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Learning From Others

Dec 7, 2020

Today's guest is a copywriting genius, having supported nearly a quarter billion in sales for his clients through the art of words.

He's here to teach you not only the importance of compelling copywriting, but why it's equally important to disqualify audiences with words.

Known as The Coffee Shop Copywriter, please welcome Mike Samuels.

  • 0:24 - Mike's Background
  • 1:58 - 170 Million and Counting
  • 3:41 - Area of Focus
  • 4:59 - Research Process
  • 8:51 - Importance

Contact Info

Mike Samuels. Thanks for jumping on learning from others. How you doing? I'm good, man. How are you? Good. Uh, you know, surprisingly, you're the first copywriter that we've chatted with on the show. So I'm looking forward to getting your little bits of wisdom. Well, I guess I just, I guess I just spoiled. What question number one is for the listeners.

Mike question number one is what are you doing? What are we going to learn from you today? Hello, surprise, surprise. Uh, I am a copywriter. I guess, being, being the first one on the pressure is a, the pressure's definitely been turned up on me to deliver, I suppose. So in terms of what people learn, um, I guess we're going to go into all things, uh, persuasion, positioning, that kind of stuff with the written word.

Love it, you know, I I'll give my opinion, um, as we get into this more, but copywriting is something that I've always known as important, but I'm having a more literal appreciation for it lately. Uh, but not before. Question number two is what do you suck at? So, this is pretty good, probably people, but I think I actually suck at sales and I mean, spoken sales with that.

I am, I'm probably the worst person I know for over the phone, talking myself out of the sales. So it's kind of a good job. I'm not too bad with words really, but yeah, I am not a natural sales person whatsoever. Do you think that some of that was birthed out of creating an alter ego because you suck so bad at it that you became good on the other side of it.

Oh, without a doubt. Yeah. I think, um, it's certainly been the case that writing copy for others. It helps a lot because I was using their voice to sell. And I think that gave me a lot of confidence then in terms of saying this stuff works for other people, there's no reason why it can't work for me too.

So let's give the audience a little bit of credibility, so they understand, you know, that you are legitimately a copywriting professional. So tell me more about them. Know about 170 million and counting. Yeah. So I got into copy. Part time, I suppose, to begin with and what would have been 2015 ish of 2014 start of 2015.

Um, so I've been writing for my own businesses before that I've always been self employed, never had a proper job, so to speak. And I kind of was writing copy without knowing I was writing copy, if that makes sense. So I had a fitness business and I had an email newsletter. Okay. It's a blog. So all of my sales were done through my website, through my blog, through the newsletter.

So, and then I hide it at the end of 2014 to help with my fitness business. And he said, Hey, you're pretty good at writing. Um, how about, you know, he was running a corporate writing agency at the time, I should say. And he said, do you fancy doing some work for me in exchange for what I was paying him for mentoring.

So he mentored me for free for a few months over at phase copy agency. And so I got into it that way and yet to date. So what's that sort of. Fall APS. It's around about $170 million generated for clients. A lot of that in the health and fitness space, but I've done things in the biz op niche, uh, relationship coaching, some bits that are a bit more obscure, um, things like the CBD niches, stuff like that.

But yeah, it's around about 170 million generated clients so far. And what area the fuck, like what form do you focus on? Do you focus mostly on sales pages or do you get into, um, you know, full website, copywriting or even stuff that's not digital? What, what, where's your area of focus? I liked emails because I think emails are fun to write.

They're probably a bit easier. They're a bit lower stress than full sales pages. I mean, as most copywriters know the real money is and writing sales letters. So I'm certainly not averse to writing sales letters. Um, but for me, I kind of like a mix. I'm one of these people who variety is pretty important to me.

I don't want every day to be the same and for work to get monotonous. So most of the time. Uh, I focus mainly on email copy. Um, but yeah, I do. I do sales letters as well, and occasionally dabble in other stuff, not a huge amount in terms of websites, but all right. The things like advertorials, I will do some Facebook ads, some landing pages, small bits like that, but yeah, for me, email is, is where the fun is.

W what's the most unique sales pitch. Do you have just a bizarre campaign that you've worked on? Mmm. I don't be on board with this one. We can come back. You think about it? Yeah. I'll have to think about that as you go through it. Let's come back to it. Yeah. Now, do you have, um, in your answer, your question number one, and you talked about how there's an element of persuasion to this.

So how do you align yourself or what's the research process? I assume there's some sort of research process to align yourself with the target audience. Yeah, absolutely. I think it's probably easier if I talk about this as if you are writing for a client. And I think that still applies because I'll often tell the people that I work with.

The actually, if you're writing copy for yourself, it helps a lot. If you almost make yourself your own client, don't think about writing for you. Think about writing for you as if. You were the target client. So for me, there's a few stages to this. Um, the research phase is vital. Like you hear a lot of corporates who say this, but really like an hour of as good research can save you four or five hours writing time.

And that's the one big thing I think a lot of people will miss out on is the fact that the research is the boring stuff. And so they skip over it and then they inevitably run into roadblocks later down the line. So for me, if I'm working with a client. There's there's several things I want to know. We have a pretty in depth questionnaire we go into is that really the key are, what are your values?

Like values are a big one. They're often neglected, but that's really something that's, it's pretty core to people being able to feel like they can connect with you. And they feel like there's that bond there. Cause if that's not there. It doesn't matter how great your product is or how great your offer is.

You're going to have a hard time selling it. So values I'm big on, um, both in terms of what you believe and maybe what you actively don't believe, the kind of stuff that, that you don't like. I think that's, it's just important to be able to disqualify people as it is to qualify. We also go deep on what's being sold.

So whether it's a product, whether it's an in-person service, an online service coaching, anything like that. Cause the big thing that a lot of people don't think about it's the most audiences have seen most offers before. So the minute you put something in a piece of sales copy that the audience thinks, yep, cool.

I've had that before I tried that it didn't work or my friend tried that it didn't work or so, and so online is doing that in their latest $47 course. They're just going to switch off. So you'd need to be able to find. Some sort of, uh, some people call it a unique selling point. Uh, most of the time in copy, recall at unique mechanism, there needs to be something in there that the audience hasn't heard before.

So often already annoy clients because I will keep asking them questions and in their mind, their product is unique and, and it definitely is, you know, there's some good stuff to it, but we have to get to the crux of the matter and work out. Right. What is the one thing. That makes this different from something else.

And it might be their backstory. It might be the fact they've got a boatload of testimonials. It might be something in like how the product or service works or how they solve the problem. But I spend the majority of my research time on that. And then I suppose the other element is looking at the competition.

So a big thing is look at what the competition aren't saying and see if you can say that in your marketing. So if they're not talking about certain problem or if they're not busting a myth, if they're not, um, presenting the solution in a certain way, It comes back to what I said in the last point that anytime you can say something a bit different, you've got someone's attention.

You want to keep them engaged all the way through whether it's a long form sales letter, whether it's that email, but it's all about with the research phase, finding something that's different. And also it's about making sure that they relate to you as well. So it's that idea that you want to try and say something where they think.

How on earth, did they know that? Are they inside my head? Cause if you do that, you've done a whole lot of the trust building process. Yeah. One thing that I wanted to bring up you briefly touched on is the importance of disqualifying people. And I think that that's a big part that a lot of people overlook.

Can you talk about the importance of actually putting in to your copy? Things that will turn people away? Yeah, absolutely. And I think a lot of people tend to do this in reverse cliche, white dove throw in that line. This is not for everybody. And they don't really mean it. And I generally think audiences are smart enough to see through that.

So. It's always a case that you need to get that level of disqualification, right? I mean, if you're selling a $19 ebook, you don't need to disqualify that much necessarily because you're not going to be working with people individually. You're probably going to be looking at a high volume of sales anyway.

Where it becomes more important is the more hands on you are. I mean, one of my big things as a, as a business owner is I only really want to work with people who I enjoy working with. So if you saying adding a, some sort of high touch program or product where there's a lot of support involved or it's in personal line, doesn't matter.

But if you're working with someone, then you need to be able to disqualify them. There's a few reasons for that. One of them bang, obviously just the enjoyment factor. You don't want to have people that you're working with and you're waking up every morning thinking, am I going to have an email from that person's day stressing out about having to go on the, go with them, that kind of thing.

Like we've all been there, but it's often gets neglected because people think, Oh, I want to get as many sales as possible. And actually you don't want lots of sales. You want the right sales. And then I would say that. It's I suppose another reason is the, from a purely kind of numbers to profit standpoint, you don't want to get a lot of refunds.

You don't want the wrong people buying. So for example, we all know that anything worth having is going to take some work and you want your sales copy. To show that that doing it your way is going to simplify the process and make it faster and make it easier and make it simpler. But at the same time, you don't want the quick fix people, the ones who are looking for that magic pill to buy, otherwise, they're going to buy it, realize, okay, I've actually got to make an effort here and I'm going to ask for a refund.

I'm going to give you a bad review. So for me, I would much rather that. Um, anyone who is not the perfect type of client just doesn't buy rather than buys. Um, and either refunds or even just doesn't use it. Like for me, one of the big things that makes my work worthwhile is if I'm selling a product or a course when someone buys it, if they actually use it and gets results, you know, I think that's, uh, that's something that.

Has a massive impact on how much you enjoy your business. So again, I want people who are going to use the product or service and actually be able to give good testimonials and good feedback. Yeah. Is there kind of a standard template? I know that every client is different. And as you said, you want identify the clear value propositions, but is there for our listeners, like a general tip where, you know, you want to try and start with X and then touch on why and then end with Z, like just real high level outlines that are good to follow.

There's definitely a couple, I would say for shorter form coffee. So something like a social media post, something like an email, that kind of thing. One of the GoTo formulas is called problem agitate soul. And with that, you effectively start with a problem you call out, you know, do you struggle with this?

Or a lot of the time people come to me telling that they struggle with this problem. Uh, I speak to people all the time. You tell me that their big worry is. So, and so, and you kind of build that out a bit more. You talk about what the problem is, then you do the agitation and the agitation is where you describe how that affects their everyday lives.

So yeah, say, um, Oh geez. An easy one. For example, let's say it's like a fat loss product. You know, the problem is going to be people coming to you saying it doesn't matter what diet I try. I simply can't lose weight. You know, I have so many cravings. I, I maybe lose a couple of pounds and then it just stops and I just can't work out

What's going on. The agitation would be something like. You're going to get a bit deep on the feelings and emotions. So you're going to talk about how that makes them feel like a failure, how maybe in the eyes of other people, they worry that other people are going to be judging them or laughing at them, something like that.

And then the solution is when you bring in what, what your product or services. So you give them some value. You don't just say, by the way, I feel that, that stuff where I've just really. Beaten you down and makes you feel it made you feel awful. If you're struggling with that, here's my product. Now you can buy it.

My aim is always to give some value and actually have someone read a piece of sales copy and actually feel good. A lot of copywriters really sort of twist the knife. And an often, if people don't buy. The prospects end up feeling worse personally. That's not something I want. So in that final portion, I would actually give them some value.

I'll say, look, if, if you've been struggling with this and you've been feeling like that, Here's a solution to it and I'll lay out some stuff they can do. And effectively that stuff they can do is like a minute version of what the product would be. So I might give them say 80% of the solution. So with that fat loss thing, if I was marking something like, um, I don't know, it was like a P90X style program, you know?

Muscle confusion, home workouts, kind of thing. I might give them a couple of things they can do and say, look, the first step to doing this is to, um, you know, make sure your workouts are no longer than 30 minutes and high intensity. And here's why that works. And the second thing you might want to do is, um, base your diet around these foods because they are going to give you the best results.

Um, and then the next step is if you want the, you know, if you want the full package, And you want everything in a way that symbol is he's a, you know, walks you through the process, hold your hands. You do it. Offers you loads of support, then here's the product. So if people are struggling, that's a very easy way you can do that.

You can do that with a few hundred words and making sure likewise, you can build that out into a 5,000 word sales letter with added testimonials and guarantees and price stacking and all that kind of stuff. I was actually going to ask you about the yeah. Thing and how you said that, you know, some other copywriters kind of twist the knife.

And so this sounds like it's not applicable to you, but maybe you've had clients that you've worked with that want to go down that path. Or do you ever have circumstances where the client or you or anybody kind of feel guilty about because you know, part of the art is persuasion. I guess I'm lucky that I can pick and choose now.

And so if I get clients all very much into the hard hitting staff and it often is very sort of painful copy that will make people feel bad if they don't buy I'm in the fortunate position. That for me, just cause that doesn't align with my personal values, I can afford not to work with them. Um, I mean, I think it's a judgment call on the part of you as a copywriter, but certainly if, if you're writing copy for yourself, I would say it's the, I always put to this phrase, but what is it about people?

People don't remember what you say. They remember how you made them feel. I would always rather sacrifice one short term sale in, um, in order to kind of keep a customer for life. So I'd rather someone, if they're on my email list and they get an email for a promotion. That they think, okay. That really resonates with me, but it's not quite the right time yet.

And actually then in future, they're going to buy a lot more than I send out promotion where they read it and they think this makes me feel awful. And again, I'm not saying that's the right or the wrong thing to do. But it depends who you're working for. If you're working for clients, sometimes you will have clients where they're getting loads of new people onto their list all the time.

They're, they're generating loads and loads of traffic. And for them, it doesn't really matter if they have a high burn rate of their list, they were all about getting quick sales then, um, for me, like for my personal products and causes and stuff, um, I actually quite like having a smaller list than having a bit more of a personal relationship with them.

So I would, um, Certainly not avoid talking about pain points. I mean, that's a key part of coffee, but always feel like whether they buy or not, they've got a bit of hope. So I'll always add some value in there. Um, you know, whether that's through a bit of myth-busting, whether it's through highlighting something, they might be doing wrong and an approach they take at the moment that doesn't work.

I feel like. If I can identify that for them, at least they've got something to go and if they go and try it and if it works brilliant, if it doesn't, then I know the next time I launch something, they're there. They're more than likely going to come back and buy it. I imagine that you have, uh, run into something that I often see in my own space of web design and marketing is the people that say, well, I can do that.

So in your case, I can do copywriting. That's not that hard. Do you run into, uh, do you often run into that either with clients or leads, um, or novice copywriters or they come to you and say, well, why would I pay you that much? It's not that hard. It's just writing. I used to get that quite a lot. Certainly starting out when you are, when you're approaching potential clients, rather than people coming to you.

Um, and it's one of those things. I think it's, it's almost a natural emotion I used to feel. Um, Maybe victimized is the wrong word, but I used to, I used to get very defensive when people said something like that, because I would think, Oh, well, I've spent all this money on courses and learning, and I've practiced daily for two years and you're saying it like, it's nothing, but I also think it's kind of a natural human reaction.

You know, we do, we kind of see the end result of what someone does and you might look and think, well, why am I paying you? $300 for a 200 word email. You, you could have done that in, in 10 minutes. Not you lots of time when you're, when you're skilled, when you've had lots of practice. Yeah. It probably does take you 10 minutes to write an email that you charge several hundred dollars for.

Um, so one thing I say to people is that just don't take it personally, if you will look going for clients and they're saying things like that, the other thing you can do, um, Do you kind of turn it around on them, if you need to. I mean, most business owners, what people are paying for, they're not paying for the thing necessarily.

They're paying for all the expertise and stuff that has gone into that beforehand, or the learning, everything that we all go through as business owners to develop ourselves. Um, and another easy work around is actually, if you're a copywriter going out there looking for clients, go to the companies who, you know, already value copywriting.

The companies who are already running Facebook ads. So one of the things I'll say to people is actually a really simple way to decipher whether you think a client will be willing to pay for your services or not, uh, have a look in Facebook ads, library, see what companies are running ads, because if they're spending money on traffic, There's a much better chance that actually they're going to be willing to pay for coffee and have a look around their site as well.

See if they already have proper direct response style sales pages up. See if they have an email, let's get on it and look at what kind of emails they're sending through. If there's any three modes that have a bit of story that seems to have some personality that use that PAs style structure that I talked about.

Cool. You can approach them because chances are, if they've got that approach, they're copywriting. It's not a case. I think, well, we're sorted for that. We don't need anything else. Loads of companies will happily pay for another copywriter to come in and they'll give them stuff to test. You know, they, they want different ideas and different hooks to go up against their existing ones and see if they can make them more money.

So that's just quite a nice, easy tip of looking at your prospective clients and seeing what they're doing. If they're already valuing well using debt response, they're probably not going to give you that price. Objection. How do you gauge the progress? Obviously dollars in the bank account is, is pretty clear, but what do you do?

What's the process of testing emails before you go, you get to the conversion part and find that home run, you know, you have a handful that don't hit the Mark. Is it, um, do you AB test the delivery? Do you AB testing engagement? Like what's the testing process? I'll do a bit of testing, mostly with subject lines and sort of the wording around the call to action.

My biggest thing though, is if a client were to hire me for doing something that I can launch, I would much rather be able to start having an input on their emails. Let's say five or six weeks before that launch is supposed to start. Just said I can see what kind of stuff they're sending and what kind of stuff is resonating.

I quite like sending out surveys as well. I'm not a, not a huge survey guy. Like I don't go into loads and loads of detail with it, but I do think it's a good idea from time to time, especially if you are thinking about something like the launch. Put together a very simple form that you send out to your list and maybe you incentivize them filling it in, in some way, but anything you can ask them that, that gives you some market research and get snow data.

What their biggest struggles are, what they are and looking to achieve the kind of stuff they tried before as well. Going back to what I said earlier about looking into the competition. If the same thing comes up, time and time again, that people have tried and approaches, and they've not worked. You can use a lot of that in your marketing.

See, I look at the numbers and stuff as well, um, and do a bit of testing, but generally it's more looking at what actual feedback comes in through surveys and just through general responses as to what the list is coming back to you with. All right. So. As we get closer to wrapping up, I want to touch on one other thing.

I imagine that there are a lot of copywriting myths. Are there one or two that you just wish would die that just keep floating around? I don't know if it's a myth, but I'm not a fan of outrageous value stacking. And what I mean by that is that you'll often see it on sales pages and it will be something like.

Someone's selling just a, an ebook and they will say you have this bonus that sold for $2,000 and this bonus, the sell for a thousand dollars and you get access to my private Facebook group, which I usually charge $500 a month for, and you get this bonus video, which was $200 and you get all of this on top with the, with the ebook that you're buying and it's $17.

That kind of thing. I think it's, I think everyone, I liked value stacking. I liked having some sort of incentive for people to buy it. I think that's really important, but I also think it can get to the stage where you kind of treat your audience like idiots, um, which again is a personal value. I don't particularly like that.

Um, That's pretty my main bug bear. Um, and it's, are there any myths? Um, I think maybe the myth that you always have to have some sort of, uh, some sort of physical scarcity or urgency, so. Well, I mean with that is yeah, like countdown timers when you've got X, many days left. Um, we've only got this many copies available, this many spaces.

I think if that's legitimate, I really liked that. Um, when I do a launch, my own list is always time-sensitive and there is a cutoff, but I think do that. If it's genuine, again, it comes back to the idea of it's fine to do that. If it's genuine. No. I think actually a very powerful pieces guest is just doing what is called future pacing.

So when someone gets the end of an email or a sales lecture or whatever, Ever is webinar as well. Um, given them the option, you know, saying to them, okay, you've got a choice. You can either be sat here in, in eight weeks time and everything is still the same. You're still struggling with whatever they're struggling with.

You know, a business that you're stuck in the feast and famine mode. Uh, those stubborn pounds, you can't shift just still fighting a relationship, whatever the offer is, uh, or. You can be sat there. And actually the offense happened. You fixed your relationship. You've lost the weight you wanted. You've, uh, you've pushed through your, your revenue seeding a business while working 15 hours, if you're awake, that kind of thing.

So thinking about it from the emotional side of things of you lay out, some people will call it like the, the nightmare and the dream. Other people call it the heaven and hell. The actual sort of what it's called doesn't matter so much, but it's more the case of getting them to think, well, where do I want to be in three months or two months, however long you want to do it, but do I want it to be that person who sat there thinking, man, I really should have invested in that when I had the chance or do you want to be the person who is part of that decision?

Who's proud of the action they've taken and got the result they wanted. So that way it still has the psychological persuasion, but with a more positive light. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Because again, and you're not saying to them, you absolutely can't have this result, but you are certainly getting them to think about it.

And I kind of like giving people some, um, empowerment to make the choice for themselves. And like I said, I think if you couple that with some sort of scarcity, like limited opening a time after countdown timer, it works even better. But if you don't have that kind of thing, and if you've got a program it's open year round, certainly doing the it's often called the crossroads position.

Cause you put them at the crossroads doing that, that can work very, very well. All right. Very last thing. Did you think of what that most bizarre sales engagement, copywriting piece you've worked on is I did. It was, uh, someone who was working on some webinar stuff and I didn't do the whole funnel for him.

It was more some consulting, uh, but he sold and I think I've got this right. Uh, he sold trips to go and experience Peruvian jazz in Peru. Uh, I didn't even know there was a, the inversion of jazz, but he seems to do very, very well with it. Um, and it's all about helping them out. Uh, I think he tries to run $6,000 for a trip and, um, He started off running cold traffic.

And in a few months he booked about 70 odd thousand dollars worth of tracks, which amazed me because the offer just seemed utterly bizarre, but yeah, there was an audience for it and I think he found a genuine gap in the market. So yeah, I was pretty amazed that, but it was a, it was quite cool to be able to help out on.

Yeah. Well, there's the beauty in that, that goes to emphasize the importance of identifying your audience and, you know, focusing on one thing instead of casting your net too wide. A hundred percent definitely. Samuel's. I want to give you the last few moments. I want to say. Thanks for jumping on learning from others.

Um, give you the option to close this out and let our audience know how they can find out more about you. Awesome predates Damon. Um, best way to be honest, I am most active on Facebook, so people would just search me on more than happy to accept friend requests or the other way. Um, Pontiac G my more active place, so to speak is my email list.

Uh, if people want to get on that, the URL for it is forward slash one eight five K lessons. So you get a free download with that. And yeah, I email a couple of times a week, every Tuesday and every Friday, um, people are more than welcome to join the list if they want to. Very cool.

Mike, Samuel, thanks so much. Thanks Damon.