Four Steps to Breakthrough Bliss


  • How to Double the US Economy Virtually Overnight
  • The Secret to Making A Billion Dollars Without Ever Offering a Single Benefit
  • The Astonishing Power of Powerlessness

Dear Business-Builder,

I remember not too long ago, I found myself on a conference call with a client's marketing team.

Our mission was to brainstorm major themes and leads for a direct mail promotion to promote a print newsletter on personal health.

We began as we often do, talking about what our prospects want and trying to figure out the ways in which our product fulfills those desires.

We talked about how health newsletter subscribers’ really only want two things:

  1. A cure for what ails them, and …
  2. Ways to avoid health problems that terrify them.

We talked about how, in order to be successful, our promotion needed to offer intriguing NEW solutions – things our prospects haven't heard of before.

We talked about how our prospects have matured tremendously since the "early days" in the early 1990s …

How they're more knowledgeable, more experienced and more skeptical than ever …

And how our promotion needs to be packed with undeniable proof that these new things really will work for them.

Just when we had pretty much finished the list of things we wanted our promotion to contain and do, a member of my client's marketing team cleared his throat (he does that a lot).

And what he said will boost response on this promotion by at least 50 percent – probably much more.

What's more, I'm convinced that if every direct marketer in America followed his advice, our national GDP would double virtually overnight.

But before I tell you what he said, let's lay a little groundwork …

The Secret to Making A Billion Dollars
Without Ever Offering a Single Benefit

Love him or hate him, you have to admit: Rush Limbaugh is a phenomenon.

Rush doesn’t promise riches, better health, social status, to ease your daily workload or to get you dates.

In fact, he never offers anyone one single benefit or presents a single “Reason Why” listening to him or reading him will improve your life in any way.

And yet, 20 million Americans religiously tune into his daily radio broadcasts. Hundreds of thousands subscribe to his newsletter. And masses rush to bookstores and snap up every book he writes.

In short, Rush has broken every "rule" of effective advertising and direct marketing – and he's become a billionaire (or darned close to it) anyway!

How does he do it?

A year or so ago, Limbaugh himself gave us the answer in an issue of his newsletter …

“The first year of my radio program callers would tell me how thrilled they were that there was finally somebody in the national media who expressed what they believed.

“For decades, conservatives had seen their values laughed at, impugned, run down. My radio program validated thinking that existed all over America …”

Put simply, Rush makes millions because he offers his followers something they value more than money: Validation – and the emotional release it brings with it.

Until they discovered Mr. Limbaugh, his devotees were frustrated with politicians, the media and the direction in which they felt our culture was headed.

But they had no voice. No power to change things. And worst of all, no outlet for the frustration and anger born of their powerlessness.

The Astonishing Power
of Powerlessness

Nearly all of us feel powerless at some time or another – and that powerlessness causes frustration and even anger to well up inside us. And unless we find an outlet, those negative emotions gnaw away at us.

Psychiatrists have long known that powerlessness – the feeling that we are not in control of things that directly impact our personal lives – is a major cause of both aggressive behavior and depression.

And many medical studies have even linked the frustration, anger and rage that powerlessness causes with weakened immune response and frequent physical illnesses.

That's where Rush comes in. He understands that millions of conservative Americans disagree with and are worried about the direction our government and/or society are taking – and feel powerless to "make things right."

And his magic is in providing a much-needed OUTLET for these pent-up negative feelings.

  • By acknowledging his audience’s deepest and most intense emotions, Rush validates them …
  • By expressing their feelings in ways that get heads nodding and listeners laughing, he gives his followers desperately needed emotional release …
  •  … And his followers reward him handsomely by buying just about everything the man produces or plugs!

In short, like any good business person, Limbaugh provides a product that brings value to people's lives and that they're willing to pay for.

And although Rush's product is both invisible and intangible, the emotional release he delivers is worth far more to his followers than the money they pay to get it!

Adding an Emotional Overlay
to Your Sales Message
Pays HUGE Dividends!

Now, you gotta ask yourself: If Rush can make a gazillion samolians selling nothing BUT emotional release …

How much more money could you make including an element of emotional release in your next promotion?

 …Which brings me back to my friend's response-doubling suggestion …

My friend observed that every one of the most successful promotions ever created for the newsletter industry was emotional, edgy, even angry.

More specifically, he pointed out that each of these promotions was written in the voice of the editor – and that in each case, the editor was riled up about … well, something on the reader's behalf.

And you know what? He was 100% correctomundo!

Every single grand-slam home-run promotion I've ever written – whether for investment newsletters, health newsletters, books on personal finance and even nutritional supplements has that one thing in common:

Each one acknowledged, validated and put my prospect's sense of powerlessness – and the negative emotions he had about his powerlessness – into words.

And by doing that, each of these blockbuster controls:

  1. Provided an emotional outlet for my prospects that made them eager enough for more that they bought my product and …
  2. Positioned my ersatz author NOT as a salesman, but as the prospect's friend, advocate and champion – and in the process completely neutralized my prospects "anti-salesman" defenses.

And you know what? This simple technique can work wonders for YOU – no matter what you're selling!

  • Put your sales copy into the voice of an advocate who acknowledges and validates your prospect's sense of powerlessness, his frustrations and his anger …
  • … Who provides an OUTLET for those pent-up frustrations by expressing them in ways that get the prospect's head nodding and even get him chuckling …
  • … And then does something even "The Great Rushbo" can't do – demonstrate how the advocate's product will permanently relieve the prospect of these negative feelings …

 … And you've probably got a HUGE winner on your hands!

Four Steps to Breakthrough Bliss

Creating a sales message that harnesses this powerful technique is as easy as 1-2-3-4:

  1. Identify the enemy – and make it personal! No matter what you sell, there's somebody out there in the same, a similar, or a competing field who's doing your prospect wrong.

    In alternative health, it's probably dimwitted and greedy mainstream doctors and surgeons and drug company fat cats.

    In the investment field, it could be greedy brokers, idiotic self-appointed experts and "talking heads" on TV investment shows – once, I even lampooned Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. My prospects loved it!

    In the personal finance field, it could be money-hungry bankers … heartless tax collectors … and everyone else who assumes that your money is really their money.

    What enemy is making YOUR prospects feel powerless, insulted, frustrated and angry?

    Whoever it is, personalize the enemy. It's not half as much fun lampooning hospitals, drug companies, banks and the IRS as it is skinning the greedy jerks who run them!

  2. Identify the things "the enemy" does that frustrate or anger your prospect, insult his intelligence or render him powerless.

    Does the enemy hide important information from your prospect? Does he lie to him outright? Does he treat your prospect as if he's a dunce?

    Is he arrogant and self-important – an authority figure just begging to be brought down a couple of pegs? Is he a sneak thief who nickels and dimes your prospect half to death?

    List as many offenses as you possibly can.

  3. Pinpoint how YOU feel about these kinds of people – and how you would feel if someone did these things to you.

    Then express those feelings more articulately and with greater emotional power than your prospect possibly could.

  4. Position your figurehead and his/her product as being the solution to the negative things the enemy does AND the balm that soothes the negative emotions your prospects has about them!

    Make your author righteously indignant – and explain why he or she is absolutely livid about the way the prospect is being treated.

    Say everything your prospect would just LOVE to tell the enemy. If you feel it's appropriate, call him names if you like.

    Last year, in a promotion on the Vioxx scandal, I had a sidebar with the headline …

Murder-For-Hire Ring BUSTED!

Beneath that headline, I had pictures of the CEOs of Merck and Pfizer – and the story (taken from internal company e-mails printed in The Wall Street Journal) about how they knew all along that COX-2 inhibitors Vioxx, Bextra and Celebrex would kill people, but promoted them anyway, just to make a fast buck.

Now, I am NOT suggesting that you accuse your competitor of murder – or say anything else that might get you sued for libel.

But to paraphrase Barry Goldwater, "Extremism in the pursuit of your prospect's well-being is no vice."

Hope this helps!

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

Looking for past issues of The Total Package? Click here for our archives.

Want to share or reprint this article? Feel free. Just give us full attribution and a link to our Home Page when you do.

Attribution Statement: This article was first published in The Total Package. To sign-up to receive your own FREE subscription to The Total Package and claim four FREE money making e-books go to

Looking for resources related to this article? Try some of these.

Looking for more of Clayton's articles? Check these out.

Looking for past issues of The Total Package? Click here for our archives.

This entry was posted in Archives. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Four Steps to Breakthrough Bliss

  1. Alex says:

    That was a remarkable post even for you Clayton.

    You have given us almost a template to use for our sales letters next year! As well as a superb lesson in Direct marketing!

  2. Tim says:

    Thanks Clayton!
    This is exactly the shot in the arm I needed… as I’m just starting work on a promo that needs to do exactly what you described here. Your timing couldn’t be more perfect. You made my job a thousand times easier – and the upcoming promotion a thousand times more hard hitting. Thanks again – and Merry Christmas to you and the Red-Head!

  3. Elsa is Elsa says:

    Brilliant! Positively brilliant! I have been wondering how to best get more people to respond positively to one of my messages – I think you have just provided one powerful answer. Thank you. Elsa

  4. Ruby says:


    I’m not in any of the businesses you mention, but I can totally see how I can use these ideas in my own promotions – and even in my everyday blog posts!

    This article is a gold mine of terrific ideas!

    Thanks so much, Clayton and Merry Christmas! (or Happy Holidays if you prefer :-) )

  5. Zee says:

    Sometimes something comes along out of the blue to knock you out of your complacency and look within yourself and say ‘WTF’ and a deep feeling arises that you’ve finally found the Rainbow and that rainbow is Clayton Makepeace and if one absorbs with conviction and actually works the talk the gold will be found – without a doubt – and this article is a huge nugget.

  6. Paul Flood says:

    Very powerful lesson Clayton.

    It reminds me of being in the car or watching somebody who is absolutely right (obviously thinking just like me:-) ) and saying, “Finally, someone who gets it!”

    Thanks for pointing out the nuances.


  7. Dear Clayton,


    Just what I needed to read today… Your posts always make me feel good after I read them. Your emotional insight SIMPLY ROCKS!

    You do that SO often. Just blows me away as I read a post you wrote, dealing with exactly what I needed to know. AND in a no nonsense way I can understand and USE.

    Sort of makes me wonder if there is a psychic connection here… Even way up in the cold north of Wisconsin the vibes of what I need and I am sure many other copy cubs need must be touching your conciousness. And then you WRITE ABOUT IT!

    Clayton, just know the Desktop Copy Coach helped me launch a successful copywriting career. It took me two years to really come into my own. I just broke position #3 and I am on the first page of elance, out of over 4,000 copywriters. I did it just over a year after signing up as a provider.

    I know elance is not going to be forever. But I love the unique and awesome people I meet there.

    2010 I launch my own copywriting website and I am living my dream!

    I work at home and LOVE IT!

    The money is good, really good, better than I had hoped for!

    The law of attraction is real.


    Clayton, I owe a lot to you more than you could know.

    Here’s to you, Clayton, keep on writin’ we all are waiting for the next great pearl…

    Jennie Heckel
    Wisconsin Copy Cub

  8. Great. Now I’ve got to overcome a lifetime of being taught “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all”.

    The relief is tremendous. Finally, permission to be less than nice, to point out those less-than-stellar characteristics within a market.

    Don’t you think we all walk around with our own versions of Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Wilkes on each shoulder?

    I wrote a piece on a local issue. My neighbor said, “I don’t ever want you mad at me.” His “compliment” elevated a fearless power of an impassioned cause, written under the guise of helping out the quiet ones too meek to raise a voice. It got so “bad” the local police chief made me promise not to write about certain things, “Now Cheryl, don’t go writing about that unless you talk to me first.” (I learned later I offended a few people).

    So I returned to writing really nice stuff. Looking always for good and the benefit of why.

    Reading your post tonight made me think of developing an actor’s mindset. Think of the possibilities of what we could write if we positioned ourselves as “playing a role” with the passion of a Shakespearian actor. From that perspective we could play any role as a writer.

    I mean, after all, who wants to walk around with so much strife in our lives, filling our thinking with all those injustices, fighting another cause, raising a voice just to write good copy? :)

    Another mind-opening post Clayton, thank you.

    Merry Christmas – please extend my greetings to Wendy and the rest of your family.


  9. Chris says:



    Or, maybe “Brilliant” is better.

    … or how about “way to get the truth out there!”

    There is so much garbage and hype-y “feel good” copy out there. It pisses me off because there is no passion in most copy.

    There is nothing that stirs a man soul in most of what I read.

    Would William Wallace inspire farmers to fight a army of soldiers with happy-happy joy-joy copy?!!!

    No friggin way!!

    Passion stirs a man’s soul. People follow passion. People follow those that STAND FOR something.

    I was nodding my head the whole way thru your article. If it had a buy button at the end of it I would have dived for my wallet.

    Well done.

    And, thank you.

    Be great eh!

  10. matt says:

    Fantastic! Thks for growing my business through great articles like this one.

  11. Maurice says:

    My Passion for copy writing has really started to excel recently and these articles / comments are like GOLD.

    No doubt I will be investing in Clayton early Jan 2010

    Merry Christmas & I Hope You All Have The BEST New Year EVER

    Best wishes

    “Keep your DREAMS alive…..”

Leave a Reply to Paul Flood Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>