This is the second time I have interviewed John Carlton and I am really pleased with the information John generously revealed. We covered off the topic of long versus short and video versus text once and for all!
John Carlton Interview Summary notes:
Q: Is John the greatest living copywriter?
John refuses to be called the world’s greatest living copywriter. He would rather that he was referred to as the most ripped off and respected writer online. John also thinks that the highest form of praise is to see people mimicking his work, and following him and really keeping an eye out for everything he does.
Q: What is your most ripped off ad?
The one legged golfer ad was one of the most famous things he’s written. It’s been recycled and reused countless times since he first wrote it about fifteen years ago. It became a very powerful example of how to do a ‘hook’. He spent more than a decade perfecting his craft and has now spent another decade teaching people what he learned. John feels most rewarded when he sees people come up with good ideas as a result of his teaching.
Its all about Bullets!
One of the greatest learnings I have learnt from John is how important it is to write punchy bullets. Listen in as he drops a HUGE hint about the way he writes copy!
John hops on the ‘Hot Seat’
On my last post I asked ‘What’s the biggest question you would like to ask John Carlton?’ and got hundreds of replies. My plan was to run through many of these questions and have John answer with the first thing that comes to mind. (In the call you will see how hard this is!!!)
Q: What’s more important, injecting character, storytelling, or learning the ways of the NLP ninja?
John says storytelling and personality are way up the list of important things and go together because it’s hard to have a good personality without telling stories. Although NLP can be powerful, he thinks that personality and storytelling are your first choice weapons and NLP is way down the list.
Q: What are your thoughts on long sales letters versus videos?
Videos are sales letters in a different form. If you asked the question, ‘how long will it take me to get my point across?’ If you can deliver the hook, make them listen to you and get them to give you their money, whether it’s a long or short letter or a long or short video, it doesn’t matter as long as you accomplish your goal which is to make that sale.
The proven winner?
What’s been proven to be most effective now is a combination of a video and written text at the bottom. The reason this strategy is so effective is because you engage your customers in a multi-sensory level.
The goal is…..
Bottom line is whether you use videos or sales letters, you have to be able to make your audience in an ‘active state’ and moved enough for you to make the sale.
Use videos correctly
Videos can be vital only if we use it in the best way possible. This means delivering the right kind of sales letter in conjunction with the other basic sales process that always includes text in some way.
Start out with text?
You’re always going to start out with text, on emails for example, it’s always faster and easier to send a text email with a URL for people to go to instead of them waiting for your video or audio to load before they can understand your message and we’re almost certain that very few will stay waiting long enough.
Q: What tips do you have when it comes to writing squeeze pages?
Every step of the way in a sales process and in any kind of human interaction where you are trying to influence the behavior, so try to cut your sales process into little chunks of progressive pitches that get people’s attraction incrementally.
Move in small steps
Where your heading sells the sub heading, your sub heading sells the video, the first few seconds of the video sells the next few seconds of it and so on. On squeeze pages, the goal is not to sell a product or make them like you, it’s to get them to say ‘ok, let’s see what you’ve got’ and give you their name and email address, plain and simple.
Avoid this rookie mistake!
You’re not supposed to make your squeeze page a mini sales letter because what it’s for is not to sell a product yet, it’s to sell the idea that they should move forward and listen to you further.
Q: What time management system have you created to meet deadlines?
A deadline forces you to finish something. Without deadlines, nothing is ever finished and you are in the mercy of an ambiguous and vague finish line that does not exist. There are novelists who put their books out after a decade. On the other hand, there are very prolific, really good writers who put books out every year because they set deadlines for themselves.
Sleep your way to deadlines…
John has a Freelance Copywriting Course an there’s a part in it where he talks about setting deadlines. John will often do all the research, make an outline in bullets and then go take a nap and tell himself that when he wakes up he will have a headline and that works for him. This process has been used by successful writers.
Q: What makes a top copywriter? How can you tell if a person is a top copywriter and not a average one?
It’s almost impossible to tell if a copywriter is good unless you know the process yourself. You may hire someone to write for you and if you do and you do not know anything about it, you wouldn’t know why it fails or sells.
You MUST learn to write sales copy
The lesson here is everyone must learn how to write their own sales copy. The biggest most successful guys write their own stuff, they may hire other writers to do smaller things like social media but when it’s something very important, they write it themselves.
It is not all about technology
John says you can have all the technology in the world, the best product but if you don’t have a good sales copy, nothing will move. Are you willing to entrust that to some stranger?
Starting from scratch
Looking at it the other way around, you can lose all the technology, all your money but if you know how to sell, you can become successful again. The ability to sell is a skill that can never be taken away from you.
Q: Is there a next big trend in copywriting?
Copywriting hasn’t changed since people knew how to write. People have been selling since the beginning of time. Copywriting is salesmanship in writing. As long as there’s selling to be done, there will always by copywriting and there’s no next best thing, it always has and always will be like that.
Scared of selling?
People are often afraid of selling. If they only thought of it as ‘providing a service’ they’d learn to really develop the skill and see the world in a different light. If you’re in business and you have a problem with selling, you shouldn’t be in business. Salesmen lead better lives because of the rewards that go with being aware that you are trying to improve other people’s lives by giving them the solution and a better choice.
Q: What is the single biggest mistake that you see people make when they’re writing a copy?
Not understanding what’s going on in the head of the prospect. Most businessmen when they sell ‘talk at their customers’ when what they should be doing is using influence and persuasion. Instead of trying to force someone into agreeing with you, join the conversation and make them realize ‘on their own’ that they need you or what you’re selling.
At this point I had a realization and defined John Carlton’s way of answering the questions. He does not just give the answers, he gives metaphors and examples to really make it sink in and understood and ingrained in the listeners mind. Throw in a bunch of ‘reasons why’ and you have a long yet detailed answer that is much like a sales message! (The point I’m trying to get across is that he does this without thinking!)
John’s answer to me was that I was absolutely right, and that this is all part of persuasion.
Q: What is the Simple Writing System Express Course, and what do you advise your clients that they can craft their USPs and powerfully differentiate their offers in the minds of their audience?
Lesson number one is the ‘bar conversation’ which is the quickest way to get into the head of your prospect and understand what’s going on in his head rather than focusing on what goes on in yours.
Lesson two is about describing who you are and answer the ‘why you and not someone else’ question and very briefly explain to someone the essence of who you are and what you’ve got and why it’s the best and why.
Become the ‘go to guy’
USP is the ability to position yourself uniquely in your market in order to sell. It can be positioning yourself to be the cheapest, the best, the most interesting, the guy who tells the best stories or the ‘go to’ guy. Now if someone else positions themselves the same way, keep changing your claims until you are the absolute unique. However, keep in mind that being unique does not equal closing the deal.
Q: Have you got any particularly powerful ‘take action’ phrases that cause people to take action?
There’s no magic word but what you need is to know the language that makes people act. What’s worked is as simple as addressing the opportunity and highlighting it. Experience tells us that we may come across life changing opportunities maybe two or three times only in our lifetime and they do not announce themselves with thunder and lightning. Quite often, if you’re not conditioning yourself to be ready for that big opportunity, it just passes you by.
You are allowed to have goals?
John Carlton himself was not that atuned and ready for opportunities until he read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. He then learned to set goals for himself and dream and make a plan and actually be allowed to go get it. Having read that book was the biggest opportunity for him because it taught him to really take action in the direction of his goals.
Emphasize your opportunity
Knowing how life changing one opportunity can be, we must make an effort to really emphasize it. However, a lot of people in the world do not fully understand the power of being sensitive to opportunities so they can grab it. The challenge there is being able to speak in that language that is emotionally meaningful to your prospects for them to see the true, once in a lifetime opportunity that you are presenting. The success of this also depends on the type of market that you’re targeting so you have to be able to match their thoughts and catch their attention.
Q: How would John sell Simple Writing System in print?
The phrase then, for Simple Writing System would be, ‘what more are you waiting for? You have all the proof you need, there are respected people telling you that this is what they used and recommend.’ Another thing is, people are afraid of change, there should be a warning that says ‘your life will change when you use this because what this is will do is give you enough to be successful’.
My results so far
Finally we talked about how John has been telling me to put more thoughts into my emails and as I started to practice that, I have seen huge improvements on click-through and open rates on the emails I sends out. Doing something you will always do better than doing nothing.
Simple Writing System
John talks about how the Simple Writing System also gives you an opportunity to receive help from a community of those who have tested it and have been successful because of it.
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