The Zig-Zag Method for Catching Attention and Building Credibility

The Zig-Zag Method for Catching Attention and Building Credibility

Reader Comments (50)

  1. Absolutely true. Brian, my wife has been a teacher for twenty years. She was awarded “teacher of the year” in Houston Unified, five separate years. For the last five years, I’ve been telling her that she needed to stream her knowledge onto the net. She kept saying that she needs to teach. I kept bouncing back that she would be teaching; it would just be different. Last night, we lay in bed together and went through the first three lessons in “Teaching Sells.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Great article Brian!

    The key to everything is standing out from the competition.

    This means that if you market to a place that is “not” used to great headlines, you can zag by following your traditional headline advice.


  3. Fun post…reminds me of several pre-trend people I know. They move when the crowd starts running to catch up to where they they’ve already been, for a while. One friend helps set the trends in her industry, and watches the subtle and then obvious signs as the ideas disperse through the crowd.

    Thanks, again. Yours is always helpful and thought-provoking work.

  4. This article conveys to me that effective copy is a science. It’s a war strategy, a chess game if you will…

    If I could devise a way to send subliminal messages to all my readers, brain washing them to return again and again and again – I would have already.

    So, I take up the second best course of action, and try to personify the “winning difference.”

  5. Outstanding post, Brian. I like “The Winning Difference” concept too!

    Now, I need to find a niche…

    Oh crap I just stepped in trend

  6. Another stellar piece. I attempt to stay ahead of the curve too, which is why I moved only to video/audio on my blog in the Spring.

    What’s next? You know what? Whatever I have passion for and is fun. Currently I’m embarrassing myself playing and singing on the ukulele.

  7. This is the second time today I’ve read about the value of sincere and authentic expression in marketing.

    The first time I read it was in “The Cluetrain Manifesto”:

    “[Most corporations] only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.”

    Don’t worry, this was written several years ago, so there have surely been lots of zigs and zags since then.

  8. “When I see “everyone” doing something, I know it’s time to do something else. In other words, when everyone is zigging, it’s time to zag.”

    There are rules to the universe, and your “zigging” comment may be one of them. When everyone buys stocks, the time may be here to sell; when everyone sells, the time may be here to buy.

    Trends gain momentum until something or someone reverses the trend with a greater or more subtle influence.

    Perhaps what matters is confidence that personal expression, within the scope of reasonable constraint,
    creates meaningful “zag”.

  9. I don’t remember which sales letter it was, but you did something I really wish would catch one.

    In the first paragraph you said, “Already sold? Click here to sign-up”. Imagine that, not having to scroll all the way to the bottom just to buy.

    People probably spent a long time promoting whatever that sales page is going to sell. So some people are ready when they get there. Make it easy to buy. Unconvinced people can keep reading.


  10. I am shaking my head. Unbelievable how much really good stuff you offer up for free. Seriously. But it comes from an incredibly deep well that is consistently, and constantly replenished… or tweaked, or turned on its head….

  11. @ Brian – you really closed this article up nicely and that last paragraph is an entire article all on its own.

    You can create something unique and remarkable but is highly ineffective for accomplishing your goals – simply having those qualities does not create success.

    Our focus when creating that “zag” and standing out truly needs to be focused on not only what your customers are craving and solving the need they say they have, but actually solving what they actually mean.

    @ Michael Stelzner – sometimes it’s just easier to buy your competition 😉 hehe

  12. Excellent post 🙂

    Reminds me a lot of my offline selling days, where the company I sold for did the opposite of convention and grew massive because of it…
    Once all the copycats had jumped aboard business slowed – so they changed again.

    I’m also finding it’s working well on my own latest membership site… with the headline –
    “No Free Membership, No Begging You to Join a List & Claim A Freebie, No OTO’s, Upsells or Downsells, AND NO High Prices!”….

    And I mean that – so it’s not collecting emails – totally against convesntional wisdom… but it is converting well and building a very close small community.

    I won’t spam you by quoting the site…
    But it was nice to read that zagging is considered good by some people other than myself…lol


  13. I’ve seen so much “reckless driving” from people who think it’s a great idea to ignore simple marketing fundamentals that I’m reluctant to agree with this post.

    There are just too many people with lame marketing strategies saying things like “yes that sales letter thing is a good idea but I don’t need one.”

    Or “I don’t need to build trust with my prospects because I’m in this niche…which is different because…”.

    Ignoring the successful strategies of the past and trying to reinvent the wheel is just plain dumb.

    But what you’re saying is true.

    The real key though is genuine mastery.

    When you’ve mastered and truly understand the fundamentals of copywriting and marketing you’ll also have much better intuition about how you can “break the rules” and come out better for it.

    I liked the post.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  14. Andrew, I hear what you’re saying. I touched on the fundamentals at the beginning, and that’s usually what we focus on, because as you say, you’ve got to know the rules before you can break them.

    And often, we’re not really breaking the “rules” when we zig or zag… because catching attention and building credibility in order to sell are two of the most important “rules” there are.

    Glad you latched on the “reckless driving” analogy… I also see way too much of it!

  15. Hmmm, zigging & zagging?

    Is that like cloaking old tried and true methods of marketing making zagging sound like different or unconventional marketing?

    Good trick marketing maybe but most people know when theyré been sold to.


  16. The topic you have discussed has got relevant insights on how to market and bring more creditbility. Thanks for sharing this

  17. I have found it very effective to become unique and win the audience through your uniqueness. Yes, sometimes we have to break the ice and turn the tide the other way. Becoming a great writer needs experience and dynamic style which mean you have to be capable of changing your style while not hurting your readers wants and likes.

  18. Damn. Late to the party and I wish I wasn’t.

    Yes. We tend to do things a little differently at our blog and ride against the currents. We test the theories and we push the limits. We do so because we don’t want to be doing what everyone else is – and it works.

    But it does take careful thought. I zig-zag enough in general as it is, and being cautious about how I zag and when is very critical to the zag being accepted (and followed).

    Otherwise a zigzagger comes off as just plain loopy with no direction, period.

  19. Great advice – Seth Godin comes to mind, always seems to be ahead of other thinkers in the area of marketing and business branding, everyone else catches up a few weeks or months after.

    I do have a bone to pick with you though – there is a second VERY important part to why the 3 blog postings you mention win, you know your market extremely well. Now that blogging and social networking is reaching larger numbers – the MOST desparate desire everyone wants to know is how to stand out from the crowd – just like you are able to do. So, your topic is at least half the reason for the success of your blog postings.


  20. Great looking, waves.

    Seriously, I appreciate posts of this quality,
    for voicing, confirming, and contextualizing
    the dynamic energy we need to be intelligent
    and alive enough to be worth following.

    Also, I believe your comment #25
    fully multiplies the clarity of the post itself;
    putting guard rails on the zig-zagging highway.

    Thanks once again,

  21. It’s interesting isnt it, that people are so resistant to change, when the only constant in life is change?

  22. Very interesting post, Brian. Borrowing your zig-zag concept, which is such a great way of thinking about it, zagging is the key to a lot of business success – what it boils down to is innovation. If you’re going to stand out from the crowd, you need to innovate. Constantly. Set the trend, rather than follow it. And yes, Frank Kern is a case in point.

  23. Haha… This is so true. I even do this with the clothes I wear. When I see most people wearing the same thing, I try to wear something else entirely.

  24. Great article Brian!

    The key to everything is standing out from the competition.

    This means that if you market to a place that is “not” used to great headlines, you can zag by following your traditional headline advice.

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