3 Lessons Learned From a Titan of Copywriting

typewriter centered on a desk with a telephone and pad of paper and pen

I was on the phone earlier this week with copywriting legend John Carlton and we were ranting about all sorts of topics.

(You know, like you do when you’re on the phone with John Carlton.)

He made the observation that the next “big thing” in marketing may not be in the areas of whiz-bang technology, but rather in the blocking and tackling techniques of adept career direct marketers.



That’s not to say that technology won’t continue to move at the speed of light. But certain methods just don’t change.

Great writing still rules. As they say here at Copyblogger, The writer runs this show. And those who spend more time storytelling and less time figuring out the next big “Ninja technique” will be the winners for the long haul.



Ninja techniques create revenue events. Great copy and creative approaches create businesses.

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A Complete Guide to Crawling Inside Your Customer’s Head With Empathy Maps

two men sitting on a bench outside a diner, a woman leans against a wall next to them

Jack Ungulate is a strange bird.

When he drinks beer, he licks his index and middle finger, swipes the bottle opening, and then pauses, with the bottle raised to his mouth, before turning it upside down.

Each time, every time.

He also has a routine with his steel-toe boots. The left one must go on first, then the right. But he takes them off in reverse.

And then there’s his ritual when buying large ticket items like a car: he sends his wife to the lot while he sits in the garage, waiting for her to call.

When people talk to him about saving for his children’s college fund, he quickly cuts them off to inform them there is no fund because he’d prefer to cultivate a sense of ownership by encouraging them to pay their own way through school.

He enjoys the scowls that appear on their faces.

As he methodically replaces a defective steam gauge on a heating system, he thinks about his father and why they never talk. Then he contemplates how he’s going to break it to his own son that he won’t be able to make it to his kayak competition that evening because he has to cover a co-worker’s night shift.

The overtime, however, will go towards their trip to Cancun in April. That should ease the sting.

Clearly, Jack is not so much strange as he is just complex. Like most humans. And all of your customers.

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How to Be in the Top 5% of Bloggers: New Research Results

Department of Blogging Labor Seal

We’ve said it so often you’re probably sick of it.

Content marketing doesn’t work unless the content is genuinely worth reading.

Routine, phone-it-in content won’t get you the audience, the leads, the prospects, or the conversions you need.

Andy Crestodina over at Orbit Media Studios is one of the content marketers who really gets it. When I found out that Andy had conducted a survey of more than 1,000 bloggers about the specifics of how they work, I knew that I wanted to get a post together to share our takeaways from the survey.

Good content takes time. It’s a lot of work. And it can be hard to put the time in when we have deadlines and publishing calendars to meet.

This tension is built into the lives of all content marketers. Every blogger and every content creator is looking for that balance between quality and quantity. All of us.

So how much time and how much work does it really take?

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How to Plug the Holes in Your Content Funnel That Are Costing You Money

image of a woman with short hair and quote Hi, I'm your customer, remember be?

Content is not king.

Yep, I said it. (This guy did, too.)

In the realm of content marketing, the customer is ruler of our domain.

Without falling deep into a series of Game of Thrones allusions, let’s agree that all content must be created with the customer’s needs in mind. Otherwise we are wasting time and resources as marketers.

I’ve already written much on personas and their usages across digital marketing, but it’s tying those personas to user journeys and content that yields remarkable increases in conversion.

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How I Wrote Three Books in Three Years

image of a row of books with human-like bookend

Writing a book can be a long, hard slog.

The “miserable” parts of the experience have been documented over and over again. Or just ask any author on a book deadline — or let the thousand-yard stare speak for itself.

Not all of us can have an entire corporation behind them churning out novels, taking the stress off, after all.

And though authors are unquestionably helpful to each other, they don’t always give the best advice. Think how many times you’ve heard this old trope: Just put your butt in the chair and write. It’s true, but that doesn’t help you right now, does it?

I don’t want to give you advice like that.

I want to show that there is a way to publish prodigiously while baking the marketing into your work.

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Are You Confident in Your Content Marketing? (New Study Suggests You’re Not)

cover image of CMI study

Here’s a fact about content marketing that’s actually shocking.

The 2014 benchmarks, budgets, and trends study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs (sponsored by our own New Rainmaker) is out, and it includes a number of surprising findings.

Most notable is this: There remains a wide gap between the number of small business B2B marketers using content marketing (almost all of them) and those who believe their content marketing efforts are effective (less than half of them).

That’s right — 55% of small business B2B marketers using content marketing believe that their efforts are, at best, having zero impact. Something is clearly missing.

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