Inside AWAI

From Rebecca Matter, reporting from the lobby of The Delray Beach Marriott, aka “Bootcamp Central” …

  • More clients, more money, and more success! We covered all the bases yesterday … from strategies on how to command higher fees and royalties, to proven practices on turning the connections made at Job Fair into paying clients, our experts made sure Bootcamp attendees will head home armed with a plan for success.

    I’ll let our Roving Reporters tell you all about it in just a second …

    But first, a quick reminder!

    Tomorrow is the last day you can reserve your spot for the 2011 FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp for only $149. Grab yours today at the lowest price you’ll ever see for the event.

    Reserve your spot here!

  •  From Mindy …
    How To Approach Prospective Clients … Today I sat in on an energy-packed session for first-time Job Fair attendees. Though this was my fourth Job Fair, I love attending this annual session.

    Part of it is because the excitement is contagious. If you’ve ever felt nervous about approaching your first client, you can just imagine the buzz in the room. Eyes were shining, brows were furrowed, and questions were being lobbied to the front like ping pong balls. I’m going to share with you some of the most useful tips discussed:

    1. Marketers aren’t scary. They don’t lie in wait, ready to strike you down as soon as you venture forward to offer your services. Nope — instead, they’re approachable, friendly, and (most importantly) eager to hear your story. After all, you have the power to make their lives easier.
    2. Being able to write good copy trumps experience. If you’re here at Bootcamp, it’s easy to feel intimidated by someone standing next to you who has several years’ experience and a control or two in the mail. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Marketers want to know two things: can you write good copy, and what’s your story. The numbers of years under your belt don’t really matter. After all, they want individuals who bring different strengths to the table.
    3. One of the most important things you can do is follow-up. Believe it or not, very few people follow up after making a job inquiry. This means if you do take the time to follow up, you’re bound to stick out in a very good way.
    4. It’s not about what the marketer can do for you, it’s about what you can do for the marketer. This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. When you put yourself out there, do it with an attitude of help, not one of gain. It’s very simple to do. Start by asking, “What can I do for you?” From there, you’ll get to watch opportunity unfold.

    By the end of the hour, most everybody who participated in the session was ready to table their fears and walk boldly into Job Fair to shake hands with live marketers.

    If you’re reading this from home, know that you can put this advice to use whether you’re approaching clients in person, over the phone, or via email. Simply believe in yourself, find out how you can help your prospective client, and always, always follow-up!

  • 5 Golden Tips For Setting Fees … Perhaps one of the hardest questions we copywriters face revolves around how much to charge for projects. So, today’s power-packed panel of mega-successful copywriters ready to share pricing advice proved extremely valuable to all of us.

    All at one table sat some of the biggest names in the industry, averaging around $500,000 per year in annual copywriting income. We had Ted Nicholas, Bob Bly, Steve Slaunwhite, Nick Usborne, and Joshua Boswell all positioned to share their most treasured pricing secrets.

    Moderating the discussion was none other than Gene Schwartz’s former copy editor, Mark Everett Johnson. (Can you just imagine the insanely brilliant conversations Mark must have had with Gene over the course of his career?)

    The power panel shared a slew of strategies for pricing projects that really benefit us all. Here are the top five:

    • Work to maintain a high perceived value. In other words, don’t grovel, or lower your fees. Instead, cultivate an image of respect and talent.
    • Be careful not to provide estimates too quickly. Often, they’ll be too low. Always sit on it and think about it at least 24 hours before giving a quote to a client.
    • It’s better to be expensive and not get every client than to undervalue yourself and have too much work for too little pay.
    • One of the best tricks for making more money isn’t to increase your fee but rather to increase the scope of the project.
    • A fee schedule can help you control the level of projects you take on. A fee range gives you leeway to adapt to a client’s specific needs so you can offer quotes based on a client’s ability to pay.

    Ultimately though, your best bet is to find the business model you’re comfortable with and make it work for you.

    Plus, keep this in mind: The reason people hire other people is usually because they like them. Consider that what we do is very personal, so the way you present and conduct yourself matters. If you conduct yourself like the high-paid professional you want to be, chances are that’s exactly how you’ll be seen by others.

  •  From Steve …
    The most lucrative session at Bootcamp … Gary’s defining moment … John unleashes The Full Monty … and more …

    Can you imagine what it would cost to get one hour of private consulting with Nick Usborne, Bob Bly, Ted Nicholas, Joshua Boswell, Steve Slaunwhite and Mark Everett Johnson?! Way more than my cost of coming to Bootcamp, I’m sure.

    Listening to their panel discussion on how to command higher fees and royalties was like eavesdropping on a mastermind council. Details in a moment on how you can command higher fees, but first a quick story …

    In between talking to marketers at Job Fair, I had a great discussion with AWAI member and Wall of Famer Kelvin Parker. He’s made it big in copywriting since connecting with AWAI in 2004. He’s written for Ted Nicholas, Agora, Early to Rise, Jay Abraham and other big name marketers. He’s brought in millions of dollars for his clients, including $2.64 million within 68 days for one client.

    But it wasn’t always that way. When Kelvin first came to the States from Australia, he quickly found himself almost broke. Desperate for cash, he seized an opportunity to sell sandwiches to people waiting in line for U2 concert tickets. He tripled his $68 investment that day, and he’s been seizing opportunities ever since.

    Kelvin’s story reminded me of the theme of this year’s Bootcamp – “Making It Happen”, and it’s amazing how many new and experienced copywriters I’m meeting who are making it happen each day, each in their own unique way.

  • Forget the 4 U’s – we’ve got the “bloated monster” (copy secrets revealed)

    I could listen to John Forde and Jen Stevens all day. They have a great rapport with each other (a 20-year friendship will do that), have fun presenting, are great storytellers, and have a knack for making the complex easy to understand.

    They’re also pretty creative when it comes to teaching copywriting secrets, with names like “Use your santoku”, “Slay the bloated monster”, and “The river of relevance”.

    Turns out, the concepts (if not the funky names) are pretty easy to remember:

    • Tell rich stories by including small details that are compelling and move the story forward.
    • Only use the good stuff (don’t fall in love with all your research).
    • Keep your copy clean and tight. As Jen says, “Take away the last layer of fuzz to express the idea more clearly.”
    • Eliminate the confusing parts by having someone else read your copy.
    • Attack a big project in pieces to keep the energy and momentum going.
    • And perhaps most important: Practice!

    And with some gentle nudging from Jen, John revealed The Full Monty (a reference to Bill Bonner’s name for the big, bonus secret, not the movie, thankfully):

    “If you’re selling good products, you’ll do well.” A form of the Golden Rule to always keep in mind.

    Show me the money, baby!

    For sixty minutes my heart rate literally accelerated, I was so stoked with the golden advice I was getting. I took fast and furious notes for eight pages on how to increase my fees.

    The biggest thing I got from Mark Everett Johnson (Gene Schwartz’s former copy chief at Rodale!) and his panel of master copywriters was that the client’s perception of the value we bring is often higher than our own perception of it. And when it’s not, we should probably walk away from the business. Plain and simple.

    They talked price lists, flat fees, and royalties. Mark even got these guys to disclose the mistakes they made when first starting out.

    Here’s just a handful of what I took away:

    1. Whether you use a price list or not (it varies among this group), the key is to maintain control of where the fees should be.
    2. Believe in your value. If you’re helping your client make money, you’re valuable to them.
    3. Qualify prospects. Even if you’re hungry for business, you don’t have to work with everyone. Positioning in super important in setting higher fees.
    4. Sleep on it. Nick used to estimate fees too fast and too low. He says, “I never get it right the first time”, so now he reviews it four or five times. It always comes out higher.
    5. “Better to be expensive and not get every job,” says Steve Slaunwhite. Be the expensive choice!
    6. Learn to negotiate (it’s a learned skill like copywriting.)
    7. Educate your clients on exactly what value you’re bringing to the table.

    As Bob Bly said, these days especially you have to differentiate yourself. It’s the only way to get the fees that you deserve.

  • Copywriter extraordinaire shows you how to maximize potential prospects and end up in the “good pile.”

    Gary Hennerberg began, “Tonight, I want you to have a transformational experience.” He succeeded on every level.

    Exactly two years ago I had my “defining moment”, when something Gary said grabbed my heart and pulled me headlong into this wonderful world of copywriting. I made the conscious decision that night to fully commit to being a full-time freelancer, and five months later I achieved it. So I get a little choked up when it comes to transformational experiences.

    If you don’t know Gary, he’s the tall, distinguished, well-dressed and well-spoken guy who sings in an international championship choral group. His copy has gone into 150 million businesses and homes, and been translated into German, Spanish and Japanese. He’s beaten numerous controls, including two by 60%. He’s Target Marketing’s resident email expert.

    But tonight all Gary wanted to do was help us move our careers forward.

    We got 90 minutes of articulate, relevant and practical advice on how to turn spec challenges into clients. Gary’s 21 tips included:

    • Pay attention to details.
    • Always meet deadlines.
    • Stand out with quick-grabbing copy. Competition is tough. (That being said, not as many people submit spec assignments as you might think. Go for it!)
    • Give it your absolute best effort.
    • Practice, practice, practice. Be relentless in getting in front of prospects and promoting yourself.

    Gary has a way of inspiring, and he challenged all of us to consider what our defining moment is. For him it was that point in 1992 after losing his job, putting his new house up for sale, and almost succumbing to the incredible stress. We’re glad you didn’t, Gary.

  • The real value of Bootcamp conversations

    I had a great conversation at Job Fair tonight with legendary copywriter and marketer Ted Nicholas, and his significant other, Bethany.

    Funny thing is, for twenty minutes we didn’t talk about copywriting or marketing.

    We talked about the best restaurant in Cypress, tango dancing in Buenos Aires, wingtip shoes, Greek dancing, and how to lower your biological age.

    And you know what?

    That conversation was more beneficial to me, in an abstract way, than all my conversations with Job Fair marketers.

    It expanded my goal horizon and got my mind racing about the possibilities for my business – starting on Monday, November 8.

    Tomorrow I’ll give you some final big takeaways from Bootcamp 2010, and how you can use these ideas to grow your business.

    Until then, a few other words of advice: Seek out high-level conversations in every area of your life. Think big. And keep pressing on.

  •  From Roy …
    One of the most transformational, writer's block killing, breakthrough copy producing ideas I picked up from last year's Bootcamp was Michael Masterson and John Forde's spectrum of "The Six Lead Types." Knowing how to use The Six Lead Types has been worth at least $50,000 to me over the last year, and will be worth many multiples of that over my copywriting career.

    The room was packed for their presentation this year, and rightly so. This is one of the most critical concepts any copywriter can learn. Because it's all about the single-most important part of your copy.

    Michael emphasized …

    80% of the success of your copy is in the headline and lead.

    So when you get this right – and get it right using the shortcut Michael and John gave – you can write 30% faster and collect up to 300% higher fees and royalties. That's the type of incredible transformation the RIGHT copywriting tip can give you, your copy, and your copywriting career.

    Perhaps it was a dumb question (I'm not above those), but I asked Katie why Michael and John did the presentation again this year. I mean, they did about the same presentation last year, right?

    People can check it out on last year's home study course – and besides, over 50% of Bootcamp attendees this year are return attendees. But Katie emphasized to me that this is such a core lesson in sales copy that you can hear it 100 times and not hear it enough. Because it's just that important in every piece of copy you write.

    I can't go into full detail here, but the basic lesson is you have to cater the directness of your lead to how aware your prospects are of your client or company, your product type, and your specific offer.

    The more AWARE your prospects are of what you're going to sell them, the more DIRECT you can be with your sales copy and your offer. The less AWARE you are, the more you have to use INDIRECT approaches like stories and predictions.

    It's amazing the clarity this gives to every piece of copy you write. You just think – how aware are my readers of what I'm trying to do and sell here? Then you look at the six lead types as laid out on the spectrum – and make your decision as to what you're going to write. Look at a couple examples of the lead you're going to use for inspiration, and you're off to the races.

    Like I said, I picked this up last year, and it was one of three items that completely transformed my ability to write copy. This year I'm sure many other attendees sitting in that full room had the same "ah ha" moment in their copy. And many will rise to great heights as a result. (Of course, you can see the presentation for yourself in the Bootcamp Home Study Program.)

  • How the principle of compound interest applies to your Bootcamp investment.

    If you know anything at all about investing or even personal finance, you've probably heard of compound interest. One promo used as an example here called it the "8th Wonder of the World" – because with compound interest your money makes money that makes you even more money. It multiplies your money exponentially, and has been responsible for all the biggest fortunes ever made.

    Well I had an important revelation today with Job Fair and all the networking that's been going on throughout the event.

    You see, last year I was a first-time Bootcamp attendee. And as a first-time attendee I had to introduce myself throughout the entire event. I was building my network. I was making it worth my investment to be here.

    And it paid off in spades. Literally everything I've done since I launched my freelance career in February has been a result of being at last year's Bootcamp. Every gig was from a connection I made, or a referral they gave me.

    But that was just the beginning … That was my investment paying itself back.

    This year I've discovered something far more powerful.

    This year … Instead of me introducing myself, I'm being introduced by people I met last year. That puts me in a FAR MORE POWERFUL POSITION.

    Because now my connections are making me connections. And I don't have to work at it. It's like your interest (the money you made with your investment) now making its own interest.

    That's why so many copywriters invest in coming to Bootcamp not once or twice … But year, after year, after year. Because every year your investment in all the connections you've made, what you've learned, and what you've done with it all builds on itself and multiplies what you get out of the experience.

    In fact Michael talked about this in his keynote on Wednesday night as the most powerful wealth-building principle he's ever discovered – successful people multiply their success project by project, discovery by discovery, meeting by meeting, and event by event.

    So now that I'm hearing about next year's Bootcamp … I'm already making travel plans.

  • REMINDER: Tomorrow is the last day you can reserve your spot to attend the 2011 FastTrack to Success Copywriting and Bootcamp and save $500.

    Reserve your spot here!