The One Rule Your Marketing Writing Must Follow

ONEYou hear it often.

Everyone seems to agree on it.

It’s the only way that you’ll get attention. If you don’t follow this rule, your sales letters won’t be read.

It’s funny how everyone says the same thing, and repeats it knowingly.

They said the same thing in Claude Hopkins’ day, back in 1920.

It’s too long

People won’t read it. It’s too long. You have to write shorter sales letters or posts. Nobody will read long ones. Some bloggers go so far as to include word counts and estimated reading times on their posts (don’t worry, I’ll only take up 3:31 of your time!). There’s even an internet abbreviation: TL, DR (too long, didn’t read).

It’s a trap

Readers avidly devour each Game of Thrones installment, despite the fact that the books are  about 1,000 pages long. A friend told me she read Shantaram in a few days (even though it’s 944 pages), because she was so entranced by it.

It’s not the length

The length of your email or sales letter, or post, isn’t what stops people from reading all of it. People don’t turn away because something is long. They leave because it’s dull. If you keep your readers’ interest, they’ll read every word. Bore them, and they’re gone.

Format for the screen

If you’re used to print, you will need to make a few changes for the web.  Break up the paragraphs into smaller pieces.  Use more line breaks, and more subheads.  It’s easier to read on a screen that way.

Good enough to share

Memorable, interesting posts (even ads) get shared, read, or watched over and over.  The length isn’t relevant. Don’t worry if it’s long; just make it interesting.

Meanwhile, if you could get George R.R. Martin to write faster, I’d appreciate it!


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Scallions, User Experience, and Ease of Use

Bunches of scallions / green onions (Allium fi...

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You’re probably wondering what scallions have to do with marketing or user experience failures.  I was at the  market the other day, and wanted to buy some scallions.  I looked and looked, but couldn’t find them anywhere.  It was a new store, so I didn’t know where everything was.  Finally, I asked an employee.  The scallions were right in front of me.

Why couldn’t I find them?

I didn’t see them because I was looking for the whitish bulbs and the roots.   They were stacked the other way around.  The green leaves were facing out, not in. It’s not a web site, but it was still a user experience failure.  The produce department was failing “ease of use.”

Lesson learned

Something can be right in front of your client or your customer, but they may not recognize it.  A big label saying, “scallions.” would have helped.  Or, putting them the “right” way around.

In a store, someone can ask.  Online, they’ll leave.

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10 Virtually Instant Ways to Improve E-Newsletters

High Speed - Lights

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Your e-newsletter is your link to your prospects and your clients.  So, it’s important to make it useful, relevant, and helpful.

Here are 10 quick ways to improve your e-mail newsletter marketing and get better results.

1. Limit the number of steps to sign up

The more questions you ask, the lower the opt-in rate will be.  Make it as simple and easy as possible.  Name and email are best (or even just email).  Don’t ask anything else unless you have to (for example if you’re sending fashion tips, you’ll need to know gender.

2. Review your sign up process

Spell out what they’ll get when they sign up (a book, a video, an e-course), how often they’ll get it (monthly, weekly, daily), and the kind of information they’ll receive (graphic design tips, reviews of the latest camping gear,

3. Check your confirmation page

Does it spell out exactly what will happen next?  Are the instructions clear?  If yours is confusing, change it.  Sometimes, people see “subscribe” and think they need to pay, others see it as a reminder that they’ll be getting regular information and emails.  Experiment with the wording and see what performs best for your readers.  Make sure you ask them to whitelist you too (add your email to their address books), so the message doesn’t fall into the spam folder by mistake.

4. Include links back to your blog

This gets more clicks and traffic back to your site.  Add links to posts that expand or complement the topic of that particular issue. Or, highlight the best posts of the past month/week (depending on your frequency).  Include posts by other people too (as long as it’s useful and relevant to your audience – no sneaking in tips about hiking gear to a newsletter about decorating with stained glass.

5. Tweak the design

If you’re using HTML (graphics) for your newsletter, take a look at the design. Is it easy to follow?  Or, are you trying to cover 5 or 6 different topics at once? Add more white space, to make it easier to read.

6. Cut down the content

Sometimes too much information can be overwhelming.  Try three articles instead of six.  If there’s one primary article or topic, make it bigger than the other two (but not too big, or it will drown them out).  Edit ruthlessly.

7. Add more calls to action

If you want people to do something (like watch your how-to videos), ask more than once. Make it clear that’s what you want (“watch the how-to video”).  If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

8. Test your subject lines

Which gets more opens and clicks?  Subject lines with questions (Is HTML better than text?);  subject lines with numbers (4 Things Your Website Must Have)? Or a subject line that promises something (Turn Your Trash into Cash)? Remember, what works for me, or for your friend, or for a famous blogger may (or may not) work for you.  Each audience is different.

9. Be consistent

Send it around the same time, on the same day each week/month/day.  You can schedule this easily in AWeber.

10.  Ask for feedback and encourage replies

You can put up a survey in Google docs (or use survey monkey) if you like.  Or, just make it clear that your virtual door is open.  I include a note saying that if you have a question or comment you can just hit reply.  It goes straight to my personal inbox.

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The Connection Between Copywriting and Home Improvements

one year and four months later

Image by eye of einstein via Flickr

Ever hear of “so long and might as” syndrome?

No?  In my family, it’s what happens when small projects slowly (and sneakily) turn into big ones.

It all started when a family friend started remodeling his house.  One thing led to another, and the project kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Here’s what happens

For instance, the living room looks kinda grungy.  So you repaint it.  Then, of course, the dining room starts to look dingy in comparison. So you think, “well so long as I’m painting the living room, I might as well paint the dining room too.” Then you notice that the wooden floor in the hallway looks all scratched up.  So you refinish it.  And on and on and on.

This happens with ad writing too.  So long as you’re placing an ad asking people to download your ebook, you might as well ask them to sign up for your newsletter too. Oh, and maybe follow you on twitter.


Keep that up with home renovations and pretty soon you’ll be buried in paint, lumber, new plumbing, new fixtures, and large appliance boxes.  You’ll swiftly turn a $200 project into a $2000 project.

Let that scope creep affect your ads and you’ll confuse people.  They won’t know what to do first. The danger is that they may be overwhelmed and end up doing nothing at all.

Keep it simple

The best thing to do is to keep it simple.  Ask for one thing, such as downloading that ebook.  Or calling for a free quote.  It’s OK to offer several ways to contact you (email, web, phone). Some people prefer to talk to someone, while others would rather just send an email and be finished with it. Options that make your customers lives easier are fine.

Just don’t end up like the poor guy in the photo (still working one year and four months later).

Oh, and the family friend? He ended up starting a renovation business called “So Long and Midas”

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