Kira and Rob talk with Sam Woods, the best copywriter you’ve never heard of, about human motivations, how to get crazy-high response rates to email, working on a cruise ship and squeezing the marrow out of life. Sam’s advice about getting to the root of your customer’s desires and moving them from where they are now to where they need to be to buy your product is so good, every copywriter should take notes and use it in their copy. Take a listen…
Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
Sponsor: Tarzan Kay (free gift: how to raise your rates to $250/hr)
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
Kira: This episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is sponsored by Tarzan Kay who has created a special training just for our club members about how to raise your rates from $45 to $250 in less than a year. Learn more at tarzankay.com/club.
Rob: What if you can hang out with really talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Kira and I try to do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You are invited to join the club for episode 13 as we chat with the best copywriter you’ve never heard of, Sam Woods about tapping into the 16 customer desires, the power of new change to grow his business, working with a team and his process for writing compelling email sequences with crazy high response rates. Sam welcome.
Rob: Hi Sam, Kira.
Sam: Kira, Rob, good to be speaking with you guys, hope you are doing well.
Kira: Sam, this is going to be … I’m so excited about this conversation because I kind of want you to be my business coach and my life coach. I feel like this is my opportunity for you to be my coach for the next 40 minutes or so.
Rob: We should start out by saying, hi Sam, tell us your story, tell us your story. Where did you come from and how did you get to where you are?
Sam: I never know where to start in my story because there are multiple points of entries and multiple points of exits. I think if I look back at my 20s, it sounds like I’m really old but if I look back into my 20s and my teens, to me it’s been a constant evolving process of reinvention. I even suspect that I have an addictive personality, as in I would get hooked on probably a lot of things if I ever did them. Beside, and the way it manifests in life to me is that I see a shiny object and I go after it but I go very intensely after it, and I don’t abandon it.
A shiny object would my attention and I’ll go all in on it and extract the most juice out of it as much as I can, and then I might move on or do whatever. If you want to go way way back. I grew up in Sweden and I moved to the US about 11, 12 years ago. When I first came here, I went to school. I came just to try out life. I have an American passport, so I can live and work here, but came in to do that and I ended up working for the railroad, working on a bookstore called Borders which no longer exists. I worked on a cruise ship, I worked for a construction company.
I just had all these different things that I did. One day eventually I ended up on the design side of things. I started building websites. Then from there I moved on to marketing because my clients asked me how do we make money from a website? Then I got into marketing and then from there I got into copywriting. That’s the long short version, and there is obviously a lot too but essentially it’s just been a process of reinvention, of diving into new things and, what’s that cliché? Sucking the marrow out of life. I think that is probably the best answer to where I come from is just a desire to suck the marrow out of life.
Kira: I feel like that’s the worst cliché ever, worst visual ever.
Sam: It is, in front of me I see like this dude in the jungle who is cracking up a bone and sucking the marrow out of it, which is disgusting. I don’t know what else to say, pursue something intensely versus sucking the marrow out of life, which one gives you a visceral reaction? Sucking the marrow.
Rob: That’s what you get out a visceral reaction.
Sam: When you see me or when you what, is that?
Rob: It’s the whole package.
Sam: That’s good. It’s just different places, but go ahead.
Kira: You mentioned the cruise ship. What did you do on the cruise ship? I just want to hear more about that experience, we can’t skip over that.
Sam: I’m laughing because it was the best time of my life. Not to say that I don’t have good times after or before or that the people in my life aren’t meaningful or valuable. If you have no ambition in life it’s the best place to be. What I mean with that is, you go on a cruise ship, you work for seven months, or six to nine months depending on your job. Mine was seven months, you get two months off, you go back on for another seven months. My job was to be a social host. I was cruise staff. Literally what that means, truly what that means is that every day I wake up and my only job for the day was make sure people had a good time. Game shows, dance parties, group activities, I was a bingo host for a while. All of these different things you do on a cruise ship to make sure people have fun.
Rob: That is not anything I was expecting to cover. I’m sort of speechless here.
Sam: I can connect the dot for you. Where that comes into play is, how do you catch, hold and engage an audience? I learned, what I found was an outlet for my extroversion. Whenever I’ve taken any test of any kind of any sort, I always score 50-50 on the introvert and extrovert scale of things. That was the perfect outlet for my extroversion and I learned basically how to interact with an audience and not just catch attention, but keep it and also engage them and rave them up into a frenzy. Which is helpful for copywriting.
Rob: Yeah, that totally leads into the question I really want to ask and that is, let me preface it by saying, I’ve seen you present a couple of times on tapping into customer’s basic desires. The 16 desires framework that you’ve used. Things like desire for independence or desire for power. Tell us a little bit more about your process, when you take on a client or you have an assignment, what’s your process for figuring out the desires that a customer is going to respond to, and then how do you work that into the copy that you are writing?
Sam: Copywriting is a gateway to human desire and to humanity as a whole. I don’t know of anyone who would persuade someone else or make someone move if they do not catch into, what is it? Catch into just the emotions of a person or people. Whatever desires there are, or whatever emotions people have. If you can tap into that then anything is possible. What’s the word I’m looking for? When it comes to the basic desires of people and so on, I think I write copy for the purpose of getting a reaction because to me if there is energy then you can shift that energy somewhere and you can direct it.
The idea of the other basic desire is, there is this guy named, I never know how to pronounce his last name but it’s either Rice or Reese, I can’t remember but it’s Steven rice or Reese who wrote a book on personality. He talks about 16 basic human desires. A big breakthrough for my copywriting was when I shifted my focus to, what kind of copy can I write that will tap into those desires? Then how can I keep on tapping into it and direct those desires towards an outcome, whether it’s clicking on a link, clicking a button or buying something or signing up, whatever it is?
The exact process for it is a bit involved, you have to do the research which I know you guys also talk about and any good copywriter will talk about it. To me 90% of what I do is to research. It has to do with just tapping into your target audience, who they are, not from a demographic perspective. Not even really from a cycle-graphic in a general scheme of things, but you want to tap into and understand what are the desires, what are the wants, what are the deep held beliefs people have? What is their paradigm, what are their perspectives? What do they believe right now about themselves, about the world, about what they want to do? What do they believe about your competitors, what do they believe about you?
It goes a lot deeper than that and what I do is, I do my research, look into the voice, the usual voice of customer data. I look at what they are saying, but then I analyze what they are saying. I look for indications of different categories. I want to know what they believe, I want to know what they fear, I want to know what they desire. I want to know what they are telling themselves to justify any current failures and so on. I take the research and I just start categorizing it into these different buckets of what I just mentioned. Then I take that and I use that in emails, landing pages, headlines just you name it.
A lot of people when they think of copywriting, they imagine the words on a page, which is true but to me the words on a page or an email or whatever, they are just vehicles to tap into desires and wants and needs. However they come out organized, you can follow different formulas and there is always templates you can follow. They tend to work. There is a reason why the same templates and formulas keep on being repeated, usually because they work. Unless the language itself is not. Unless the language is strong enough and the language is tapping into those desires, needs, wants and beliefs, then a template won’t do any good.
It’s important to just keep that in mind that the words that you think copywriting is, that is important but what is critical is a deep understanding of your target audience, your market or your customer, and not just, they prefer blue over yellow, but more in regards to, what do they believe about themselves? What is their primary desire as a group and as an individual? Because some people have a desire for safety more than anything else. Others have a desire for adventure or power or whatever those core 16 desires are. People tend to skew one way or another. If you can figure that out and understand for your audience, what is their commonly held deepest desire, then that’s what you want to tap into.
Kira: How do we get started, let’s say like, I want to tap into desire but how do I know when to do it, how many desires I should tap into on a sales page for instance? Is there some, other than reading that book, is there some framework I can follow just to kind of move in this direction and practice and try it out?
Sam: Yeah. I think it’s Clayton Makepeace who talks about the dominant resident emotion. It’s a fancy word for just saying what’s the dominant emotion that someone might have. Take this recent election for example, and I’m not going to make any political commentary, but there was one core emotion that a lot of Trump supporters felt, which is what also Trump tapped into. You can use different words for it, you can call it, have different labels but it essentially came down to, for a lot of them, not everyone but for a lot of them it came down to anger and frustration, which are kind of part of the same coin. That was their dominant resident emotion.
Then there is an element of pride that comes into it. I’m sure there is an element of wanting security and safety. There is one dominant emotion that tends to be fundamental to your market whoever they are. What you want to do is everything, and I learned this from my amateur career in acting which is, everything you need is in the text. Whenever you approach a play, a poem or whatever it is. Everything you need to know about your character and the story and the plot and what’s happening is in the text. You can apply that same thinking and principle to copywriting which is, when you are doing your research and you are looking at reviews. You are looking at your competitors, what they are saying, you are looking at what your market is saying. Maybe you can do some surveys if you have the ability to do so.
Whenever you are looking at the raw language of people expressing themselves about the topic that you are writing about or other products that you are writing about, everything you need to know is in the text. It’s easy to just, this memorable phrase sounds good. I’m going to use it on my sales page or landing page. That’s just level one type copywriting. Level four type copywriting, which is where you need to be, is when you understand what drove someone to say that? What do they have to believe in order to say that? What do they have to feel in order to say that thing?
Once you analyze your text that way and you ask questions of the text, you ask yourself, “If someone said X, then what does that tell me about them? What does that tell me about what they believe, what does that tell me about what they desire, what they want, how they are currently justifying their behavior? What does it tell me about them on a behavioral, need and want type basis?”
When you understand that, that’s when you can then, not just copy and paste a phrase that someone said because it sounds good to you but then you can start really tapping into the core dominant resident emotion. You can find out the core emotion, people have multiple emotions for everything but there is usually one dominant resident emotion that people that they keep on coming back to.
For some people like I said it’s pride. For others it’s fear, for others it’s whatever other emotion they feel the most, the primary. There is secondary and there is primary. Once you analyze your text and you ask questions of the text that you are seeing, meaning the research that you are looking at … If I got a description or an anecdote from a buyer of a different product, then I would look at that and I would ask questions of that text.
I would write down. This person seems to believe ABC, they seem to feel XYZ and they seem to want LMNOP, based on what I’m seeing from the text. Then when I have that, understanding that’s when I can do a lot of creative stuff with the copywriting because now there are 10,000 ways to access the emotion of anger. There is 10,000 ways to access the emotion or the desire for completion or the desire for success.
If I’m telling you, “Hey, here are the 5 steps to success,” then most people will think that copywriting has to do with how you present the five steps. That’s true to an extent, but the true power of copywriting is when you can tap into the desire for success and desire for completion, desire for certainty and security that comes from success. if you can already have that level of understanding that’s when the real magic of copywriting actually kicks in. Anything beyond that is just copy paste amateur stuff.
Rob: We interrupt this episode for a message from our sponsor of this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. The sponsor is Tarzan Kay. She was the guest of episode nine and is a fantastic writer that Kira and I have gotten to know over the last few months. She’s done some amazing things with her business in the last year. She’s created an offer, especially for the members of our club and the listeners of this podcast.
Kira: What stood out to me is that Tarzan went from $45 an hour to charging $250. She created 10 minute video training along with a downloadable checklist that shares 10 things you can do today to become a $250 an hour copywriter. You can download that at tarzankay.com/club. Now back to the show.
Rob: Sam, in addition to copywriting, you’ve done a lot of work on sales funnels, long drip campaigns, some of your email campaigns have had really nice response rates, just like 80%, even higher than that if I’m not mistaken. Whats’ the secret of making a great sales funnel?
Sam: It’s understanding that conversion is not an event but conversion is a process. That might go against what a lot of conversion people think we’ll say but it’s true. You look at, it’s easy to think of conversion as, someone clicked that button and that’s the event of conversion. Sort of that’s true. On a very surface level, that’s true, but conversion is a process. Marketing is a process. To get someone to “convert” is not just giving them a really good button text and hoping they click, but it’s whatever happens before, during and after that button being presented to them. To me it’s useless to only, or mostly I should say. Mostly useless to only optimize one page without touching the way people got there, and then what happens on the page and then after that page.
You can do it and you might bump your conversions 30, 40, 50, 70%, maybe even up to a 100% if you are really lucky and the page was really crappy before you worked on it. To really nail it and go above 100% and double your conversions or triple your conversions and increasing your revenue, you need to look at conversion as a process. You need to understand that people move from point A to point B, not in a giant leap but through a series of steps. When you think of funnels you need to think of them that way.
Most people talk about funnels, they think, an ad to a landing page and then maybe an email follow up. They think, that’s my “funnel.” That’s an amateur funnel and that’s the type of funnel that will only get you below 25% conversion rates. The funnels that are really powerful and not just convert people but actually turn them into loyal customers, diehard fans and people who are bought into your message and are essentially indoctrinated by you, you need to have a process in place. What I like to do is, and this comes from other fields of just with the marketing but there is customer’s journeys, there is also UX/UI principles of what happens in the day of a life and then how does your product or service fit into that.
You take these different models of thinking or thought models and you apply it to conversion. You think to yourself, “These people,” and I use an example of insurance. An insurance funnel that I created last year or this year actually. You look at them you go, “I have a basic understanding of what their core primary desire is. How can I tap into that and then lead them to the place where they are signing up for insurance and not just getting a quote but actually signing up for it as well?
That’s the whole journey is from the beginning to end. Then you map out the steps that need to happen, and here is the critical point. Not just from a text perspective, that’s okay. They need to see these ads, this page, and these emails and so on. You map it out from an emotional and thought journey as well. You go, in the beginning of this funnel, what are they believing and what should they believe next? Because you look at the end and you ask yourself, “What does someone have to believe in order to buy?”
What do they need to believe? What do they need to think, what do they need to feel in order to buy. You start there and you walk your way back and you go to the beginning. You start with, they believe this now about insurance, but I want them to believe X. What needs to happen between now and X? You map that out. You map out steps. They need to believe that buying insurance right now today is highly critical for them and their family, life insurance. What do they need to believe about that? They need to look at, they need to first be convinced of the need for a life insurance and why they should they care.
There are several beliefs that need to happen before they believe they need life insurance. You need to take that same approach and look at what do they need to feel about life insurance? You want them to feel a sense of urgency, you want them to feel a sense of importance and also that life insurance will help them. If it’s a male with a family, you want them to feel like, if I buy a life insurance then I will feel accomplished as a male, I’ve taken care of my family.
You look at what they need to believe, what they need to think and what they need to feel. Then you map out that journey in steps to get them to the point where they are ready to buy. That’s a funnel, properly speaking, that’s a funnel. The idea people have, ads to pay just to email, that’s just a manifestation of a funnel but you need to think of it as what is the journey they need to go on in order to get to the point where they are converting?
Rob: It’s not just the first click, right?
Rob: It’s from where they are now to purchase.
Rob: And beyond purchase.
Sam: Yeah, and beyond too. You want them to be loyal, you want them to come back and buy again. You don’t want to do refund. Your job as a copywriter and as a marketer, but as a copywriter especially is not done just because someone bought. If it’s a relationship that’s not been initiated and you need to re-market and help people buy again and stay loyal and not canceling if they are buying and there is some type of recurring charge or whatever else.
The way I approach it is, I map out the journey they need to take with beliefs and what they need to think and what they need to feel. Then I map it out and then I look for what else I can use to reinforce it. I look for imagery. I look for imagery so that I can use it in ads or in landing pages or in emails that speak to the desires and the wants and the feelings and the beliefs that I want them to have. You map out their journey and their lifecycle and then you tackle the nitty-gritty of actually writing stuff.
Kira: Sam, I love this process and you had shared this with us before. I’ve started using it and it’s been extremely helpful. Maybe this is getting in the winds but this is kind of the problem in ran into. I wasn’t sure when you are moving along from milestone to milestone and in what they believe and their emotions. How frequently do you have to introduce them and kind of keep them moving along this path before maybe they have a new belief but if you don’t want to reach out to them for a couple of days, that belief fades away? I guess I just want to see what you do typically timing-wise.
Sam: It’s a good question but I think it comes down to understanding how much time you have. A seven day funnel is different than a 30 day funnel. What you are doing in seven days is different than 30 days. It’s easy to think that you have to have all these things figured out before you start but that’s not true. Essentially you need start and then see how people behave and then make adjustments. As a good rule of thumb, if you are selling a service, then generally you need to have 14 day window before someone buys it. If it happens before, awesome, but generally start with a 14 day thought process mapped out. Meaning that based on that, you then outline your emails and the frequency.
The other killer here is that you want to have retargeting happening as well. They don’t just see the emails from you, they see you showing up all over the internet. I’m talking Google Ad Words and Facebook retargeting and other networks if you want to dive into it, but those are the two big players and that’s where you want to show up. When someone enters, let’s say they opt in for something and they are on day four and they’ve received two emails and they’ve had two beliefs planted. It sounds awful but that’s how I describe it. You know that at this point they should believe A and B. Whether they do or not, no one knows and we will never need to know to 100%, we just need to know to, we just have to have a decent guess. At this point they should believe these and A and B, two things. You know the next email they are going to see is going to be in three days.
In between, let’s serve them with retargeting ads that reinforce A and B, and leaves them to C. You want to have retargeting happen at the same time, depending on where they are at in the thought process and the feeling and thinking process. Use retargeting because, with the use of pixels and just timing it, you can set it so that people are seeing certain ads in the first week or so and then different ads in the other week. What I want to encourage you to do is, don’t get too hung up on the exact timing and cadence, as long as you try to incorporate more than just emails. Because if the only time they communicate with you or receive communication from you is in emails, then that’s okay but you’ll probably have a lot of leakage from that.
If you can use retargeting to serve ads that fit to what they are seeing. If you can’t do that, then find other ways to show up in their world that speaks to what they should be thinking and believing. If they are on Facebook and you have a personal Facebook, then in general, and you can’t know because it’s public, anyone can read it at any stage of the journey but you want to have things show up on your page, on your stream or on your wall, or whatever page you are using, or whether it’s for your personal account or business account page.
You want to have things posted there that make sense in the general scheme of things as to what they should believe. You want to keep on reinforcing believes and reinforcing thoughts and feelings over and over again. There are different ways to working that out but the ideal way to work that out is use retargeting, and then serve them with the appropriate ads for where they are at in their journey.
Rob: We could easily spend two hours just talking about this entire process I guess when you are writing for customers. I want to take a step back and talk about your business as a whole. I remember the first time you told me about your niche I was taken aback at how narrowly focused it is. Probably the most narrowly focused niche I’ve ever heard anybody describe. Will you talk a little bit about how you came to decide what clients you would work with and the impact that had on your business?
Sam: Sure, when I started with what I’m doing now, which is primarily conversion copy and growth marketing, I know that to get traction in anything you need to have a narrow focus. To just tell someone, “I’m a copywriter,” and then expect to get work is because they are deaf and the fastest way to be on the street and homeless. What I started doing is, I figured out, I like to work with people like this. I figured out the people I wanted to work with, and I’d like them to see XYZ results from the work I do.
Then I looked for what might fit. I dove into a market and specifically I dove into the SaaS, softwares and service market. I figured out, even though there are a lot of funding happening, people are getting a lot of money, there are still plenty of smaller SaaS companies that either are not seeking funding or not getting it but they are doing their own thing and they are doing fairly well, but they are at that critical stage where they found product market fit, and so they have validation for what they are selling, but they are not yet growing fast.
I understood my market well enough to know where the pain point was, or where one of the pain points were. I realized, there is a pocket of companies that have found product market fit and right now their biggest priority, their biggest need and what they are thinking about at night, and what’s keeping them up at night, and what’s waking them up in the morning is figuring out, “How the heck am I going to grow from X thousands of monthly revenue to another X thousand revenue.” Depending on the size of your company, monthly revenue matters and does not matter. Someone could have found product market fit and they could be at 10,000 a month. Or someone could have found that and they are at 50,000 a month. It’s not necessarily cut and dry. As long as that need is there then that’s my market.
I went really narrow and I essentially said, in general if you’ve got a SaaS company at 500,000 a year in annual recurring revenue, then for the most part you are probably at the stage where you are looking to grow and you want to grow fast and you want to get to one, two, three million rally quickly. That’s where I honed in. I basically said, “I’m going to do copywriting and I’m going to do growth marketing for these people.” I had someone put together a list of I think, my first list was probably 200 people, maybe something like that. 200 companies with a name of the founder and so on, of SaaS companies that most likely fit that profile. At least 500,000 and they are a SaaS company. They have probably less than 10 employees. They probably do not have a marketing person, but if they do that marketing person is doing blog posts and social media. The stuff that they are told they should be doing.
I narrowed down on that and I did direct outreach amongst other things and I told them, “I have a system that will help you go from 500k or wherever you are at right now, to doubling that to one and two million in less than two years, probably even faster than two years.” I spoke immediately to their situation and I went super narrow. Within a month or two I had more work than I could handle.
Kira: That’s incredible.
Sam: It’s not that you have to go to that length in terms of who you want to talk to but you need to find a very narrow point of entry where you know that people are struggling with something and they need to say that you are the only solution for it, because the moment you are broad in general in what you do, that’s the moment that your pocket book and your wallet is opening up and you are throwing money into the pile of fire.
Kira: The fact that you went so narrow, you could speak to their pain point and give them exactly what they wanted in a confident manner so that they know that you can get the job done too. I am wondering how your business is structured. I kind of want to know just behind the scenes, what does it look like, do you have a team, how many hours are you working? All of that fun stuff.
Sam: Sure. I’ve got two sides to what I do. On the one hand I do copywriting, conversion copywriting. On the other hand I have a small little growth marketing agency. What we do is we provide services to people who want to put together growth funnels or they want to have growth marketing happen for them. That is shifting more towards consulting. There is consulting and service on that side and then there is copy on the other side. Most of my time is spent with my growth agency and what we do in there. I am however and I have been shifting towards copywriting a lot more and I will be focused on that, mostly focused on that moving forward.
On that end of things I have a team of people. Three and a half is usually the number I give to people and depending on how busy we are, the three and a half might turn to four. Three or four are full time, and then one part time. What we do there is that we work with companies, primarily SaaS even though we do some B2B service companies as well. We basically help people on that end, either through consulting or through doing done for you services where you help them put together different types of growth funnels, acquisition funnels, onboarding flows.
Whatever is needed to get them to earn more revenue, and idealizing the month over month growth. On the consulting side of that, if they have a team already, then I might come in and I might consult them on what to do, what kind of process they need to follow, how they should structure their team, how they should work in terms of being agile. What they should use for campaign structures and usually working with the founder or CEO at that level. Even though I work with some VPs of marketing as well. That spins anything from the how to to also team structure. How to structure a team, how to lead a team to do the type of marketing you need them to do.
On the copy side of things it’s mostly me because that’s something I do to keep sharp and to enjoy something that, I enjoy copywriting as is, so I want to do it. It’s often that I have a team member on my team who’ll do a lot of that legwork with the copywriting class that I have. They might do an initial research phase. They might do an initial drafting of copy and then I review it, look it over and make changes. That just depends on the workload.
That’s essentially how what I’m doing is structured. Someone who is a copywriter, they obviously don’t need to have a team, but it’s probably good if they have some help, especially with admin work and maybe even doing the initial organizational research and maybe starting a research and pointing you in the right direction whatever else. That’s how, there is two sides of a business and those are the two sides that I’m currently with.
Rob: Sam, when you talk about having people help, this means you are not taking on for $400 blog post.
Rob: What does a simple look like and how do you structure the pricing so that it makes sense for the client and for you?
Sam: Correct. I do not do $400, $500 or $1,000 blog post. I don’t do blog posts at all, I focus exclusively on conversion, copywriting and the copy side. Then there is growth funnels on the other side. I hate to use this answer but it’s true, it depends. What I mean by that is, if someone comes to me on the copy side and they need a landing page, depending on the complexity of the landing page. What it is, what it is for? Long gone are the days when I charged $1,000 for a landing page. I’m usually again depending on complexity, anything from $2,500 to $8,000. Depending on the complexity of the landing page, also work that needs to be done. Is there split testing involved? Do you need help with split testing?
I have the capabilities to do a lot but it just depends on the client. If it’s a simple landing page, short form, and all they need is just two different treatments to their control, then that’s fairly simple job and it can be done pretty quickly. If they have a landing page that’s not performing at all and they are thinking about scrapping their control, running a new control with three different treatments and doing multi-varied testing and they need to run it for two months, then that’s a different story. That’s just a general backpack sense of where I fall. It just really depends on what they need. I think it’s important for any copywriter to assess what people need, not what they tell you that they need but what you know that they need.
That comes from experience sure, but I think any good copywriter who’s been doing this for even more than six months or a year, you should have a sense of what people need when they come to you. If someone comes to you and they tell you, “Hi, Rob. I need this landing page.” And they show it to you. You should have a sense of what’s wrong with it just by looking at it, and then what they probably need to get the outcome that they want. Because anyone can increase conversions on any page. You don’t have to be a copywriter, you can use Smart Marketer and you can increase conversions on a page, get more people to click the button. You need to connect the copy that you are doing to a business goal.
When people come to me and they need help with sales pages, landing pages, onboarding flows, emails sequence, whatever it is, I always ask what their business outcome is that they are looking for. Most of them will say, “I just need more conversions.” But then I’ll ask, “Why do you need more conversions? Why do you want more conversions?” We need to grow our revenue. Then it comes out, we have a revenue goal in mind. They might say, “We need to increase our revenue from $10,000 to $15,000 in the next month. We need that bump. Then all of a sudden your conversation with them is not necessarily only what words you are going to put on a page but how is that copy going to connect to a business goal.
Then when you move your copywriting conversion or conversation in that direction, now you can start talking real money, because if someone comes to you and they are expecting you to jut put words on a page. In their mind, them paying you a $1,000 for a landing page might even seem steep because in their head they are going, “I just need someone to put good words on a page. Then that’s it.” If you can turn that conversation around and you can put that landing page in context for them and say, “This landing page if you do a split testing, have a control and a treatment. This page can actually help you double your revenue in a short amount of time.” Then that page is not worth 1,000 bucks anymore. That page is worth multiples of a thousand dollars to someone.
I always try to steer the conversation to the point where it’s a business conversation as opposed to only a copy conversation. If you a person who comes to me and you don’t care about the business side, then we are not a fit. I will tell you … If you don’t want to talk business, if you don’t want to talk numbers, revenue and what you are doing, where your goals are, then we are not a fit.
There are hundreds and thousands of copywriters who will write you $100 blog posts and $500 landing pages and they just want to put the words on a page and you are happy and they are happy. That’s good. That’s cool. Have at it, have fun, enjoy it. If you come to me then it’s a different conversation because now I’m going to talk to you about the business side of things. I’m going to talk to you about the numbers, your revenue, your goals. What do you want the page to do in a larger scheme of things. How does it fit into your funnel? What ads come before, what emails come after?
That’s the type of client that I go for and those are the type of clients that have no problem paying $5,000 for a landing page, $10,000 for a sales page or $15,000 for a growth funnel because they know that, I’m giving Sam and his team or Sam $15,000 but that $15,000 is going to turn to $30,000 in the next six months.
Kira: If I want to get to $10,000 for a sales page, it sounds like I need to just think bigger?
Kira: Kind of approach it like a consultant and speak to the strategy, goals and just reframe it, but also be able to back it up and do what you said you are going to do, which is obviously the intimidating part. If you say you are going to double their revenue you’ve got to do it.
Sam: Right, and I shy away from making promises but it’s not about making guarantees and promises but it’s about having a conversation where you tell someone this. “Kira, I’m going to sell you money at a discount. If you give me $10,000 you are probably going to get $40,000 back.” No one in their right mind is going to say no to that. That’s the type of conversation to have. I’m not telling you Kira that I’m guaranteeing you’ll make $40,000 but based on your list size, based on the numbers you show me, that your emails tend to get this response. Your other sales pages tend to get X conversion responses. Based on the pages that you are showing or that I need to write to you, I know that if I can get this page to convert at 10%, then that means you are going to make $37,000.
It’s not about making promises or guarantees, it’s about understanding their numbers, what they are already doing, what results they are seeing. Then knowing that, “Okay, one sales page, given that it’s converting at 10% can yield X amount of dollars based on the product that they are selling.” This is critical too. If you get clients that come to you and they don’t know the numbers, walk away. I’m saying that to every copywriter who is listening. If someone comes to you and they want a sales page or landing page, and they do not know the numbers, they do not know their list size, they do not know their traffic sources, they do not know their average type of conversations. That’s a bad client, walk away. Unless you are happy working for 500 bucks to write a landing page.
If that’s your gig then good for you. Enjoy it, have fun and hopefully you’ll do good at it. I’m telling you right now, the path to higher copy fees comes when you connect it to a business goal and business numbers. If a client does not know that, then they are not worthy of your time, attention and your copy skills.
Kira: I need to listen to this conversation over and over again.
Sam: Don’t settle.
Kira: I know from what I’ve learned about you Sam that you have a life outside of copywriting, which is different often times from me because I feel like all I’m doing is writing or I’m with my family, which is great, but I don’t have hobbies. Anyway, what do you do to have a life? Because I’ve heard a rumor that you take time off during the week and you go snorkeling, or scuba diving or surfing or something?
Rob: Acting, dancing?
Kira: Can you just talk about acting in a club, I don’t know, how do you juggle it and how do you make it work? Because I want that too.
Sam: What do I do? I act, I was just recently in a play. I take acting lessons. I keep that up. People tell me that I look too much like Leonardo DiCaprio, so I won’t be casting a show any time soon but I keep on trying.
Kira: Keep on trouble.
Sam: Yes, that type of thing.
Kira: I can see that.
Rob: I think it’s eaten by the grizzly bear.
Sam: Yeah, I do have a life. I do things like acting. I do a lot of paintings just with oils and acrylics. I do that almost every day. I hang out with friends. I hang out with my wife. I don’t have kids but one day I’m sure they’ll come. I do free diving. Scuba diving too, I’m sort of a scuba diving, I’ve done that. I love it, but I also do free diving which is you take one breath and you go deep down, and you stay down and then you go back up. I can hold my breath for quite a while. I decided to structure my life that way. It took a lot of work to get to that point. I’m not going to tell anyone that tomorrow you can just do a few things and get to live life on the beach and work part time and make full time income, that’s not true. Anyone who tells you that they are lying.
It took work to get there but it took smart work to get there. I knew that I have a lot of different interests that I want to keep on doing. I don’t want my life to only consist of work. As much as I enjoy copywriting, as much as I enjoy marketing, I don’t want that to be my life. I don’t want to be known for working 40, 50, 60 hours a week doing only that. I’m going to go back to that cliché. I want to suck the marrow out of life. I want to experience life, I want to know what it’s like to do things. I want to have experiences as opposed to things. I decided fairly early on that that’s the goal I was looking for.
If I wanted to start a unicorn startup, then that wouldn’t have been my life. My life would have been 80 hours a week of work, but I don’t want that. I work depending on time of year, depending on what I’m doing outside of work so to speak. Depending on client flow and everything else. Anything from 10 to at the most 40 hours a week. I have a team which helps. A lot of the mundane, people don’t realize how much just doing stuff, how much time that takes. If you look at your day and you look at your copywriting. If you were to time it, then you might only have three hours of productive actual copywriting writing time. Then the rest of the time is taken up by just stuff, organizing files, communicating with clients, doing this, doing that, working on your business.
I got myself to the point where I’m only doing the things that I want to do which is copywriting. Sometimes it’s the research part but I have a process now that I give to someone else and they do. Copywriting, thinking about growth, thinking about what a funnel needs to be. To me it’s fascinating to map out the journey of beliefs, feelings and thoughts, and have that journey in front of me and see, “This is what needs to happen.” It’s even more fun when I give it to someone else and they implement it and they do it, they set it up. I knew what I love, what I like to do, I knew what activities give me partly the most joy but also what I’m actually good at.
I can jump into Infusionsoft any day and weave out a campaign in minutes, have it set up and do that thing, but I don’t like it. I don’t like clicking around on buttons inside Infusionsoft. It’s not fun. It’s fun to plan it out, it is fun to do the strategy. I’ll do that and then I’ll have someone else do the implementation of it. I have a small team and I’ve intentionally kept it small and I’m going to keep on keeping it small because it works. I essentially focus on the things that I like to do and I have someone else do the rest of it, whether it’s me or clients. I make sure that I’m doing other things, schedule my days, time management is important but is not just scheduling your days. It’s actually making sure that you are giving yourself enough time to do the things you want to do.
My mornings do not start with me checking, waking up in bed, pulling my phone from the desk next to me and looking at my email. I don’t do that. I don’t check Facebook, I don’t check my email, I don’t check the news. I don’t touch my phone for probably at least the first hour, maybe even two hours of the day, because I don’t want to start my day that way. Instead I do my schedule time for reading something, and my schedule time for doing some art, and my schedule time for doing something else in the morning.
Then I get to work and I have my task laid out for the week already. I know what I’m doing that day. I know what I’m doing tomorrow, Thursday at 1:30 PM. I already know what I’m doing because it’s already planned out. I plan my days but I don’t plan my work, I plan my days and I plan my life. I make sure that there is time to do all these different things. I make sure that I have more time doing other things than I have to do work stuff.
Rob: That’s an important life lesson not just a copywriting lesson. Sam, one last question. We are sort of running low on time. I’ve heard that at the end of most successful engagements that you have with clients that you send them something special.
Sam: Yes I do.
Rob: The secret purple book. Tell us a little bit about what the book is and why you do that?
Sam: Correct. At the end of an engagement or even if it’s not the end but at some point in the engagement I’ll, I’m sending my clients the purple book of growth. That’s what it’s called. It only exists physically, it’s a PDF file because I need to print it every now and then from staples but it’s a PDF file that gets turned into a little booklet, a spiral bound booklet. Inside I’ve collected, on each page, it’s a small book. We are talking, I don’t even know, the size of a notebook probably or even smaller than that.
On each page there is an aphorism or a lesson or a thought or something esoteric sometimes about growth. Growing your company, growing your marketing, revenue, leads whatever. I give that to clients and it’s become a thing because clients are asking me, “Hey, can I give this book to someone?” Can you send this book to my friend or whatever?” It’s always a no because you need to be a client of mine to get it. Not just any client.
Rob: Which is why haven’t given it to me yet.
Sam: Exactly. Not just any client but you need to be a client who’ve engaged with me for a certain amount of time and for a certain amount of money. Then and only then do you get this purple book of growth. It just is a collection, I think it’s about 30 pages maybe, 27, something like that. It’s just short to the point, like a small little booklet that just gives you little nuggets of thoughts and questions to ask yourself and how to think about growth. At the end of it, it’s essentially a call to action to send me referrals. If you are a client and you send me a referral, then your referral is worth more to me than any other type of lead that I get because you’ve trusted with someone else. You’ve trusted me with your friend, your colleague or whoever else. I value that more than anything else.
Taking that approach has allowed me to do well with business coming in and the work I do without having to write any blog posts about copywriting ever. I don’t do content marketing for my business. I write my blog posts but that’s not for the purpose, for my own blog and for my company, but I don’t get clients that way because I don’t want to get clients that way. To me that’s a hamster wheel and it’s a lot of activity for a very little fruit. I don’t want my main way of getting clients to be writing a blog post and hoping someone reads it and hoping someone contacts me. I want other people to send me clients.
If you are the right type of client and I have a very strict criteria then you get that book. Because the assumption that I’m making and is proving true so far is that if you are the type of client that I want, the quality of client that I want, then you know other people who are similar to you who also need help. I prefer to have clients I love to work with that are of high quality and meet certain criteria because then I can deliver really awesome work and do well and they make money and I make money. It’s become this little thing now where I get my primary source of clients is through referrals and through that.
Rob: It’s a great idea. Sam, I think we are out of time but if people are looking for you, where do they go to find you?
Sam: Good question, samueljwoods.com is my blog that I sometimes write on, responsecopy.com is my copywriting site and for my growth agency it’s stimulead.com. For the most part I’m either on samueljwoods.com or you can find me on Facebook as Samuel J. Woods.
Kira: Sam, are you taking on life coaching clients or anything similar? Can I sign up for somethings like that?
Rob: Business coaching yes.
Kira: It’s like I want business/life-coaching. For me going into 2017 , sign me up. Keep that in mind.
Sam: You’ve asked me and some other people too, not just from our group of friends ask me.
Kira: Yes, I know.
Sam: If you tell me what you need then we can work something out for sure. I’m hoping to, I just don’t like … How can I put this? What’s most important is that you are doing things as opposed to listening to me pontificate. I can easily talk.
Kira: I just want to listen.
Sam: I just want to listen.
Kira: I don’t want to do anything.
Sam: I can easily talk but I think for it to be worthwhile for you it needs to be probably more about accountability and giving you the right ideas and tools but then you actually doing. From all the coaching that I’ve done in the past in consulting, the number one killer of anything happening is not doing your stuff. If you are the type of person who wants to listen and enjoys hearing the sound of my voice as it comes into your ears and to your brain, then that’s awesome. If that can be combined with someone doing something and taking my advice and implementing it, then you might be a good fit for coaching.
Rob: Sign me up.
Kira: Excellent. New clients right here, probably many more, now we have competition.
Sam: I don’t have a formalized program but obviously let me know what you want and you need. I’m sure we can work something out.
Kira: We’ll talk after the show.
Rob: You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive, available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes, and full transcript, and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.
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