How to Produce More While Working Less

"AT LAST, SOMETHING NEW!" says the headline on the front page of the promo sitting next to me. The subhead reads:

"How I turned £250 into well over £210,000+ in less than 2 years, while working no more than 10 hours per week and having the time of my life."

The product, near as I can tell, comes from one Gary Woodward of Griffin Publishing in the U.K.

I don't know whether this promo is working. I don't even know, quite honestly, what the product is. But let's dig into the meat of this package just the same.

Why? Well … isn't this why they call it COPYwriting?

Copywriter and marketing consultant Michael Masterson tells all his protégé writers – after a stinging box on the ear – that if they want to be serious about this gig, they have to read AT LEAST one promo package a day.

Doing so, goes the theory, will teach you a ton about style. It will accelerate your progress along the learning curve. And it will, in a process that's almost without effort, help you build "mental muscle memory" for creating more and better promotional pieces of your own down the road.

Learning by studying the masters. Imitation. It's been a success secret for everyone from da Vinci on up to Ben Franklin.

It certainly sounds like a good idea. But hey, let's be honest …

Too many of us don't follow this advice as often as we should. Then again, some of us don't floss our teeth as often as we should, either … with predictable results.

Consider this (another) new beginning.

I am, of course, now woefully short of space for the rest of this article. And the essential success secret – read a package a day – has already been spent.

So let's cut to the chase. What I'm recommending is not just reading the package but scribbling a few notes. Nothing elaborate. Just a flavor.

Here's what a laundry list of a reviewed package might look like. Imagine the notes below as though scribbled on a yellow legal pad:

  • Envelope package. Five-page letter. Q & A sheet to answer reader questions …

  • Full two-sided sheet of customer testimonials … at top, he's written "None of these were solicited and all the originals are held on file as required by law …" Nice touch.

  • Must be 45 testimonials in no more than 8-point type. Actually, surprisingly readable even this small … would have avoided that … but it works.

  • Amazingly, the package never reveals what the product does. It just shows us how this guy now lives his life. Excerpts: "… at the time, I didn't even have a car of my own. Just a few months later, I bought a top-of-the-range Mercedes (paying cash) … and a £45,000 Rolex watch (that's right, £45,000 for a damn watch), new furniture and carpets throughout the house, all paid for in cash … within 6 months of starting this business …"

    Hmm. Going to be hard to prove this is possible. What's he do?

  • Here are some interesting elements – a Balance Sheet from Woodward's accountant showing how rich he's become. Plus a "selection" from his account statements at the Yorkshire Bank. This piece is very well done. Uses typical computer printout font to show account numbers … deposit dates … must, of course, be real info … possible to confirm this? He's made a lot of money following this program he's pitching …

  • Here's a clever element – "Warning: Please do not write to me asking questions or trying to pick my brains about what this business is … If I was to start entering into correspondence with every Tom, Dick, and Harry, I would certainly end up working more than 10 hours a week."

  • Also, this under the heading "Thinking About, Thinking About It, Think Again!" – a "Story of the Procrastinator" poem … nothing to do with the sale … except a clever way to prompt action.

You get the picture. It took me about 15 minutes to make the notes above. Maybe you'd do more. Probably less.

But it's a cumulative effect. It takes precisely 21 days to make a habit stick. That's three weeks.

Give this a try for that long. I'll do the same. At the end of the period, let's see how we feel. Probably, I'm guessing, a lot wiser.

[You should also try this technique with the million dollar sales letters in your Hall of Fame book. If you have an older version of the book (with only 25 letters) you can easily upgrade to the new version. Contact Us to learn more.]

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: August 5, 2002

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