02:06 – 2020’s impact on Copy Chief
04:43 – The thing about physical workplaces
07:48 – A behind-the-scenes look at Kevin’s shift
09:30 – Looking for a fresh experience
11:09 – The view through a new pair of eyes
12:34 – When more isn’t better
13:59 – Dealing with a lot of assets
16:49 – A second-hand taste of Copy Chief
19:34 – Who’s coming in and what’s coming out
23:33 – The entrepreneurs seeking copywriters
27:05 – Who else is benefitting?
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 783. And I’m phoning into the United States to see if it’s still there. Welcome, Kevin Rogers.
Kevin: What’s up, buddy? Well, you know, I’m in Florida. So at the very least, they’re going to cut us free this time. So we’ll see what happens from there.
James: Of course, we’ve got the entire world teetering on election outcome at the time that we’re recording this. Very interesting how much it can polarize people’s attention for such a long time, you know, this on top of what has been an interesting year, 2020, due to the pandemic. It’s made a change in the way we operate our business.
You and I have had some interesting discussions around our business models. You and I speak often, and we compare notes. You run a live event, often. I run a live event. My event ran as the United States started closing the borders. It was the end of the live event era, so to speak. So you didn’t have Copy Chief Live in 2020. What did you do as a result of that? What does your business look like now compared to the beginning of the year? I think that’s a worthwhile topic.
2020’s impact on Copy Chief
I’ve made changes. I’ve talked about that in Episode 775. I had a lot of great feedback on that, where I’ve explained what’s different about SuperFastBusiness, SuperFastResults, and SilverCircle. Now, I want to know what’s going on on the Copy Chief side of the fence, because you have had a fantastic subscription membership. You’ve got a lot of amazing members out there in the marketplace. I met many of them face to face at Copy Chief Live this time last year, almost.
So it’s really interesting to reflect on that. How’s it been for you? And I know also, you’re a very emotional person, Kev. So I imagine this has impacted you in quite a deep way.
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great question, man. Like anything, you and I spoke right when this was hitting, right as you finished your event. You were one of the people I went to and said, “What do you plan to do?” It was also fresh then. And now looking back, we look at like, how did we react? You know, how did we make lemonade? And so for us, the big thing, like you said, was not having the event. And the immediate view of that is, well, okay, there’s about 100,000 in top-line revenue gone.
But what did we gain? And how could we make that up? So we had some decisions to make, right? One is, a lot of people turned to virtual events, and have had varying levels of success with that. But there was an interesting moment, before people had tested virtual events and things like that, around, you know, May, James, where I think, for tax purposes, had to go through my calendar week by week.
And what I saw was this pattern of focus shift to the live event. And it became an all-encompassing team effort towards the event at say, you know, last year, June, July. Getting into August, September (the event was in October) it was all hands on deck. That’s pretty much all we were doing. And so I realized, wow, what we won back was a lot of bandwidth and a lot of opportunity to do things we’ve been needing to do.
So now we have decisions to make. Do we want to like, okay, let’s fill that time? Parkinson’s Law. But let’s fill it with something. Let’s create a bunch of new stuff and put offers out there. Or do we clean house? I think, James, you might have said in our interview – I remember what you did say – you said, a time like this (this is again, right at the beginning of the pandemic, the shutdowns), this is when we take stock. We take assessment of our team, of the value we’re creating for our customers, the important things, right? That was really insightful.
The thing about physical workplaces
And so one thing I realized for me was I’ve been saying for a while, because we had just in six years, creating a lot of content and sort of making up everything as we went along from a tech standpoint; I had been saying, boy, I would love to just build a new building next to our existing building, and then move in one day, one weekend, you know?
James: You know, that’s what physical workplaces do. They grow, and then they run out of space in their office, and they replace it. I worked in a few dealerships where we rebuilt the whole dealership. And it’s such an interesting metaphor. I mean the second, last place I worked, they had built this brand new multimillion dollar building. It was worth probably $12 or $15 million.
And the nickname for it was the Taj Mahal. It was amazing. It was really beautiful. And their team was rubbish. And my mission was to go in there and turn it around. Because Mercedes-Benz was not happy with the results they were getting. And four years later, I left that place, and I’d done a big job on turning that around. It takes about two years, by the way, to turn around a physical business.
The next mission I went, my last job ever, I lobbed into these temporary premises that had pink walls and water-stained tiles on the ceiling. It was just a really rancid place that we had, no space. And they were building a brand new development. And it took a while. And when it was finally built, we moved in there from three separate facilities into this one brand new place. And it was a great time for the owner of the business to go on an overseas holiday. Remarkable timing.
But the whole shift in the business from changing premises was significant. It put a new expectation on the customer. It put a new spirit inside the people. And it was that instantaneous change. I mean, one week, we’re in this sh*tty pink-walled, stained tiled roof to next we were in the absolute brand newest facility in the country, with no excuses to hide from.
So it was big. So I can see how you would get to that. And I think that probably was the genesis of my thoughts to you. I’ve seen a lot of people start looking outwards and panicking on their social media and making reactive stuff, and also doing the obvious. And what I learned from studying design more is the obvious is almost never the right choice.
And, you know, a lot of people are doing the virtual thing. It’s so interesting, because my event, which was pretty much the last physical event you could run in Australia of that size, like I did in literally the last window of days, if not a week, I’d already decided. I don’t know if I really want to do this again for a while, because like you had discussed, I don’t like the impost it makes on my schedule. It’s a big effort.
There’s some reward. It’s good. You get to capture content, you get to meet your people. When I went to your event, Kevin, I could tell a lot of work went into it. But it does make you question why we do these things, doesn’t it? And you had a forced opportunity to reassess.
A behind-the-scenes look at Kevin’s shift
So you’ve basically said, “Okay, I want to build a new building next to my current building, and just move everything.” What does that look like from your perspective with the research phase, the implementation phase, and then communicating with your audience phase, and where are you up to in that process?
Kevin: Right. So we just completed and moved into the new house last month. And, you know, kudos to my team. They were so dedicated to this process. When we decided to do it, we had two mantras this year. We had a mantra for the year, and we had a mantra for this project.
And so, the mantra for the year was to simplify and streamline everything. Because one problem we had was clutter, frankly, like a lot of threads. And the user experience was not as great as it could have been. And people would come in, and some people would flourish and find their way around and do great. And we assign everybody an ambassador, so they have a sherpa, but you know, like I do, James, as well as we communicate things, people just don’t always read everything. And some people get overwhelmed more easily than others.
And so, I wanted to remove any points of friction I could in the user experience. And so what it looked like for me was, people logging in and just saying, “Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow,” all the way down the line, and discovering all the trainings, how they could segment the trainings based on where they wanted to focus their study, what they needed to write that day, how they could, with one click, you know, single sign-on across all platforms, go over to the community to discuss anything they’re writing, to get a copy review, to look at the jobs board or hire a copywriter, whatever they needed to do was all right there, to make all that, like, super usable on mobile.
Looking for a fresh experience
All these things were important to me because going back to the analogy, I thought of it like the great neighborhood bar that when it opened, it was like, oh, there was a lot of, whoo, wow, whoo. And then it’s like, it’s been five years, six years. And like you said, those tiles could use replacing, and I don’t think they’ve touched that top shelf of bottles. Why is there still a stuffed animal in the corner from that one party and it’s dusty now, and you know, I wanted a fresh new experience.
James: I know exactly what you mean. I went to the dentist this week for my cleaning checkup. And I’m pleased to say I escaped there without any further follow-up appointments or drilling off, which is the best. I hate going to the dentist, like most people. I love my dentist. He’s a lovely guy. And I like having a chat to him. But I wish it was under other circumstances.
But they have this beautiful little practice. It’s a fully-renovated old art deco house. However, in the main reception area, the air conditioning unit, I noticed the split unit, the part that was inside the house, was this yellowish sort of aged plastic. It looked like it was quite old. And I was thinking, I wonder how hard would it be for them to order a new case for that thing or to just replace the air conditioning unit? It actually brought it down a notch.
And I was really thinking about my old Mercedes-Benz day where they used to do the dealership inspections. And what they would do is they’d award points. They called this thing momentum of excellence. And if you lost enough points, they would actually eat into your commission, your dealer payment. They’d actually dock it. And they would come out with a paint micrometer measuring device and check the color blue on the poles out the front to make sure they were the right color. Like, it was serious stuff.
The view through a new pair of eyes
So I’m always looking at it, at the premises, and thinking that. But I think it’s hard with your own business when you’re in it all the time. I’m pretty sure the receptionist probably hasn’t noticed it. Because it’s always been like that. How did you step outside your membership to be able to then step back into it with fresh eyes?
“More is not always more.”
Kevin: Yeah, it’s a good question. So you know this, that in that former platform, and I guess all of these, you can log in as a user, not yourself, right? And so that was one thing I did, was just kind of went through my own processes, my sales processes, my onboarding processes. And what I discovered, James, was something you’ve helped me with as well in our coaching is, more is not always more.
You know, I’m a creator, I’m a creative, I like making new stuff. I get lots of ideas, I’m pretty fast to implement, and I built a surrogate team around me whose mantra was make Kevin’s visions reality, and so as a result of that, too much goodness. There was a lot of stuff everywhere.
James: So you had Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory?
Kevin: Exactly, yeah.
James: A lot of cool rooms, plenty of Oompa Loompas.
Kevin: And it’s kind of one of those things, you know, whenever anybody would decide not to re-up with the membership, we always heard the same thing. It’s not you, it’s me. But you know, there’s just so much good stuff, I feel guilty for not using it, so I’m just going to quit. Like, oh, wait a minute, that’s not it, you know.
When more isn’t better
James: I had the same discovery when I switched from weekly training to monthly. There was this collective sigh of relief. They’re like, ahhhhh, thank goodness, because I just can’t quite keep up with it. And that was my real awakening of, hey, you know, more stuff is not helpful. Like, if you want to go on a scenic walk in the woods, putting more things in your backpack is not going to make the trip better.
James: You want your bottle of water, you want a raincoat, maybe, if the weather’s looking a bit sketchy, and possibly a slim mobile phone so you can dial up when you break your leg or get eaten by a snake or a bear or whatever. You know, there’s no point taking a tent and a mattress and three weeks’ worth of food if you’re just going for an afternoon outing, and you plan to be back at the car by sunset.
So it’s important to think about, what is the minimum you need, and what’s going to be a better experience for the customer? But I think it’s a very common one with memberships, especially people. People will actually spend a year building stuff before they even open, thinking that’s what they need to do. I covered this in a whole module of my Profitable Membership Business training.
Kevin: That was great. Great training.
James: Which is like, hey, you can start with nothing.
Kevin: That’s right.
James: The feedback I’ve had from my SuperFastResults members where there is no course, there’s no call. It’s just a social wall where they can ask a question and get an answer from someone who knows the answer. That’s it. They love it. They absolutely adore this simple little program.
Dealing with a lot of assets
So when you went in, did you have this sort of idea, oh, I’ve got a lot of assets here that I’m going to have to just cut loose? Or were you tempted to horde them and push them into the new building, or did you just have a yard sale?
Kevin: Yeah, good question, because that’s exactly why it had to be a fresh start for me, because I thought, well, you know, we could prune. And every time I would start trying to prune content, just like moving boxes from home to home, you go, ‘No, I can’t get rid of my CDs. These are great records. I haven’t listened to them in five years. But my God, I couldn’t throw it away. This is genius work here,’ you know.
And so I thought, if we just are relentless about what needs to be there; so we surveyed our members, and we said, “What do you use? What don’t you use?” And so that was really helpful. And we broke it down to about six categories of things. And we knew, okay, once we get everybody moved over, then we’ll start to see if it feels like something’s missing. And of course, we have a suggestion box where we welcome members to suggest things that we bring over from the old house.
By the way, a big concern of ours was, and I thought would be the biggest fright for the members moving over was, well what happens to our old stuff? Are we losing that altogether? And so what we did was, we made that the same single sign-on, we just turned the old forum into an archive. And so they can go there and easily find everything they had before, they just can’t have new conversations in there. Right?
James: That’s like the Warrior Forum did once upon a time.
Kevin: Or did they? Yeah.
James: They did. They froze the old one in time, and then went to a new platform, and you can still look up the old one. I remember, I switched off SuperFastResults, the original one, which had four years’ worth of content, when I started FastWebFormula, which is now SuperFastBusiness. And even though there were some good threads lost and some good history, there was a lot of momentum in the beginning when it was fresh. There was a real vibe about it, you know, having less stuff in there.
In some ways, I’m kind of migrating my products, some of them, across to SuperFastResults. And I’ve got the light forum thing there. But one day, maybe I could open up a more advanced forum with all the same features or better, and then make that switch. But I think in your case, I imagine you’ve got your well-worn tracks where you’re teaching a specific process over and over and over again, so they will have to come.
And then, because of the nature of what you’re doing, you’re teaching people how to write better sales copy, or you’re facilitating introductions to business owners, for people, you know, who want someone who can write copy. That was your main thing is, a lot of your stuff will be instantaneous. Like it’s, you know, from today on, someone has a challenge today, they’re going to need that help. And I think that’s the big difference between a community like Copy Chief or just buying a course in a ring binder folder. Because, you know, as you’ve said before, and it’s on the screen behind you, nobody writes alone. That’s a big aspect of it.
A second-hand taste of Copy Chief
And I’ve been experiencing Copy Chief second hand lately, via my friend Peter. And my friend Peter is someone from my previous career who decided that he needs to just get into this modern-day thing. And I’ve told him one of the most valuable skills you could possibly have is copywriting. He already has a marketing background.
“One of the most valuable skills you could possibly have is copywriting.”
The feedback from Peter coming into your world has just been phenomenal. I’m going to case study Peter without his permission, or without him even knowing that I’m talking about him, but he wouldn’t mind. He’s so bright and enthusiastic. And he’s just soaked himself into your environment.
But what I’ve seen is the pre-Peter, and the now-Peter, and they’re two different animals. He’s transformed. And I just wanted to say thank you for helping my friend. And you know, he’s invested in himself and got a dramatic result. By the way, he’s got a bunch of jobs on the go right now. He’s also at SuperFastBusiness, and he’s just enthusiastically chatting to anyone who I mentioned he’d be a good fit for.
He’s in that special zone where you are excited about copy, you’ve learned some tricks to be a bit of a badass. He’s not Gary Bencivenga expensive yet or David Deutsch price point. So he’s in that sort of like elastic zone of massive possibilities. And I imagine you see quite a lot of people coming into that stream and just then propelling off into greatness.
Kevin: For sure. I always tell clients when they’re looking for a copywriter, I say the greatest opportunity, if you’re willing to nurture the relationship, is you can find a lot of copywriters with more enthusiasm and raw talent than experience and if you’re willing to be their portal to that experience, you will be rewarded for years.
And yeah, the price will go up accordingly. But right now, you’re going to get somebody who’s very dedicated and more capable than they even realize, right? You know, what happens when we learn about copywriting and get passionate is we only start seeing the highest-level people. We start studying the John Carltons and the Deutsches and the Halbert classic stuff, and we go, ‘Oh my god, could I ever be that good?’
I was smart enough to realize, man, if I could get one quarter as good as John Carlton, if I could study his stuff enough to get 25 percent as good as John, I can work forever in this industry. And damn it, I pulled it off.
James: That’s so good. And you’ve seen these people come in. But the thing is, it’s not just them. When the client is hiring them and they’re working on a project, they’ve got the sounding board, they’ve got the brains trust, they’ve got the ability, within one single sign-on, to have access to brilliance beyond their experience level or their maturity in years.
Who’s coming in and what’s coming out
So that being the case, let me just put a point on this. I want you to describe to me the top few use cases. Like, who’s coming into Copy Chief? Why are they coming in there? What are they getting out of it?
Kevin: Yeah, great question. Well from the freelance copywriter perspective, you commonly have somebody who is either just discovering it; by the way, I have a whole timeline of a freelancer’s journey or a freelance copywriter’s journey at CopyChief.com/phases; you can see what I’ve identified as the seven phases of a copywriting career and identify, like, where you are. And it starts at phase zero where you’re just going, ah, this cubicle thing sucks. What else can I do?
Phase one is you’re stalking the craft. You discover that this thing called copywriting exists, and oh my god you can make good money at this thing, and I love to write, and then you just get obsessed, right? And so at any of those points, someone can come into Copy Chief, and like you said, be surrounded by very cool people who remember very well what it’s like to be new and excited and green at this thing.
James: Is it like those experienced ones get to drink a bit of youth elixir when they’re helping out a rookie?
Kevin: Exactly. Exactly, 100 percent. So in a case like, I’m thinking of like Ross O’Lochlainn, who’s still a member, one of my founding members. Came in, thirsty for knowledge about copywriting and marketing, had the goal of going freelance. Due to an immigration issue, was forced into freelance. You know, quickly succeeded with a few clients but then even more quickly realized he had special ability because he had an engineer’s background. Got very good at creating USPs for people, unique selling propositions. You’ve met Ross, he’s been to Australia, to Sydney.
James: Yeah, he sat in my lounge room.
Kevin: That’s right. Because he got super into Dean Jackson.
James: That’s it. He’s friends with Dean Jackson, and Dean Jackson’s a dear friend of mine. It’s really interesting how these networks work. Of course, Dean and I were both at your event. I stayed at Dean’s house as a matter of fact, with John Carlton.
Kevin: He forced everybody to stop eating meat. That’s right.
James: We all stopped eating meat for at least a day or two. We saw that propaganda film.
Kevin: Saved me money on a steak. That’s all you did, really.
James: That’s it. We saved you on a big fillet mignon at the speaker’s dinner. Such a small world though. Like, I saw the guys from the Traffic and Funnels and Laura Belgray. Like, it’s a real who whos. Your event is a terrific place to connect and meet big players. I met Ross there. And then subsequently, he came, and he’s visited Australia. It’s a good journey for Ross. You know, I’ve had a few in-depth conversations with him from where he started to now. He’s somewhat of a known quantity.
“Some people have a very specific way of teaching copy.”
Kevin: Yeah, and to me, that’s the most exciting thing. Look, some people have a very specific way of teaching copy. Some people teach a very specific kind of copywriting. Here’s what I love. I love meeting people at their passion and helping them, number one, realize they’ve already got what it takes, if they’re willing to put in some work, to have exactly the kind of career they want; helping them decide what kind of career they’d like to have, and helping them focus their study to reach those goals. Those are three things that without guidance, you can easily get lost and get discouraged.
James: Reminds me of our first Skype call.
Kevin: Yes, sir.
James: You know, that’s exactly how I feel, like when you can take someone with abundant talent, and they get the right vehicle, and they get the right distribution, and their business and their life starts to tune up, it’s tremendously satisfying and rewarding. And even to have the privilege of riding shotgun or becoming partners with those people, like, that’s the ultimate collaboration.
I can only imagine what it’s like for an Emmy-winning artist to collaborate on an album with another top well-known person. Like these Hollywood film stars when they get to play roles in films together. The magic that happens is hard to explain, and it’s definitely beyond the cubicle.
The entrepreneurs seeking copywriters
James: So you’ve talked about the freelancer type. Who else is in there? I know in the past, you’ve had business operators in there looking for copywriters.
Kevin: Yeah, there’s business owners, yeah. The other type, right, is, and frankly, when I started Copy Chief, I very much had that avatar in mind. There is a woman in particular named Wardeh Harmon, who actually was again, one of the first members in, and she had a fantastic business in traditional cooking, which is essentially eating according to God’s plan, is how they refer to it. So biblical diet, essentially. You know, fermenting and growing your own food.
And, you know, she had these amazing results when she started cooking this way and feeding her family this way. She had a son with a skin condition, it cleared up almost overnight. All these amazing results for health and wellness for her family. And so, having the ability to have her come in and watch her business grow around the same time, not because of Copy Chief, but along with help from Copy Chief, we did so many copy critiques for her as a group. She was on a lot of our Chief Chats. And we would work through some decisions she had to make with her business.
I watched her flourish and grow a huge following on Facebook. So like you’re saying, you know, it can be from the business side or the freelancer side. A freelancer, I could literally take under my wing and grow their whole career. But to see a business owner be surrounded by so many different copywriters and find their internal network of writers who really get their market, their niche, their goals, and be able to help them just as peers inside the community, not even charging them, right?
It just makes them feel good. It makes them feel validated. And the greatest thing about the exchange is that they implement the advice we give them and the critiques. And then they share the results. So we all get to learn in real time what’s actually working. And so our trainings are based on those kinds of results. It’s not just one person’s take. It’s not a theory. It’s not something I thought people might think interesting. It’s 100 percent results-based learning.
James: Yeah, well, you know, I’ve been sort of dipping into the Copy Chief pool of talent, so to speak. Brian was a recommendation from you. He helped me write the SuperFastBusiness sales offer. When I say helped, he wrote it, I paid him. Simple as that. But you know, like I had to give him all the data and then we had to…
Kevin: You played the role of great client.
James: I wanted to be a great client, you know? I’m a great payor and I want to give them all the data they need, and I’ll let them do their thing. And it’s transformed the business. I’ve had Carrie helping me with SuperFastResults and the emails and the offer pages, etc. And now I’ve got Peter going out, and he’s getting case studies for my book. Like, I’m putting them to work.
And it’s like, I don’t have to look far to find good talent now. I just go and get them. Up until last year, I wasn’t really spending much on copy. And I wasn’t going deep into being a copywriting nerd, because I know lots of copywriters. I have an understanding of what’s going on. But I wouldn’t, for a second, call myself a copywriter, heck, I don’t even type.
So it’s good to be able to access that level. And I know, when I’m dealing with them, I’m not just relying on their single source of input, they’re going back to the training pool and putting it to their peers or their mastermind. I know you’ve been in the background in some of the discussions that Brian had when it came to my own site.
“What’s important is someone visiting your site understands how you can help them.”
So like, accessing the genius of Kevin, who’s accessing the genius of John Carlton via Brian, I don’t care where it comes from. What I do care about is that someone visiting my website understands how I can help them and they’re ready to move forward. That’s what’s important.
Who else is benefiting?
So you’ve created this new building, you’ve made it easy for people to use, you’ve put some thought into what you’re going to expose them to, or not. And then you’ve got the clear path for a freelancer, you’ve got a clear path for a business owner who wants to get their elbows into this and really learn it. Is there anyone else who’s dipping into that, like me, like the business owner who’s just recruiting?
Kevin: Yeah, exactly right. That’d be the one other thing where if somebody wants to just hire, we actually made a special deal for them. It’s only one tenth of the price of the membership, because obviously it’s a win win.
James: Yeah, you’re making work for your members, which is tremendous.
Kevin: Making work for my members, and I’m helping them know they’re getting quality. And so, for $199, they can post their ad inside of Copy Chief, and they not only get it in front of, you know, a proven working pro, pro code following copywriters, but we also give them lots of great content on how to vet copywriters, how to pay copywriters, how to work with copywriters.
James: Where do we get that?
Kevin: That’s at CopyChief.com/hire.
James: Nice. All right. Well, I think that’s actually a really nice way to wrap this discussion. So the big message, you know, what I wanted to do was just have a little chat, see where you’re up to, like what did you do instead of Copy Chief Live. This year, you’ve basically renovated your core online business, which really was always the big daddy. The event came second. I imagine, knowing you, you are going to have like an all-swinging, all-dancing big time, like, makeup event in the future. I can tell it’s brewing.
Kevin: There’s some pent-up energy.
James: There is. But in the meantime, you’re just going to be grooving in this new beautiful membership, CopyChief.com. Kevin Rogers, you are outstanding. Thank you for coming along and sharing your story. I love to case study real-life stories. In this case, especially if you’re a partner of mine, you know, I’ve seen CopyChief from the beginning to now, and what I like is you’re always innovating, you’re always taking it up a notch.
So if you’re listening to this and you want to learn copy, if you’re listening to this and you’re a business and you’d like to have someone in your team or you do the copy for your own business, or if you are a business and you just want to get access to good copy, then CopyChief.com is a great stopover.
Kevin, catch you on a future episode.
Kevin: Thanks, my friend. Appreciate it.
James: This is Episode 783. So if you want to recap this, we put the whole transcription up, search for Episode 783. Also, if you liked what Kevin talked about, then have a search for Kevin. You’ll see a whole bunch of episodes from him dating way back before he was even a big shot. And you’ll find plenty of laughs and some really insightful information.
Got a professional or business interest in copywriting? Check out CopyChief.com
Liked the show? Enjoy all the episodes by subscribing on iTunes