- How Jacob went from working with the Seattle Seahawks to working in cookie dough sales.
- The method Jacob used to grow cookie dough sales from 25k to 4 million in a matter of a few years.
- How a pivot landed him working with companies like McDonald’s and Disney.
- The moment he realized he needed to be his own boss.
- Creating a pipeline to keep clients rolling in.
- Why building your network is your greatest funnel resource.
- Switching roles from freelancer to strategist. What’s the difference?
- How Jacob reverse-engineered how to make 100k a year without working 80 hours a week.
- Why letting go of clients will benefit your business and help it grow.
- The kind of clients that make for high-income months.
- Is there a mindset trick behind making six figures?
- How to fill your pipeline with ‘ready to go’ clients.
- What 15-minute connections can do for you and your business.
- The steps to building a solid network.
- Why you should build an audience even if you have nothing to sell.
- The key to being loud in your industry.
- How to create offers that people want to buy. What’s the method to the madness?
- Where do offers go wrong and how can they be fixed?
- The upside to being able to create your own offers.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Kira’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Kickass Copywriting by Jacob Carlton
Skip the Line by James Altucher
Kira: When you’re still learning the ins and outs of your business, the last thing you want to worry about is where your next lead is coming from. We’d prefer a lengthy line, kind of like the line outside the Apple store when Apple released the new iPhone 13. That’s the kind of line we want, filled with dream clients just waiting to work with you.
Our guests for the 262nd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast gives us the lowdown on lead generation so we can create a demand for our copywriting services and hopefully never stress over finding clients again. Our guest, Think Tank member Jacob Suckow, is a copywriter and launch strategist who skyrocketed his business within months by creating a full pipeline of leads.
But before we jump in, I’d like to introduce my co-host for today’s episode, TCCIRL speaker, “two-peat” speaker at TCCIRL and then a podcast guest from way back, Episode 13, long time ago, conversion copywriter, funnel optimizer and growth ecosystem designer, Sam Woods. Thanks for being here, Sam.
Sam: Thanks for having me, Kira. It’s good to be speaking with you.
Kira: Yeah, I’m excited to co-host this with you. Before we jump in, though, can you just share a quick update of what you’ve been up to over the last few months in your business?
Sam: Yeah. It’s a mixed bag of things. Over the past year or so, taking a step back and only worked on a handful of more in-depth projects. I think either you’re a copywriter and you do a lot of smaller projects or you do a few big projects or maybe you have a mix. But for me, it’s been only a few handful of deeper projects with various companies. It’s still with copywriting, still optimizing different ways that they’re acquiring customers and been working on some barge campaigns. So it’s been nice. It’s been a nice break from the smaller type projects, nice to set those aside and deep dive into a few things. I think I prefer the mix. It’s nice to go back and forth.
Kira: Yeah. When you say bigger projects, do you mean in terms of not only deliverables, but length of time you’re working with clients or are you working with them for six months to a year in this capacity?
Sam: Yeah, pretty much. Bigger scope in terms of what the project is, the pieces involved and also, the length of time for however long you work with them. For me, with the projects, a few projects that I worked on, they’re probably 10 to 12 months long projects, I would think, about on average what they’ve been like. It’s been nice.
Kira: Okay, cool.
Sam: Okay. Well, before we jump into Jacob’s interview, Kira, let’s hear a word from our sponsor.
Kira: It’s me again, I am a sponsor. Actually, our Think Tank Mastermind is our official podcast sponsor. The Think Tank is our private mastermind of copywriters and other marketers who want to take massive action inside their businesses. Whether that’s taking on bigger clients or creating new offers within their own businesses, our Think Tankers have been able to take massive leaps within months of joining. If you want to find out more about this mastermind experience, go to copywriterthinktank.com.
Sam: All right. Well, let’s dive into this episode and find out how Jacob started his journey.
Jacob: So, it’s a long journey and I’ll try and shorten it so we don’t lose anybody here. But it all started with a desire to be a chiropractor, actually. About seven years ago, at this point, I think it’s what I was going to school for. Was a degenerate for two years, even though that’s not a major. But after diving in really hardcore into the medical profession and wanting to own my own business, that’s what I thought I wanted to do, got hooked up with a great doc, got an internship at the Seahawks. It was really cool stuff and worked at it for about eight months and found out I absolutely hated it.
At that point, I had been working with a close friend of mine for a little while who was actually starting an edible cookie dough company. Yeah. And he asked me, he said, “I don’t really have a job title, but I’d love to have you on full-time to do something and sales and marketing. Do you want to do it?” and I said yes and hopped in and took on all of the awful, ugly jobs alongside building out our econ channel, as well as breaking into wholesale, did some really big scale, B2B sales and things along those lines for about two years. It was a ton of fun.
We grew from doing like 25K to a couple of million a year in like four years and my daughter was born and traveling all the time for different conferences, different meetings. It was way too much. And so, next pivot is an HR SaaS company out of Chicago and they’re doing really great things in something similar. Apparently, I can’t say no to a indiscreet job offer because there are deals that they wanted to make a pivot in who they were selling to and how they were doing it and they needed somebody to take on handling the messaging, as well as starting to build out a small team to do the actual outbound sales.
I said, yes. We saw a lot of success there. Brought on some big clients like Boeing, McDonald’s, Disney, closed like 400-500,000 in that first couple of months and it was a ton of fun. And then about eight months into that, I realized that I’d started to hate that too. I turned it inward and said, “Well, Jacob, maybe the problem is you. Maybe you’re just not employable.” Now, I got a little bit of a laugh out of it, but I was starting to get a little bit restless. I was getting on edge and angry and just not who I really wanted to be for myself and for my family. So I decided to really look back and think introspectively and say, “Okay, if I wanted to do something on my own, what skills do I have right now where I could freelance, I could consult, I could start to build out some products on my own?”
The thing that I’ve always loved is sales, is marketing, is creating messaging. The thousands of people can understand and enjoy and see much, to get some help no matter what the product is. I read Gary Halbert’s book, The Boron Letters, and that was my first foray. And I said, “Okay, cool. I’m 100% on board with this thing.”
I’d been familiar with copywriting from before we used to, it was funny enough, we used to go to trade shows and we’d collect a bunch of emails and a bunch of different contact names like everybody else does. Except after the show, everyone who was on our list would get some very John Carlton-esque semi-aggressive, a little bit pushy, very funny, a little bit raunchy type newsletter sent over like two weeks. We actually did pretty good with it.
We’d have ice cream shops, pizza parlors, any other kind of small restaurant you could think of ordering from us left and right, just from this quick automated email campaign. Leaning into that, it was really cool to see those numbers start to come up as well as anything with our econ. I thought that I could pull it off. I leaned in for the last three or four months that I was at my job and matched my salary and then I decided to leave full time last November and I’ve been doing it since then. I had a great first month that was insanely unsustainable and since then, ran into copy hackers and have found your guys’ community, copy chiefs too. Since then, it’s just been a focus on marketing strategy, funnels and copywriting and not turning back.
Rob: Jacob. I’ve got lots of questions about all of that first, what’s your favorite flavor of edible cookie dough?
Jacob: Yeah, no question. It’s something that we called Monster. It was chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter and coconut and it’s the best cookie I’ve ever had in my damn life. I will fight anyone who thinks otherwise. It’s amazing. If you haven’t had anything like that, you can make it yourself. You can go find out and buy it, but it’s a problem.
Rob: All right, I’m going to have to track some of that down. And then you referred to the email campaign, the Carlton-esque email campaign. Is that something that you wrote? Or did somebody else write it and you thought you could emulate it?
Jacob: No. So I read, I think the name of the book is Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel, that’s one of his flagships, and To a Tee. I read through that book and followed a couple of guided exercises that he’s got set up in there and we wrote them that way. So I wrote those and would tweak them very slightly over like a year or two. They had really no place in the industry that we were in. I think that was kind of the fun. It was a little bit contrary, a little bit off kilter, pretty funny. That kind of lens into my personal style, too, and pretty humorous and a little obnoxious and for whatever reason they worked.
Kira: I was just going to ask about being a chiropractor. It kind of makes me think of like, kitchen confidential, chiropractor confidential. What happens as a chiropractor or what lessons did you learn? What are the secrets of being a chiropractor that most of us don’t think about or know?
Jacob: Yeah. They’re super personable people and funny enough, and it’s one of the reasons that they’re targets of a lot of other different marketing agencies is they’ve got the potential to do an insane amount of business if they’re very good at leveraging referrals. I think the most interesting thing that nobody thinks of is that chiros, PTs, local doctors of all kinds, they run on referrals and affiliates and any other kind of partner networks that they can be a part of. That’s super interesting.
On the not marketing side of things when it comes to being really good, they’ve got processes man. They know how to show up and get in a routine and crank things out in a very short period of time. They’re very efficient, very un-distracted and very on point, which is something that I am none of. So it was kind of doomed from the start to be fair.
Rob: That makes sense. You talked about how you wanted a proof of concept before you left your job, it took four months to match your salary. What was it that you were doing to find clients and identify the problem that you can solve for them?
Jacob: Yeah, a lot of it was looking on Upwork. Also leveraging just my own audience and network. I wasn’t shy about it. From the beginning. I told people that this is something that I was leaning into doing. I had probably 30 or 40 conversations with just other marketers that I ran into on LinkedIn and said, “Hey, this is what I’m thinking about doing. I see that you’ve kind of got some leverage and a really good reputation in the space here. I’d love to pick your brain if that’s something you’d be open to.”
Just these no pressure, networking conversations that would get me introduced to really good people who had tons of insights to share that were years beyond what I would have experienced if I’d waited on my own find that kind of information. And then at the same point in time too, there were great sources for referrals to people who were looking for, I mean, at that point, really cheap help and somebody who was willing to get their hands dirty on an unattractive project or that didn’t have the budget. I was just willing to do just about anything at that point.
Kira: How did you take the edible cookie dough company from 25K to a couple of million. I know you did a lot of things. But for anyone who wants to follow that path and do something similar, what are two to three big takeaways?
Jacob: Yeah, big takeaway number one, at least for me, is to stay far away from CPG products. I’m joking slightly. It’s a hell of an industry. And so I can’t take full credit for doing everything else. My partner’s the original founder and he did about 85% of the legwork. Most of what I came in and did was scale and sales. And so it was finding different distributors across the country that we could work with.
There’s a lot of B2B outbound relationship building type sales. We would travel all the way across the country, we do all kinds of different trade shows, lots of cold emails, lots and lots and lots and lots of cold emails and cold calls over the years that really just helped us get into a couple of pivotable partnerships that grew exponentially. Because one deal for us wouldn’t just be another store, it wouldn’t just be another couple of cases in sales. Most of what we’re doing was commercial. And so it’s a difference of 10-20-30-40-50, couple of hundred thousand dollars a year on a single deal.
Rob: Okay, so let’s talk about how your business has evolved since then. You went full time, not too long ago, about a year ago. What has happened in your business that has allowed you to move forward as quickly and work with the kinds of clients that you’re working with today?
Jacob: The number one thing for me thus far has been to have a really loose grip on what I kind of identify my business as. Initially, the first title that I have for myself is freelancer, that’s what I want to do. I want to go out there and I want to provide a service for somebody else that either doesn’t necessarily have the knowledge or the same skill set to do so or they really just don’t want to waste the time to do it right. Coming in as a freelancer, I noticed a couple of things.
One, my job is really kind of to take orders, grab a brief and spin something up. It’s very cut and dry, very black and white, very little strategy and creative input on my end in the bigger picture. I realized pretty early on that I wanted to have a little bit more of that involvement. I loved a lot of the more strategic value that I could bring to the table in any scenario. I had to figure out a way to make that more of what I did. And so where my initial position was working very strictly with B2B and SaaS companies to work on their top of funnel and outbound messaging, I realized I didn’t want to work with pretty much any of those folks. Not that there’s anything wrong with them and there’s a lot of money to be made in that niche and some very, very good people who work with those kinds of companies.
But it didn’t fit my personality. What I had to dial back and think is, I love working with people who are similar to me. I know that there’s a lot of us out there who do. And so if I love working with people who are similar to me, what are some of the traits, attributes and goals that I want to help other folks that identify with that. I realized I wanted to work with solopreneurs, I wanted to work with ambitious people who were trying to pave their own way, escape from the nine to five, the rat race, whatever it is that you want to call it and start to build something of their own because what I learned in my first month… I was doing like 80 hours a week but my first month full time cleared 11K was that my initial goal coming into this is I’d love to do six figures in a year and I found out very early that that was so much more approachable than most people make it out to be.
The whole goal since then has been how to reverse engineer that in a way that’s sustainable, it doesn’t take up a ton of time out of my week and not working 60-70 hour weeks in order to do so. Each step along the way for me and I don’t necessarily recommend it for everybody, but it’s kind of coincided with letting go of clients. Letting go of relationships that have been good for both sides but just don’t make sense in the long run and it’s a disservice for me, if I’m trying to grow my business in a different direction to string someone along who doesn’t fit that mold, because what’s going to happen over time is I’m either going to resent the work, they’re going to get less of a priority, it’s always just been to try and stop that before that becomes an issue for me.
Rob: Okay, so I’m really curious, because you mentioned the 11K a month. I want you to break that down for us, because that’s your very first month, you’re already on track for six figures. I know you said 80 hours a week, but break it down almost project by project, how you got to 11K in in the first 30 days.
Jacob: So that’s first 30 days full time. I want to make that really clear. That would probably be my sixth month in-ish. But most of that came really timely and pretty lucky agency-type contract. I was working with two agencies on retainer who had an insane amount of business at that time. It’d be a flat base fee of like 1,500 bucks a month, like nothing crazy, plus another add in for any additional projects that came in. So it would be a couple of hundred dollars for a small website, here a couple of hundred dollars for a landing page here.
Between those two agencies, it netted me about $3-4,000. And then I also started working with another agency that was focused on doing B2B outbound and building these kind of outbound engines for more non-traditional companies or those who might not have the budget to build out a sophisticated sales and marketing team for themselves. The relationship that we had worked out there was that there was an initial startup and consulting fee for every single client that came in.
Where I would come in and we would run kind of an onboarding diagnosis session and get everything that we needed to have messaging for those folks to run email campaigns, cold calling campaigns and retargeting campaigns for like six months. Since that was a little bit more involved, it was also the first time that I included strategy into any of the pricing that I was doing. That’s where the majority of that $11,000 came in. I think it was $7,300 and some change off of that one because their business just so happened to be exploding right when we started working together. And I also knew this coming on. That was where an insane amount of value came from. Also a lot of headache and late nights but I’m very, very grateful for all of it.
Kira: So, you said six figures seemed approachable to you. I don’t think it seems as approachable to a lot of copywriters listening. Can you reverse engineer that for us and just share kind of how you’re approaching it and maybe the cornerstones of it? Or just the parts of it that would help us achieve that six figures.
Jacob: Yeah, for sure. It didn’t seem anywhere near approachable to me until that month that we just talked about. Because before that, I was bringing in $2-3-3,500 a month that would be coming in. What made it seem approachable was that in one given month, I could have all of my expectations completely blown out of the water by a couple of chance things going really well.
I think what that meant for me was that one, having a full pipeline was going to be insanely important. I come from a really hardcore sales background. So that’s always been something that’s very back of mind for me is how do I keep a network of at the ready at any given point in time. Referrals, am I doing cold pitches at the same time? Am I networking with other folks who might be good referrals for the future? Am I trying to make active referrals for people in my network so they’re continuously trading these things back and forth. It’s how do I keep up with that long term, so that I can try and flex my pipeline when I need it.
Also, to be able to give back to other people. Because if I’ve got a full pipeline that I can’t necessarily serve, because I’m overbooked, that simply means that these are more referrals that I can be able to hand over and pass along to other great copywriters that I’m running into and communities like other ones that I’ve been in and like yours. So when it comes to actually breaking down the numbers and what it looks like to make that approachable, is at the end of the day, even if you’re starting off doing a $2,500 service, really, that’s only four projects in a given month that can be completed at a given time.
The goal then becomes okay, if I have four projects that I need to be able to hit my revenue goal, how do I have eight opportunities coming into the month? What does that look like? I found out that being preemptive and looking at each month, not necessarily only by projects booked but by opportunities that were active was really a big priority for me. Even if my next month was full or my next two months was full, what I’ve always been obsessed with is trying to fill up the next third month out or fourth month out at that point.
Rob: How do you do that? How do you keep the pipeline full? What are you doing on a daily basis to make sure that you are booked out 8-12 weeks ahead?
Jacob: Yeah, so a lot of it’s networking. I am a massive believer and I was just actually talking to somebody about this today, I hate the quote that your network is your networth. But I firmly believe it too. I also believe that cliches tend to come about because they’re true and there’s a lot of truth to them. For me, what that looks like is anytime I’m running into someone on any platform that I’m on, whether it’s on LinkedIn, it’s on social, if we’re doing a podcast, I actually try and make a 15 minute connection with as many influential people as I possibly can.
Obviously, we can’t do that with everybody. But it’s something that you guys encouraged inside of the accelerator, inside of the underground, inside of the Think Tank is to continuously be connecting with people without an agenda so that there are opportunities out there on a regular basis. Because what happens is if I see my pipeline starting to fall apart and I’m actually kind of in this position right now, where my September’s looking lighter than August, July and June have by far. And so a big priority for me right now is reaching out to people that I’ve connected with in the past three months to say, “Hey, I’ve actually got some unexpected openings and I remember when we talked that you said you were pretty close with a lot of folks in this industry. Any chance you know somebody who’s looking for some help with this, this and this?” Whatever offers it is that are currently running.
That’s kind of what my biggest priorities have looked like. I know it sounds counterintuitive because it’s not super scalable, at least on the front end, but it’s paid off massive dividends for me just to be connected and always trying to help other people inside of my network too. I think the second thing on that, too, is the challenge for me is if I’m thinking of asking someone for a referral, is thinking, “Okay, cool. Where are there two or three referrals in my network that I can give to somebody else?” And trying to continue to replenish this circle. It’s a little woo to think about it that way. But it’s worked out insanely well for me, at least up to this point.
Rob: Yeah, I like you’re talking about connecting with your network. But let’s also take a step back from that. How do you build your network? What are you doing to make sure that that’s growing all the time, so that you can reach out to them when things get a little slower or when there’s an opportunity to work with you, a window opens up, that kind of thing.
Jacob: Yeah. I’m a big proponent of building an audience whether or not you have something to sell, because we all have something to say, whether it’s in marketing, whether it’s in sales, whether it’s in graphic design or it’s just simply a lifestyle kind of thing. People love to keep up with each other. I’m subscribed to probably 30 to 40 plus different newsletters. When it comes to building that audience, it’s always, always, always a primary focus to grow an email list. This is what everyone’s preaching right now. So then the number one question is, how do you go about doing that and how do you go about doing it differently if you don’t necessarily have this traditional funnel to direct people into where you’re paying into ads, into some sort of a small offer and rolling it in that way.
Well, another way that you can do that is with everyone who is potentially in your network or who you want to be connected with, have something to offer them to where you can get them onto that email list. For me right now, obviously, it’s a lead magnet. But before it’s saying hey, I love connecting with other people that are copywriters, designers, other kinds of solopreneurs because I know there’s opportunities that I have left and right and simply cold reaching out to these folks and asking, “Would you be open to a quick 15 minute conversation?” Talk to them and in the middle of the call in a very weird and direct and organic way, simply asking like, “Hey, I actually send out a newsletter too where I talk about this, this and this and whatever it is that you’re focused on.” And gathering, starting to build a list slowly that way.
Because it doesn’t need to be 12-13-14-1,500 people to start. Even if there’s only 35-45-50 people that are on your list and they’re all people that you know and half of them are relatives, these are still people that you can share your ideas with and stay present top of mind because the odds that someone’s going to give you a referral for a copywriting job if they don’t know that you’re writing copy. If they don’t know that you’re working with course creators or coaches or SaaS companies, then they can’t make those referrals for you. I think at the end of the day, it’s about making it easy for your network to know what you do and who you help and then just being loud about that and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and giving a microphone to whatever ideas that you have.
Kira: How else are you being loud about that right now? You mentioned in your list and then you’re connecting and networking. What else are you doing right now to be really loud?
Jacob: Yeah, right now a big focus for me is actually… I’m a pretty passionate, anti-time based launches right now. So I’m really interested in evergreen funnels and big transitions that are going on right now in the world of marketing to make more and more and more offers evergreen and to find a way to build an ecosystem of evergreen offers that sell into each other in a circular fashion that’s a little bit more organic instead of the more traditional stepwise offer ladder kind of thing.
So that’s a really big thing for me right now. And then at the same point and time, too, I’m actually just trying to overshare as I’m building my business, have changed my goals a little bit to be a little bit more focused on not only revenue but on the amount of hours that I’m working in a week. I’ve got a goal within the next 12 months and this it was when I joined the Think Tank to hit 250K and to do that working 30 hours a week. I’m also sharing everything that I’m doing on my own to make that a possibility, different workflows that I’m using, changes that I’m making in my schedule, what I’m prioritizing my time on. How I’m being more efficient, how I’m recycling content.
In short, being loud about a lot of things, but at the end of the day, it probably comes down to contradictory marketing. I like to go a little bit against the grain and so that tends to be the type of things that I talk about.
Kira: All right, let’s cut in here and talk about a few things that stood out so far. So Sam, as you’re listening to the conversation with Jacob, what really stood out to you?
Sam: A bunch of things. One of them being or feeling like he wasn’t employable, the hustle mode, the transitioning from freelancer to strategist, working with people and finding out who you want to work with, reverse engineering. There’s a lot in there that I either recognized from my own experience, over the past, I don’t even know, eight years or so nine. I can’t even count.
There’s a lot of things that I’ve experienced or dealt with one way or another. I think the unemployable part is something that I’ve seen more so later in my career, if you want to call it that. Starting off I thought, I can get in any job I want really, that I want to get. I can go to interviews and I can get the job and do the job and whatever, but the more I’ve worked with different companies over the years, I’ve realized with myself which is that I couldn’t do a traditional job. I feel unemployable, not because I’m… I don’t think I’m a difficult person. I’m sure others will disagree with him.
I just think that I am. But I feel unemployable because I just couldn’t stick with probably the rigorous scheduling that people do and meetings on top of meetings on top of meetings and having meetings all day long. All that stuff, I just… The way I work is individualized to myself, I think. I’ve found a good routine. I found good habits that work really well for me but it just wouldn’t… I wouldn’t fit in anywhere else.
Kira: Yeah, yeah. I feel the same way. I guess if I was forced to get a job-job, I could probably make it work. But I think for me, it’s like, I really appreciate the flexibility with scheduling and how I’ve been able to grow my family during this time and have that flexibility. It would be really hard to go backwards and then adhere to someone else’s schedule.
Granted, there are good jobs where you have more flexibility. But I feel like this is one space when we decide to jump into copywriting and start our own businesses where it’s hard. It’s hard to go backwards. It feels tougher, but I know some copywriters do that when they join agencies to really get that that foundational experience that they may have been lacking when they first started their own business.
Sam: Yeah. I think some people probably should never start their own business, if that makes sense.
Kira: Right. There’s also that.
Sam: Yeah, some people they just… It’s not good or bad or right or wrong, it’s just finding what works for you and starting your own business of a freelance type business or something else. Maybe that is just not what you should be doing. It’s nothing wrong with that. It’s better to find where you fit in and where you do your best work and where you’re enjoying life than to struggle and to spend years wasting time and energy pursuing something that you’re not going to be happy with. Speaking of time, working 80 hours a week, been there done that and not going back to it, but it’s something else I recognized from what Jacob said.
Kira: Yeah, he talked a lot about time and creating a business where he can believe his goal is to make 250K in the year working 30-ish hours a week, somewhere around there, but a much more manageable schedule than the crazy hours that he’s worked in the past. Yeah, I’m just wondering, Sam, how have you evolved your schedule over time? Since you’ve been in business for a while, what is the ebb and flow of your hours that you work?
Sam: I started off doing the hustle thing, I think I don’t know if it is completely avoidable. I think most people end up doing some form of hustling in the beginning. Because if you’re trying to get something off the ground, you’re dealing with inexperience. So there are things you just don’t know yet. I think most people go through a hustle period and hopefully most people also get out of that period. I did. I think the past three or four years, I don’t think I worked more than 20, I don’t know, 20, maybe 30 hours a week, something like that.
I got to sit down and really think about how many hours I spend. But if I was to quantify it, I think I’ve transitioned definitely transitioned away from the 80-60 hour hustle mode into something that’s more sustainable. I think that just comes down to knowing how to transition through the different stages of your business. You start off as a one person, one man or one woman band where you’re playing all the instruments, but eventually, what a friend of mine says, you want a business orchestra, which sounds really cheesy. But you’d rather be the conductor of an orchestra than to be the street musician with a full-on band setup, I think.
Kira: I guess for anyone listening who’s like, “I want to work the same hours as Sam. I want to reduce my load.” What advice would you give them to move in that direction?
Sam: Figure out the kind of deliverables and services you want to provide that number one you can provide in a high-quality way, like something you’re good at or something you’ve had experience with the least amount of time involved. Everything takes time, you can’t escape it. Just walking down the street takes time and opening up your computer and typing emails takes time.
So, you can’t avoid not spending time but what you want to find is where can you spend the least amount of time with the highest leverage. I figured out a set of services that I provide and that I’ve had my team try when I had a team. So I sold my agency a while back. But when I had an agency and even now as I do random projects, I know what I’m good at, I know what I can spend the least amount of time on delivering that’s still high quality.
The sooner you can get to that point where you know, you have a core set of services you provide that takes the least amount of time that have the highest leverage in terms of impact and also revenue generated for yourself, the better. The only way to get there, I think is just to do the work. It’s impossible to know when you’re starting off. Unfortunately and fortunately, I think you have to go through that process of figuring that out.
Kira: Yeah. Maybe that leads to another takeaway from Jacob is he mentioned letting go of things. At least that really resonated with me and I may be taking this in a different context. But I like that question of what could you let go of. What can we… In order to evolve as business owners and as humans, we need to let go of things. It’s really hard to let go in our businesses and our personal lives.
But it feels nearly impossible to reach the next destination unless we start to sacrifice something and sometimes it’s something great that we could let go of and everything feels easier. But sometimes it’s things that we don’t want to let go of. Maybe even control. Have you experienced that, Sam, as you’ve grown your agency and then sold the agency, you’ve done a lot of letting go. How has that showed up in your business?
Sam: Yeah. I learned the hard way, the things that I didn’t want to do. One of the things I didn’t want to do, once I grew my agency to a certain size, I realized that the only way forward for me unless I made changes was to become essentially a dashboard manager and to just either manage people or processes or both. I had to step away from the copywriting and creative part of that agency deliverables. I didn’t want to do that. So I decided to let go of the things that I just didn’t find enjoyment in, because if I could do it, I could be the dashboard manager, but I would have made a pretty awful dashboard manager and it just wouldn’t be something that I would have enjoyed and it would have been…
Me doing it would have resulted in just catastrophe. You have to make that choice. It’s easy to hold on to things. But if you know there are things that… One decision matrix that I use to know what to let go of are things… Is knowing what I can do, but that someone else can do better and what I can do that no one else can do better. And so making that choice then became came down to, even if I could be the dashboard manager, do I really want to do it and is there someone who can do it better than me. No, I didn’t want to do it. Yes, there are plenty of people who can do that work better than me. I use that for all kinds of decision making. Even if there are things that you could do, if there is someone who can do it better than you, then you need to let go of it.
Kira: Yeah, I like that. I know we talked a lot about maintaining the pipeline and working on the pipeline. How have you done that, especially with your business today, where you’re working with bigger projects and more long-term clients. How are you thinking about your pipeline?
Sam: Network. Most of or almost all of my work, either alone or with my agency was through referrals. I set up a very specific referral network for myself and for my agency where people had to be referred to us and had to jump through some hoops to be able to work with us. Like I said, I think nine years or something, almost 10 years, I think. Well, nine probably-
Kira: You’ve got to celebrate, Sam.
Sam: I know, right?
Kira: A 10-year anniversary is coming up.
Sam: I should. But over the time, once you’ve been in business long enough, it doesn’t have to be for 10 years, it could be a year or two years. If you don’t have a network of people that you know, either other copywriters or other businesses that you’ve done work with or companies that you want to do work with, you have to keep feeding into that network and create that network.
Even if it’s just a handful of people. Whether it’s a handful people or a hundred people, build it over time because through that is how I’ve been able to keep doing work. I haven’t had to chase work in years now. And that’s mainly because of my network. It’s whether you’re new to this or you’re a few years into it, just keep feeding that network, keep making connections and not for the sake of asking for business, but keep in touch with people. That’s what I did. I kept in touch with people, I sent them emails, I’ve stayed in touch with them, I met them at conferences and just kept up the relationship. And then over time, that turns into a project.
Kira: Okay, so if someone listening has struggled or maybe just not focused on the network and building out their pipeline, what would be one step? Would it just be to send have a schedule where you actually send follow up emails to your past clients and your contacts or something else?
Sam: Yeah. One of the things I’d done is to just be more organized around it. I used a spreadsheet for the longest time. There are probably software or apps you can use now that help you keep in touch with your network. But I just made sure that every month, I had a touch point with them, whether that was a message on social media or an email that went out or sometimes a phone call or I knew that they would go to a conference, and I made sure that if I was at the same conference, I would just go and find them and speak with them.
It’s important to also make sure that when you do contact them, you’re not doing so with an agenda of trying to get a project. I didn’t keep in touch with them and I always ask for a referral. I never asked for a referral. I just kept in touch and shared things that I learned. So people in the SaaS world, for example, when I was active in that world, I knew that from projects I had worked on, I learned things about SaaS customer acquisition that I’d then happily shared with them in an email. When I reached out to them, I gave them something of value like, “Hey Bob, I ran these experiments a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what we learned. Your company might benefit from doing the same thing.”
I would always share with them things that I learned or things I thought could be useful for them as opposed to reaching out and sounding like a beggar asking for work.
Kira: Yeah. Something Jacob said in the conversation was make it easy for your network to know what you do and who you help. It’s really, in some ways that simple, especially when you’re getting started just to make it really simple. Don’t confuse people so they’re trying to figure out what you do or how they can help you. Even the most well-intentioned person, if they don’t understand what you do, it’s impossible for them to help you.
That’s something that we can all do, especially when you’re getting started. Before we start to wrap and jump back into the conversation, I know we talked to Jacob about making six figures and he grew fast. Not everyone grows that fast. There could be someone listening who’s like, “I would love to hit six figures but that just feels impossible.” Sam, do you have any, I don’t know, your perspective on how to maintain a goal like that or hit a goal like that, how to work towards it if it’s something you want but it does feel like it’s out of reach and you’ll never get there?
Sam: Remove the emotion from it or at least that’s what I did. When I had that goal of hitting 100K and then eventually that became more 250 and 500 and so on, I just removed the emotion out of it where hitting it or not hitting it was not a reflection of my self-worth or identity or value as a person. Whether I hit it or not, it wouldn’t become an emotional payoff for me. It would just be a goal that I… In a similar way, I reverse engineered it in terms of figuring out how much money that was every single month and how many of what services did I need to sell to hit that, and then working backwards to figure out how many then if I need to sell X number of services this month to hit the goal, then how many people do I need to speak with and if I need to speak with 10 people, 20 people, what do I have to do to get those conversations started.
It comes down to math and it comes down to mapping it out so you know each step of the way, what you need to do and like I said, for me, the biggest thing was removing the emotion out of it. When I hit 100K, sure. I was obviously happy with it and celebrated. I can’t remember what I did, but I did celebrate it. I’m not saying be a robot, but I am saying, as you’re pursuing that goal, let go of the emotion that comes with it and try to and this is going to sound like so simple, but it’s hard to do, obviously, but try to remove the outcome so that it doesn’t reflect for yourself upon your person, whether you think you’re worth it or not or whether you think missing it is going to… It doesn’t mean that you are failing, it just means that you didn’t hit it yet.
Kira: Okay. All right, let’s jump back into the interview with Jacob and find out more about offer ladders.
Rob: Jacob, you mentioned the offer ladder and this is something we’ve heard you talk about before. Talk to us a little bit about what it takes to create a great offer, especially for I suppose we can look at, product sellers, but also for service providers like copywriters, how do we create offers that people want to buy?
Jacob: Yeah, I think the coolest thing about being a service provider right is you don’t have as many of the constraints as people who have physical products or even digital products for that matter. You can have an offer that’s positioned a little bit differently to your audience, simply by making a choice, by including or removing a certain asset from what you do or from another package or to who you sell it to or what timeline you deliver it in. Those are all different variables that you can use to create different offers, if you will. When it comes to building an offer that’s truly successful in the long term, there’s a couple of things that I’ve found to consistently be necessary.
Number one, and we touched on a little bit so far, first and foremost like is to have an audience regardless and to continuously be building it, even if you don’t have anything to sell to them at the moment. Because those people that you just want to be connected to that you think you might be able to help, that you like how they think, that you like what they’re motivated by, that you think you have things in common with, those are the people that you are most likely to have ideas and services that can serve them.
Having an audience that you’re continuously tapping into and listening to and therefore engaging with in order to be listening to them, to get feedback for what their problems are, what they’re dealing with at the current moment, what new things that they’re trying to do and aspire towards are and just continuously trying to take an inventory of your own skills and seeing where you can help.
Now, once there’s an audience built out and you’ve got a good idea that comes into it, number two is definitely that you always have to continuously be generating ideas. Now, that sounds hard. That sounds really, really hard and it is. But I think it’s a practice too and it’s a little bit of a muscle, right?
So, something that I’ve stolen from James Altucher and definitely go check it out if you can, it’s in his book, Skip the Line. But it’s a daily practice to write down 10 ideas about absolutely anything every single day and committing to that. What I found is even if you’re only doing that once a week, if you’re doing it twice a week or even if you’re doing morning pages or some kind of regular journaling, if you’re continuously just reflecting and trying to really activate that portion of your brain, what’ll happen is when you’re having conversations with your network, when you’re emailing your list, when you’re reading email replies, when you’re scrolling through your social media feed, you’re going to start to recognize opportunities where you can use your skills to help and to potentially sell something a hell of a lot easier if you’re used to having these ideas on a regular basis and being in that kind of frame of mind.
So having those ideas, having a really good way to break them down and try and understand which ones are most likely to be successful with the least amount of input from you. And then trying to build an ecosystem around it. I know that’s a really big way to talk about all of that but we could go on for a full hour, so I don’t want to go too, too far into the weeds on everything.
Kira: Well, let’s talk about where offers go wrong, where you found in this space, they usually break down.
Jacob: Yeah, so with a lot of folks that I’ve worked with, the biggest breakdown to be honest is that we try and cram too much into one single offer. Especially with service providers and like I’m super guilty of this myself is I want to be the person who helps you build absolutely amazing funnels, write killer messaging, develop an offer strategy that’s successful for long term and deliver with some killer copy.
Now, if I try and package that all into one offer, that’s so much harder for my customer to understand what exactly it is I’m doing for them and how I can help them. Whereas if I start to break that down into three or four separate things, this kind of one service, one benefit, one outcome for one problem, then there’s so much more opportunity to be able to scale that. There’s a much easier route to very effective copy and messaging, if I’m talking about strategy for building a brand new offer. And then if I’m also building out an offer that is writing the sales copy and the initial messaging and the framework necessary to actually outline that offer and then what makes sense from there is okay, cool, maybe there’s an engagement where I go ahead and actually build out a funnel for that offer.
Then we write the copy for that funnel and that’s a much more logical progression, then me word vomiting, just about everything that I do and trying to cram it all into a single offer. I would say that that’s the biggest opportunity for things to go wrong, that I’ve seen at least.
Rob: So, tell us how this looks in your business, Jacob. How have you created an offer ladder that connects your clients, the problems that you solve for them?
Jacob: Yeah, so at the end of the day, there’s really only three things that I do with my clients. First and foremost, come in and do funnel mapping and strategy where we take a look at everything that they have currently, because typically, no matter who it is that I’m working with, they’ve got three, four or five offers, maybe they’ve got a small course, maybe they’ve got a book that they sell, maybe there’s a consulting offer that they do, maybe there’s a few consulting offers that they do.
The most logical place to start for those folks is just making sense of a lot of the chaos and building out a game plan for either us to work together on in the future or for them to work together with either their internal team or another service provider or freelancer. First and foremost, making sense of the chaos and giving them a really good roadmap for what success looks like for their funnels later on. That’s one thing that I do. Secondary off of that is going in and actually doing small funnels, so there’s two of them.
I’ll do a small three-piece top of funnel, where we come in and we do an ad set, we do a landing page and we do some emails. Just getting an opt-in set up to where people can start building out their lists, which creates another problem that I feel obligated to solve is now that we’ve got this list, okay, cool and I’m sending out these emails, wonderful, what do I do long term where I can start tying them into the other offers that I’ve already got either established or that I want to work on in the future? That’s where we can come in and do some full funnel copy that starts to integrate all of those things and where essentially, I come in and I help them set a roadmap and then there’s a few different avenues in which we can start to fill the gaps in that ideal plan, if that makes sense.
Kira: For copywriters who want to be more strategic and maybe right now they’re selling their copy and the deliverable, but they don’t offer any type of strategy and they’re ready to do it, how should they or could they rethink their offers so they’re offering strategy and they’re also getting paid for it.
Jacob: The easiest route to do strategy, to be honest is to set up consultation calls. So something that I didn’t, it forced me to have to actually get paid for my strategy was backing everything in to a required base level offer. So there’s actually nobody that I work with where they’re coming in cold and we haven’t done some sort of funnel mapping and strategy session first. What I changed was instead of going into a funnel copy project and including the strategy portion, which most of us are doing, if you’re including it in your onboarding, if you’re including it in your intake, if you’re including it two or three weeks down the line when you’re implementing like different kinds of optimization, those are all opportunities where we’re already providing strategy.
We’ve just kind of baked it in to the deliverable of copy and thought that that was necessary. I know it’s great and that’s definitely us over delivering, but removing that out and making it its own individual thing is a great thing, one for your cash flow long term and two, it’s a really great opportunity to generate repeat business. Because giving somebody a more affordable way to work with you on the front end and start to test out the relationship is an awesome opportunity in comparison to how much pipeline you might lose when everyone who comes in has to pony up five figures, let’s say to do copy for a full funnel.
And so, figuring out where it is that you’re already injecting strategy and trying to remove that and put it into its own individual piece. Let’s say that me, for example, I love offers, I love this whole process of taking an idea and turning it into something that you can sell and that your audience is going to love to buy again and again and again. One thing that I did was pulled that back and created something called the Offer Hour, where anyone, whether it be colleagues, whether it be colleague’s clients can come in and we can come in and sit down and have a dedicated hour, that’s just about tearing their offer from top to bottom and figuring out, what does it look like today? What do they want it to look like? What needs to happen for it to look like that and does it actually fit in with what their audience is telling them they want to buy long term.
And so, sussing that out and making it its own individual product wherever you can and forcing yourself to sell it is probably the only way that it’s going to become a larger part of what you do long term. It’s really uncomfortable, to be fair too. It’s really hard.
Rob: This might not be an easy question to answer, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Should copywriters think about their own offers differently from the way they approach the offers that they might be working on or helping their clients to develop or is it exactly the same process?
Jacob: I don’t know if it’s exactly the same. Because the biggest advantage for your own offers is that you can create them a little bit more on the fly. The amount of care and prep and polish that I put into someone else’s offer is a hell of a lot more than mine. Because I get to experiment with my offers. I get to take all of my crazy harebrained ideas that I might have at any given point in time in how I want to advertise and market myself and how I want to get this in front of people and I could test that out on my own offers. I can also make it a little bit more backwards, something that I’ve done with my lead magnet is actually giving up a video for free on the front end and then only asking people to opt in if they want more, which I would not do with the clients offer because it’s a little bit more risky, it’s unproven, it’s untested. But it’s also a great opportunity.
So, when I would say for other copywriters who are thinking about their own offers, it’s really three things it’s one is there something that you can productize, a system or some sort of efficiency that you’ve created for yourself in your own workflows that other people can benefit from, it’s a great thing to sell. Two, is there some portion of the marketing and copywriting process that you are inherently great at that other people aren’t or that they hate doing that you could potentially outsource as a smaller project for a consulting fee?
This is another way that you can look at your own offers. Third, I think another really cool thing that copywriters have a great opportunity to do, that they won’t with a lot of their clients offers is looking at affiliates. And saying, “Okay, if I am building this list of people that I’m talking to on a regular basis who do I know that are selling things that these people would love? And then where can I start to add in potential affiliate avenues into that too?” I think as copywriters we’ve got a greater opportunity to capitalize on our own offers. Because at the end of the day, we could write up our own copy and we can experiment a little bit more than the average bear when it comes to those kinds of things on our own.
Kira: Do you advise your clients on pricing for offers? Is that something you cover?
Jacob: Definitely, yeah. Because I think that a big mistake that a lot of us make with pricing is that we go on gut feeling and we go on what we would purchase. It’s basically impossible to remove your own biases from pricing and what that looks like because my budget is different than your budget is different than someone’s budget across the table.
But also, the value of that product to me is different to you than it is to someone else across the street. The biggest piece of value or biggest piece of advice rather, that I give to my clients when it comes to their pricing is first and foremost understanding everything that they can about the value that it provides for their customers in a quantifiable fashion. Whether that’s time saved, whether that’s dollars in revenue generated from the funnel that you’ve written or given or from your consulting, no matter what it is, having a really good tightly locked down understanding and number, and once you have that number, comparing your pricing to that because if I price an offer at $500, my immediate gut reaction might be, “My God, that’s that’s way too expensive. I wouldn’t pay that for some sort of a small automated course.”
But if we do the work to figure out that if someone implements the content that you’re teaching successfully, that they’re going to make $15,000 based on their context and who you’re selling to, well then, okay, $500 is actually really approachable and that might be underpriced in that scenario. My biggest advice to people who are considering pricing is to learn the value that you’re providing in that first and get some numbers. Even if they’re not statistically proven and across thousands of different case studies. Having a number that you can anchor back to every single time is going to make you more confident and going to help you avoid underpricing.
Rob: Okay, so I have, I think, two questions and a preamble to the two questions. So Jacob, obviously you know that a lot of copywriters are selling deliverables like web copy, sales pages, email sequences, blog posts, case studies, whatever. Those kinds of things are pretty easy to price. There are definitely a couple of different ways to do it, versus consulting, which becomes a little bit harder to price because who knows how much time it’s going to take, there’s a lot of thinking that’s going into it, they’re creating a consulting package is.
I guess it’s a little more ethereal than a straight on deliverable. First question, how do you price when you’re consulting and offering ideas and helping people strategize? I know that you have started to move away from a package price and are starting to talk about royalties or rev shares on the back end. First question, how do you price it without that? Second question, when you start to think about rev shares, royalties, how does that change the pricing for a consulting package?
Jacob: Yeah, sure. First and foremost, when it comes to pricing for consulting, the best and worst part about pricing consulting offers is that they can always change pretty quickly. You can always be testing them across the board and that’s also the worst part. I think it was at one of the retreats that you guys put together for us a few months back. Mike Kim had talked about pricing in a fashion that you price the client, not necessarily the project and so if you understand the value that you might be providing inside of a consulting offer, are you solving a $15,000 problem or are you solving a $10,000 problem? Are you solving a $200 problem?
Because consulting is great because you’re giving people shortcuts to their problems. That’s really what you’re doing. They’re coming to you because you have acquired some sort of knowledge or expertise that they want to rely on to solve a problem that is that they have. Going back to this idea of pricing based on value, get a really good understanding of what the problem that you’re talking about costs and price it affordably based on that because the other thing with a consulting offer, especially when you first start doing them and this is for me, especially is that it needed to be approachable for the people that I was offering it to and I also needed to feel good about that price.
When I first started doing consulting calls for just a singular hour, they were $199. The third person that I did it for, there were $250. For the fifth or sixth person, “Okay, cool. This is a $350 call.” Where I’ve settled right now is right around that $450 mark, because what we’re doing is really breaking down this offer that could scale on to six figures for these people if they go through with everything that they could and continue to put the effort and time into scaling that right.
I think it’s a mix of two things. It’s one, what are you comfortable charging and two, what kind of value are you providing in that call? It’ll be a hell of a lot easier to give yourself a starting point and to scale that pricing up long term, if you understand what the impact is of your expertise, your call and your advice long term.
On the topic of rev shares, right, and how that makes things a little bit different. So the way that I’m doing rev shares right now and starting to at least because I haven’t done a lot of them and it’s just something that I’m really interested in, because I like the idea of my pay being tied to my performance and I also like the idea of my pricing being as approachable as it possibly can for my clients. Because at the end of the day, if there’s a secure enough fee on the front end to reserve our time together and there’s enough risk for both parties to where we feel comfortable trusting each other and that’s a really great opportunity to start to look at a percentage of sales over time for the copy that you’re writing, for the consulting that you’re providing, for the things that you’re helping them implement over time and over the relationship.
The way one that I’ve just worked out as was structured is I came in and I actually pitched at what my price would have been for a small funnel. They were okay with the budget but they brought up that they were much more comfortable working with marketers on a performance basis in the past and I’m at a point where it’s something that I’m really interested in getting more into. I entertained the idea and I reached out to a lot of folks in the group and started researching online, doing everything that I could.
I decided okay, I’ll take a 30% cut off of what my initial price would be for this project and work in a royalty deal on that. And the way that I worked it out was, if it takes me, let’s say, an additional two to three months to earn back what my initial cost would have been before discounting for the royalty, that’s fine. I’m okay with that. So one, I made sure that I was okay with just losing the entirety of that discount if this doesn’t pan out because there’s always that risk.
It’s an inevitable risk when it comes to rev shares and profits or/and royalties. So my number one recommendation for anyone else, I’m not a lawyer, I don’t give legal advice, I do not give advice on what’s going to make you comfortable in your business. But what I would recommend is you have to be comfortable with losing that in the scenario that everything goes wrong. Make sure that you’re doing rev shares and that you’re doing royalty agreements with people you trust and very preferably clients you’ve worked with in the past, that you know have a good history of payment and that you more importantly, now have a really great record of analytics on everything that they’re running.
Kira: So, Jacob, you mentioned that you want to hit your financial goal this upcoming year and work 30 hours a week. How are you approaching that so it’s possible. That’s something that many of us say but then we break our own rules and we end up working crazy hours. How are you doing it? What tips do you have for other copywriters that want to do something similar?
Jacob: Yeah, so I still break my own rules time to time. I really struggle with that, because I love what I do and I’m workaholic like a lot of us are. But something that I realized about four years ago, was that having either people or activities or anything it may be that keeps you accountable to your time on something other than work is huge.
For me, the more time that I work, the less time that I spend with my family. At the end of the day, it makes me feel real awful. If I put myself in a position where I have full control over the amount of time that I work. And I choose to work 75 to 80 hours in a week, instead of working 40 hours a week and spending an additional 20 to 30 hours with my family or sleeping so that time is better. Maybe for someone else, it’s getting involved in some sort of a group activity or picking up new hobbies or deciding to travel more once things are open and you can do that.
I think having things that you enjoy, and that you hold yourself accountable to from a time perspective, that aren’t work is the absolute best thing that you can do if your goal is to make for a better work-life balance.
Rob: I have one last question for you before we wrap Jacob and that is earlier on, you mentioned the 10 ideas thing. I’ve seen you be doing this to your email list and somewhat on LinkedIn. Tell us why you do 10 ideas a day and how has that impacted your business?
Jacob: Yes, so it goes into a couple of different directions. But first and foremost, that’s a great exercise for having ideas for my clients too because what I found is that the ease that I can like draw on something and the ease that spontaneous ideas become something more concrete and more impactful is much better after having done this for a few months at this point.
Now, when it comes to the other side of that is it also gives me a really great opportunity to be more and more and more valuable to my network because if I have 10 ideas written down every single day and I have 70 ideas written down in a week, the odds that I personally can execute on even half of those 70 ideas is just about zero. What it does mean is that I have a bank of 70 ideas that I can share with anyone and everyone that I come across, that I can use to provide value to people in my network that I’ve connected with, people that I’m working alongside of, clients that I have, people in my email list.
It just makes me a much more valuable person overall. It also forces me to engage with my network on a regular basis, too. So that’s probably the biggest impact that that’s had on me, is it’s made me a much more valuable and much more giving person. It forces me to think to be generous because it’s really easy when we’re all building our own businesses to become very self-absorbed and you get stuck in your own little bubble. It forces me to go outside of that and it forces me to share ideas and have interesting conversations with other people that I would not have run into otherwise.
It’s made me some great connections. It’s netted me referrals and some business. Yeah, that’s fine. It’ll probably be great for my newsletter in the long run, it makes me great content. But it’s forced me to be more creative, more generous and those are two things that I really want to be overall. So I’ll do it again.
Kira: Jacob, I haven’t asked this question in a while but what do you think the future of copywriting looks like to you?
Jacob: This is great. I’m honored to get that question. Wow, that’s a good one. I think what’s changing a ton right now and there’s a lot of evidence in it by just the wide variety of folks that are inside of all of your guys’ groups is that copywriting is becoming so much less so service and more so a foundation for many other forms of marketing.
What I’m seeing so much more of is copywriters owning the fact that hey, I can write killer copy. But at the end of the day, what I am is a marketer and how do I want to work with other folks in different forms of marketing, whether that be in brand strategy, whether that be in launches, whether that be in PR and promotions, maybe it’s even in something along the lines of like more traditional direct mail or agency style work. Copywriting is still recognized as insanely valuable, but I think a lot of us who are in the profession are learning is, “This is a really great asset to have and a great skill to know. But at the end of the day, it’s only a skill and it only goes so far if we’re only learning how to write copy for the sake of writing copy for other people.”
There’s so much opportunity, especially in how connected and available the rest of the world is right now at the state of digital marketing of the internet that we’re in, to be able to utilize everything that we learn about persuasion, psychology and marketing and transfer that to an endless amount of fields across the board. So I think the future of copywriting is that it’s just becoming more and more and more transferable.
Rob: I think it’s a great answer. I lied before. I said, I had one last question. I have one more last question. You’re a relatively new member of the Think Tank. Just really quickly, what’s your experience been so far and why did you choose to join?
Jacob: I’ve loved the Think Tank. If you can’t tell by the way that I talk and if you can’t tell by how important networking is to me, I think really well and I learned a ton by talking to other people and seeing what they’re doing and interacting with them. I also get a lot of joy out of that too and it brings me a ton of energy. The reason that I joined the Think Tank, actually funny enough is that I didn’t get hard sold on it. There was never a point in time where I was a part of a scarcity focused funnel that directed me into your offer and slapped me with three or four different promos and a couple of discounts in order to get me to join.
There’s a very organic and genuine mention at the end of every email that you guys had sent out around that time talking about the Think Tank and the kinds of folks that were there and the kinds of people that might find a lot of value from being there. And so when I identified and I thought that it was a good idea, I got a chance to speak with you about it.
To be honest, I sold myself within the first 10 minutes to talk to you guys. It’s such a great opportunity to be able to not only connect with copywriters, but amazing marketers and people who are really riding that line of copywriter turned marketer turned online entrepreneur, turned business owner turned SaaS developer, whatever it is, there’s just people taking those fundamentals of copywriting and turning them into these amazing potential opportunities for themselves long term in their businesses. I love it. I’d recommend it to absolutely anybody who thinks that they’re ready for something like that.
On top of that, too, we get access to some amazing content and some great people that you guys bring on every single month. That’s why I joined. That’s why I’m going to stay and that’s also why I’m looking forward to the next nine months that I’ve gotten here too. It’s been amazing so far.
Rob: Awesome. Well, thanks for that. Jacob, if somebody wants to connect with you or get on your email list and see the 10 ideas that you share there, follow your podcast, where are all the places to find you?
Jacob: Yeah, so the easiest place if you want to just learn a little bit more about me and the kind of content I’m sharing is going to top_notchcopy.com/newsletter. It talks about everything that I share. Gives you a little bit of info about my background and my story. If you want something a little bit more concrete, it’s got a full video for a presentation that I gave in the Think Tank earlier around this year about the six steps to creating a killer offer of your own. If you’re interested in grabbing that and watching that video, it’s free, totally able to access for anybody, you just go to top_notchcopy.com/sixsteps and you can check it out there.
Kira: That’s the end of our episode with Jacob Suckow. But let’s take a couple more minutes and share what stood out. So Sam, as we finish this conversation, what stood out to you?
Sam: Well, something he said about offer ladders, and you’ve seen that I’ve seen that terminology for years, I’m sure you have too. And it’s pretty common to talk about what you offer as a ladder where people buy one thing and then they buy the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. That’s one way to look at it and is one way to think about it, which is probably helpful. But also, I think one shift in perspective that could be useful is to think of it the way Disney thinks of it or at least Walt Disney thought of it way back in the day.
He put together what was then called a synergy map, which now if your business, anytime you hear synergy, it’s like a drinking game where you take a shot every time you hear the word synergy and you’ll be drunk within five minutes, because everyone uses it and it has no meaning anymore. But back then, when Walt Disney sat down and mapped it out, he called it a synergy map. Another word for it is like an ecosystem.
Essentially, if you look at it, you can find this online. You just search for Disney synergy map and what you see is the whole of Disney’s operations and offerings and services and experiences and products mapped out so that everything is connected to each other. So you have the theme parks feeding into the movies and the movies feeding into the theme parks and then there are products attached to those movies with the characters and there’s all kinds of things you can buy. There are the T-shirts, the little figurines, you name it.
You can buy any Disney movie and there are hundreds of things you can buy. And then when you get to the theme park, you can experience the different movies in terms of a ride or walking through an area. All of that is essentially a map that Walt Disney mapped out so that he knew that for everything they produced, they could monetize it in different ways and they could offer different experiences to people.
So, it’s like an all-consuming experience when you get into the world of Disney. Anywhere you turn, you can experience something and you can buy something. And if you have that perspective for your own offerings or even for client work that you do, don’t think of what you offer or what a client offers as separate, discrete things. But think of them how they can work together. Jacob, I think talks about this later on. After he mentioned the offer ladder, he talks about offering the first thing, the second thing and the third thing.
Often for copywriters like myself and for you and for others, you have a strategy session usually somewhere, then you move on to writing the copy for whatever it is, if it’s a sales page or emails or ads or even a whole funnel and then things you can offer beyond that would be ongoing retainers to supply new ads or new emails, ongoing or offering optimization services ongoing. That’s one thing I did which is that after I had either done a first round of optimization or provided new copy for, let’s say, a customer acquisition funnel, I always offer and I still do offer ongoing optimization of that funnel. That goes on for however long, for however long you want to and the client wants to use your services.
It’s another way of looking at it as an offer ladder. But it’s important to understand how those things feed into each other. Because if I kept doing optimization work, eventually, that would lead to as we did our experimentation and we collected data and we analyzed it, we would discover new campaigns or new funnels that the client could then create that would cover a different traffic source. If I only optimize a funnel for Facebook, well eventually I could take that same funnel, make tweaks to it and then launch it on YouTube or as in getting traffic from YouTube or another source. And so these things feed into each other.
There’s never really an end point to the work you do if you’re doing copywriting because whether you’re doing ads, emails, funnel, sales pages, landing pages, there’s always something else that can come after. Instead of thinking of it as a ladder where they have to buy the next thing, just think of it as what other opportunities come from you doing one type of work. Does that make sense?
Kira: Yeah. I really like that way of looking at it. It feels less forced because I think you’re right, oftentimes, it feels like we’re trying to force the next sale and moving them through our ladder. Rally, it’s like every problem we solve, then we create 10 new problems and so now there are 10 more problems to solve and we can choose to solve those problems or maybe we’re like, “I’m good. I can introduce you to 10 people, 10 different people who can help you but we’re done here.”
You don’t have to continue moving forward or you have the choice and I think that’s the cool part about what we do as copywriters and marketers. We have the choice to continue working long term with clients like you’ve done in your business, so we can build those long term relationships and keep helping.
Sam: Yeah, and another part of that synergy map, which also comes into play especially in business too is that everything comes in cycles. If for a while everyone is doing launches or webinars or whatever the format is, eventually those things fatigue and tire out and people look for the next thing to do. Then the next thing will come along, whatever that is.
Just recognize that in your space, no matter what market you’re in, no matter what service you provide as a copywriter, the format of what you do and the way it looks is always going to change. Now, in some markets, a webinar will not do a thing. It won’t work, it just won’t convert as well as it used to. Whereas in other markets, a webinar’s the hottest thing ever right now and that’s the only thing people are doing. Look at your market, look at your customers, look at what you’re doing and recognize that things come and go in cycles. Don’t try to do a webinar in your market if everyone is sick and tired of webinars.
Don’t do it. It won’t be worth the effort because you won’t convert as much as you used to. So it’s better to be observant and to understand the cycle that you’re in and then adjust what you’re doing and what you’re offering accordingly.
Kira: Okay. We’re going to take webinar, the webinar off the table for our upcoming launch. It’s not working, Kira and Rob-
Sam: Just don’t do anything at all. Just put up a buy button and see what happens.
Kira: Yeah, that would be a lot easier. Okay, so I also like how Jacob talked about shifting into consulting, especially if there’s a copywriter who has been working on deliverables and maybe has added strategy to their packages but they’re not really getting paid for that.
They’re doing it because that’s what we do as copywriters. I like how simple he made it where it’s just like, okay, you could remove this strategy that you’re currently doing in your copywriting package and make it a separate offer similar to how Jacobs created the offer hour and create it as a standalone as a gateway to get new clients in the door and give them a couple of quick wins. Even I think Jacob said, consulting really, it’s about creating shortcuts, it’s about helping your client solve those problems and get a couple of quick wins.
That could be a step we take if we want to move in that direction and as more of a problem solver and a strategist and kind of shift the way that we approach our client work without making a radical change in our business.
Sam: Yeah, breaking things off. There are models for doing this, which come from the engineering world. There are things like SCAMPER and TRIZ and other models where you can walk through prompts to see what to remove, what to add, what to change, what to do differently. You don’t necessarily have to do this on your own and floundering and trying to figure things out, there are ways for you to do this systematically where you’re breaking things off, and you’re finding new ways to offer.
Even if it’s the same thing. A strategy session is a strategy session, but you can call it probably 100 different things. Every time you change the name or change the angle to it, it will feel new to your market. Perception is key here where if someone looks at what you’re offering and it sounds like something everyone else is offering, then even if what you’re offering is the best thing ever and the best thing in the world and truly the number one thing that they can do. If it sounds the same to people, then they won’t buy it. It’s not just a matter of being better, it’s almost more important to be different in what you’re communicating.
Kira: Tell me more about SCAMPER. Where do I find out more about SCAMPER? Are there any resources you’d recommend?
Sam: Yeah, so there’s something called Google.com. It’s a creativity tool and it’s an acronym. There are many acronyms like it and it’s substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate or reverse. It’s a mnemonic. You take your service or a product that you can do this for either one and you look at what can I substitute, what can I combine, what can I adapt or modify? What can I eliminate? What can I change? SCAMPER is one of the many tools are out there. There are others like TRIZ for example, which is more come from the engineering world.
But anyway, so they’re like prompts. They’re just ways to guide you through creativity and brainstorming. The worst thing you can do is brainstorm with a blank sheet of paper. The best thing you can do is put constraints on yourself.
Kira: All right. I like it so I know we talked to Jacob about… Pricing came up a good amount. That stood out a lot to me. Did you have any advice as far as pricing or anything that resonated with you that Jacob shared?
Sam: Yeah, one thing I learned early on is to price according to the pain of the problem. And so even though for me, writing a landing page is pretty simple at this point. It’s pretty straightforward pretty simple. I know how to write it, I know how to make it, even use wireframes to make it look the way it needs to look. But for me, it might be simple, but if it is a big deal to the client then I should charge according to what the client’s expectations are. If for them, a new landing page can mean the difference between 500 bucks revenue or 5,000 or $50,000 revenue, then I’m not going to sell the service to them just based on how easy it is for me to fulfill on I’m going to price it according to what their expectations are.
So, if I’m solving a big, painful, expensive problem for them by writing that landing page, then I’m going to charge according to that and not because to me, I can do it in an hour. That doesn’t make sense. You should always price according to the pain of the problem.
Kira: Yeah. For copywriters who struggle with that, are there any questions that you ask on your sales calls initially to start to figure out what the price tag associated with those problems?
Sam: Yeah, I asked. I’ll use the landing pages because it’s a simple example to use. But I’ll ask things like, “Well, so if this landing page was converting better or if it would open up and get you like 10, 50, 20 new customers, then what’s one customer worth to you?” And they’ll tell me, “One new customer is worth 500 bucks.” They’d say that.
So, a new landing page, if it’s performing better than it is or if it’s a new landing page, if that landing page can get them 10 new customers, then that’s 5,000. I also ask, “Well, if you don’t get this landing page done, or if this landing page that you have continues to underperform, then what will you miss out on in terms of new customers?”
So, if the landing page is only bringing in, let’s say, five new customers per month, then if that never changes or it gets worse, and that means that they’re going to be either stuck at five new customers or those five will dwindle down to one and then to zeros. That means that they’re going to miss out on revenue that they could have gotten that they won’t get.
I asked for those two things just to get a sense of how much one new customer is worth and how much pain is involved if they never do anything to fix the problem like a landing page and how much is that going to cost them. I’ll just say to them, “Well look, if we don’t do anything about your landing page and eventually those five customers will dwindle down to zero, that means not only are you going to miss out on the 2,500 bucks that those five customers represent. But if you could double that, so you have 10 new customers, that means there’s another 2,500 bucks that you’re going to just miss out on that’ll never come to you because you didn’t do anything about fixing your landing page.”
Get those two numbers, rough numbers from a customer or client of yours to make to see how much is worth to fix it and how much pain is involved in not fixing it and then becomes a matter of math and not about whether you’re good enough. It just becomes a number at that point.
Kira: Yeah. That’s what Jacob mentioned too. Just quantify, get those numbers, so you aren’t basing your pricing on gut feelings and emotions.
Sam: That’s the end of this episode of the copyright club podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice, the outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. We’d love to hear from you if you liked what you heard. Leave a review on Apple podcasts.
Kira: And if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to listen to Episode 258 with Liz Wilcox about making email marketing simple and Episode 27, you heard that right all the way back to Episode 27 which is all about networking and standing out with Tepsii.
If you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business and achieve some scary, big audacious goals visit copywriterthinktank.com. Thanks for joining me today Sam. I really appreciate you taking time to do this. If our listeners want to connect with you and ask you questions and hang out with you, where can they go?
Sam: There are two places probably. You can find me and friend me on Facebook. I’m not always there but that’s probably the only place that I do I’m not on LinkedIn much. I have a profile. You can find me there too if you want to but I don’t use LinkedIn much. Facebook, I use a little bit here and there. But if you want to get on my super secret email list, the only way to get on it is to email me and ask to be added and if I agree to add you, you’ll be added.
Kira: Can you share your email address or do listeners have to find your email.
Sam: They have to go find it. You have to go find my email address which is not hard to find. It’s just I have a website, like no clue number one, find the website.
Kira: Find the website. Sam is hard to find online. Makes it even more mysterious. He is one of the most mysterious copywriters working today. Thanks again, Sam for doing this, co-hosting and thanks to you for listening. We’ll see you next week.