This is a fascinating guest post from CopyHour member Samuel Gentoku McCree of MindFitMove.
“Imitation is the first instinct of the awakening mind.” – Maria Montessori
What if I told you Jeff Bezos and a dead Italian woman convinced me to sign up for CopyHour? You’d probably think I was crazy, right? Except that’s exactly what happened. Let me explain.
I started my company MindFitMove, a mindfulness based fitness and self improvement business, back in September. As I got things going I had the same problem so many small business have. How do I get people to check out my services?
I had lived 2.5 years at a Zen Monastery and have trained as an endurance racer so I knew I could help people get in shape in a sane and balanced way.
Mindfulness had helped me go from a pack a day roadie pothead to a business owner and tri-athlete. But how could I convince other people I could help them?
If I could talk to them, I could convince them. But I knew if I couldn’t find leads, I couldn’t get clients. And then I heard about CopyHour through the blog Hack the System.
The Curse of Cursive
At first, the idea seemed crazy. I mean learning to write copy by handwriting old letters seems a little like detention. Not to mention, I hate writing things out by hand. I had to have handwriting tutor in middle school, because my cursive was so bad.
But just as I was about to dismiss it, I remembered my time working at a Montessori pre-school.
I didn’t teach there long, but the kids blew me away. They were independent, cleaned up after themselves, and learned crazy fast.
In that moment, I realized that the idea behind CopyHour was very similar to the basis for the Montessori method. Once I figured that out, I couldn’t wait to give Derek my money. (Derek’s note: Smart man.)
Who was Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori started the first school back in the early 1900’s. And her approach was based on the idea that children had naturally absorbent minds.
The job of teachers – or “guides” – was to support these young minds using observation and gentle instruction that honored their independence and own desire to learn.
Dr. Montessori first developed her techniques when she was working with mentally handicapped children.
One day she noticed some young patients playing with their food. She realized that despite their condition, these kids exhibited the same curiosity that all children do.
She thought that perhaps she could harness this curiosity. And teach these children to learn in a new way. She developed new methods and using her techniques achieved amazing results. Many of these children were able to pass tests similar to ones given to normal children.
She could have stopped there but instead she realized that if these techniques could help handicapped kids, maybe they could help other kids as well.
Based on this belief she started her first school in 1907 called the Casa. And much of modern Montessori education is based on what she learned during this time.
Coming to America
The results at her schools were so remarkable that news of her work spread worldwide.
Ever since, Montessori schools have educated thousands of children and some of the world’s brightest minds.
Some Famous Montessori Students are:
Larry Page and Sergey Brin – founders of Google
Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon.com
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis – former first lady (John F. Kennedy)
Sean ‘P.Diddy’ Combs – singer
Prince William and Prince Harry
T. Berry Brazelton – pediatrician and author
Julia Child – author, chef, TV cooking shows
Elizabeth Berridge – actress
Kami Cotler – actress
Melissa and Sarah Gilbert – actors
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Nobel Prize winner for Literature
Katherine Graham – ex-owner of the Washington Post
Anne Frank – author, diarist from World War II
Connect the Dots
Now that you know a little bit about Maria Montessori. You’re probably wondering what it has to do with CopyHour.
It relates via a technique that Dr. Montessori used to help children learn to read and write language. Specifically sand paper letters.
Montessori Language Learning
In the fall of 1907, Dr. Montessori began experimenting with cursive letters cut out of sandpaper, moveable letters, and labeled picture cards.
The children would use the sandpaper letters to trace each letter as a way to integrate language into their minds.
This process was so effective kids as young as four and five learned to read and write far beyond others their age.
“The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” – Dr. Montessori
Why it works
Though spoken language and written language are connected, they are also fundamentally different.
Spoken language is learned by human interaction, but reading and writing must be learned intentionally.
Studies have revealed that when we first learn to read we use two distinct parts of the brain. One part takes the letters and turns them into sounds. Then another part takes the sounds and turns them into words.
This is why young children often read slowly sounding out each letter as they go along.
Eventually a third part of the brain takes over that begins to recognize meaning in whole words. When this happens the ability to read accelerates quickly.
Write First and Ask Questions Later
What Dr. Montessori discovered is that writing actually precedes reading. For a child to write they only need to turn sounds into letters.
Which is much less complicated then breaking the letters apart into sounds. And then translating those sounds into words.
By teaching children to write first using kinetic exercises she improved their ability to process complex information and thus accelerated their ability to read and write.
The theory behind CopyHour functions in very much the same way.
When we read great copy, we know it’s great, but we don’t understand why. One reason is that much like children learning to read, we break apart the ideas slowly and clumsily.
But the CopyHour technique forces us to write these ideas out before we read them. As we write them out, we see how the ideas are put together.
By recreating the process of each line, we see each piece without having to understand the whole. As each piece becomes clear, we are able to learn how to use those pieces to construct new brilliant pieces of copy.
Go Your Own Way
Another advantage of this technique, is that person learns at their own pace and ability.
If we all took a class on great copy letters, we might be asked to draw certain conclusions. Some conclusions would make sense but some wouldn’t. Because we all learn differently.
But when we write the letters by hand, we can focus on what interests us the most. We learn to draw our own conclusions and to use the pieces that come easiest first.
In this way CopyHour adapts to whomever is copying the letters. Because the process meets each student, where they are.
“Growth comes from activity, not from intellectual understanding.” – Maria Montessori
This has certainly been my experience of CopyHour. At first, I found the process challenging, but as I’ve gone along more and more has become clear to me.
I started to see how my own mind stuck to certain parts of each letter. I was able to feel what was happening long before I understood it.
The more I wrote, the more of it came into focus. And eventually I was able to generate better and better copy.
Using the techniques I’ve created a new subscribe link for my blog that far out performed previous versions. And I learned to create great headlines that increase my clickthroughs from Twitter and my email list.
Even though I’ve only been doing the program for a few weeks and I write slow as hell, I’m sticking with copy hour to the end.
Dr. Montessori revolutionized they way that children learn and CopyHour is changing the way most people learn to write copy. Both techniques rely on the absorbent power of the mind and provide an amazing opportunity for growth and the realization of hidden talent.
Samuel Gentoku McCree is a Mindfulness Based personal trainer and life coach in Portland, OR. He is a writer, blogger, and thought leader in the Mindfulness Based Fitness and Self Improvement Industry. Toku received intensive mindfulness training as a resident and staff member at Great Vow Zen Monastery where he lived for over 2 years. During that time he studied under Zen Master Jan Chozen Bays MD (Author of ‘Mindful Eating’) and Zen Teacher Hogen Bays and attended many classes and retreats on subjects like non-violent communication, mindful eating, voice dialogue and meditation.
His philosophy is based on the understanding that awareness alone is the most powerful catalyst for change. All diets, exercise plans, and self help systems work because they make you pay attention, but they all fail to some extent because they focus on rules instead of awareness. While rules can help you be more aware, they often mask the power of your own mind. He works with clients locally and over the Internet to achieve their goals of life long transformation using the tools of mindfulness and movement.
When developing your PPC Adcopy, using creativity, focusing on creating compelling copy, and developing high quality CTA’s (call to action) ads, is far more important than the quantity of ads that you pump out. When developing your Adcopy, keep in mind that all the high converting ads have several similar traits in common. When it comes to creating these ads, the tips listed below will help in developing successful ad campaigns, in getting searches to click on your ads thus increasing your ad CTR and eventually begin churning these clicks into high quality leads or sales.
1. Writing At The Adgroup Level
When creating your ads, write your Adcopy at the Adgroup level. So let’s say you have an Adgroup selling high top sneakers, all of your keywords under that Adgroup should be about high top sneakers and your Adcopy should be as well. Maybe another Adgroup is about low top sneakers, same goes for that, keywords about low top sneakers and Adcopy about low top sneakers for that particular Adgroup.
I can’t tell you how many people just write the exact same ads for every Adgroup. That’s a big no, no. Google is all about relevance and high quality content. Keep that in mind for every ad that you write! The more Adgroup/keyword specific the ads are, the more they will reach the most commonly searched and relevant people, the more focused they will be and the higher the likelihood that a conversion will occur.
2. Know Your Buyers
Catering to the buyers’ needs’, is critical when developing Adcopy for any marketing campaign. Buyers are motivated by all kinds of different factors, so as a copy writer, you have to focus on these factors. There are price sensitive buyers; when developing these ads, try to include prices and dollar signs, as they are more likely to click and eventually convert. Some buyers like the reassurance. So, mention 24/7 support, emergency services, or similar key phrases. This will attract the needy buyer out there.
Special offers are good for those who want to find the best deals. When dealing with the buyer who likes to pay less and always find the best deal, make sure to mention sales dates, percentage discount, and similar styles of copy. Limited time offers are also pushers and will encourage these buyers to take the plunge and convert.
You have to know your audience and who the specific buyer is, in order to create the ad copy which is truly going to call to them, and will eventually get them to convert rather than simply clicking on the ad and wasting $x.xx of your money. Make sure you are continually testing your Adcopy and dropping the losing ad once a week. It’s important to optimize weekly.
3. The Buying Cycle
Certain products or services go through different buying stages or cycles; when developing your Adcopy, keep this in mind. Early on a searcher is looking for reviews or general information about the product; return policies or other sales information is what the buyer is looking for towards the end of the typical buying cycle.
In order to streamline your conversions, use the appropriate keywords which correlate to which stage the buyer is in, during the buying cycle. By knowing where the buyer is in the process, and where they are in the buying cycle, you are more likely to get the conversion rates to go up! Aren’t keywords cool!?
4. Keep Everything In Sync
In terms of the Adcopy, Adgroups, keywords and landing pages, you have to make sure that all of these things are in sync. So what do I mean by that? Simple, make sure each Adgroup has relevant keywords inside it, has a keyword relevant ad and that that ad goes to a keyword relevant landing page. Everything must be in sync and lined up correctly.
The keywords which drew them in from the Adcopy, should appear on the landing page, as these words are the reason why they clicked on your ad in the first place. Don’t sell them short, because doing that will result in you losing potential buyers rather than increasing your conversion rates. Conversion rates tend to be higher when your Adcopy and the landing page are similar, and have the same words or phrases which are targeted in the ads. If you don’t have this continuity, consider developing specific landing pages at the Adgroup level. It will pay off in the end, and you will see the higher conversion rates.
5. Don’t Rush Your Campaigns Or Ads
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. I know it can be exciting the thought of tossing some ads up and having a flood of hot, ready to buy people land on your website, but make sure you take your time! Taking the time to create killer copy, rather than putting something together in 5 minutes just to get your ad out there, is truly going to make a world of difference, and is going to result in those higher conversion rates you want!
What always helps me if I’m stuck, go on Yahoo or Bing and see what some competitors are doing. Browse around and look at some of the different calls to action in the ads. Brainstorm ideas, in order to come up with those which are the most targeted to your audience. Write in different tones, and come up with various copies, prior to deciding which one will go live.
There is no way to tell if the searcher is eventually going to convert when they click on your ads; even when you do everything right. Once they reach your landing page (assuming everything is targeted correctly) it’s up to your landing page copy to churn that visit into a lead. The best advice I can give anyone reading this post, is always remember to test and optimize. That is the biggest difference between the winners and the losers who market with Adwords PPC.
BIO: Clicks Geek is an AdWords PPC management service and consulting firm based in New York City. They have over a decade of experience in paid search marketing. They work with B2B, B2C, eCommerce and offer white label PPC management for agencies and consultants.
As the clock dings 12am, the crowd erupts around me.
Scantily clad bodies, in various states of inebriation, cheer and scream. Fast-paced dance music pulses through the crowd. Fireworks explode overhead in a dizzying array of colors.
I’m on Haad Rin Beach in Thailand. It’s NYE and we’re kicking off 2013 with a helluva party.
“Happy new year!”, someone shouts at me as they head to a drinks vendor. They’ll grab a bucket of red bull, Thai whisky and coke. It’s what everyone drinks here.
Over 50,000 people have swarmed the beach for the party. As I move through the crowd, I wonder… what are they celebrating?
It’s an interesting question.
I’m celebrating my newfound freedom.
That’s right, baby…
In 2012, I replaced my day job.
. . .
In 8 months, I replaced my day job. I now earn more than enough to live a comfortable lifestyle in Sydney, one of the most expensive cities in the world.
But since I don’t have a day job, I can live wherever I want… For now, that means Thailand, an amazing country with some of the world’s best parties.
In this article, I’ll tell you exactly how I did it (and why I think you can do the same with the information I give to you).
It All Starts With Copywriting
I had a website. It was mildly successful. After changing the title of one of my products to something result-oriented, sales tripled.
That’s when I realized the exponential power of copywriting.
I decided to become good at selling stuff. Really good.
So I joined CopyHour. Following the advice of copywriting legend Gary Halbert, I began writing down classic sales letters by hand.
The date was 23rd April 2012.
In June 2012, I sent my first invoice for my first sales letter. I made $100.
By November, my sales letter fee had jumped to $1,000 (just 5 months after beginning).
In December 2012, I made more than enough money to live in Sydney, Australia; one of the most expensive cities in the world.
And I only worked for 20 days of the month.
On December 20, I turned my laptop off and spent three days exploring the mountains in Northern Thailand. After my brief mountain retreat, I high-tailed it to Bangkok and spent the rest of December partying with friends.
In 8 months, I went from charging $100 per sales letter to $1,000 per sales letter. Throughout it all, I set my own schedule… I traveled and took time off whenever I wanted to… and I now earn more than enough cash to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
…and I did it all while living in Thailand.
I get paid to write.
The funny thing?
I dropped out of high school AND college. I’ve never had any formal writing training and I never had a job for more than a year.
Tell that to my high school English teachers!
How I Replaced My Job (And How You Can Too)
In a moment, I’ll explain how you can replace your day job, fire your boss and do whatever the hell you want.
The process I’m about to share is simple and straightforward.
But without hard work, it’s bound to fail.
Time to get your hands dirty.
STEP #1: Become Really Good At Something
I chose copywriting.
I signed up to CopyHour in April 2012. CopyHour is a simple program that teaches you how to write great copy. You get a list of books to buy and read. Plus, a classic sales letter from the ol’ days is sent to your inbox. When it arrives, you take a pen and write the sales letter out by hand.
That’s all it takes to be a kick ass copywriter.
Reading a few select advertising and marketing books, plus putting in the time to write out sales letters by hand.
It’s simple, but HARD.
It requires that all important ingredient… hustle.
You’ll need to set aside an hour day, for at least two months, to get really good at it.
But if you do it… well, you’ll be a better sales copywriter than 99% of other people, including many people who call themselves copywriters.
You see, most people would never do something like write sales letters out by hand.
“WTF? Who does that!?!?!?”
Those people are weak.
How do you get an instant advantage over your competitors?
Work harder than they do.
Does it have to be copywriting? No. You could get really good at website design or programming.
But if you have a choice, go with copywriting. Copywriting is written sales. Sales is about bringing in the money. And if you’re good, you can demand ridiculous fees. You can make your clients thousands of dollars.
STEP #2: Strategic Networking
There is a lot of hoo-hah on the topic of networking.
But here’s the thing – there’s only so much time in the day.
You can’t network with each and every person you bump into. You don’t want to be the guy sending emails all the time, to all sorts of random people.
You want to be strategic about it.
To make money as a copywriter, you need clients. To get clients, you need to start a relationship with people who need your services.
You can do this with cold-calling, cold-emails and advertising.
That’s what most people do.
But as Mark Twain says, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”.
For me, a CRUCIAL step in my journey was becoming friends with an influencer. An influencer is someone who is friends with many other people. They are a connector. I became friends and made myself useful to someone.
Eventually, he offered me paid work. I made sure I kicked ass. Next, we did a podcast together. That podcast positioned me as an expert in the eyes of his audience. It shot me out of the gate and got me to where I am now.
You can do cold calls or follow some other marketing strategy.
But the quickest way to move up the ranks is to find people with an audience and find a way to get in front of them… period.
Think like a copywriter.
You have to give them what THEY WANT. What do influencers want? What everyone wants…
Find out what value they want and give it to them. Eventually, you’ll find a way to get in front of their audience.
It’s essential that you don’t try and do this randomly.
Think about your target prospect. Then find someone who has an audience full of those target prospects.
For example, don’t waste time networking with people who teach beginners. Beginners are notoriously cheap and are unlikely to spend money. Find people with money and get in front of them. People who recognize the value of sales and marketing.
If someone doesn’t see the value in copywriting and marketing, they’re not your target prospect. You don’t want to work for those people. Nor do you want to work for cheap people. Don’t try to teach people about the value of marketing, nor convince them to spend more money than they’re used to spending.
It’s a waste of time.
Focus exclusively on people who a) recognize the value of marketing, and b) have money to spend.
Replace Your Day Job With Two Steps
Remember the formula?
Become really good at something.
These two steps are the ticket to replacing your day job.
Pick a skill that is related to profit or income generation…
Marketing and sales is about making clients more money. Web design is about building websites. If you’re the guy that knows how to make other people money, you can command ridiculous fees. Forget web design and become a marketer.
How was your day 1 assignment? Did you power
through the, ironically titled ‘Lazy Man’s’
Does your hand hurt? When was the last time
you hand-wrote that much?
If you haven’t updated your progress log…
Get on it.
Something to keep in mind during these
assignments – you might not “like” these ads
or even the products they promote.
It’s important to keep an open mind and just
learn from them. Think about the audience
it caters to, and why it works so well to
compel them. Think about how you could take
a similar concept and make it fit into your
ultimate plan and the image you’d like to
Look at the words, language & the common
themes that modern advertisers are using.
Assignment #2 will be a pretty quick one.
I compiled a PDF filled with some banner ads
and text ads from around the web.
Many of the products they promote are very
I can’t say for sure that the ads themselves
are best of the best but I know this: I’ve
seen these ads everywhere and for a long time.
It’s safe to assume that they’re accomplishing
the advertiser’s goal.
I have chosen these ads for 2 reasons:
1. It’s great headline practice to copy ads.
In a lot of cases, an ad is simply a headline.
2. We’ll be copying a few sales letters and
sales video scripts for the products these
ads are promoting… starting with 1 for