Author Archives: Rob Drummond
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Author Archives: Rob Drummond
Broadly speaking there are two things you can write about when emailing your list:
1. Things that immediately help your reader
2. Things that challenge them, or jolt them awake
You need both types, but they belong in slightly different places. The things that immediately help a reader are what entices them onto your list in the first place. Successfully challenging their thinking is what keeps them subscribed over the long term.
As time passes, I’ve become less interested in the former, and more interested in the latter. Things that immediately help someone are usually tactical, and quickly expire. It’s hard to get to the truth of a situation when you’re outlining a seven step process.
How then, do you jolt someone awake?
You point out the thing they’re not seeing. The thing that’s lurking in their blind spot.
Because as much as we like to believe otherwise, we all DO have a blind spot. Assumptions we’ve made, or things we think we know that actually we don’t.
What’s in your reader’s blind spot? That’s the thing to focus on.
My work is really about finding and educating potential customers. Which is fine, if you already have a flow of leads.
Once you have leads coming in, you can and should build out remarketing campaigns, email sequences, direct mail sequences and so on. Especially if you’re selling something expensive.
But if you DON’T already have leads coming in, this is not the place to start…
Most likely, you need to narrow down on a group of people who have money and a particular problem. And you need to get a working lead generation offer in front of them.
Otherwise, working on your email sequences and remarketing ads is like colouring in the leaves on a tree, without first putting the tree trunk in place. Or at best, having a fuzzy unclear trunk.
You don’t even need to develop your lead generation offer very much to begin with. Creating a good opt-in incentive is a lot of work, but you should only do the work once somebody has raised their hand and requested it.
As soon as that happens you have work to do.
An important rule of thumb when writing to your list is to never apologise. Ever.
If you say you’re going to email every week and disappear for a while, because you’re busy or whatever, then don’t apologise for it. Just get the next email prepared and carry on.
If you make a mistake in an email or get something wrong, don’t apologise for it.
If you word something badly and offend a bunch of people, don’t apologise for it.
Just yesterday a writer in my writer’s circle was talking about adding a page to his website called “my mistakes.” He intended this as a point of diligence and transparency.
“No no NO!” I replied. “My SUCCESSES,” maybe. “My TESTIMONIALS,” maybe.
Magnetic people do not go around apologising for stuff. It just isn’t attractive to potential customers. We all know that Frank Kern has a lot to apologise for, but funnily enough he never does.
You don’t have to be arrogant or offensive about this. But you need to be assured in your own knowledge and materials. Every time you apologise you undermine that assurance.
So stop doing it.
I attended a networking and problem solving day last week. The group was a small intimate one; a safe space to open up.
One lady had a start-up venture in commercial property. She wasn’t a big talker, at least initially. We talked a bit about the Easter weekend, the weather and such like. I’m not great at small talk, and neither was she.
As soon as she started talking about commercial property, everything changed. Suddenly she lit up, and the floodgates opened.
Listening to people get really excited about a topic causes a small bell to go off in my head. From a copywriting perspective it’s like striking a vein of silver. The challenge is to capture both the content and the enthusiasm before it evaporates into the atmosphere.
The only way to do this is to record conversations. If you try to write up the conversation later on, you miss too many of the details, and too many small turns of phrase.
I record conversations in a few different ways. I have a recording app on my phone, called ‘Voice Recorder’. You just tap ‘record’ and leave your phone on the table. The file size of the audio is small, but it does drain your phone battery if you’re recording for a long time. (Take a charger).
I also have a call recorder called ACR for recording telephone conversations. Very reliable, good quality recordings and small file sizes.
For online meetings I use Zoom to record calls, which is reliable.
Once you have the recording, you need to get good at listening through at 2X – 3X speed. Once you have a good volume of material, you need to pick it apart quickly. You don’t have time to listen again at regular speed.
It can help to transcribe important calls (I use rev.com), but you’ll want to listen through again first before you pay for a transcript. I use the free audio editing software Audacity to chop out only the sections I want transcribing.
I want to point out a few things that are easy to forget when creating Facebook ads.
1. Facebook has always been a personal medium – a place we go to snoop on and interact with people we know. Or even better, people we used to know…
2. It isn’t your right to appear in anyone’s Facebook newsfeed. It’s a privilege that can very easily be taken away. Viewing it that way changes the way you write your ads.
3. The first question we ask when we scroll past an ad is: “who the hell is this?” If you’re not famous or a friend, you better have something super-compelling to say.
4. There is no secret story formula to write super-compelling ads. People who don’t know you don’t want to hear an epic sob story.
5. Unless your business relates to a hobby or interest (an ACTUAL hobby: not property, marketing or something) it is hard to get traction with people who don’t know you. Often the clicks are just too expensive.
6. Facebook is highly visual, and well-suited to video. You might consider promoting videos to people who don’t know you, and only running conventional ads to people who watch the videos.
7. Your ad image is as important as your ad copy. (Without an effective image, nobody will read the copy).
8. As a starting point, I’d plan on spending 75% of your Facebook ads budget on people who already know you (through retargeting).
I’ve been thinking of starting my own ‘Google Translate’ service. Not a language transcription service… but rather a simple way to understand everything Google tells you.
For example (some of these are directly from the Google Ads blog)…
Google says: “You should raise bids on mobile”
Rob says: “Unless you have data to prove otherwise, you should probably lower bids on mobile”
Google says: “We’re enabling a safe digital advertising ecosystem”
Rob says: “We’ll repeatedly disable your ads for no reason”
Google says: “You should optimise ads for clicks”
Rob says: “You should rotate ads indefinitely and optimise for profit”
Google says: “Build a better mobile experience”
Rob says: “Create a fast-loading mobile landing page, you dummy”
Google says: “Disney and Google expand strategic relationship”
Rob says “(Not even gonna comment on that one – breaks translator)”
Google says: “How evolving user patterns drive new ad experiences on YouTube”
Rob says: “We’re gonna change the names of all the YouTube ads formats every seven seconds”
Google says: “An insider’s look at the latest Google Ads innovations”
Rob says: “Watch out! Here’s what we’re about to change in the interface next!”
More translations available on request.
The maze is a model for nurturing customers across multiple media. Today I would like to illustrate how this works, by using that bastion of design, Microsoft Paint…
The maze could also be thought of as your universe of awareness.
Potential customers who are unaware of you are outside of it. Once somebody first encounters you (sees an ad, meets you, sees a video, etc), they’re effectively here, at the edge:
Unless you operate to a very short sales cycle (e.g. you’re a locksmith), you’ll want people to opt-in to a media form you control. This could be an email opt-in, chatbot subscriber, print newsletter subscriber. Once this happens our contact is now further inside the maze, closer to you inner sanctum.
Once they sign up for your service, they’re basically in the middle (or close to it). The absolute centre of the maze is customers who sing your praises, leave glowing testimonials, and make ongoing referrals.
The problem is that as time passes, everyone in your universe of awareness is moving further away, all of the time.
Even customers subscribed to a subscription service move further away. With each day that passes where they DON’T engage with or use the service they’re paying for, they move further out (and become less likely to renew).
Which is a nice theory. But how do you build this in practice?
For somebody who arrived at your website yesterday (and didn’t opt-in), what do you show them next?
What advertising networks do you use? (Facebook / Google Display / YouTube)? How long should you advertise to them for? What percentage of your ads budget should you spend on nurturing vs selling?
These are all questions I address in this month’s edition of my print newsletter, Maze Marketing Insider. This month’s letter outlines two specific ways to nurture new contacts using remarketing.
A good email opt-in rate on a landing page might be 10%. This is a way to nurture the other 90%.
If you’re a subscriber, it’s already in the mail to you.
If you’re not, you can join us risk-free here. The deadline for this month’s print run is today. You’ll get the PDF version after that.
Membership includes my archive of newsletters and webinars going back to 2015 (now organised by topic), and all my books. Money back if you don’t like it.
There’s an assumption in marketing that people won’t read very much, and won’t think about things very deeply.
That’s probably true for 90% of the population…
…but it isn’t always true.
One of the lists I subscribe to is Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings letter. The letter goes out once a week, and contains a cross-disciplinary investigation of art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more. Maria’s emails are well researched, illustrated and detailed. I don’t even like to read them on screen – I’ll often print it out.
For me the cross-disciplinary aspect is critically important – without insights from a range of disciplines I would quickly become bored. It’s the same reason I don’t just write about Google Ads, copywriting, or some other tactic in this letter. It would be dull for you, and for me.
You have to decide who you want to attract with the content you put out. Do you want to attract people looking for tactical soundbites about a specific topic?
Or do you want to attract people like me, who disappear down four intellectual rabbit holes at once?
The former outnumber the latter, by a long way. But the latter do still exist, in large enough numbers to build a sizeable business.
The most important thing is to choose.
One way to improve your ad performance on any network is to focus on a smaller geographic region.
Targeting the whole of your country (assuming you sell nationally), or even multiple countries is a fine way to test an idea. But if you’re doing that long term you’re probably missing a trick.
I was thinking about this the other evening, watching a quiz show called The Chase…
The format of the show is that four contestants answer questions individually in a cash builder round, where each correct question is worth £1,000 for example.
They then go up against a professional quizzer, and have to answer a number of multiple choice questions correctly to outrun the Chaser, and proceed to the final chase. If they’re caught by the Chaser, they’re out.
They can choose to play for the amount they earned in the cash builder round. Or they can go high or low. High moves a step closer to the Chaser, and earns them about ten times as much money if they get through. Low moves them a step closer to home, but decreases the money they take back to the team.
Before deciding which offer to accept, they turn around and ask the other team members what they should do…
In the British show, the suggestions are nearly always conservative. You’ll hear things like “you’re a good player, we want you back, just take the low offer.”
In the American version of the show, you’ll hear things like “YEAH GO HIGH MAN! You’ve TOTALLY got this…”
In the American show the Chaser will sometime offer a ‘super offer’, where the contestant can move a step closer to the Chaser still (for mega big bucks).
How does this relate to your ads?
RUNNING THE SAME ADS TO THESE TWO GROUPS OF PEOPLE WOULD NOT WORK.
Huge cultural differences exist within your country – not just internationally. This is often an easy if laborious way to improve ad performance.
And a reason you might want to have multiple copywriters working on your ads.
P.S. Every time someone corporate tells me they’re responsible for the “EMEA region” (Europe, Middle-East and Asia) I puke in my mouth slightly.
P.P.S. Europe is not a thing (see Brexit).
If you’re running remarketing ads across multiple networks, it’s critically important to document your ads.
I wanted to share a quick video today of how I document mine. If you do this as you go, it only takes a few minutes. And it saves you hours of head-scratching later on, especially if you need to pass your ads management to somebody else.
The document template can be found here. Select file and ‘make a copy’ to save it.