The best way to be missed when you’re gone is to stand for something when you’re here.
– Seth Godin
Statement of Intent
I am for Experts and Creatives.
I will turn up every day to help you build a business on your terms. I will help you create clients who respect your work, who elevate you as a professional and pay you your worth.
I will work with you to find a way to prosper and secure your future without compromising on your values or the work you do.
And I will help you create marketing you are as proud of as the work you do.
To change the culture of marketing for small businesses that sell their expertise and creativity so they are empowered to do their best work.
To provide the best free and premium resources and services for Client-Creation Marketing for Experts and Creatives.
The Framing Question
I’m a lore person. I like back stories, origins, providence. I read it all.
So, when I first fell into copywriting, I devoured everything I could and pretty soon was reading about Gary Halbert (1938-2007).
Halbert wasn’t around at the beginnings of copywriting, but he’s been called the Godfather of Direct-Response Copywriting.
As well as writing for clients, he sold his own products and there’s a good chance he sold something directly to someone in your family. And I know exactly what it is…
In 1971, Halbert and his family were broke. He’d tried a few business ideas but they hadn’t panned out. He was down to his last shot, so, he put a methaporical gun to his head.
He went to his basement and sat down to write a sales letter. For every word he wrote, to picking the envelop, the stamp, deciding how to write the address, even where to post the letter, he asked himself one question: How would I do this if my life depended on it?
The result was a mail campaign that has generated between $63,000 a day to $250,000, depending on who you read. Whatever the real figure, his bank had to set up a section to handle the volume of orders. Eventually, Ancestry.com bought the rights to the letter for $75 million.
And the letter?
It was selling family coats of arms.
You might have seen one of them hanging on the wall in a relative’s home or even in your own parents’ or grandparents’ house. (My uncle and aunt bought a double-crest version. It’s still hanging in the kitchen.)
Direct-Response marketers talk about Gary Halbert’s Coat-of-Arms letter to this day. (I hand-copied it out to understand the subtleties – a time-honored copywriting tradition).
They talk about his everyman writing style. The attention he paid to detail. How strategic he was when he picked his partners. And for those who knew him personally, his charisma.
But I think what made Halbert successful comes back to that one question he asked himself when he sat down to write that letter in 1971: what choices do I make to be exceptional?
I believe that’s his real legacy.
So, let us ask ourselves this…
If all your future work were based solely on referrals from your very next client, what would you do on that project to guarantee those referrals?
I’m betting that answer would be, exceptional work.
It’s my job to make sure you get the chance to do just that. By working with clients who will be your platform for excellence. Who will pay you your value. And who will be your greatest promoters.
And I’ll do that with marketing you are proud of and that reflects your highest values as a professional.
Selling vs Creating
Then I studied Conversion and Direct-Response copywriting and went deep down that rabbit hole to a land where sales and conversions are everything. And Direct-Response excels at getting the sale.
That’s a problem.
Direct-Response copy is so powerful it is often used to paper over cracks.
Here’s an example…
A very well-known and respected direct-response marketer I know shared a story of attending an inner circle meet-up of top-tier marketers. One A-list copywriter told them about a gig he was hired for and the sales target was $10 million. He blew through that target even after a 50% refund rate.
Think about that. You are so fixated on sales that success is selling something so mismatched that 50% ask for their money back?
This is copywriting covering over rubble.
While not at that extreme level, I’ve seen the same thing myself. Cosmetically enhanced offers dressed in the very best copy money could buy.
And when I kept hearing a 2% conversion on a sales funnel was a win, I knew there had to be a better way.
So, I started looking for a way out.
That’s when I read Andre Chaperon and Shawn Twing over at Tiny Little Businesses.
It’s when I went back to Seth Godin.
And that journey crystalized into a single idea…
Your best clients are not found. They are created.
And this happens when we make a shift in how we think about our marketing. From marketing “at” to marketing “with”. Because when we commit to marketing with someone, we need their permission.
Seth Godin had an idea. Only market to people from whom you have explicit permission.
And how do you get that permission? You earn it by creating valuable, relevant and anticipated content.
It’s a marketing approach that leads to these conclusions…
- Your marketing needs to be generous
- It needs to lead
- It needs integrity
Seth calls it Permission Marketing and it differs from how most Direct-Response Marketing is done in a very important way…
It’s not about the sale.
The dominant theory in modern marketing is, make a sale to get a customer. Permission Marketing is not about making the sale. It’s about creating your client or customer.
This is the opposite of Sales Marketing. And it means you and I can do marketing we are genuinely proud of.
Ok. Enough about marketing for a second. Let’s get all grandiose!
The Power of Small Acts
For all the bad news that rains down on us, for all the monumental screw-ups we have managed to unleash on ourselves and the planet, we have somehow managed to make our lives better generation after generation (https://informationisbeautiful.net/beautifulnews/).
And I have a theory why…
It is not because of the actions of our leaders or singular inventions or breakthroughs. Yes, they absolutely count. But they are nothing without what really matters.
It’s the acts of duty, kindness, empathy, imagination, caring, and old-fashioned hard work that billions of us contribute every single day.
In isolation, they are drops in the ocean.
Together, they are the ocean.
This site, the information I’m sharing and the services I offer, are my contribution.
Thought you’d never ask…
You want to know about me? Well, if you insist!
Here are four things you should probably know…
1. Training and Affiliations
I started out learning copywriting from Joanna Wiebe at Copy Hackers (Jo is by far the most influential copywriter teaching today). Today, I’m one of her moderators in her professional-development community, helping newer copywriters establish their own businesses.
I studied Direct-Response Copywriting with the American Writers and Artist Institute (AWAI), which was established with support from Bill Bonner (founder of Agora) to train Direct-Response marketers. I’m a lifetime member of that organization.
I was privileged to be a member of David Deutsch’s Inner Circle copy group. David is a living legend in the copywriting and Direct-Response world and a deeply insightful marketer.
I dove deep into the works of copywriting and marketing greats spanning over a century. I was also a member of Brian Kurtz’s mastermind, another Direct-Response legend.
I was shown many kindnesses along the way and have a huge respect and affection for that tradition.
However, I am neither a Direct-Response nor a Conversion Copywriter.
While I follow their foundational principles (accountability, rock-solid research and test everything), I am a Client-Creation Copywriter.
That’s because my goal is not the sale. It’s creating clients and customers who have high lifetime value and who become your greatest promoters.
Lastly, I’m a founding member of a small, invite-only community of marketers and copywriters run by Amy Posner.
Amy is a master of three things. Bringing clarity and simplicity to any business situation. Seeing who you are and what’s yours to do. And transforming freelancer marketers and creatives into well-rounded and confident business owners. This is the magic she worked on my business when I was just starting out.
Today, I work with Amy as her marketing strategist and copywriter. She is still my mentor.
(I do consulting work for a number of other copywriters and marketers, either on their own business or on their client projects.)
2. Academic Background
I was tragically bad at exams in school (with the exception of economics). So bad I couldn’t go to university.
That really bugged me, so, I spent ten years reading whatever I thought would improve my mind. It often felt like chewing concrete, but I’m pretty stubborn.
I eventually went to college ten years later. I graduated first in my class/year with a first-class honors degree in psychology.
There are two reasons I’m telling you this.
The first is I believe gradual improvements from consistent work can bring extraordinary results. I’m living proof of it. I believe that is true for your business too.
The second is more practical.
My academic background is in psychology and today I am rooted in the behavioral science school of thinking.
That’s very good news for your business because behavioral science is the study of how humans make decisions, especially around money and buying.
3. Teaching and Consulting
I spent two decades as a teacher, a teacher trainer and course designer. My specialties were psychology and e-learning.
The courses I designed and the proposals I wrote generated/secured approximately one million dollars in revenue and funding.
My teaching qualification is from Cambridge University (not as fancy as it sounds – it was an off-site course), and I have a Masters degree (MSc) in E-learning from the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
For you, that means I’m pretty good at explaining complex ideas.
It also means I can help convert your expertise into highly valuable digital products and services if that’s something that fits your business model.
I have traveled widely as a consultant and trainer (Spain, Italy, Poland and Russia) and I have worked with clients from across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and East Asia.
4. The Technical Arts
I said above that I left school without going to university.
Instead, I trained as a film editor. If you ever watched the TMNT TV show, you saw my work. Cowabunga!
I also did some freelance work as a rock photographer for U2’s record company and that led me to become a lighting designer for live rock shows.
I lived in London for a year working with touring bands and in venues across the city. Eventually, my academic side came out and I returned to Ireland to work as a film and political researcher on a major book project (Robert Redford’s official biography). I’ve lived in Ireland since then.
That’s a very short version of my creative-arts life.
A personal message…
Small businesses matter beyond their economic output.
They change lives. They give hope. They unleash creativity. They empower people. They make the world better.
I believe business ownership is up there with education as a way to transform our lives and to make a positive contribution to our communities.
And we can do that without pummeling our competition in an ad-buying war, without black-hat marketing or without hard-sell tactics. We can succeed with ethical marketing that we are genuinely proud to say is ours.
This is the marketing I create for my clients. When you are ready, you know where I am.