Gurus, prognosticators, and other people to ignore

Mar 4, 2022

Issue #153                                            

I just got back last night from Justin Goff and Stefan Georgi’s Copy Accelerator event in Tampa. It was wonderful to be back at a live copywriter event in person and see and meet so many great people.

Several of my past and current mentees were there (and even on stage), and I got to share the stage with Marcella Allison and Kevin Rogers on a “Q&A” style Copy Panel.

I really enjoyed hearing Stefan and Justin share their approaches to doing copywriting research and coming up with (and deciding on) the “big idea”. It was a great complement to the six-step process I share in my new Research Beast course (which you can still get here at $200 off through Sunday only).

But there was a few things I heard while I was at the event that made me bristle up just a bit because I disagreed so vehemently. Some of the other “grizzled” veterans at the event I spoke with had a similar reaction.

It reminded me of a story I shared while I was on stage that taught me early on to ignore “gurus” and “prognosticators” who tell you XYZ doesn’t work or no longer works, or to avoid doing _____ because they’re no money in it.

Because a) they’re often wrong and may be simply basing this sweeping pronouncement on just a few isolated cases they’ve seen…

b) the direct response industry is huge and there are lots of niches and markets within it where one thing will work gangbusters, but the same thing won’t work elsewhere, etc., and…

c) they often make up new names and identify something as a new trend like Al Gore “inventing” the Internet, but they’re things that direct response marketers have been already doing for decades or something you learn in your first Marketing 101 class.

Less experienced or sophisticated marketers and copywriters will often seek out what’s that one “ninja” technique (fortunately no one really uses that term anymore) or trend that that will be the magic button that prints money for them.

There’s nothing wrong with taking in as many ideas and trends and then deciding what might work for your product and market, and then TESTING before throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In fact, you absolutely should.

But don’t simply take things as gospel from any self-appointed guru or prognosticator. Many of us who’ve been at this for a while have continually experienced contradictions and “rules”-breaking that result in huge wins.


Here’s the example I mentioned earlier that I shared on stage. Several years ago I was a guest at AWAI’s annual boot camp event. I was sitting in the back of a conference room checking my Blackberry (yes, that’s how long ago it was) while the head of Agora’s health division was talking about the best opportunities for health copywriters.

Just as she was telling all the copywriters in the room that they should avoid writing for any supplements linked to “prevention” like heart or anti-aging or osteoporosis, my Blackberry vibrated and hummed loudly.

I checked the email that had just come in to find it was from a client telling me they were getting ready to mail at least a few hundred thousand of my “Ultimate Bone Support” control and I’d be getting a royalty check that month for over $11,000.

This was a hot control that made their bone supplement one of their top-selling products, and they mailed it at least 6-10 times a year, so that was basically six figures in royalties a year for me from one promo. I just thought to myself, yeah, keep telling these copywriters to avoid this niche, I’ll keep all the royalties to myself.

Fast-forward to now, and in recent years we’ve seen heart and anti-aging supplements also become super-hot niches (and I’ve had several long-running controls there as well that have generated some fat royalties)… but hey, you could have taken this one opinion years ago to heart and completely missed out.

You could also mistakenly take to heart the idea that copy on its own isn’t enough to be a huge needle mover any more. Well, the “40/40/20” rule basically has been saying that for decades… the success of any promotion is 40% offer, 40% the list or market, and 20% creative (of which copy is just one component).

However, as I sat there hearing this I immediately thought of the new email I had written a few weeks ago in less than an hour that, when tested against the current control email (written by another top copywriter who shall remain unnamed), DOUBLED sales generated by the sales page (which I wrote) that it drove traffic to.

Or the immunity angle email I wrote a year and a half ago to drive traffic to one of my (still) hot control sales pages that boosted revenue by 33% from an already high-performing sales page. Yes, I can come up with more examples, but to believe or think that copy on its own can’t be a huge needle mover will simply have you leaving piles of money on the table.

I also balk at saying buyers in low emotional states, like those who are older or sick, tend not to be repeat buyers. The reason many of these people may not be repeat buyers is because all too often marketers put people through way too long of a funnel, causing them to feel regret for their initial decision to buy… and, more importantly…

NOT creating a customer experience that builds a relationship from the start, reconfirms their purchase decision in a positive way, gets them excited to actually USE the product, and having a back-end sales process that gets them to buy again.

Building this relationship and coming from a place of service with each offer you put in front of them is the way to build an 7 or 8-figure business based on “low emotional state” buyers.

It’s exactly the approach we took when I helped launch Healthy Directions nearly 3 decades ago, and grew it to more than $23 million in sales (or $40 million in today’s dollars) within 3 years, and only going to ONE list of people.

If you don’t spend at least as much time on your back end as your front end, you will constantly churn through new buyers and trying to get as much up front from those who do buy from you as you can, and the cycle will keep repeating itself.

There’s more I could say on this, but I would suggest reading anything written by Jay Abraham on this topic, or Brian Kurtz… because it’s based on years and decades of insights and experience… and because consumer behavior really doesn’t change over time, it’s just as relevant today.

But I’ve got to run. I’m moving my mom into an assisted living facility, so it’s a big day for her (and me). Wish me luck!

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. I’m going to be adding an interview I did a month or so ago with Rich Schefren for his “Steal Our Winners” program to Research Beast… and it gives you step-by-step how I came up with that immunity angle email that boosted revenue by 33% without changing a word of copy on the sales page.

You can find out more and enjoy $200 savings through Sunday when you go here.