14 Lessons Learned from One of the World’s Highest-Paid Copywriters (Lessons 1-5)

14 Lessons Learned from One of the World’s Highest-Paid Copywriters (Lessons 1-5)

Reader Comments (57)

  1. Thanks Sean! Sometimes it’s difficult to translate Dan Kennedy’s teachings to apply to them to my online marketing, so this is an excellent update to Dan’s trainings.

    I look forward to the rest of the series. David

  2. Hesham: Thanks! Yes, Thesis is excellent.

    Pallav: Thanks, I appreciate the compliment.

    Bamboo: It’s totally worth it. A quick read and lots of good, meaty psychology.

    David: Thanks David! They’re basic principles into the way people think, so it’s actually pretty easy to change the environment. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series as well.

  3. Lots of great snippets of information there but if anyone thinks it is a ‘Ultimate Marketing Plan’ then they don’t have a clue on what a ‘marketing plan’ actually is….

  4. Thanks for a well-written post Sean. Since I’m new to blogging, building a bullet proof marketing plan is essential to a content-hungry blogger such as myself. So I look forward to reading the next installments. Thanks again.

  5. David: My pleasure, any time. The wisdom is all Dan’s.

    Stuart: Well, you’re reading one third of a series, which is essentially paring down a 200+ page book into a few thousand words. No reasonable person could expect to develop a solid marketing plan based on one, or even three, blog posts. However, that is the name of his book, and Kennedy does provide plenty of information and context that would help any business owner to craft a solid marketing plan.

    Marvin: Definitely read the next installments, but check out the book itself. It goes into depth and is a quick read that you’ll probably reference time and again.

    Sherice: Hi Sherice! Thanks for the compliment. As far as The Ultimate Sales Letter – I’m working on it. : )

  6. Hi Sean:

    Thanks for this post that reiterates a theme echoed with more frequency these days: “New” marketing isn’t so new.

    Human nature hasn’t changed. The better you understand your customer and the emotions that motivate her, the easier time you’ll have building relationship and, yes, selling stuff.

    All marketing–and even fundraising–content benefits from inclusion of the key positioning and persuasion elements you mention.

    Of course you’ll customize voice, tone, headlines and offer differently with different products/customers/donors. Maybe you’ll state benefits directly–or you’ll maybe imply them.

    But these are basics that translate across media and industry.

  7. @Stuart, in my experience, for most bloggers (and, in fact, most brick-and-mortar small businesses), actually implementing the advice in Kennedy’s book would create a total turnaround in their business, since most businesses have no marketing plan at all. At best they have an advertising plan, but with no compelling message, no USP, no urgency, no targeting, no process for how to handle leads when they come in.

  8. If you are a writer, you really have to consider the delivery of thoughts. I believe Dan Kennedy was able to meet this very important criterion. The first five of his “14 Steps to the Ultimate Marketing Plan” can already make me up and running as a novice writer, much more if I can read them all. However, it’s not enough to just learn the lessons. We must apply.

    In the field of Internet Marketing, competitors are bounty so always strive for the best! Cheers!

  9. Sean,

    Interesting stuff and I look forward to following your series.

    Dan Kennedy has always done a fine job presenting the nuts and bolts of messaging, as did Robert Bly. There is certainly some sales letter cross over for blogs in that they were among one of the few advertising vehicles to retain a conversational tone.

    One area where bloggers can improve to strengthen Kennedy’s approach to the unique selling point by ensuring it provides a contrast (not all USPs do). Contrasts help consumers make purchasing decisions.

    Just food for thought.

    All my best,

  10. To be the best, learn from the best.

    Common sense advice that many tend to ignore. Inside we know that it pays to think out and effective marketing and act on it, but engaging in competitive marketing practices prevents us from making the right decisions.

    One thing though. If you’re *really* good you won’t have to prove your case. You’ll have a big enough following where you don’t have to convince others.

  11. Great lessons. Having a strong USP is key. I have a slightly different take on #2. I spent a lot of time in Marketing Communications Strategy and Copywriting, and I typically us a 3 pillar approach: Why Do Something, Why Now and Why My Company. Very similar, but the order seems a little different.

    I’m looking forward to the next part in this series!

  12. This helps reinforce several themes from “Selling the Invisible” that I’ve been thinking about. Thanks! Very timely, too. Those 5 mental steps a customer goes through gave me some good food for thought.

  13. A fantastic post… I hadn’t heard of the UPS myself, so I appreciate the explanation and all the leads you provide in this article for more.

  14. Sean:

    Wow: what a great post full of interesting tips. Your comments are insightful. I like your style of writing too.

    Yeah, Dan Kennedy, Bob Bly, Michael Masterson (and a few others) I have been reading for a while over at AWAI and “Early to Rise.” These guys are old hands and have more than a few aces up their sleeves, to be sure.

    For those of you who are uninitiated, that’s just fine. So was I until I stumbled upon the works of these luminaries. Sometimes, they write articles and posts which are certainly worth reading. If you get a chance, check it out.

    And whenever I have a question or concern, Bob Bly has always made it a point to respond immediately from his home office in New Jersey. Usually, Bob makes it a point to respond within 24 hours (if not earlier). I have been struck by Bob’s sense of professionalism: he is truly dedicated to the craft of writing and is committed to his profession. In general, it has been such a pleasure to learn from such luminaries. No wonder your post resonated with me! It reminded me of my own experience.

  15. All the Dan Kennedy love on Copyblogger lately is great. I started learning marketing from Dan and now that I know more I realize he is the real deal with great ideas and advice. yes, he is cranky but sometimes the sugar-coated truth isn’t what we want or need. Thanks for the great summary, Sean!

  16. Marvin: I hadn’t read Kennedy, outside of a quote here or there, until I got a couple of Kennedy books for Christmas. I hope you enjoy them!

    Lorraine: Exactly – anyone who thinks the old guys are no longer relevant is sadly mistaken. Taking the time to read books from the old guys is in many ways a great tactic to keep ahead of the new ones. It’s not about new social media strategy, it’s about old human behavior. Thanks, Lorraine.

    Liezl: Yes, no doubt. Learning is nothing without application behind it.

    Rich Becker: You’re absolutely right. Contrast is key. It highlights why you are different, why you are worth paying attention to, and why you are worth someone’s hard earned money.

    Ryan: I don’t know if that’s true. I think even with a giant following you still need to prove your case. If you don’t than your value will dim over time. And no one gets big without proving their case over and over and over again. Copyblogger’s running on four years of proving theirs, and despite a successful launch of the Third Tribe Forum last week, they’re back here this week proving it again.

    Chrystal: That works as well! I’m glad you enjoyed the first part. We look forward to seeing you next time.

    Bill: My pleasure, BIll.

    Travis: Be careful! You want want to separate yourself from the crowd, NOT get your packages delivered overnight. : )

    Archan: I’ve heard a lot of great things about Bob Bly, though I’ve only read him a bit myself. I’ll check into his stuff more. Thanks, Archan.

    Susan: My pleasure. I completely agree. I’m not really looking for feel good posts or books to tickle me while I read. I want practical strategy that will help me grow my business. Thanks for the comment.

  17. This is a great and timeless post – I look forward to reading the rest of the series. While the internet has changed the marketing landscape on some fronts, most of these lessons are just as relevant today as when the book was written. If anything, they may be even more relevant, as the average person now has more power than ever to market themselves.

  18. Dan is the man. His “No BS” book series is pretty good as well, although some of the latest ones are not worth buying. It’s always good to bring back the basics, since it’s really easy (at least for me it is) to get stuck in all of the minutiae of a project and miss the forest for the trees.

    The first impression item is key. You can have the best product in the world, that will help a million people, but if your site or your business looks like your kid brother made it, then you won’t sell anything.

    Your USP has got to tell everyone exactly what you stand for from the moment your customer haas any contact with your business. That is all part of your first impression as well. The USP needs to be specific and thoughtful to your customers and your business. Forget it if you are just going to say “quality and customer service are our number one focus.” That’s everyone’s focus.

  19. @Joshua, did you pick up his No BS for the New Economy? I thought it was actually quite interesting. Especially as he is so resolutely an old economy guy.

  20. Direct, snail mail reached a point of sophistication that seems now to be superseded by e-mail, blogs, and social networking. However, there are four secrets to efficacious snail mail that I will be interested to see if they are covered in subsequent posts.

  21. David: I’d say more relevant. Never has marketing been more important or more individualized. Kennedy’s words remain true on all fronts and carry more power per person now than ever before.

    Joshua: I’ve not read any of the BS books, but they are on my queue. I totally agree on first impressions, and though my sites are always in flux while I’m forever in search of the ideal layout, I always am trying. It always surprises me when people think that just doesn’t matter. Content may be king, but the king wants a nice throne to sit in.

    Lifestyle Design: That one’s at the top of my queue!

    Frank: Stay tuned. 🙂

    Chanda: Thanks! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

  22. This is great stuff! I am in the middle of changing my blog around and some of the things in this post I knew (USP) but others elements I need to learn or refresh. I even thought about starting from scratch to have a better blog.

    I am getting sales, but I want more! So the next few weeks are about research, vetting and implementing. What is the point of all of this excellent information if you are not going to use it? So this is definitely a timely post for me to come across!

    Human behavior is slow to change regardless of how fast technology moves. Some of the best movies, songs today are remakes! Which goes to show you, that good stuff regardless of age will always be good stuff!

  23. For those who market primarily through a website, there is $10M in primary research free on MarketingExperiments.com (also MECLabs.com). They have bimonthly webinars. All free. They are the premium website optimizers and make their money primarily from clients who want want daily longterm monitoring for optimization.
    An affiliate site is MarketingSherpa.com, which contains primarily secondary research.

  24. I have read some of Dan Kennedy’s books before and have been more and more impressed with each one I find. I look forward to this one too. Dan Kennedy is no holds barred that is for sure!

  25. Sean, I love your writing style! Refreshing, engaging.

    You write: “Even though defining your USP is one of the best places to start when you’re building a solid marketing plan, it also seems to be one of the easiest places for people to get lost.”

    The scary thing about USP is we are to micro-target who we are marketing to. It seems risky to keyword for such a narrow audience and perhaps miss a wide range of people.

    I’ve read elsewhere tonight that the CTR (which I think means conversion rate) is higher even though the traffic is less when your blog laser focuses on your choses USP.

    Great review of the value of USP and Mr. Kennedy’s work.

  26. Choosing the right audience? Is this is one way in creating a group separate? Any audience which we get is an inventory that is priceless.

  27. Fantastic article Sean – I can hardly wait for the follow ups!

    Everything resonates with what I’ve been learning over the last year or so. But especially poignant to me is the five stages of presenting your message. I need to fine tune and nail the reason to act now!

    I’m noting these points on paper for future reference in my GTD system.

    Please don’t keep us waiting too long for the next episode… 😉

  28. Dan’s message is always inspiring and his old-school approach is sometimes ironically refreshing (but other times it feels like it’s ignoring important aspects of the web). However, I think you’ve nicely “updated” his thinking and also helped to turn his work from very direct-marketing-specific thinking to a broader blogging approach.

    Nicely done, Sean!

  29. Great post Sean!

    Ive learned a lot from Dan, specifically in his Marketing To The Affluent book. I think he should be required reading for every entrepreneur…

    Also, his No B.S. Wealth Attraction book really has helped me get rid of a lot of bad “mental blocks” I had about money.

    Keep it up man.

    – Justin

  30. I like how Dan’s advice has been applied to blogs.

    This goes to show that any kind of marketing advice can be used by bloggers to build better blogs.

  31. Glendon: The great thing about these modern tools is that it’s never been easier to test and improve. If you’re getting sales already then that’s great. Just a matter of time until you multiply.

    Frank: Thanks.

    Kristina: Yeah, he’s really direct, which is great. Not a lot of theory, but tons of nuts and bolts.

    Rinaldi: It is a three part series. That way the information can be consumed in bite sized chunks.

    Joanna: Hiya Joanna! I don’t want to speak for Sonia, but I think that though Kennedy might not have her favorite style, but there’s a lot you can learn from him and Sonia’s a terrific student.

    Pete: Thanks! I appreciate it. Yes, that’s exactly right. The more general you are in what you do, the easier it is to truly plug in to the deeper needs.

    Paul: Absolutely. No doubt about it.

    Aglo: Yes, if you are speaking of emotional value. However, if we’re talking dollars, then no. An audience of people who are looking for what you have to sell will always have more numeric value than an audience that does not.

    Pat: Thanks, pat – the first one’s up now. I’m sure the trilogy’s end is right around the corner. 🙂

    Povesti: My absolute pleasure.

    Aaron: Thanks. I really liked the Kennedy books for exactly that reason. There was just something really smooth. Like seeing a good carpenter’s work. Not fancy. But hand crafted well enough to be almost beautiful.

    Justin: I agree on the required reading part. I was lucky enough to have someone point him out to me, then put the book in my hands. I’ve never had a mental block about money. I’ve always liked it and it’s always liked me. Though it did up and walk out on me for a stretch there.

    Stone: Absolutely. That’s what Copyblogger does best.

This article's comments are closed.