I’m getting a little bit worried
about this whole “copywriting guru” thing
Seems like every time I open my browser and Google “copywriting” or “marketing,” my b.s. detector begins screaming like a banshee these days.
You can’t throw a rock on the Web without hitting a self-proclaimed marketing or copywriting expert …
- Guys and gals nobody ever heard of preening as “legendary” marketers or copywriters without presenting even a shred of evidence that any client ever even hired them — let alone that they’ve ever created a single winner …
- Folks who have never promoted anything but their own products who pass themselves off as authorities …
- “C” and “D” level copywriters who really should shut the hell up, go to school themselves and hit a few out of the park before sharing their “pearls of wisdom” …
- Folks who don’t even DO marketing and couldn’t tell you what’s working and what isn’t — right now, today — if you held a gun to their heads.
And — surprise, surprise — every blessed one of them has something to sell you. And more often than not, they charge truly outrageous prices for their products.
“Those who can do, DO. Those who can’t do … TEACH.”
So goes the old saw about college professors. Until recently, it was NOT true about most online marketing and copywriting coaches. Most of the names you know spent decades producing legendary winners for their clients in heads-up competition with other top writers.
But now, I’m seeing ‘way too many wolves in sheep’s clothing online: Self-proclaimed “experts” who evidently can’t make it in the real world, so they hang out their shingles as authorities.
Is that bad?
Not necessarily …
On the one hand, most of the materials the poseurs sell are little more than advice they’ve “borrowed” from real experts. So, truthfully, although I cringe at deceptive self-promotion and plagiarism, it’s only on rare occasions that I feel even the biggest frauds out there are passing out advice that could really hurt you.
On the other hand, money is a scarce resource for most — especially for copywriters and marketers just beginning their careers. You can only buy so many books, courses and other training aids. So it just makes sense to buy only the best.
After all — when you buy these things, you are investing in yourself — your career. And like any other investment, your mission is to get the greatest return on investment possible.
So how do you get the biggest bang for your buck?
Here’s some stuff to think about BEFORE you unlimber your checkbook or credit card for any copywriting or marketing advice …
Ask yourself: “Am I ready?”
Call me an old tightwad, but in my not-so-humble opinion, it’s idiotic to spend good money on training until you have devoured — even memorized — the massive volume of free advice from true masters of marketing and copywriting that’s available online and in your local library for free.
Want a great place to start without spending a red cent?
Get thee to a library!
Check out Caples … Hopkins … Ogilvy … Schwab … Schwartz … Collier … anything by Drayton Bird and the other books on the recommended reading list we’ve included in our FAQ.
A great second step would be to get your name on every mailing list in the market niches in which you want to work. This will cost you — you’ll have to buy something from each of the companies with which you ultimately want to work — but it’ll fill your mailbox and inbox with great copy and studying those promotions will teach you volumes.
(Hey — did you think Bencivenga, Rutz, Halbert, Kennedy or Makepeace ever took a copywriting course? HAH — the one thing ALL of us have in common is that we learned our craft by reading the masters, studying each others’ promotions and then going to work!)
Another great free resource: Click here. And when you’re done reading and re-reading those articles, check out the archives at other copywriting sites. Legendary Gary’s Bencivenga Bullets, Drayton Bird’s Bird Droppings and the late, great Gary Halbert’s site come to mind.
Come to think of it, since there’s so much great copywriting and marketing guidance online for free, it would probably make more sense for young writers to invest in a course on speed reading than on anything else!
What’s that you say? You’re doing all of this?
Congratulations — you are wise.
So now, maybe a great course on copywriting would be a prudent investment.
Which ones should you buy?
Well, I’ve often recommended Michael Masterson’s course and I still do. And — although I’m admittedly biased — I think Quick-Start Copywriting System is tops. And frankly, there are probably other copywriting courses I’d be happy to recommend if I knew about them.
Plus, there are books, courses and seminars on just about everything else you’ll do as a marketer: Direct mail and e-mail marketing … PPC and SEO … even on basic direct response theory and product positioning and branding.
So how do you know which ones will be worth the money to you?
How to Separate the Sheep from the Goats
So now, you want to take your career to the next level with a book, a course, maybe even a live seminar.
But with so many gurus online, how do you know which ones will help you the most?
Here’s some stuff I’d do …
- Give the marketing for the product a reality check. This is crucial, so I’m going to say it loud:
The simple truth is, neither I nor anybody else can make you a million-dollar copywriter or marketer. You have to do that yourself.
It takes time. It takes intense study and more intense work. And it takes patience and the guts to stick to it when every brain cell is screaming that you should quit.
All any of us can hope to do for you is to help you shorten your learning curve — help you get bigger winners sooner and hopefully, shave a few years off the time it takes you to get to the big bucks.
Anyone who tells you different — especially anyone who claims copywriting or marketing are a “lazy man’s way to riches” is a lying sack of excrement in a suit.
If they’ll lie to you about this, they’re also perfectly capable of lying to you about their product, their testimonials, their guarantee and refund policy, everything.
- Check out the guru who created the product. Does he/she have plenty of testimonials about his/her expertise from companies or other experts you know and respect? Do they say he/she has created winners for them in the real world?
- Search the copywriting and marketing boards. Do others speak highly of the expert and recommend his/her products? Do other experts and customers recommend the product you’re contemplating buying right now?
- Scan the Web. When you Google the expert’s name or the product title, do you see only glowing references? Or do you find red flags that suggest the expert and/or the product are not all they’re cracked up to be?
- Check out the company. Does the company you’re buying the product from offer a money-back guarantee and a spotless record for honoring their guarantee and issuing refunds promptly? (A quick check of the Better Business Bureau and/or other online consumer sites could give you the answer.)
The best investment you’ll ever make
I gotta admit it — there’s a lot I love about helping marketers and copywriters accelerate their careers. The testimonials we get — especially the ones that include details on how we’ve improved their response and/or income — give me no end of personal satisfaction.
But there’s something I do NOT enjoy: The sad fact so many folks who buy self-help products never really USE those products. It breaks my heart to hear about people who spent hundreds, even thousands of dollars on training but have never put that training to work — or worse, who have never studied the materials they paid for.
Do NOT be that guy!
Put what you’ve learned to work right away. And if it helps you, send a nice testimonial to the person you bought it from. Or better yet, hop on the copywriting and marketing blogs and forums and tell the world about it.
So here’s your assignment for this week …
Post a comment below to tell us the very best marketing and/or copywriting products you’ve bought — and the worst?
Your review will help thousands of your fellow marketers and copywriters discover the things that really helped you — and they’ll also help us all avoid products that overpromise and/or underperform.
Hope this helps …
Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
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