The Next $100-Million Secret

How do you solve problems?

It can’t be done, said American tycoon J.P. Morgan, without reducing the challenge to its simplest form.

If you know stock market history, you know that Morgan solved a lot of big problems in his day.

Twice, he rescued the entire U.S. economy. He helped build the railroads and Big Steel.

And he managed to build, in today’s terms, one of America’s first billionaire fortunes.

What would Morgan have said about the three hours I spent recently, as Michael Masterson laid down the details of another simple truth?

I suspect he would have approved.

See, it’s been a little over a week since I got back from AWAI’s Annual FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp. I was there as both a speaker and an attendee.

I got to deliver a few secrets of my own. I took away plenty more. And what was striking about the best of it was that one thread that ran through everything …

That the smartest things you’ll do, in a copywriting career or in anything, are often profoundly simple. Even obvious, if you’re paying attention closely.

One of the simplest was something Michael calls the “mini-review.” It has only two steps. Three, if you’re pushing it.

Yet I think I can make an educated guess when I say that, properly applied, this one new technique could easily bring in about $100 million in sales for the company that’s already using it, under Michael’s guidance.

To hit that target might take about three years. Maybe two. Or less, if it’s applied diligently.

What could I be talking about?

How the Mini-Review Works

Let’s start with the background.

Writing copy, like many things, is part nature, part nurture. That is, it’s certainly possible that you’re born with at least a little of what it takes to become successful. But, just as much, there’s plenty you can do to polish those skills.

And it’s the polish that makes all the difference.

Trouble is, getting good enough at anything takes time. How long? As Michael’s observed in the past, you don’t master anything without at least approximately 1,000 hours of practice under your belt.

With a strong mentor, you might cut that time by half. But 500 hours of hard work still aren’t small potatoes.

We start. We stop. We forget to get going again. Sticking to the accumulation of experience isn’t something that’s going to happen for you accidentally.

So what Michael simply did, as it applies to writing ground-breaking copy, was systematize the process.

And that’s the secret of the “mini-review.”

Every day, you write. You start in the morning with a single piece of copy. Just the headline and the lead. Maybe 50-100 words, tops.

It shouldn’t take you long. In fact, the less time the better. Maybe 20-30 minutes total.

And then, here’s the key: you send it.

Email it to a regular review group of five or six people who you trust – preferably those who know something about selling, marketing, and the product you’re talking about – to get a “grade” on how they received it.

That’s it. No long analysis. Just numbers, from 1 through 4, with the higher number meaning a more powerful impact on the reader.

So how on earth could something so basic be worth $100 million? It’s new, so the jury will have to wait to see.

But I believe it’s going to happen for three reasons. First, because I’ve seen something nearly like it – Michael’s “peer review” – already pay off twice as large as what I’m estimating.

The “peer review,” which you know if you’ve been reading The Golden Thread or following AWAI’s teachings for long, is a way to get gut-reaction feedback and suggestions on any piece of copy.

At least one of the companies using the peer review extensively happens to be a company I also work with regularly. And so far we’ve seen, just by adding this simple tool to the copy production process, cumulative results easily in excess of $200 million so far. And climbing.

The “mini-review” process is even simpler. It takes just five minutes to do the copy evaluations. But what it adds is a second reason to predict a big payoff: quantity.

See, because using the “mini-review” effectively means making it a daily habit, you and the other participants are forced to keep revisiting what makes great copy work. And on a regular, frequent basis.

Anyone who exercises or who has tried to learn, say, how to play the guitar or a piano, knows how this works.

If you were to put in 10 hours in a single day doing pushups and skipping rope … or practicing scales … what value would that have if you only did this once every few weeks? Not much.

But do those same things for 15 minutes a day, every day, and what a talent you’ll have. And in very little time, by comparison. Practice does make perfect. But frequent, short bursts of practice have a lot more value than infrequent, long, and laborious ones.

Thirdly, I predict huge success for the “mini-review” process simply because it focuses directly and immediately on measuring quality.

Every “mini-review” session leaves you with an instant “score” on how well your writing was received. A gut reaction, but quantified in a number.

When we tested the process during our three-hour demonstration session, we had two writing sessions with six writers each.

In other words, in about an hour, we were able to create and review 12 pieces of copy – each with a headline and lead.

That was at my table alone. And there were approximately 300 writers in the room, all using this tool for the first time.

What was amazing was that, when we compared the scores each of these 300+ writers got after just two rounds of “mini-reviews” … by vast majority, the scores were higher in the second round.

That means just by being evaluated once, the writers had a quality benchmark to beat. A measure they knew they had to beat, along with some idea – and a lot of determination – on how to beat it.

When you use the “mini-review” daily, you get the same benefit. Each day that you follow the process, you’re competing with yourself and the other scores in your review group. Each day, you’ll have yesterday’s score as your benchmark. It’s a practically painless way to sharpen your writing instincts.

Like J.P Morgan said at the start of this article, the greatest problems are often solved simply.

“The changing of a vague difficulty into a specific, concrete form,” he once said, “is an essential element in thinking.”

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Published: November 26, 2008

1 Response to “The Next $100-Million Secret”

  1. I am excited and very interested in forming a group to use this for bettering my own writing. I am currently taking the 6 figure course with companion series. I am a "newbie" at copywriting. How can I find others interested in beginning a mini review participation group? How can we start?

    mjsFebruary 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm

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