What Does a Grumpy College Professor Have to Do With the Single Most Important Skill for Copywriting Success?

Recently I heard the story of a grumpy college professor who was convinced goal setting and other “positive thinking” exercises were hogwash. But being a good scientist, he decided to try a little experiment … just so he could “prove those suckers wrong,” or so he thought.

He committed himself to his experiment for an entire semester …

During that time, he visualized incredible accomplishments for himself. He imagined himself already in the future.

Then he turned his visualizations into goals that he scheduled onto his calendar. And he followed his calendar – always keeping his visualization of incredible accomplishments in mind.

He did just as the “positive thinking” gurus said … hoping all along to prove them wrong.

But what happened next surprised him …

All of a sudden, his life improved. He got more done … important things, too. His students and colleagues actually started to enjoy his company. People wondered what had come over him … he had a brand-new air of success around him!

He even grudgingly admitted to feeling happier. And his visualizations were coming true!

To his astonishment, the “positive thinking” techniques worked. Even though he had doubted them

Without knowing it, this grumpy professor had stumbled onto the single most important skill for copywriting success … and, for that matter, success in anything you do …

Effectively setting goals … and following through with them.

Michael Masterson says this is the foundation of everything he’s accomplished – from learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu … to writing controls that mailed in the millions … to creating multiple multimillion-dollar businesses.

Master copywriter John Carlton has said the only reason he’s one of the highest-paid copywriters on the planet is because of the goals he sets – knowing once he sets a goal, it will be accomplished … even if he doesn’t know how yet.

International marketing expert Dr. Joe Vitale is a goal-setting addict. (For good reason, too!) I asked him what goal-setting has helped him accomplish, and he told me, “I lost 80 pounds, appeared in a hit movie, sold half a million dollars of product, and bought a $350,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom … all due to goals.”

But it doesn’t work to just have vague goals in mind.

Michael Masterson outlines a very specific process for setting goals … following through … and finally tallying up another big accomplishment for yourself.

Here’s a short version of Michael Masterson’s proven goal-setting process:

  1. Review your business mission statement to put yourself in the right frame of mind.

    Remember, your mission statement includes what your business is about, what niche you focus on, and what makes you unique.

    For example: “Create wickedly effective direct-response copy for self-help publishers, to create more breakthroughs with more customers, and unlock a fortune for the publishers and myself – leveraging my years of immersion in spiritual psychology and proven sales techniques to connect with and persuade prospects on their turf, in their language.”

  2. Take yourself forward five years and look at your life.

    What new and exciting things are in your life five years from now that you can only imagine today? (A new house? An all-electric, environmentally friendly but still explosively powerful Tesla Roadster? Enough savings that you could stop working for a while and not worry?)

    What are the accomplishments that got you there? (Your new control already mailed two million after beating your previous that had mailed six million? You have two dozen happy clients that keep paying you as long as your copy keeps working? You helped five different publishers sell one million books each? You published and successfully marketed your own book or course?)

    Write it all down. These are goals.

  3. Prioritize your goals.

    Number one should be your most important five-year goal, then numbers two, and three, and so on.

    Now you’re ready to dig in …

  4. Take your top two or three goals and break each down into chunks – smaller tasks that together will accomplish your goal.

    Let’s say your number one goal is to buy a new lake house. The house you want is going to cost you $300,000, and you want to pay in cash. Your current annual expenses are $50,000. When you factor in taxes and extra expenses, you probably need to earn about $150,000 per year.

    That means doing 30 $5,000 projects per year or 10 $15,000 projects per year. To close that many deals, you may need to contact as many as 300 potential clients per year – roughly one per work day.

    So, relying on new clients only, each day you need to find one or more clients to contact. You can also develop higher-paying, more long-term relationships with some of your current clients – say, by creating a few breakthroughs on projects with royalties.

    Of course, when you get the projects, you’ll also want to break those down in the same way to make them easier to accomplish. And to supplement your copywriting income, you may also want to work on your own publishing project – another goal to break down into manageable chunks.

  5. Take the tasks for each goal and get very specific about when each needs to be completed.

    First decide which year, then which month, then which day. Specificity is key!

    Continuing the example above: Each year you need to earn $150,000, which is $37,500 per quarter. So by the end of 4th Quarter 2008, you can make it a task to have $37,500 worth of projects lined up for the 1st Quarter of 2009. There are about 12 weeks per quarter, so each week this quarter, you need to line up $3,125 in future work (knowing each $3,125 worth of projects needs to be able to be completed within a normal work week).

    The same breakdown can be done for any project – just define a time line and chunk down until you have weekly and even daily tasks.

  6. Now break down each task even further, scheduling time to complete each based on when the tasks need to be completed.

    Even go as deep as creating a daily schedule for yourself, knowing that sticking to this schedule will get you to your goals.

    Here’s an example daily schedule:

    8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Do 30-minute writing sessions on client projects.
    11:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: Work on new ways to establish yourself as an expert in your niche.
    11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Eat lunch.
    12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.: Work on your own publishing project.
    1:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Contact one or more potential new clients for your services.
    1:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m.: Contact a previous client to see if there’s anything else you can do for them.
    2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: Do research on upcoming projects.
  7. Follow your schedule, and you’ll reach goal after goal successfully.

So here’s your challenge …

Don’t be the grumpy professor. Instead, set yourself on course to accomplish something big before the end of the year, using goal setting.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: November 5, 2008

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