How Many … To Screw In A Light Bulb?

I am supposed to be writing a series of articles about the opportunities and virtue of writing for info-marketers, but I’d like to start with a broader subject. At Disney, the oldest joke about the Imagineers – goes like this:

Q: How many Imagineers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Why does it have to be a light bulb?

I call this the Open Architecture Concept. Very, very, very, very few people, in percentage terms, in ratio to population, conduct their businesses or live their lives based on Open Architecture. To the contrary, they approach whatever business they are in by getting a small rule book from somebody or by observing peers, then treat that as a box with cement walls.

Some cultures are still all about closed architecture: caste systems that confine people to the same status in society as their parents, arranged marriages, discriminatory laws that make women chattel and prohibit them from so much as leaving their homes unaccompanied by a husband, father, or brother. Before the interstate highway system, we were a relatively immobile society, so over 70% of the people lived and died and never left whatever town they were born in.

In my business life, narrowly and broadly, I’ve never accepted closed architecture. A narrow example: I never let the client define the assignment. The client says: How much to have you write a sales letter? I say: Why does it have to be a sales letter?

A broad example: after doing it just once, I rejected the entire ad agency rule book about the way you get a client, wooing, wining and dining, getting a chance to do work on spec and present campaigns in open competition with other agencies.

Nuts to that. Nuts to free anything.

In even broader terms, I’ve practiced Open Architecture just about my whole life, about where I want to live, what I want to do. Most people do not.

What you will find with entrepreneurs and CEOs in the information marketing industry is an extraordinary embrace of Open Architecture. These are people who have created businesses from scratch and routinely go through the process of idea, often odd idea, to market to money.

Their businesses even defy categorization. They are publishers, but they are not in the publishing business. They are often membership associations, but are not in the association business. They put on seminars and conferences, but they are not in the conference business. They have group coaching programs and often do one-to-one coaching, but do not consider themselves coaches. And they operate outside the norms of each of those separate industries.

Traditional newsletter publishers operate very differently from information marketing businesses that, as part of their businesses, publish newsletters. They tend to arrange their businesses to suit their personal preferences.

Two may operate very similarly structured businesses that put customers into groups of 20 or 30, in fee-paid multi-day mastermind meetings, but one info-marketer loves travel, so he moves his meetings around to different sites; the other hates travel, and makes everybody come to him every time.

The cool thing about having Open Architecture–minded clients with businesses that can be grown, expanded, and diversified endlessly is that you don’t even need to compete for or wait for assignments – you can create your own by suggesting work on an unexploited aspect of the business or even some brand-new initiative.

Whether you do or not, these clients are always creating the next product, the next event, the next promotion. Their entire business is really about two things: marketing – via the written, printed, and spoken word, and delivery of content – via the written, printed, and spoken word.

Once you understand this strange tribe and its tribal language and customs and know where and how to find them, bubba, if you can’t stay busy, profitably, in this place, with these clients, you desperately and urgently need to marry rich.

For the copywriter, the information marketing industry is the place with streets paved with gold and money blooming on every tree. No other industry consumes copywriting like this one.

I know it intimately. I have started, bought, built, and sold information marketing companies small and large, niched and mainstream. I literally helped create the industry, as a huge number of today’s information marketing enterprises are owned by my students, clients, or at least people who’ve followed my model, and I also co-founded its trade association, the Information Marketing Association. I write copy for info-marketers and have for many years.

I can assure you, there are terrific clients waiting for you in this industry. They do not know who or where you are, and most lack the patience to find you. You do not know who they are or how to present yourself to them, but I can fix that.

It is as if there were wonderful apple orchards just over the horizon, out of sight from an entire town of hungry folks with money in their pockets and a love for apples, apple cider, and apple pie. I hope you’ll let me show you the best paths in.

But I want to return to my bigger point, the WHY you should let me show you the best paths in, or otherwise, somehow make it your purpose to establish yourself with such exceptional clients: so that you can practice Open Architecture, and design and live whatever Writer’s Life that you imagine and dream of and want.

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: September 19, 2011

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