A candid conversation
with direct response scholar
and rising copywriting superstar ANTHONY FLORES


In this issue:

  • How a new copywriter wrapped up a fat cat client (ME!) with just two quick phone calls …
  • The single most powerful response-boosting secret in any successful promotion …
  • How people-watching can make you rich …
  • The unparalleled power of writing to the whole brain …
  • How trying to be creative can kill great sales copy – what to do instead …
  • The #1 blunder new copywriters make that sentences you to blank page block – and how to blast through and write better copy faster …
  • The two most common mistakes made in financial promos today …
  • How to give your headlines an “unfair” advantage over the competition’s …
  • How “writing in layers” can multiply your response rates …
  • And much, MUCH MORE!

Dear Business-Builder,

Greetings,

I’ve got some great stuff for you in this issue – a candid interview with a young man who has knocked my socks off, and who’s about to make you some serious money, AND the most exciting announcement I’ve ever had the pleasure to make in this e-letter!

We’re talking to Anthony Flores – and for my money, he’s one of the two greatest students of direct response copy I’ve ever met.

In fact, Anthony impressed me so much, I hired him – both as a copy cub and to help me bring you an exciting new tool for writing better copy faster and getting bigger winners more often!

I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to have Tony’s incredible research skills on our team — skills he honed while attending Stanford University (one of his good friends even dated Chelsea Clinton; but we won’t hold that against him!)

After college, Tony’s business savvy, marketing wisdom and sales copy helped double a friend’s natural health company in 2004 and then doubled it again in 2005 to nearly $3 million in sales. That’s when copywriting legend (and notoriously tough critic) John Carlton praised his writing as “damn good”.

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend an hour picking Tony’s brain … getting the secrets he’s used to become a highly paid copywriter virtually overnight … and his ideas for ramping up your response …

Clayton:

Why don’t we begin by having you tell me a little bit about your background?

Tony:

Okay. Well, I’m the oldest of four kids. I was born and raised in Southern California. I went to Catholic School and private school pretty much all my life. In High School I went to a really intense, all boys school, run by Jesuits and it was a good experience.

There were certain things missing, like girls, but it was very, very intense academically. I focused a lot on learning and from there, not only did I get a good education but that helped me get into Stanford as well. In a lot of ways it was more difficult than Stanford when I got in.

Once in College, I realized I didn’t have quite the same focus or direction. In High School I knew exactly what I was aiming for but in College, I didn’t.

So I ended up getting more interested in tennis and school became kind of secondary. But that was also a very good experience; it prepared me for getting into marketing. The Tennis Coach, Dick Gould, he was really a master of persuasion. He raised millions and millions of dollars for the tennis program and he just understood selling at a deep level.

He actually sent out some letters but a lot of it was face to face; he was just a great, natural salesman in a lot of ways. In that experience I really got to see what it was like to network and persuade people and to raise money and that whole thing. So I learned a lot.

After College, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I kind of just hung out and dabbled for a year or two. I got interested in health and started to work for some natural health companies and learn more about that industry.

One of the companies I worked for had some Jay Abraham books. I started reading those and got really interested in what he was saying, partly because I was involved in a lot of the nitty gritty of day-to-day of business.

Jay was saying some revolutionary sounding things, things that I now know are very common Direct Marketing principles. But the first time you hear them, they sound extremely revolutionary.

So I was definitely impressed by all of Jay Abraham’s stuff. I just got more and more into his work and eventually I heard about – I got more fully immersed in Direct Marketing because he kind of spins off into Claude Hopkins and to copywriting and all the other guys, too.

Clayton:

Had you done any sales work? When I was a kid I sent off for this greeting card thing in the back of a comic book.

I sold greeting cards door to door when I was ten years old. (Laughter) Ever do any stuff like that coming up, anything to indicate that you’d have an interest in sales?

Tony:

Not too much. Although, in College I actually did one thing that was very interesting for the Stanford Fund. My job was to cold call and ask Alumni to contribute money. It was a fairly intense sales experience.

They did their best to make it fun and to help you deal with the rejection that you would get the vast majority of the time. And they would post some really, really funny quotes on the wall to relieve the tension a bit.

Like some people would say, “Yeah, I already give money to the College every month, it’s called Student Loans.” (Laughter) That was the closest I think I’ve done to Direct Selling.

Clayton:

So you had the opportunity to handle objections — right?

Tony:

I did.

Clayton:

That’s great. At the supplement company, you were saying that there were only two of you really working there but you doubled sales?

Tony:

Yeah, exactly. In 2004 sales doubled, and then in 2005 they doubled again to almost $3 million.

Clayton:

Did you do any sales copy during that period time or was it mostly telephone work or what?

Tony:

Yeah, a lot of it was telephone work but I did do some sales copy. One of our clients, actually our biggest client, had a huge on-line following and we supplied him with materials.

I began offering him sales copy to sell our stuff on his site. It was a good experience for me because I got to see everything with real money on the line, I got to test things live and see how I was doing.

Some of the initial results were surprising. Just from a few of the first letters that I wrote for them, some of them were close to 50% response rates. Several of the early letters brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in a fairly short period of time.

I relate that experience to – you know how in David Ogilvy’s book, he has the chapter where he describes Direct Marketing? He says that one of the things that hooked him on Direct Response Marketing was when he was a kid and he had to sell people coming into a Bed and Breakfast.

So he wrote a letter and it was completely sold out in a really fast time. The last sentence he had in this section was like, “I had tasted blood.” (Laughter)

And that’s how it felt to me. I had this experience of seeing all this money coming in from sales copy that wouldn’t have normally come in. It made me realize how powerful it was and that I might have a good future in it.

Clayton:

It can be addictive. It sounds like you just kind of fell into this. It’s been kind of a happy accident that you found the vitamin company that you worked with and you’ve progressed since then. You called me – I think we first met back in March right?

Tony:

Yes.

Clayton:

And you came to me with a great idea for a newsletter by pointing out a weakness that I had in The Total Package; the on-line e-zine. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?

Tony:

Okay. Well, right after kind of finding out about Jay, I went through every copywriting book and course I could get my hands on. All my extra time and money was going into that process.

From reading the classics, like Claude Hopkins and all those people to AWAI to a lot of the major players in this industry.

When you came out, I was just so impressed with the quality and the content and just everything about it. I was hooked into reading the newsletter every week.

But I also started to realize, with many of the secrets you were teaching, I didn’t know quite how to use the material in my own writing; especially the emotional stuff.

There’s a lot of things that you teach that are extremely high level but it’s not quite so apparent how to use them. I kind of had this feeling like if I’m experiencing this with all the work I’ve done, all the courses I’ve taken and the time and energy that I’ve put into it this process—then there’s probably a lot of other people like me.

That’s when I came to you with the idea and I said, “Hey, look, this has been my experience. You’ve got a great service but I think that we can bring them more. Here’s what I think I can do; this is the role that I think I can play in it.”

It actually taught me a really powerful lesson about persuasion and working with people. Because – and you probably don’t even remember – I actually emailed you first last year.

We first talked about this specific project in March or February; but I tried to send you some stuff the previous year and I never got a response from you. I had Fed Ex’d you some of my materials but it was basically very “me” centered. It was based on trying to get you to help me become a copy cub and become a better writer.

So that’s the lesson here. Most business people are way too busy to care about your desires and goals. On the other hand, the prospect cares about himself, he doesn’t care about you or your company or what you want to do.

The second time I approached you, and I don’t think I did it consciously, I just made it all about you. I focused on what I could offer you, what I could bring to the table for you, how I could help you and it made a huge difference in your response.

And I think that’s worth noticing for anybody who’s looking to work with somebody important in this industry. Rather than think of yourself or what you’re trying to get out of the situation, really focus on what you can offer and what you can deliver. Doing that, I think you’re chances of getting through are a lot higher.

Clayton:

Yeah, well when you came to me the second time you pointed out that we were missing the visual element and actually showing the application with the principles that I was teaching. It was something that I was keenly aware of. You anticipated a need and then came up with a solution.

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about working with you is that you are a solutions guy. There are a lot of people who end up focusing and obsessing on a problem and kind of take a negative tact – you could of very easily said, “Well, this guy’s stuff is just – I don’t know what he’s talking about”, and cancelled your subscription. (Laughter)

But instead you came up with a brilliant solution and that solution is now The Screaming Eagle™ monthly print newsletter, which is twelve pages of intense content and the Ride Along that shows actual application of these principles in action. I think it’s going to be a great help to a lot of people.

Tony:

Thank you. It’s exciting to me because I think it’s a way of helping a lot of people who have been in the same shoes that I’ve been in. So to help them kind of go through the process that I’ve gone through all your controls, looking at other promotions and then really making that connection.

I think it’s priceless knowledge.

Clayton:

In addition to the fact that you’re, arguably, one of the very top scholars of Direct Marketing and Copywriting that I’ve met; I would put you and Daniel Levis in a class of your own in terms of your grasp of the principles and what the masters taught.

In addition, I got a very pleasant surprise when you wrote some promotional copy for me. It was very strong. Now I see an awful lot of sample copy by beginning copywriters or younger copywriters that doesn’t grab me. And yet I saw yours and thought, “Wow, this guy, he’s already there.”

So, how did you get there so quickly?

Tony:

Well, thank you first of all. I think I’ve really immersed myself pretty heavily with everything I could get my hands on.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about copywriting is something I learned directly from you. It’s that there’s really two sides to it – just like when you had an issue in The Total Package on the brain and how there’s the right brain and there’s the left brain. I’ve generally been a person that likes to appeal to both sides; the mathematical, linear, logical side and then also the creative side.

That’s one of the things that I’ve tried to emulate in watching you. I think one of your biggest secrets is that you put tremendous energy into coming up with the powerful logical, unquestionable argument that becomes the outline and foundation for your copy.

And then you also put a huge emphasis on that strong emotional angle that’s really gonna hook people and make it awfully hard for them to look away. The thing that ultimately makes it an impulse sale.

So I’ve worked very actively to get good at putting both of those sides together. I’ve looked to work both sides into everything that I do. And I think you’re one of the first people to really – I know everybody mentions emotions – but I think you’re one of the people that’s really given everyone practical tools for harnessing more emotional power into their sales copy.

That’s one of the things I knew, coming from benefit-centered approaches like AWAI, that I had to work on aggressively.

When I came into you, I realized that this emotional side of copywriting that that’s really where selling is; that’s what makes the biggest difference in results. And it’s not even just in direct response copywriting; it’s in all the industries, all the movies and books, and promotions selling anything.

So, getting that from you and then really working hard to put those lessons to work helped me progress tremendously.

Clayton:

Well I think that’s really what it’s all about. There are a lot of great copywriters who don’t really think that much about prospect’s emotions but are so good at presenting benefits up front in a compelling way and a credible way, that they invoke those emotions almost by accident.

But early on in my career I was working, like you did for a while, in fundraising — and I realized that in that situation, emotion was all I had; I didn’t have a product to sell. It was a very natural progression for me.

So tell me how has copywriting changed your life?

Tony:

It has in a lot of ways. Besides the freedom and the money I can say I enjoy my day a lot more. I get to work – I’m a morning person so I get to work a lot in the morning. And then a lot of times it allows me to take a break in the afternoon and then work again at night.

Then there are the wonderful people I get to work with, people like you. It’s allowed me to kind of live out my dreams and to really design my life a lot more than if I were working in a normal job or a normal 9 to 5 business.

Another thing that I think is unusual—and I thought about this in reading your interview with Daniel Levis—is that, I think copywriting has actually helped me understand human nature a lot better.

That’s just an extremely valuable skill. Daniel’s whole thing is really brilliant. It’s like copywriting kind of forces you to get a direct behavioral understanding of people.

So many people base their decisions, feelings and overall thinking on how they want people to act or how they believe people might act. But as a copywriter, you have to learn to address basic principles of human behavior that always work.

If you don’t throw out your personal opinions, your results are definitely going to show it. So copywriting has taught me to study and then consider the realities of human nature as I approach my prospect – and as I live my life. That’s a big secret to persuasion, success and overall happiness.

Clayton:

I’m constantly people watching, even when I’m watching television. If I’m seeing a news event, for example, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on inside their heads. What are they thinking?

I think you’re absolutely right and Daniel’s right about human nature being the key here.

I’m not sure what comes first though, the chicken or the egg. Whether we’re good copywriters because we love to see what makes people tick or if we like to do this kind of voyeuristic people watching because we’re copywriters.

I think, in my case, it’s just a natural curiosity about other people’s experience in life and their fears and desires and frustrations.

Tony:

Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen you do this in The Total Package a lot: You look at people like Rush Limbaugh and try to figure out what made them successful. Then that really helps you get leverage and get some insight that you can use in your own promotions and increase your own results.

Just the other day, the movie Superman came out. The score was written by John Williams, who’s also done the music for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, ET, all these huge movies.

I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow, this guy is a multi, multi-, multi-millionaire.” And I began wondering, “What’s made this guy so successful?”

The answer is obvious: Williams knows how to compose music that captures like the full emotional impact of those movies.

That’s an incredibly valuable skill, something very applicable to writing copy. Being able to evoke feelings people want to experience is worth its weight in gold.

Clayton:

Absolutely. And we’re not just talking about fear and greed, here. There are certain unspoken feelings that everybody has; and they include all our insecurities and fears.

I think you can pretty much improve any piece of copy by recognizing that those feelings are not unique to us. If we’re having them, chances are everyone else—including our prospect—is having them as well. And if you speak to them, your readership will soar.

So what are the two or three lessons you’ve learned about persuasion in print that have had the greatest impact on you?

Tony:

The first thing is to always offer people what they want. It’s simple but people so rarely do it.

My first attempt to get through to you didn’t even register because I wasn’t offering you what you wanted. The second time, I offered you something that you wanted, needed and were looking for. That made it successful.

Many writers make this same mistake. It’s natural — and a lot of times we haven’t acquired like the discipline as a copywriter and as a marketer to prevent our own desires and needs from conflicting with the process.

So really seeing that maximum success of any piece of copy is all about the prospect’s wants is huge.

The second thing is to forget about creativity. I know that’s gonna sound weird but I mean to at least forget about creativity in the normal sense.

I remember Gene Schwartz, once said, “The word creative implies taking nothing and making something, like God does. We’re humans, we can’t do that, so instead we’ve got to be connective.”

Gene was talking about being able to connect two things in a unique way, in a way that hasn’t really been done before.

I think being connective is one of the single most valuable skills that you could ever acquire as a copywriter.

I’ve seen writers who can do this, have tons of success very, very quickly. If you can really go through a lot of controls mailings and be able to mentally categorize them and understand the context, it’s huge.

You don’t even have to do this mentally if you have your Swipe File really well organized. Anytime you come into a new situation that’s somewhat similar to a previous one, you’re able to make the connection between them. That lets you borrow ideas, themes and concepts that have worked well in previous areas or in previous promotions.

You’re truly just being connective, seeing something that worked and then making that connection to your present situation.

And it doesn’t just work with other controls or other copy, it works for creative breakthroughs in entire industries. I think this one of the reasons why Jay Abraham is heralded as being one of the most creative people in the whole industry.

He’s able to take these direct response principles and go into a new company and make connections that the people within the companies can’t see. Things that other marketing consultants can’t necessarily see.

Clayton:

You’re absolutely right. Having a good memory for copy, too, I think is important. I constantly remember words and phrases that had an impact on me a decade or more ago and sometimes it’s just a line from a movie or sometimes it’s maybe a piece of sales copy I saw.

But the argument resonated enough with me that it got filed away and making those connections with work I’m doing now is absolutely essential.

And you’re right about Jay, he has core concepts that he can connect to just about every company out there and offer excellent chance at quantum growth by doing that. And one of the things he’s most famous for is taking things from one industry and applying them to another.

Tony: Absolutely.

Clayton:

I’ve known Jay since 1972 or 73 – and I still talk to him on the phone about every other week. He’s spawned a whole lot of copycats who have taken his principles and have started teaching them now, too. Many of them taking credit for them but Jay’s the original.

What mental processes do you go through when you’re starting work on a promotion?

Tony:

Well, I think because I don’t have decades of experience like you do, I had to develop a system for shortcutting that issue. And basically it’s in line with what I said about connectivity.

I’ll look at what I’m selling and then I’ll go into my Swipe File, which is growing every week. I’ll look for things in my swipe file that are kind of similar.

If I’m selling a supplement or if I’m selling a specific service, I’ll look and see if I can find any similarities from promotions that have been successful in the past. I’ll start to get ideas, selling angles and it’ll also help me get in line with the real benefits. This gives me a really quick glimpse of what I should be focusing on and what I shouldn’t be.

I remember in your interview with Gary Bencivenga, he said something similar about his early days. One of the senior writers he was working with said, “Every time you start an assignment, I want you to go into the file, look at what is working and then only do that stuff."

“And then also,” he said, “I want you to look at this other file where nothing’s worked and I want you to avoid doing any of that stuff.”

The next thing is to just start assembling the copy. Don’t get too caught up in trying to make claims or to make promises or create headlines or do any of that stuff right off the bat.

Just start assembling the different parts of the copy. Simply work on whatever component you can, get it onto the page and then just start ordering things and filling in the gaps.

I think trying to make the big headlines, big promises and everything work right away is one of the things beginners find especially challenging.

But you’re just not in a position to do that early in the process. So really immersing yourself and just starting to get involved with the material and starting to assemble and order it, to put it into some kind of pattern or sequence and see how it all fits together, is a huge relief.

It accelerates the process and I think it helps improve the quality of the copy.

Clayton:

And that gets into what I’ve written about so often, about how your brain works.

You’ll be working on a headline, like I’m doing right now – I have three new headline test panels I have to do for a particular package and it’s just not coming. The ideas just aren’t there for me. And so switching off and doing something that’s more detail-oriented, using the accounting “left brain” for a while will make the difference.

I know that when I return to the headlines, the ideas that I’ve been really searching for and knocking my head against the wall to try to come up with will be there for me.

It’s just a matter of being sensitive to which part of your brain is active today and doing those tasks. So you’re never forcing yourself to come up with a headline or great opening copy when you’re accounting aptitude is more active. Or slogging through 200 pages of testimonials when you’re creative aptitude is saying, “I want to write some headlines”.

That gets back to human nature, too. Because when you’re talking about understanding human nature, understanding your own nature is critical. Understanding under what circumstances you do your best work.

I found out early on that working for an hour then taking 20 minutes off to do something completely not work related at all, was a big help for me and sped up the process of writing immeasurably.

It’s kind of counterintuitive because you think taking all those 20 minute breaks during the day would really slow you down but it actually did the opposite for me.

Tony:

Yeah, I found that same experience to be true. One of the things that I think helped me – in that same lecture that I mentioned by Gene, he took out a little timer and he has it set for like 33 minutes and 33 seconds.

He recommends you go through that time and then you take five minutes off. And then you go back and you do the 33 minutes, continuing the process. Gene’s rationale was similar to what you were just explaining about the headlines.

It’s that when you’re working actively you’re actually not creating. You’re creating through your subconscious, when your mind isn’t working directly on the project. So a lot of times, like you were saying, when you take that break or go somewhere else or you do some other kind of work, all the sudden the idea pops up that you’re looking for.

That’s why it’s works for me, you and a lot of other writers to have multiple projects going all the time.

You immerse yourself and you get involved in one project and you really kind of let that material go into your subconscious. Then, you jump to the next one and then all the sudden when you’re on that next project, you’ll have ideas for the previous project.

They pop up because your mind has had a break from it and was able to start creating – or ‘connecting’ at a subconscious level.

Clayton:
Absolutely. So you’re spending most of your time these days going through direct mail pieces and Web promotions and identifying the techniques in them that have been proven to work well over many years for our new Screaming Eagle™ newsletter. How’s that going for you?

Tony:

(Laughter) It’s going really well; I’m enjoying the process. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be able to do it because it is a lot of work. It’s a lot of reading everyday and it’s a lot of intense thinking. But it’s so illuminating, I’m just seeing incredible keys to making good copy work well.

I’ve had the good fortune of learning very quickly, and I’ve been able to see myself at different stages in such dramatically different ways.

I’m seeing so much more of how the elements work together. It’s like I’ve got x-ray vision now and I’m able to say, “Okay, wow, this is the argument behind this copy, this is really strong” or “Look at how this credibility element is helping here” or “These are the emotions that are at work.” I’m just seeing all the little details that go into these promotions. It’s a huge help and it’s turned on a lot of light bulbs in my head.

I think one of the things I’ve realized too, is that in any area of life, in any skill especially, the finer your level of perception, the more details that you can see and understand, the better you are.

If you think about an athlete, they just know, like Kobe Bryant or a great tennis player or a great golfer, they know all the little nuances of everything related to what they’re doing. They see things at such a fine level of detail and that’s just a sign of somebody who’s a master at their craft.

Top copywriters are very similar. If you, Clayton, were to look at a piece of copy, you see all the little pieces and elements, how everything’s working together. And you see it a lot more vividly than somebody who doesn’t have a lot of experience or doesn’t have a lot of skill.

That’s why the process that I’m going through for The Screaming Eagle™ is so valuable to me and to anybody who wants to get better. It helps illuminate and it gives you that crystal clear vision of all the different little components. It just can’t help but make you a much better writer and a much better marketer.

Clayton:

Are you finding many promotions that you feel are very weak or could be dramatically improved or are most of the promotions you’re seeing in the mail right now pretty good?

Tony:

That’s an interesting question. I got a disk from Wendy the other day with almost a decade worth of financial promotions, and I spent hours and hours one day just scanning through them. And one of the things I noticed, especially in the financial industry, is a lot of the headlines just started to blend together after a while.

It was a definite contrast between a lot of the headlines that I’ve seen from you, the more emotional ones like “The Seven Horsemen of the Coming Stock Market Apocalypse” or “Shameless Two-Faced SOBs”, the ones that didn’t necessarily have a huge benefit in the headline but just really grabbed my attention.

Whereas many of these other ones I was seeing had headlines like, “Grow 512% Richer in the Next Gold Boom” and I started to see the same thing over and over again.

I imagined being a prospect in that market and getting hit with the same claims in the mail over and over and over and over again, eventually I know I’d become desensitized.

Everybody’s making the same claim, and prospects don’t have the time for “more of the same”.

That’s also why your dominant emotion promotions were so huge in a lot of ways, they seemed totally different.

In terms of body copy, I’m also seeing that many promotions don’t have quite as much momentum as those written by people like you or Arthur Johnson. Actually most of the other controls that are out in the mail right now aren’t written quite as forcefully or as fast moving.

A lot of momentum comes from the headline. That’s what usually separates the “A” writers from “B” writers: “A” writers just demand that their headline be different and be strong.

It’s not that it works 100% of the time or that they hit winners every time. But having that intention and that demand really increases the odds that they’ll stand out and bring more momentum into their overall copy.

Clayton:

There’s something organic that happens, too, if you’re in the mail a lot.

For the last year I’ve been focusing like 90% of my efforts on the health industry and I have a client who’s mailing in the millions every month. That gives us the opportunity, every single month, to test headlines.

So with three or four or five test panels available every single month, I’m able to try some stuff that I would never be able to try if it was the first mailing of a new package for example. That intelligence you get back from the market is really valuable. Especially as you go about the process of trying to knock off a control or establish a control for the first time.

At any given time I may have 10 or 15 or 20 headline tests in the mail and I’m getting updated data on those tests on a weekly basis.

I see headlines that generate high readership but actually lower my average sale. Everything else in the package is identical but there could be a measure of disappointment, for example, if the headline over promises and the copy under delivers on that promise.

In other cases – I’ve got one now where I was sure the headline would increase the response rate by 20-30% and it didn’t, but the average sale has jumped almost 30%. And so I went from an ROI of 110% to over 140%.

Right now, I’ve got some headline panels out there that nobody would even suspect were written by a direct response copywriter — and that’s by design.

I’m looking for the people who have received this promotion many times in the past and not responded to it and I’m looking for other promises and other ways to get their attention on the package. So just having that wealth of information is an extremely valuable tool.

In the body copy, I think there’s a lack of understanding among a lot of younger copywriters that the purpose of this thing is persuasion.

That means that you need to persuade the reader of your credibility and of your point of view — and the thing that I see missing the most in this area is specificity when we’re talking about both product claims but also when we’re trying to establish credibility of the author.

I think if I had one criticism of the body copy I see; it would be that there just isn’t enough of that specificity in the text to make the thing feel credible.

I know a lot of writers don’t like to use statistics in the text because they think it slows the copy down. But there are other ways to keep the copy moving and I’m sure you’re going to be pointing out a lot of those in The Screaming Eagle™.

Tony:

Definitely, and I think the point you’re making is, a lot of times, it’s just an issue of hard work. Not so much in terms of hours but it’s that willingness to go the extra mile when you’re in the research phase or when you’re in the writing phase.

When you make a claim and it feels sort of general and you know that it’s general, and yet you just kind of say, “Okay, whatever.” Well, that “whatever” is just something that could end up killing you later on.

And so just having that discipline and having that demand on yourself to say, “You know what, I’m gonna make this more specific and I’m gonna do whatever it takes to look up the info I need.”

It doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to work any longer, but it is about working harder in the sense of demanding that you’re really gonna go all the way with it. That’s something that you always do and it shows.

Clayton:

The combination of credibility and momentum really is lethal.

If the prospect believes in your expertise and believes in the value of what you’re saying and then also feels like you’re respecting his time by moving him through this quickly, you’re likely to get the sale.

But that balance is hard to achieve and sometimes it takes many years.

There’s another approach here, too, Tony: The idea that I write in layers. I can go in and I can write my basic offer copy and my product copy and get all the benefits in there and then set it aside.

Then, I come back another day and make sure my editor’s personality is in there.

And then go back another day and make sure that I’ve infused the text with specifics where they’ll help my credibility.

And then go back another day and make sure that I’ve touched all of the relevant emotions that I feel I need to invoke in order to make the sale.

So it can really be a layering process and I think that gets back into the idea of how your brain works, too. Because one day you’ll be really in touch with the emotional side of it and another day you’ll be really in touch with the specifics and those are two really very, very different functions.

Tony:

That’s actually what one of the Screaming Eagle™ issues is going to be about. Not only is it about momentum, but there is a section on writing and editing in layers.

I’m surprised I learned this process on my own without discussing it with you, but I learned it’s about beginning with the fundamentals, having clarity and everything else there.

And then after that’s accomplished really coming in and saying, “Okay, how can I make this more emotional?” or “How can I pick up the pace, the speed?”, “Can I add more colloquial expressions and idioms?”, “Can I make certain sections shorter?”, “Can I make the subheads more explosive?”; all the little things. Yeah, you’re right, it’s so powerful.

Clayton:

Well, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about the Screaming Eagle™ and what we can expect in upcoming issues?

Tony:

Okay. Well, as we explained in the beginning that basically the goal of it is to be a bridge for writers who want to see the principles you teach applied in real promos in the real world.

I’ve had the great privilege of working directly with you, of improving my copy very rapidly, and so this is meant to give others access to those insights.

Sometimes, and we all have a tendency to do this, people can’t help but see guys like you as almost supernatural when it comes to copywriting. These things work for you, but you’re a genius and all of us are mere mortals.

But the Screaming Eagle™ is for a normal person who just worked hard, studied your secrets, related them to winning packages, and improved like crazy. It’s all overseen by you, and so our readers get both sides. They get your incredible expertise, great in-depth examples, and then get to see how someone just like them is using the material with tremendous success.

Here’s another really cool thing. While many of The Total Package issues cover a variety of topics, each issue the Screaming Eagle™ will focus on a very specific topic. It will take something like credibility and really look at all the different ways that you can enhance the credibility of your sales message.

For example, in looking through yours and other promotions, I found that at least 18 different ways that you can add more credibility to your sales copy. And it’s all presented in such a way that anybody can just look at how it’s done in the promotions, see the explanations and then be able to quickly apply that to their own copy.

There’s another entire issue on creating momentum in your copy — something you’re a master at but is rarely ever taught.

The September issue – our very first — is totally focused on writing more powerful bullets and fascinations.

It’s a skill that’s been a huge factor in the success of people like you, Gary Bencivenga, Gene Schwartz, John Carlton, Parris Lampropoulos and many others.

One of the things I discovered is how much being a good bullet writer can help in other areas—like writing headlines, subheads, teaser copy and more.

We examine 21 different bullet writing formulas that can be used to attack any piece of information, tons of examples, and then specific practices for quickly making over any bullet.

At first I wasn’t sure if I was on the right track, but then I showed a draft of the issue to some very successful writers in the industry, writers with controls for KCI, Agora and others. They were totally blown away. They now have it on their desk and use it when it comes time to write bullets and fascination of their own.

So that’s how I envision each issue. I’ve made each a really, really powerful reference to be able to have next to you when you’re writing copy.

With this first issue, you’ll be able to look at all different kinds of information and hit each fact with three, four, five, six different bullet styles. You’re not limited by saying “how to”, “how to”, “how to”, “how to”, over and over again. You really have a lot of possibilities.

So I’m very, very excited. I think that the level of specificity we’re offering, along with the extreme focus, is going to make a big difference in helping readers – as you say – write better copy faster and get “bigger winners more often”.

Clayton:

And each 12-page issue comes with our Ride Along insert that actually shows real promos in which these techniques were used in successful mailings.

Tony:

Correct. The purpose of it is to show how the secret looks in the context of winning copy.

We show you what to look for, what to notice and how you can apply that principle yourself.

Clayton:

Well, Tony, I think The Screaming Eagle™ is going to be an incredibly powerful tool for copywriters. Both for younger writers and beginning writers and also for people who hire and direct writers. And of course, for folks like me who always can use a reminder or a new idea, or a new way of doing something.

Thank you Tony, for this time today.

Tony: You’re welcome, Clayton.

Hope this helps!

Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Clayton Makepeace Signature
Clayton Makepeace
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE

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2 Responses to A candid conversation
with direct response scholar
and rising copywriting superstar ANTHONY FLORES

  1. Malcolm says:

    For a beginner, this was a great insight into the minds of two copywriters I greatly admire.

    Clayton, I haven’t noticed these little gems before, that is the interviews, so a pleasant surprise. Just purchased the Bonus Bonanza this last week and so I am looking forward to reading through each component some more. Very pleased indeed.

    Tony, I was able follow you a little when I first started subscribing to The Total Package and enjoyed your contributions enormously. Haven’t seen you around much since then. What a joy to discover that you have contributed to emotional triggers words….. I think … sssh … I’m at work !

    Have a great day !

  2. Mike says:

    Clayton/Tony,
    How do I get my hands on The Screaming Eagle™???

    Thanks this was great…ml

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