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Derek Johanson

Derek Johanson


April 2, 2017

The Best Books For Copywriters In 2018

April 2, 2017 | By | 2 Comments

Here are the best 7 copywriting books for serious business owners and freelancers in 2018. These books should provide you with the most solid foundation possible moving forward.

These will change how you view copywriting, marketing, persuasion and maybe even the world.

The Top 7

I’ve listed these in the general order I think they should be read. The only book I’d really avoid reading too early is “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz – and it just so happens to be the most expensive and “course-like” of the bunch.

1. “Influence” by Robert Cialdini

This is not a book on copywriting specifically but on persuasion. Through stories and personal anecdotes, Cialdini explains the psychology of why people say “yes”.

You’ll learn 6 principles of influence that you’ll use in your marketing efforts for a lifetime (Reciprocity, Commitment & Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking, and Scarcity).

2. “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook” by Joseph Sugarman

This is a great entry-level book on copywriting from the Blublockers founder and famous copywriter Joseph Sugarman.

There are a couple important take-aways from this book.

First, is Sugarman’s list of “Psychological Triggers” in chapter 19.

Second, is the concept Sugarman calls the “Slippery Slide”: The purpose of the headline is to get people to read the subheadline. And the purpose of the subheadline is to get them to read the first sentence of the first paragraph… and so on until the ad is complete.

3. “My Life in Advertising & Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins

This is two books in one from Claude Hopkins and two things will blow your mind: Hopkins invented test marketing and coupon sampling. And, these books were originally published in 1923 (Scientific Advertising) and 1927 (My Life in Advertising).

But DO NOT let this stop you. The content, especially Scientific Advertising, is remarkably relevant.

There’s a story that Claude Hopkins tells in “My Life In Advertising” that I love.

Hopkins talks about a railroad foreman who looked at his work in a different way than the men he supervised.

Here’s what the foreman said:

“Look at those boys play ball. That’s what I call hard work… ”

“Note what I have done while they loafed there this evening — built most of the porch on my home. Soon I will be sitting there in comfort, making love to a pretty wife.””

“They will always be sitting on those soap boxes around the grocery store. Which is work and which is play.”

“If a thing is useful they call it work, if useless they call it play. One is as hard as the other. One can be just much as a game as the other…

All the difference I see lies in attitude of mind.”

4. “Tested Advertising Methods (4th Edition)” by John Caples

Make sure you buy the 4th edition of this book. It’ll be more expensive but worth it.

David Ogilvy said this about the 4th edition, “This is, without doubt, the most useful book about advertising that I have ever read.”

5. “Ogilvy On Advertising” by David Ogilvy

Sir David Ogilvy is often described as “The Father of Advertising”. He built a Billion Dollar ad agency in the 70’s!

I like to think of him as the father of modern content marketing too.

Why? Here’s a lead generation space ad for his firm Ogilvy & Mather: “How To Create Advertising That Sells.”

Ogilvy is also famous for saying, “‘The customer is not a moron, she’s your wife'”.

6. “Great Leads” by by Michael Masterson & John Forde

This book will answer the most pressing question in copywriting: “How the f*ck do I start my sales message?”

After you’ve built a solid understanding of copywriting principles, Great Leads will open everything up for you.

7. “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene M. Schwartz

This book coupled with Great Leads has probably produced more clarity (and cash) than any other resource I’ve purchased.

Just wait and see what happens to your brain when Schwartz drops the concept of Market Sophistication and Awareness Levels on you.

If you want to buy this book on Amazon, it’ll probably cost you over $400. You can get it through Brian Kurtz for cheaper. Here’s how:

“Many people told me they have seen used copies for sale on line for hundreds of dollars…and those who wrote to me found out that I have copies available at $95 plus shipping.

So if you are interested in purchasing a copy directly from me, just send me an e-mail with “Breakthrough Advertising” in the subject line and I will send you the details on ordering.

And because of the response to last week’s blog, I am planning a re-printing of the book for which I will write an updated Foreword; and doing a “Breakthrough Advertising Course” is also moving up my priority list thanks to all of you!”

Email is


Which one of these copywriting books do you like the most?

Derek Johanson


February 1, 2017

The (Not So Obvious) Reason To Watch Super Bowl Ads

February 1, 2017 | By | No Comments

As someone who is interested in marketing, sales, and copywriting it’d be pretty obvious of me to say, “Watch the Super Bowl for the ads”.

It’d be even more obvious of me to say, “Don’t watch the Super Bowl ads for good direct response marketing strategy.”

Almost all Super Bowl ads are brand-driven advertisements and they’re almost all completely forgotten after their 15-30 second window is done.

The not so obvious reason to watch the ads today is this: The Super Bowl is one of the largest viewed television events in the world. These ads will be great for understanding the “mass mindset”.

The advertisers today will likely have a good understanding of what’s appealing to the masses right now… what kind of things is our society valuing? What kind of language is appropriate? What’s funny to people right now? On a whole, what are people’s ambitions? What are people struggling with?

Even as a niche marketer, it’s important to understand what’s on the mind of the masses. What is the average person thinking when they land on your site or see your ads?

The average person out there thinks much differently than you. They don’t know about the paleo diet. They don’t know about coconut oil, or putting grass-fed butter in their coffee.

Watch the Super Bowl, but not for the ads… for a deeper understanding of our social landscape.

If you’re interested in learning how to write better ads & sales copy for your business, start with our short free quiz here.

Derek Johanson


November 11, 2016

How These Online Ads Predicted Trump’s Victory

November 11, 2016 | By | No Comments

Last week I was driving through my little beach town in Southern California.

This area is wealthy and historically very conservative in comparison to the rest of California.

So I found it interesting passing big house after big house that I wasn’t seeing a single political sign in support of Trump.

I thought, “Rich, Republican-leaning neighborhood. No open support for Trump. This is going to be a landslide.”

Obviously, I was wrong and in hindsight I feel silly.

Anyone with a job that involves online advertising and marketing, like mine, should have been able to predict a close race.

Here’s why:

Typically, advertisers and marketers go where their customers go. They follow the desires of the market, not the other way around.

In my Friday Copy Over Coffee newsletter I identify advertising strategies that smaller, lesser-known companies and brands can use in their digital advertising. (My audience is comprised of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelance copywriters.)

Naturally, I find the ideas that help my audience most come from other lesser-known brands. It makes sense to model companies that have the same brand awareness level as you.

And what I’m noticing in retrospect is just how much money these lesser-known companies have been spending on advertising.

A lot of the top advertisers (dollars spent) on Google and the content networks like Yahoo Gemini Native, Outbrain, Taboola, and Revcontent are small brands and companies you’ve never heard of.

Yet, they’re consistently spending as much, and in some cases more, than big brands on ads.

Further, because these smaller companies aren’t “brands you’ve heard of” they’re tasked with creating ads that quickly provide a ROI. In other words, they’re not looking to build brand awareness.

These small companies can’t afford to use typical brand advertising strategies.

They need to identify the message what will immediately attract attention and then use sales tactics that will turn that attention into a sale RIGHT NOW.

One of my first mistakes was simply not paying attention to the volume.

I was only looking at their messaging and saying, “Okay, they’re appealing to their ideal market. This is what their small niche market wants to believe.”

But it turns out that this market isn’t niche at all! The volume was right in front of my face and I didn’t see it. They’re spending just as much and getting just as many clicks as other advertisers.

The Message

Which brings me to their message – a message that obviously appeals to a large percentage of the American population.

A message that just so happens to align with Trump’s.

The message: Big government, “the establishment”, is corrupt and broken. They’re keeping you poor. They’re wrecking your health. And so on.

Before the election started heating up this message focused on Obama or just simply the government.

Ads like these below:




As election day grew nearer, blame shifted from Obama to Hilary – the obvious choice. She represented “the establishment” in this election.

Adbeat estimates that spent $216.2K on ads like these below in the last 105 days alone:



Ads with Trump in them looked a little different:


Again, advertisers with ads & messages like these consistently have been among the biggest spenders across multiple online networks.

The volume is there staring us in the face.

This anti-establishment message no longer resonates with a radical minority… it’s damn near popular opinion.

On top of that, there’s another (somewhat) new market filled with demographically similar consumers — The Prepper or Survival market.

A large group of Americans believe that America as they know it is coming to an end (according to this article they might be right).

It’s clear that a large segment of our population is concerned about disease, terrorism, or some world-changing disaster. In 2011 one of the largest direct response campaigns of all time carried the headline: End of America.

The prepper market advertisers can be found spending big bucks across all the various ad networks as well:



While not all Prepper products are sold through political messaging, their correlation with anti-establishment and Trump’s platform is pretty easy to see.

Gun rights, distrust of government, etc.

When it comes to demographics, the typical consumer of these anti-establishment and Prepper products is a 50+ white male, middle-class, and often from the center of the country.

Older white middle-class dudes get out and vote. So percentage-wise, when it comes to voting, they grow even larger in comparison to the whole of this country.

Again, what I think most people including myself missed was just how large and “mainstream” this demographic has become.

Donald Trump saw it and tapped into it.

And the direct response marketers knew it before most of us could see it.

What To Do Next

Derek Johanson


September 1, 2015

How Dan Meredith Went From Zero to 6-Figures (As A Marketing Consultant & Copywriter) In Just 6 Months

September 1, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

Dan Meredith (left) & John McIntrye (right) at Agora.

Listen to the interview to hear about Dan’s crazy journey… how he condensed his learning process… how he finds clients & generates leads… how he niched down… how he prices his services… how he became a MASTER networker… and a lot more!

Visit Dan’s website:

Dan’s Facebook:

Connect with Dan or email him to schedule a short 15-20 minute talk. He talks with anyone about anything during these chats! No sale of anything will be attempted.


(links will open in new tab w/o disrupting the audio)

Derek Johanson


November 25, 2014

Ever Wondered What It Takes To Make 6-Figures As A Copywriter? Meet Ian Stanley.

November 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

This is a long interview I did with a very cool copywriter – Ian Stanley. Ian just hit the 6-figure mark in ~18 months time.

You’ll get some really great insights into copywriting, the writing process, and what it’s like working as a copywriter for 7 & 8-Figure direct response companies.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How Ian became the head copywriter for Crisis Education
  • Ian’s morning routine for being a productive copywriter
  • Ian’s full process for sitting down & writing copy
  • What it’s like for a copywriter working with a big direct response company
  • The books Ian reads
  • How Ian built his copywriting skills
  • How Ian got his first few jobs as an email copywriter, what he charged, and how he moved on to bigger & better projects
  • The secret to writing for mass market audiences vs. niche audiences… the differences are profound in Ian’s opinion
  • How Ian writes his bullets & dissects a product
  • Ian’s take on big ideas and hooks
  • Ian’s work with “tripwires” and how big direct response companies are structuring their offers
  • How to make sure your sales letter Close is solid
  • Ian’s process for email copy (he writes emails to 1.2 million people)
  • The 2 big types of emails


How To Listen:

(This interview has many curse words. If it were published on iTunes it would certainly have an “explicit” tag next to it. If you’re uncomfortable with the “F” word or “S” word then please don’t listen.)

Right click and “Save As” to download

Signup for Ian’s emails:


(These links will open in new tab w/o disrupting the audio.)

Some of the above mentions are affiliate links which means I might make a small commission – most likely in the neighborhood of $1. You could think of buying something through a link on this site as just giving me a small “tip” for a job well done. The other option is to think negatively of me for trying to “make a buck”. The choice, as always, is yours!

Derek Johanson


October 6, 2014

How Tyler Vawser Quit His Job & Went Full-Time As A Marketing Consultant

October 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

Tyler Vawser

In this interview you’ll learn…

  • How Tyler first started his side business
  • How to build skills while getting paid at the same time
  • How Tyler quickly became the “Aweber guy”
  • Tyler’s time management advice for juggling a 9-5 & side business
  • Tyler’s recommendations for billing clients in the beginning
  • How to overcome fear when putting yourself out in the world
  • How Tyler confidently went full-time as a marketing consultant
  • Tyler’s interesting method for getting referrals

Follow Tyler on Twitter: @TVaw

Time Sensitive Info:

Tyler is currently working with Noah Kagan who has launched Email 1k – a free 30-day course on growing email lists. This closes on October 12th so sign up now.


(links will open in new tab w/o disrupting the audio)

Derek Johanson


September 10, 2014

How Dan Ferrari Became A 6-Figure Freelance Copywriter & Landed Some Of The Biggest Clients In The Direct Response Industry

September 10, 2014 | By | 2 Comments


Daniel Ferrari is another CopyHour & Cartel member who hit the 6-figure mark within about a year. Listen to his story below.

Visit Daniel Ferrari’s website:

Derek Johanson


August 28, 2014

How Kai Davis Became A 6-Figure Consultant

August 28, 2014 | By | No Comments


Listen to the interview to hear about Kai’s journey:

Visit Kai’s website:

Tweet weird stuff at Kai: @kaisdavis

Derek Johanson


July 29, 2013

Adventures In Cold Email Lead Generation With Rob Hanly

July 29, 2013 | By | One Comment

Here’s an interview I did with Rob Hanly.

What’s awesome in this interview besides everything?

  • his lead generation tactics via cold emails
  • how he handles his own version of the marketing audit
  • how he’d build a website if he started over as a new marketing consultant
  • how Rob structures his deals

Want a step-by-step 30-day training course on getting your first 4-figure client? INCLUDING: a proven cold email lead generation strategy & template?

After I published this interview, Rob got hit with a ton of questions from Cartel members. They all LOVED his cold email lead generation strategy & his marketing audit tactics.

Rob felt like he could go deeper and teach more about what he does… so like any good enterprising entrepreneur… he’s going into product creation mode!

Rob is currently creating a 30 day, step-by-step autoresponder training course on how to start with nothing & get your first four figure client. The emails will be sequential, each building on the last, and each containing an assignment that you’ll need to complete before moving to the next day. This will add an extra bit of accountability and structure that the training materials within the Cartel doesn’t have.

You can think of Rob’s training as an accountability add-on to the Cartel.

The 30 days of emails will cover:

  • Finding your niche to consult to
  • Finding a personal positioning for that niche
  • Finding potential target customers in said niche
  • Creating information that benefits/educates those potential target customers
  • Contacting potential target customers (Rob’s cold email strategy with example swipes)
  • Following up
  • Closing
  • Invoicing
  • Getting Scrilla ($)

The training will have short, simple missions that push you closer to your goal.

Does this sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, jump on the early-bird list below. When the materials are ready, 1) you’ll be the first to know & 2) you’ll get a big discount.

Derek Johanson


July 18, 2013

Interview With Jonathan Taylor

July 18, 2013 | By | No Comments

Interview Ed did with marketing consultant Jonathan Taylor.

What’s awesome in this interview?

  • how he picked his consulting niche
  • how he generates his leads
  • how he uses Meetup groups to build authority and generate leads
  • and how he outsources all his work

Quick bio from his podcast site:

Jonathan Taylor is the founder and president of Buzz Mountain Media and Marketing and the author of the book The Official Small Business Guide to Marketing 2.0. He’s done online marketing consulting work for years helping numerous small, medium and large businesses establish and implement strategic marketing plans.

Visit Jonathan’s website: