re always daring. You want more… and that has to come from inside- not just out there in business.
  • Find that inner limitation that’s limiting your business so you can take it to the next level

I hope that was helpful to you!

VIDEO: 5 Tips for Creating Content Marketing That Gets Bigger Results

New video for you visual/auditory learners! We also just published a companion infographic (opens new window so you can review while listening to video)


The More Ideas You Test the More Likely You Win

You’ve got to test more ideas in digital marketing and social media.

Because if you only text one post or one post a day or one ad a week, you’re only going to discover so much stuff and you’re only create so much stuff and you’re only going to get a certain level of results.

The more stuff you create, the more ideas you force yourself to have, the more likely you are to find that idea that your customer goes crazy for.

I’m talking about…

  • Gigantic engagement rates,
  • Gigantic click through rates,
  • Gigantic sales,
  • Gigantic leads,
  • Incredible conversion rates.

Here’s my analogy. Let’s say, in any sport, like my sport is the NBA. I love basketball. When I watch these guys, I’m like “Wow, there’s some amazing players.” Historically we got Michael Jordan, we’ve got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, we’ve got Magic Johnson, we’ve got Shaq, we’ve got LeBron, Kobe, Durant, Steph Curry, Steve Nash, all these guys are one in a million, one-in-a-billion, right, because they’re freaks of nature in one way or another.

There have been thousands of guys in the league over the years but if we had only had 10 guys in the league, if the NBA hadn’t been so big and hadn’t been so popular and hadn’t been so much money going into it, probably wouldn’t have that many guys and those guys would have done different things with their lives. They wouldn’t have been basketball players. We never would have found those genius basketball players.

If you don’t put enough money or time into your content, you’re never going to find that exceptional outlier of content that performs super well.

I’ve got this post that has a crazy dog in it that gets me 6 likes per penny I spend on it, because I’ve tested hundreds and hundreds of posts.


The more stuff you create and the more you test, the more likely you are to find that exceptional, you know, the Michael Jordan of Facebook post, the Michael Jordan of Facebook ads.

It’s probably not the one expect it is. That’s the other thing that’s weird about it.

There’s research that shows that marketing experts, even after 10 or 15 years of experience, do not get better at guessing which content is going to win with the customer.

You could say, “Brian Carter’s a great marketing mind. He’s amazing.”

He still can’t guess which one is going to work with your customer.

All he can do is say, “I think I analyzed your audience and I understand ’em pretty well and based on what you’ve said, you and I are going to figure out some ideas. We’re going to put them in front the customer and we’re going to see which one it works.”

If we only put 5 ideas out there, our chances of success are much lower than if we put out 100 ideas.

Then we’re going to find one or two that really perform amazingly and your customers are going to go nuts for them. That’s not only going to drive down your costs…

  • Cost per engagement
  • Cost per lead
  • Cost per sale…

It’s also going to:

  • Create much more enthusiastic customers
  • Who will love you and your brand more.
  • More excitement and loyalty

But you don’t get that if you don’t test enough ideas.

So many companies out there are just doing the bare minimum. They’re doing checkbox marketing. They’re like, “Yep, we put out our content calendar. Yep, we ran an ad.”

It’s really easy to do. I know. I’ve done it myself. You get tired, you get busy and you’re like, “I created an ad. I’m done. I’m going to go watch Netflix,” you know? “I’ve got so many meetings today, I don’t have time.”

Okay, but you got to figure out how in your process to make this possible.

And if you’re a manager, you got to figure out how to make this possible for your marketing team, give them more time to brainstorm. Figure out how to help them create more ideas and get more stuff out there. You’ve got to do it.

This is a competitive advantage, to be able to create:

  • More ideas,
  • More creativity,
  • More unique, different ideas.

It’s very important today because the better your ideas are and the more you test, the more likely you are to win.

10 Shocking Facts About Feedback That Will Help You Succeed In Business

I HEREBY GIVE YOU ALL PERMISSION to point out anything I do that you think could be better. Please give me constructive feedback whenever you want.

It won’t make me like you less. It will make me LIKE YOU MORE (if you care about that).

Your feedback might be right and it might be wrong. But I am 100% confident it won’t kill me. I will consider your feedback, and decide whether or not to change what I’m doing.

#1 We all have blind spots.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

We have well-researched stubborn cognitive biases.

#2 Feedback and data is the lifeblood of success.

Without feedback, you’re stuck with what you have right now. You’ll never get any better. You’ll never have any more.

Not yet.

You know what bugs me?

#3 Most people don’t give each other honest feedback because everybody’s egos are so sensitive.

If you tell many people that something they did could be improved, they take it personally.

#4 People like people who like them.

So, instead of helping people by being constructive, too many of us are just vapidly supportive (in a way that may not really be that supportive).

“I’m awesome. If you don’t think everything I do is awesome, there’s something wrong with YOU!!!”

The people who tell everybody how awesome they are “winning friends and influencing people.”

Those people are good…

  • If you believe you’re already awesome and don’t need to improve.
  • Or if you need a ton of reassurance because you have a lot of self-doubt…
  • Or if you can’t handle feedback because it implies that you aren’t already perfect.

We have a lot of people who pretend to be perfect, a lot of people who believe they’re perfect, a lot of followers who want perfect people to follow, and a lot of butt-kissers who perpetuate this whole “you’re awesome” mentality.

#5 Growth mindset people win in the end.

But if you are a growth mindset person (Carol Dweck’s book), you get this.

#2 again: you need feedback, input and data in order to improve.

Yes, you’re awesome. Really.

But hopefully you are awesomer than you were last year.

And next year you’ll be awesomer than you are today.

Early in Louis CK’s career, many people dismissed him. They didn’t see what he could become. Even he was discouraged- after his first set, it took him two years to get back up again. Eventually he was the funniest comedian on Earth.

Steph Curry wasn’t a high draft pick but he became the NBA MVP. He’s not the only athlete like that. It’s not just talent- it’s drive, persistence and feedback.

Success is a choice.

#6 You could be doing something stupid right now and everyone thinks it’s a mistake but no one will tell you because they want you to like them.

I know one really high profile person many of us know who started a campaign that was weird, out of character, and of questionable viability- but as far as I know, nobody, including myself, told them it might be a bad idea, because they are so influential.

A lot of people jumped in to help for a variety of reasons…

The more influential and powerful you are, the less likely you are to hear detracting viewpoints, because everybody wants something from you.

I was guilty myself. It seemed weird to me, but who was I to say. And of course, when people debut these things, they usually don’t ask, “Hey, is this a stupid idea?”

Looking back, having seen that campaign fail, I wonder if there was a way I could have expressed my doubts…

…but the risk is that the person will “hear you out” but secretly hate you afterwards. And unfortunately we have to assume that most people can’t take constructive feedback.

It’s a shame.

#7 Everybody wants you to buy their chairs (Phenomenon movie with Travolta) no matter what those chairs are.

“Hey everybody, love my new thing!”

Now, while I fully support buying the chairs of your loved ones- that’s a beautiful sentiment- but not all your ideas are your chairs.

This culture of “everything you do is awesome” is not really in your best interests. If you want to keep doing better and getting better results in life, you need people who will give you honest feedback, and you need to be strong enough to take it.

I’m not saying we don’t need encouragers or motivators. We certainly do.

#8 You need at least a couple close friends who really think you’re a rock star. It will help you believe more and achieve more.

But if you need everyone to be an encourager, that’s pathological.

I know a comedian who is so fixed mindset, he believes that any comedian that’s not funny right away will never be funny. Even if the audiences start laughing at them (as they improve), he still believes they aren’t funny, because they weren’t funny in the beginning. As a result, he himself does not grow that much. He may be a good headliner, but chances are he’ll never be that famous or successful, because he’s not growing.

There are a lot of #1 draft picks who disappoint because they don’t have drive or a growth mindset. I’m not going to name names…

#9 The fewer ideas you have, and the more personal you take them, and the less feedback you get, the more likely you are to fail.

When your ideas are precious to you, you’re in danger.

…because your current idea might suck, but you might think it’s awesome.

Listen, I’ve had hundreds of bad ideas.

  • For 5 months in 2013, I wrote 5 jokes a day- that’s about 750 jokes. About 95% of them sucked. I didn’t know right away which they were. And for a joke, the audience has to laugh- so there’s no way to know without feedback.
  • I’ve posted hundreds of Facebook posts and I’ve created thousands of Facebook ads. Only a few of got stellar results (like a 21% engagement rate or a 11,800% ROI Facebook ad). That’s just the way statistics and outliers work.
  • I’ve written 8 books. One was an international bestseller, got me on TV and changed my business and life completely. One was a fun tangent but possibly a mistake. A couple of them are not really remarkable. That’s just statistics.

I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s perspective on this- genius is not you- it’s a gift. It frees you from the personal attachment to ideas that can stop the flow of new ideas and kill you from an emotional standpoint:

#10 The average anything you create sucks compared to the best things you create.

That’s just the way things are.

So don’t take your ideas personally. Get more of them.

#11 We need to get feedback from people we trust.

I have a couple masterminds I’m in where we do that. And several times we’ve had to reinforce the culture of blunt feedback. When we do that, it’s valuable and transformative. We move forward and get better results.

When we don’t give blunt feedback, it’s superficial and doesn’t help anybody apart from just making you feel like you have some sort-of friends you can brag to, as if that really helps- it doesn’t.

Ok, bragging about success to your mastermind helps a little, but it doesn’t make the business-changing or income-changing impact that real honest feedback can.

I sometimes make the mistake of giving constructive feedback to people who don’t know me that well. I always laugh to myself about how I’m “losing friends and influencing nobody.”

You don’t want to hear from trolls who don’t have your best interests at heart- I get that. You can definitely identify a troll- there’s no conversation that evolves into something constructive.

The spirit of the feedback needs to be that they truly want to help you, and not in a condescending way… The spirit is that we’re all learning, we’ve all made mistakes, we’re all just trying different things out, and we all want to help each other with that.

But because a lot of us only get feedback from 3-4 people close to us, I believe we are all missing out.

I feel like this is one of the saddest limitations of human nature. We’re all too sensitive. We don’t get all the feedback we could. We keep our blind spots. We end up sucking a lot more than we could.

Probably, nothing I’ve said here will change human nature. You’ll still really love all those people who keep blowing smoke up you patootie and never give you any constructive input… oh well :-)

Maybe I’ll learn from this and change my mind. Probably I need to get wiser and build relationships and trust more before I give feedback. Probably.

Where to Get Your Next Awesome Marketing or Brand Idea

It’s a noisy world and a noisy marketplace. Content marketing is driving almost everybody to create more stuff. But you need to stand out to get attention for your products and services. And to stand out you need a great brand and great marketing ideas.

Where do they come from? How can you reliably generate a lot more great ideas?

Kathy Klotz-Guest, Gary Ware and I have found that the games and exercises from improv comedy can generate great marketing and branding ideas. That’s right, the same games that make you laugh when watching Whose Line Is It Anyway could power your next business success!

Yes, some are funny, some are serious and some are too over-the-top, but you usually get some truly viable ideas… one of which just might be the next Old Spice “I’m on a Horse”, Gangnam style, or Blendtec.

Here are some of our previous sessions:

Barnet Bain on Creativity [Audio Interview]

Today our families, workplaces and relationships are being shaken by rapid change. Our guest, Barnet Bain, says we must learn to harness creativity to thrive in this new world. Barnet is an award-winning filmmaker, broadcaster, educator and author of “The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love and Work” coming in July.

Forgive us on sound quality- we had to move to phone for this interview- but tons of valuable insights here if you want to be more creative:

Whats Your B.S. Number?

I don’t mean the B.S. you’re probably thinking of. But it’s kind of the same thing. I’ll come back to that.

I mean: What’s your Brain Storm number? As in…

How many things do you brainstorm when you’re creating?

If you’re thinking up new blog post ideas, how many topics do you write out? And then for each of those topics, how many possible blog post titles do you write?

For a lot of people, it’s just one. And I’ve done this, too- here’s what it’s like:

  1. “Ooh! I came up with a blog post idea.”
  2. Then they write it.
  3. “Ooh! This would be a good title for it.”
  4. Then they hit publish.

Maybe readers see that and share it based on the title. Maybe readers get your point. Maybe they’re excited… or maybe they don’t share it and they don’t get it and they aren’t excited. Maybe it helps you get more business… maybe it doesn’t.

This is a pretty random, unfocused approach.

It’s easier, sure, but it’s not the more profitable way to go.

A Better Way To Create Content

What if you did it this way:

  1. Brainstorm 10 blog post ideas
  2. Choose the best one
  3. Write it
  4. Brainstorm 10 possible blog post title ideas for it
  5. Choose your favorite.
  6. Publish

More steps? Yes. But much bigger results, guaranteed.

What happens that’s different is this:

  • You have a better chance of coming up with an idea that’s 10x more awesome.
  • You don’t lose objectivity and get attached to one idea that might not be so good.
  • You give yourself some perspective.

So, this blog of mine has a bunch of posts in DRAFT status that only have a title. And that title is just the one sentence idea for the post.

I will never write all of them, because they aren’t all worthy of my time. And not all your content ideas are worth your time either.

How do I do #2 and #5 above… how do I choose which of my ideas to write?

The Scientific Way To Choose What To Write

First, I write down all the topic ideas. Then I put three columns next to it, which I’m going to rate from 1-5:

  • My Interest: How into this topic am I personally?
  • Biz Dev: Can I see how the readers of this post are more likely to hire me?
  • Buzzy: How much is this title like things that get shared a lot? How buzzfeedy is it? How much emotion and curiosity does it arouse?

Then I multiply those numbers together to get a score.

Then you look at your scores and write the ones with the highest scores.

You may never write them all, because you keep adding to your list with new ideas, and rating them, and re-sorting by score, and some of them will stay too low to ever write.

You can improve their scores if you want:

  • If there are any where your interest is high but the other two scores aren’t, see if you can reformulate the idea to make it more relevant to your business and if you can rewrite the title to make it more emotional and mysterious.
  • If your interest is low but the other two columns are more promising, how can you make it more interesting for yourself? What would make you want to write it? Just asking those questions may give you your answer.

Push It

Now I can’t let you go without telling you: brainstorming is hard. 

I do some creative work where I have to come up with 30 things, and I often get stuck at 15 and 25 and want to go lay down and sleep or stare out the window.

You have to push through it. Read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Switch tasks and come back. But you have to keep pushing. It’s a creative muscle you need to strengthen.

This is what you have to do if you want to do brilliant work that gets amazing results.

Getting Things Done (Video Interview) with David Allen

Just interviewed David Allen, author of Getting Things Done (2015 edition of book on amazon or barnes&noble | website) for my podcast, “Brian Carter’s Brain”! We spoke about productivity, flow, creativity, inspiration and content marketing.

Watch it here:

Thank YOU For Preferring The Word Funnest

This post is just to thank you guys for loving most the headline that used the word FUNNEST. You’re my kind of people.


All three of those headlines are in an equal number of tweets on Twitter- one of them it roughly 6x more effective.

I am tempted to start a kickstarter campaign to get funnest made into a real approved of word by the superunfun grammarian snobs. snobarians. if that’s really a good idea let me know.

THE 5 UPSHOTS LESSONS TAKEAWAYS for you utilitarians, are:

  1. be unique.
  2. make up words. the coolest people do this. evidence: me.
  3. do things your own way.
  4. stand out from the crowd.
  5. embrace goofiness.
  6. bonus takeaway alert!: be funner.

Also in Facebook ad tests for a course I’m going to create- the title LEADSPLOSION won out the tests for the best lead gen course title. again, superthanks. I just love the idea of putting tons of time into something ridiculously named. And adding -splosion to the end of everything. CopywritingSPLOSION!

I guess that’s my thing overall with humor- do great things, strive for greatness, but make fun of it too because… life is short, don’t take yourself so seriously, none of us really matters that much (even though we all matter god bless us all every one and all that jazz), make plans and you make god or the universe laugh, if you don’t relax you’re going to have a heart attack and if you aren’t more fun no one will like you.


Signingly my post like a 68 year old who doesn’t know how to blogly,

P.S. I’m using KingSumo Headlines for these tests

How To Write Copy & Content That Sells

Successful digital marketers test a lot of ideas. Which means they come up with a lot of ideas. Then have the discipline to go through multiple tests. It requires both creativity and organization.

Conversely, we’re pretty much screwed when we get writers block, only have bad ideas, or get seduced into writing for engagement rather than sales.

What Are Your Marketing Molecules?

These days in digital marketing, we have several very similar things:

  • Facebook or AdWords ads (10-12 words, <=90 characters)
  • Blog post headlines (8-10 words)
  • Corporate elevator pitches (up to 75 words)
  • Unique selling propositions (18-22 words)
  • Email subject lines (3-12 words), and
  • Tweets (about 15 words, 120’ish characters, if you leave room for a link)

These are all basically the same thing- short copy that convinces people to look or buy… I call them marketing molecules. the DNA of your elevator pitch. Your unique selling proposition (USP- if you don’t know what it is, keep reading- and btw you can have a USP for every blog post, every service or product you offer…)

The 3 Most Persistent Marketing Copy Pitfalls

  1. One of the biggest problems we have in modern marketing, content creation and advertising is: how do you come up with enough ideas to test?
  2. Another big problem is: How do you come up with good ideas?
  3. Yet another: How do you come up with copy that sells?

It’s awesome if you can write clickbait, even muted (less annoyingly obvious) clickbait that still arouses curiosity. It’s exciting if you can get 1,000 shares, but… is that piece of content contributing to your business’s bottom line? Sure, a lot content has an indirect benefit and may somehow partially convince someone to buy if you’re lucky and the weather is just right… but that’s sort of like trying to survive on hors d’oeuvres.

Do you have meat and potatoes content that SELLS?

Or are you stuck at the level of just trying to get people to pay attention for five minutes before they flip back over to a viral video on Facebook?

4dAmazing Content Is Four Dimensional

The best copy and content can do all four of the following at once:

  1. Inform
  2. Entertain or Inspire
  3. Compel People To Share It and
  4. Sell Your Stuff.

A lot of content only gets to level one- it informs- boring! Next level writers can entertain, inspire and motivate- that’s 2D Content. If you write the kinds of things people share, you may get to the third level- that’s 3D Content. But to go into the fourth dimension- which is either spacetime, a freaky Devo song, or amazing content that sells, we have to go further- to infinity and beyond.

That may be only the top 5% of content you luck out into writing- and really one out of twenty blog posts or email subject lines that can do this is not a bad ratio compared to how poorly most companies do. But is there a way we can increase your luck and help you create four dimensional copy more often?

Sometimes the things you need to write to get sales are harder to write. They require more thinking, maybe research, maybe even – oh no, the dreaded talking to customers.

Questions and formulas are very helpful… and that is where we’re headed!

I thought I’d show you my process of marketing my new online course… this began with a process of surveying my lists for topics, then testing ideas with Facebook ads, and finally creating two pathways for sales- one is a Ryan Deiss “Funnel Blueprint” series of lead magnet, tripwire and core offer; and the core offer, which I’m also testing as a direct first exposure, is a Jon Benson-style Video Sales Letter.

And by the way, there is a real feedback loop between marketing and product/service improvement. If what works and doesn’t work in marketing doesn’t inform improvements in your product and service- well, you’d better create things that are as awesome as iPhones. You can’t put lipstick on a pig and make it win prom queen.

15 Marketing Copy Elements

Alright- ready for some work? Because yes, you’re going to have to work. You have to answer these questions first… and as I alluded to before, you can answer these for your entire business, or for one product or service. You may find when you try to do the former, that there are really different answers for each product or service, and you’ll have to do this process for each. Yes, it’s a ton of work. Grow up and put your big boy pants on. Do the work, if you want great results. Otherwise, you might as well go waste time on Facebook and get mediocre business results. There are plenty of people creating distracting content that will help you procrastinate.

If you want to do the work- you can list 3 or 5 or whatever I ask, or you can write 10-20. If you write more of them, you’ll end up with better copy. Brainstorming never goes out of style for those whose fashion is marketing results.

  1. BENEFITS: List 5 benefits (problems you solve, and the positive version of that)- ALSO, decide on the CHIEF BENEFIT- this is the most valuable one, the one people are most likely to buy, the easiest one to sell.
  2. TARGET MARKET: List 3 specific types of people who it’s for- could be personality types, job titles, or family roles, for example.
  3. COMPETITORS: List 5 competitors- and I don’t necessarily mean specific companies. For example,
  4. WITHOUTS: List 5 things customers have to do now or think they’ll have to do, but don’t have to, with your solution. List 3 things your competitors require them to do that you don’t.
  5. PROBLEMS: List 3 problems they have without your help, and each of their 3 solutions.
  6. MISTAKES: List 5 mistakes your customers make without you, and the consequences of each.
  7. LIES: List 3 lies they’ve been told about the issue and the truth about each
  8. TIPS: List 5 tips you have for them to solve their problems
  9. SUPERLATIVES: List 5 things your company is first at, best at, most whatever, cheapest, oldest, latest, newest, funnest (I love that word), largest etc. – check out wikipedia superlatives lists
  10. CONFESSIONS: list 3 confessions where you screwed up
  11. PROCESSES: list 3-5 specific processes you use, anything you’ve trademarked or patented… e.g. Google’s PageRank, Facebook’s Newsfeed Algorithm… I made up one called “The Rock Star Effect”
  12. SPECIFIC RESULTS: List 5 very specific results- quantify some aspect of your solution.
  13. CASE STUDIES: Quantify the results for 3 standout customers- if you absolutely can’t quantify it, find the most impactful way to convey
  14. SOCIAL PROOF: Quantify how many customers you have, or if you can’t or won’t, get 5 testimonial quotes from customers. When you ask for these quotes, try to get them to say what concrete benefit or result you had for them. That makes for better copy!
  15. EXPERT PROOF: Get 3 quotes from experts about your solution/product

Now if you actually do that work above, you have a TON of ammo to create a shotgun blast of sniper bullets. And THAT was the worst chimera of a meta-analogy-phor I’ve ever created! Forgive me.

Also, if you want to do humor, come up with hyperboles (exaggerations) of the above… you’ll see what I mean in the last few molecule examples below.

10 Example Marketing Molecules

Molecules are composed of elements. Now that you have all those marketing elements (because you answered all those questions above, right?), we can form marketing molecules out of them. Combine all of your marketing elements into marketing molecules and test them!

After you combine them, you can add other aspects of copywriting wisdom to complete the molecule. The first two of these should look familiar- they probably account for 68.2% of the Internet’s non-horrible blog posts.

  1. List # BENEFIT: example, “3 Tips For Becoming Your Potential Buyer’s #1 Choice”
  2. How To BENEFIT: “How To Get On The Media’s Radar”
  3. DOUBLE BENEFIT: “How To Get On The Media’s Radar And Be Your Potential Customer’s #1 Choice”
  4. USP = SUPERLATIVE + CHIEF BENEFIT, e.g. “The Awareness Blueprint™ Is The Only Marketing Course That Can Transform Your Company Into The Rock Star #1 Choice In Your Niche…
    Even On A Modest Budget.” But of course for 90 character ads, you have to shorten that, so you can create two versions from it, “The Only Course That Makes Your Brand Your Niche’s #1 Choice, Even On A Modest Budget.” and “The ONLY Course If You Want To Get On The Media’s Radar And Be Your Customer’s #1 Choice.”
  5. Stronger USP = SUPERLATIVE + CHIEF BENEFIT + WITHOUT, if you can fit all that in! “The #1 Course For Brand Awareness Without Wasting Time or Money”
  6. BENEFIT + WITHOUT: I’ve found in my Facebook ad tests that benefits get an even higher CTR when you add a WITHOUT to them, e.g. “Finally Make People Pay Attention To Your Company Without Wasting Your Time Or Money”
  7. BENEFIT + COMPETITION: Emails, tweets and facebook posts are all competitors for your attention. That enables me to write copy like: “How To Get Your Brand Noticed Amongst Millions Of Businesses, Tweets, Posts and Videos”
  8. SPECIFIC RESULT: “Want Your Company Seen By 2.8 Million Members Of The Media In Newspapers, TV And Radio?”
  9. TESTIMONIAL QUOTE BENEFIT: “How On Earth Did Your Company Get This Much Attention And Acclaim?” or “Brian tells business owners where to put their marketing dollars to get maximum reach.”
  10. An End To a PROBLEM: “An End To People Doubting Your Company Because They’ve Never Heard Of It”
  11. List # Mistakes + Avoid: “5 Mistakes Brands Make With Publicity And How To Avoid Them”
  12. Step By Step BENEFIT WITHOUT: “Your Exact, Step-by-Step Blueprint For Mega Brand Awareness Without Wasting Time or Money”
  13. Want to sell with humor? Add HYPERBOLE: “How To Get Potential Customers To Stalk You Because They Can’t Wait Til Morning To Buy From You” or “5 Mistakes Brands Make With Publicity That Lead To Public Flogging” – Ok neither of those is hilarious, but I just made them up. And you’re going to have to write at least 20 jokes to find one funny one… sorry, but that’s a pretty standard comedy industry ratio. And I’m not going to write 18 more right now :-p

Write a bunch of them. Applying these to content creation is how you make sure you’re creating content that sells. A lot of the 15 elements above are the things that convince people to buy. There are a bunch of other elements out there like funny videos and animated gifs will not necessarily sell.

adideasexcelMy first use for mine was Facebook ads. I wrote 60, put them in excel to find out how many characters were in each one (the formula is =LEN(cell)), and then rewrote or split up any that were over 90 characters. Then I created another column called “central”. I can’t test 60 ads at once, or at least I didn’t want to, so I asked myself, which of these communicate the central thing about my course? And how central on a scale of 1-10 were they? Your USP is going to be pretty central. I also numbered the ads for easy reference in my facebook ad names.

It’s not a bad idea to use them as Facebook ads first to see what your target market clicks on the most. It’s the quickest, cheapest, easiest way to test. Read this post about that. Once I find out which ones get the best CTR or conversion rates, I’ll pick from the top 3-5 and reuse them as subject lines and tweets and other content.

That’s all folks! Copy the elements questions above into a document and start answering them! :-)