If you’ve ever considered using paid ads to generate revenue, this episode is for you. The trick is to make your ad stand out. But how do you do that amidst the noise of the internet?
This is where Sarah Sal comes in. A copywriter for over 10 years, she has a unique take on what she calls interruption marketing. Her fascinating interview will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about ad campaigns.
listen to this episode
- The definition of interruption marketing
- The benefits of long-form copy and why Sarah is such a big fan
- Making copy the conversation that people want to read
- Using long-form copy to inform and educate
- Why you should interrogate your customers and turn their answers into an ad
- Recognizing angles in client stories and how to use them in your copy
- Teaching the public something new with your copy
- Talking to your customer’s customers and what questions to ask them
- Having someone else to write the copy to ensure you have communicated properly
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour, and welcome to another episode of everyonehatesmarketers.com. The No-fluff, actionable marketing podcast for marketers, marketing consultants, founders, and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host Louis Grenier. In today’s episode, you’ll learn how to create and run revenue generating campaigns through paid ads. My guest today is a Facebook ad specialist who likes long form over video ads. She has 10 plus years experience as a copywriter. She managed seven figure ads under her belt and she has quite a unique point of view about what she calls interruption marketing, and paid ads in general, which is why I’m super happy to have you Sarah Sal on board. Welcome.
Sarah: I’m very happy to be here.
Louis: Good because if you’re not happy, it will be a very bad interview.
Louis: You might be unhappy in the end. No you won’t, I’m sure we’ll have fun. So we talked over email a bit and you said that paid ads like Facebook ads are interruption marketing. You define that as interruption marketing. Can you just define what that means?
Sarah: It mean you have Google where people type airline ticket. They’re looking for an airline ticket right now and you satisfy the demand. Facebook you’re interrupting them. They’re chatting with their friend. They’re looking at a kitten picture and then you just shove a message on their face and if you are going to interrupt them, you should make it worth it for them. I’m talking about shady marketing. It reminds me when I was in Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur, you walk there. It’s hot. It’s humid. People are screaming louder and louder “Fake watches for you. Fake handbag for you. Do you want belt? Ma’am,” and you have a horrible human traffic jam and everyone is trying to scream louder and louder and I see a person wanting to talk to me and I just turn my back because I already have a headache and he just put his hand on my shoulder. I nearly slapped him on the face and that’s what people are doing with interruption marketing.
People say, “Hey, you just need to grab their attention and stop the click.” No, you need to be the person that has the most interesting conversation. Imagine you’re in Starbucks, you would not walk to a stranger and say buy my product. You want to have conversation that make people’s heads turn and that’s what I tell people, forget you’re on Facebook. Forget the social media. Maybe 10 years from now, Facebook doesn’t exist or it’s an Instagram or it’s a discussion forum or Reddit, but the principle, you’re talking to human face to face, what do you say If you have somebody in front of you in a coffee shop that you don’t know that you might make the conversation interesting?
Louis: That’s a very good story and I was thinking that you potentially had an example in this busy street of someone who actually grabbed your attention in a nice way, but I guess that wasn’t it, right? There was no one who in this multitude of chaos and noise that actually grabbed your attention successfully, right?
Sarah: I could find a good example. It was in London, Camden Town and I think it used to be where people used to sell drugs a few years ago and everyone [crosstalk 00:03:25], “Psst, psst, psst. You want drug? What do you want? What do you want?” And they try to sell you something and if it’s not drug, everyone has a banner just to say, this is a restaurant, this is a tattoo, et cetera. At the exit there was somebody having some brownie that he was giving for free. People saying, “Oh, Hey, free brownies,” and people will take and after you took a small bite, they say, “Hey, if you love those brownies that are handmade, we just open a tea shop, it’s over there and by the way those are the type of tea we have.”
And that’s a really good way to grab people’s attention as opposed to just the screaming, which is what most people do is give people value first and I would look at somebody ad copies like claim after claim, after claim, that you have absolutely no reason to believe and the way you stand out is you teach me something I did not know. That’s how you stand out, this is how you capture people’s attention and I tell people, somebody reading your ad, even if they never click on it they should be able to say, “Oh, I learned something new I could apply to my business that I didn’t know before reading that copy.”
Louis: I thought in the story you’re talking about the brownie, I thought it was a drug dealer giving brownie and I thought he would say, “Hey, here’s a nice brownie. Oh, by the way do you want my drugs,” but no, it’s actually a tea shop. So it’s a more legal way to do it, but in your example though, and I don’t want to pick on your stories, they are very interesting by the way and very good examples. In your example though you’re not really teaching anything new, you’re giving a brownie, you’re giving something for free. So would you consider that to be in part of the same like teaching something or is that a separate way of doing things?
Sarah: I mean, well, this is… You didn’t teach… You are teaching that there is a new tea place.
Sarah: Now if I was going to make it more interesting instead of screaming to say Tea, I would say why my tea is better. I give you an example, a lot of people who try Matcha Tea, they hate it. I even have friends, they say I tried Matcha. It tastes like somebody blended a frog alive and I say, you know why? Because the quality of the Matcha is bad. They either mix it with a lot of sugar syrup, but Ceremonial Matcha, basically they shade it. They take young leaves, they take the stems out and it tastes very smooth and if I taught you the difference between Ceremonial Matcha and regular Matcha, and I said, you know what? We’re not the Starbucks 40% sugar. We’re not the one that is really better, you cannot drink it. We’re more expensive, but we’re better. It’s about disqualifying the competition.
I often love to play devil advocate. People would come on a coaching call with me, I’m going to say, “Hey, okay, you’re a financial planner, in Boston there’s 500 other financial planners, why should anyone either listen to you and not the others?” And people become defensive and they try to tell me why they are different. So I will give you an example. I had a coaching call with one in Boston and they focus on helping soldiers or veterans and what they said, we’re one of the few that survived the financial crisis, but let me give you a story. There’s this military family, they traveled nonstop. Nowhere stable. It turned out the governmental default retirement was stacks of 30%.
I said, don’t invest under your name, invest in their company and now the tax you pay is reduced by 20%. If you retire after 40 years that’s a huge difference of how much money you make and I’m like, that’s your ad. They didn’t know I was tricking them to poke them like a bee, but I often do it till they tell me why they are different and they speak at 100 miles per hour and then I’m like, “Here’s your ad.” People are not going to figure why you are different. Yes. It’s interruption marketing, but that could go to Google and with one click in two millisecond, I could find 10 competitors. If you don’t tell me what makes you unique, I’m not going to figure it out.
Louis: Okay. So now I think people are excited enough to want to know about how do you do that? Because when I look at your examples and your case studies and stuff that has worked, obviously there is maybe a few stuff that didn’t work for you, but it’s easier to put that on the website to put the nice stuff obviously, but it seems like you have developed some sort of a methodology, some sort of ways to say we are not going to come at it from a one sentence only perspective, we’re going to come at it from like telling a story.
Very much like you just told three stories in the space of like 10 minutes. We’re going to teach them something new and whatnot, by painting out the copy. Before we go into the step by step to teach people how to do this, when you try to convince folks to actually use long form copy on interruption marketing methods like Facebook ads… I’m going to lead you quite a lot on this, but what are the two things that they tend to say as excuses for not to do it? I got that from your website. I’m just asking you like there are usually two step they tell you. No.
Sarah: Okay, long copy is not for everyone. I’m not going to claim that long copy is going to work for every single business. It’s two in the morning, you’ve partied, you’re hungover, you want a pizza. You couldn’t care less about the Italian family that made the tomato sauce. They are niches like fashion or makeup. You just want something that looks beautiful and if it’s a $20 flip-flop, no amount of… It’s not the copy that is going to make the difference, but there are niches like software as a service, professional services, coaching, health, why should you take this sort of supplement and not the other one? That it’s all about conversation and in real life is a conversation that makes people read and people often say, nobody reads long copy.
I have examples where some ads get hundreds of comments, even somebody leaves one comment and they 60 comments. I’m like, do you think people read or not? It’s just that people don’t read boring copy and most of the long copy I see that are only clang, clang, clang, clang, clang. It’s like, “Oh my God, that was poor and desperate,” and I have $5 and then I discovered this magic and now I’m the richest of the richest person. I own The Ritz-Carlton, this doesn’t work. If you have something that captures people’s attention, that educates them, that “Hey, I interrupted you. I made it worthwhile for you to read that story.” Then it works, but then an ad that is long copy to work should not look like an ad. It should look more like a conversation between you and a friend. Something educational. Imagine somebody you paid a lot of money, okay. You ask a question in a private email, they reply to that email. It will not look like an ad, it will look like it’s something personal. So that could be-
Louis: [crosstalk 00:10:56], that. So long copy is the first thing, but just to go back to one thing you said that’s very interesting. It seems like what you’re saying is long form copy works better for high ticket purchase, so-
Sarah: Not a high ticket. Something where the content or educating the prospect, make them more likely to buy it.
Louis: Yeah. Almost to be honest, I would challenge you on this. I mean, you have more experience than me on that, so maybe I’m wrong but even when you talk about pizza, you talk about specific context. Like I’m hung over. I want a pizza. Yes, long form copy might not work, but surely it could work if you’re a new pizzeria in town and you want to really stand out against the competition by telling the story like you know… So what you’re saying is really, it’s not linked to the price, it’s more linked to the context. If it’s a community that purchases, you want to buy it straight away, like you know, it doesn’t really matter which brand then maybe it doesn’t work as much, but if you truly need to build the value and make people consider your stuff then maybe it’s worth trying, right?
Sarah: Yeah. Correct. I mean, going to the pizza, if I’m the only vegan pizzeria in town saying I’m vegan, it’s enough. If I live in, I don’t know, Utah and I used to live in Italy and I got trained in Italy and I’m the only chef that got trained in Italy and I import all the product from Italy, it matters. It comes down to why you and not the other and are you able to say those are the reason you should select me. I mean, maybe if you are a pizzeria in Utah, you say, “Hey, dairy in the US is full of antibiotics, full of hormones, this is why I import them from Italy.” I’m not sure if Italy is full of hormones or not, but I just made up that example, like, “Hey, if you want pizza and you’re not eating pizza with hormone and antibiotics, come to me.” But it has come down to, do you have something unique either in terms of content or why should somebody choose you or not choose the other person?
Louis: I like it and then you’re saying that the second thing that people would kind of challenge you on when we talk about long form stuff is the… It feels like you’re spilling the beans already, right. So you’re not keeping the mystery alive, you’re telling everything and then why would they click? So what do you say to that?
Sarah: I mean, here’s the thing when they say spilling the bean and the mystery, let’s say I’m an expert on copy writing. Is all my expertise of mine plus here in copywriting, something I could write in a single long format? Is your whole experience about marketing something that you could write in two sentences or 10 sentences? There is always something people could learn more. So often… I’m trying to find an example. One example is Strategyzer. They used to make 40 cent for each $1 they spent on ad. Their ad was like… The [inaudible 00:13:54], is very known. I mean, they had a business that sold over 5 million copy, but their ad, Hey, we have a business model conference in San Francisco. See you there.
Sarah: I also tell the story of how Nokia used to spend 20 times more on R and D than Apple. Despite that, Apple became the number one, an iPhone… And the Nokia that used to have 80% of the mobile phone market went to nearly 4%, why? R and D cannot save you if you don’t expand into a new business model, new type of product. I mean, actually Nokia in Europe, what they call smartphones, they thought nobody wanted them, they are too expensive and they are like, Hey, do you want to know what methodology people use to innovate the same way Apple did? Come to our conference. In our conference we’re not only going to talk about Nokia or Apple there’s other things. So at the end their call to action is we learn one thing but you know what? There’s way more from where that comes from.
Louis: And what were the results from 40 cents to how much?
Sarah: Oh, 18 cents… $18.
Louis: So for every dollar originally they only got 40 cent back, so they were losing money, correct?
Louis: And from the ad you created, they were generating $18 for every… So eight… Yeah. So that’s 18 X the return that’s huge.
Sarah: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:15:27], 700,000, then in total they made, when I run the ad for them nearly three quarter of a million dollar.
Louis: Nice. And again, let me be clear. I mean, this is very impressive and you’ve already shared, I think five stories in the last 17 minutes, which is really nice and I like this format, but obviously you might have failures. There might be times where it didn’t work, but I’m not going to ask you to name them necessarily. What’s going to be interesting is from the failures, from the wins, from what you’ve learned, let’s try to go through it step by step together of how would you advise a business, whether it’s maybe a one person independent shop or someone who wants to launch a business or someone who wants to contribute to their business, how would they go about going after it?
And the first time we got in contact, you mentioned the episodes with Joanna Wiebe, where we talked about this weird fucking idea of a Simpson museum and how would you promote it? I’m not going to ask you to promote a Simpson museum, but let’s find something interesting together. Something you are comfortable with as a business model or an industry that we can just take as an example, and then go for it. So what would you like to go for?
Sarah: I could take the example I wrote for Joanna Wiebe on Copyhacker. That most of it was for a language course.
Louis: [crosstalk 00:16:37], okay.
Sarah: Yeah. So-
Louis: So let’s say you want to learn French, all right. You’re English and you want to make your life super difficult by learning this awful, awful language that is French with so many peculiarities and I don’t even know how I’m able to speak it, but anyway, you want to teach French or whatever and you want to potentially do some ad and you have some budget, right? Let’s say you have not a crazy budget, but you have some budgets. You have a product. You’ve sold it before. It’s not a brand new thing, right? Let’s say that and you have people in marketing that can help you, you are not just on your own. Let’s say that as an example. So how do you go from that state where you might have tried ads never worked out to a state where you actually make so much out of the ads, you have to stop them.
Sarah: Normally what I do, I look at content. I never start from a blank page and you mentioned French. Actually, the French teacher hated me because I never understood the grammar. It’s like French language, you could pronounce it diff… No, you write it differently, but it’s pronounced the same way, which always made me make mistakes. So what I do is look at YouTube videos, Ebook, webinars, and interview customer. I would even forget that I’m a marketer, I would take my marketer hat off and each time I have an ‘aha’ moment, I’ll write a note that say this is an excellent way. Good way, I would give you a few ideas, what is the misconception people have about an industry?
A misconception, and that’s an ad that did really well, is that kids learn a language faster. Not really, even according to a university research is that a kid never give up. If the kid wants a sandwich, the kid would cry for 60 minutes till he get the sandwich. He might say “Sandwee, sandwoi, sandish”, and you have no idea and say, what do you want? And after 60 minutes, you’re defeated. You say, “Oh, sandwich?” You say, “Okay.” And they stop crying. Now imagine you go to Spain and you don’t speak the language, when you say, un café por favor, If they say, “Okay, what type of coffee you want?” You’re not going to repeat I want a coffee and cry for 60 minutes. You’re going to switch to English and say, right and that’s why the adult tend to learn the language less faster despite that they know what’s the language, what’s the structure, what’s the grammar, is that they give up. It’s not that their brain is less developed than a kid.
The other thing, what types of question people always would ask you? It’s like, I would imagine there is a type of question that when people ask you to the point you are sick and tired of answering it and this is why I wrote the article for Copyhacker, because I’m like, “Hey, here’s ten way you could write different ad copy, go read it.” Though instead of me explaining it to you for the hundredth time. Example about language, people ask, should I learn individual words or should I learn sentences? And the person behind it said, “No, you learn sentences because a word appear in a context, in a structure and that makes you speak like the native people.” The other thing would be stories. Interesting story.
I mean, there was a story of a Parrot who used to speak English with a British accent, got lost, came back and said [foreign language 00:20:07], and we said, Hey, what is the moral of the story? We don’t want to tell a story for the moral of telling it, if we cannot link it with the learning, but the learning is like, you know what the Parrot just kept repeating sentences she heard frequently and that’s how you learn a language. By the way, we have an Ebook of frequently used sentences. Interrogate your clients. I mean, actually it’s very interesting, I helped write an ad for the copywriter club. They have a course called the Copywriter Accelerator and one person that was listening to the interview ended up buying the $2,000 product.
Basically she didn’t have the money, she borrowed the money from her father and she started as just somebody who was helping me with the product and the problem with the interview most people are like, Oh yeah, that’s a great course. I got a good result. No, I want… Imagine you’re interrogating them like, “No, no. I don’t want to pay the $2,000, but I want to know what made the difference.” And one person named Jean [Waukesha 00:21:13], a really famous copywriter now. She said, “Oh now, it’s the crisis and I got an $8,000 contract.” Okay, good but not interesting because anyone could claim anything.
I said, no, no. The Copywriter Accelerator taught me how to make proposal but the proposal is you need to understand why someone want a product, what they want to achieve and the first proposal was $5,000, but she learned that they wanted to have a webinar and sell a service via the webinar and she said, “Oh, you forgot to ask for our webinar onboarding series to make people sure they attend the webinar and also to make sure people buy after they attend the webinar,” and despite that she was more expensive than anybody else, the company said, Hey, when could we hire you? Can we start easier? So just interview customer. I mean, sometime I just interview a customer. I interrogate them and one question lead to the other and when I think I got into their brain, their language, I just transform this into an ad.
Louis: Okay. So that sounds like this is… To be honest this is interesting, but it still sounds like a black box, but we’re going to just construct it together, because you said a few interesting stuff. So first, it seems like you naturally think this way, so it may be difficult for you to extract that, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get there. You think in terms of finding those misconceptions, finding those interesting stories, you have a way to tell stories. You have a way to remember them. Like off the bat you remember three stories relating to a language, even though we’ve never told you that we’ll talk about language necessarily. So it seems like the first step you take is you immerse yourself in the world of the company you’re going to work for, right?
Louis: So in the context of a language course, in the context of a pizzeria, you basically absorb as much as you can. Do you have a specific source that you go first, second, third or is it a bit messier?
Sarah: No. It’s the client because if I work for a specific client, it’s the client content. The client might have email series. They might have a book. They might have a YouTube series. They might have webinars because that’s what make the client unique because if I worked for three companies that sell language courses, what make them unique is different. Their story is different.
Louis: So you basically ask them for all the materials they have? Everything.
Louis: Their Blog-
Sarah: And [crosstalk 00:23:45]. If they allow me to speak up to their client, that’s very important.
Louis: Okay. We’ll talk about that in a few minutes in terms of talking to clients because I understand, but this first step is not something we talk about that much. So you basically have… Where do you store this? Like, do you put that in a trailer world where you have everything? Like, how do you do it? All of it-
Sarah: I tend to put it in a Google doc. Not the most organized thing, but basically I would have had a ‘aha’ moment.
Louis: [crosstalk 00:24:15], you see. We are getting somewhere.
Louis: We are getting somewhere.
Sarah: Number one ‘aha’ moment. Number two ‘aha’ moment. Number three and I call them angles. So [crosstalk 00:24:28], I’m very disorganized. I’m like angle number one, kid don’t learn better than the adult. Angle number two, forget about grammar because you will get demotivated. Start by learning a language by using the power of a story. Angle number three, this is how the brain work. Don’t feel guilty about forgetting, but if you set yourself ambitious goal, you will never do it because it’s more like a marathon and not a sprint and then I’m like [crosstalk 00:25:05], ad angle and then I could transfer them into longer copy.
Louis: Okay. How do you recognize angles? Like what are the things that make you say and think shit, this is interesting. Now it might come from your gut. It may be from experience, but as best as you can trying to teach someone… Like, let’s say, if you had to teach someone to actually do this for you because you don’t have time, what would you tell them? How do you recognize angles that are potentially interesting?
Sarah: Okay. Let’s say you have a user. They’re going to read the ad. The aim is I taught you something you didn’t know before reading that ad. So when I look at the content, I look at everything I learn I didn’t know beforehand. So if some copies say, imagine being in Argentina and being able to order food in perfect Spanish, I didn’t learn anything new. Now I read the content, “Oh, this is how the brain work according to brain research.” I’m like, “Oh, I learnt something new.” I’ll give you an example. I helped a woman with a depression webinar. Her story was interesting because I didn’t know her story before reading it, but what’s interesting I found by probing doctor, like open your mouth, swallow the pills and according to Harvard, as they’ve been prescribing each year 30% more antidepressant. Now we have 400% people who are more depressed.
Before I read… I learned something new. I have a new knowledge that five minutes before reading this, I didn’t know. Another one is Nigeria for a country, they are less depressed people, nothing to do with money, success, infrastructure. In Western world we eat a lot of processed food, there they eat fresh food and it has to do with the gut bacteria. Oh, I learnt something I didn’t know and the same way it had that punch in me, Oh, really? What you eat really depends on being depressed or not because how your digestive tract work. Okay, that’s a good angle because I didn’t know it and probably a lot of people who are going to read the ad are going to know it.
Louis: So it seems like teaching something new, but also it seems like… So something completely new that you didn’t know, you didn’t know, like that’s fine but also it seems like there’s another type, which is the things you thought you knew that are actually wrong like the misconception. So to me it seems like you have two types that you’d like to come back to. Is that right?
Sarah: Actually, it’s much more than that, but they just take those examples and I think you want something that catches people attention. Let me think of an example. I mean, I wrote some ads for a conference where Malala spoke. She’s like the one that stood up to the Taliban. If I said Malala, everyone know her story and so I would look, what is something about her story that I didn’t know? So I look for a hook, something that shock me and one of the example was for a conference… I have the example in front of me is somebody who escaped from Hungary during the revolution and our ads in Canada. He was homeless and he was sleeping on the train station bench and he only survived because train station worker would give him one Apple every day and I think emotionally… The emotion, you’re not indifferent to that. There is like kind of a punch like, wow, okay. I cannot stop reading that the story is not blank.
So it’s a combination between teach me something I didn’t know, but you’re still interrupt me. So is there some hook that would make me stop looking at cat picture or video and want to read the rest of the ad because their hook is really strong? So it’s basically [crosstalk 00:29:01], call a frame or like ADA. ADA will be an example. It’s like you capture people’s attention, you teach them something they don’t know, you tell them how this could solve a problem or make their life better and then you end up… Like the call to action is, Oh, it’s my product or service that will give you that result.
Louis: Okay. Well, I love this. Thanks for going through the steps. I would say this first step. It feels like this is something that folks need experience with, you can’t just put them… Like obviously, you can be your own customer in a sense, like you come from a fresh mind and you’ve never heard of a topic like, I don’t know, depression in detail, so you don’t know anything. So you’re surprised by almost every single thing or many things but I wonder then how you deal with it when you know the industry inside out. Let’s say there’s a lot of SAS copywriters, Software As a Service copywriters out there, for example and like once you know everything there is to know about SAS, do you see like sometimes you get stuck, where you can’t find anything interesting or do you feel like there’s always something interesting that you can find?
Sarah: I mean, your podcast starts with shady marketers who are pushy. I would turn the frustration into ad copy. I’ll give you an example of a Facebook ad. People used to say, Oh, you could target people who have money on Facebook and because they have money they’re going to buy and I say, number one, no targeting is perfect. Number two, if I have a one-star hostel, just because I show the actual rich person they’re not going to buy and I’m like, what make people go to the Ritz-Carlton at $400 per night, it’s saying if it’s two in the morning and you’re hungry and you’re jet lag and you’re vegan, the chef would make sure you have a meal you could order via room service.
It’s not the fact that you are rich and you have money and you’re burning money, it’s how you communicate your value and 90% of people who see an ad for a Rolex watch or Ritz-Carlton can neither afford either, but it’s how they communicate the value. So it’s this frustration where people say Facebook marketing, there is this magical pill you push two button and at the end of the two button, you’re going to make money and I say, I really disagree. What you’re teaching people is wrong. It’s just wrong out there you say, it’s basically how dare you say that, you’re basically taking advantage of people in your ads. So there is always some frustration in the industry.
Louis: No, no, I get you. So I want to break… I think there’s two other steps that you mentioned that I want to talk to. So one is, and I’m not sure if I understood correctly, so please correct me if I’m wrong. You said-
Sarah: Yeah. Sure.
Louis: … I like to talk to the clients as well. So are we talking about talking to the customers customer or are you talking about the-
Sarah: Yes. Yes.
Louis: Okay. So let’s talk about that briefly because I mean in the podcast we talk about that a lot, talking to customers. I’m glad you mentioned that as well. What type of questions do you like to ask actual customers? Like what are the things that you’d like to ask them? And let’s talk about the example again, of the language course we’re trying to sell here. What would you like to ask them?
Sarah: I never interview the customer of the language course, but then I’ll give you an example of marketing because that’s your audience. I had a marketer named Dennis Yu, who did run ad for Nike, Adidas was there for Sony, et cetera. I said, I have that conference, a video case study about Strategizer. I said, “Who can I interview?” He said, “Go interview Gavin.” First thing Gavin said, “Oh, Dennis Yu is great. I got good results.” I said, “I don’t care. Tell me something that you’re doing differently as a result of working with Dennis Yu. What was the before? What was the mistake or action you took as a result of working with him and what was the outcome?”
And he said, “Oh, I had no guest blog article on authority website. He helped me get published on social media examiner. I put the logo on my website, now everyone think I’m an expert. My rate went from 49 to 150 or something like that. The second thing, everyone who used to want to talk to work with me.” I said, “Yes.” “Jump on a phone call.” Now, I said, “No, no. You need to first book a consulting session where you pay for it and then we decide if we are a good fit.” So basically I ask about the actionable step and how it transformed their business or their life.
Louis: But that sounds like… That’s interesting somewhat to know the result and whatever, but isn’t it a bit boring compared to the stories you told before or like do you find a hook inside that? I’m challenging you a bit here.
Sarah: [crosstalk 00:33:52], find a hook. You could find a hook. So for that example, I was telling this story of a sandwich shop that used to say, Hey, we’re making those sandwiches. We Use fresh bread, when it run out of fresh bread, we close because the bakery, they sell us only that many bread and if we get open until 9:00 PM, then we’ll use a lower quality bread, and people are standing in line and I use it to say as a parallel, it’s the same thing with marketing. If you’re able to communicate what makes you unique, people are going to stand in line, but the other thing, if you’re that niche, it’s not going to sound boring. I mean, I write ads for the most boring niches for the wide public would say, Hey, this is boring, but for somebody who’s in that niche who suffer from a certain problem could achieve a certain outcome result. It’s not boring.
Louis: Okay. So step one, you collect everything you have to know about the business and you go at it from a beginner’s mind and you take notes. You just take Google doc and you just take note, ‘aha’. This is potential angle. This is a potential angle. Then you interview your client ‘s customer. How many do you like to interview? Briefly like what’s usually a good number for you?
Sarah: [crosstalk 00:35:07]. As much as they have some clients say, Hey, there’s only one or two clients that is ready to interview and some if I could interview 10, I would interview 10, given that they have time.
Louis: Okay. So you interviewed them and you just let them tell you tell their story, right? And you dig in-
Sarah: [crosstalk 00:35:23], it’s interrogation.
Louis: Like I’m doing right now?
Louis: Okay. And then step three you said something else, you said that you would talk to the client itself, right?
Louis: Because you said… At the start you said you would like to challenge them to think about what is unique. I’m going to … I will be honest here I think this is one of the toughest thing for people to do because there are so much inside the jar, they can’t see the label. Right? They… it’s almost an impossible task to find out what is unique about a marketing consultant or a copywriter, when there are literally hundreds of thousands of copywriters, hundreds of thousands of marketing consultants or at least people who claim to be, but it’s the same thing. I mean on the internet everyone can be an expert or can be perceived as one. So how do you get this uniqueness out of them?
Sarah: I mean, by play rolling that I’m a client. It’s like, Hey, I’m a client. I could give you money right now, but if I give you money, you need to tell me why you because you’re charging me $1,000 and somebody else is charging 200, why are you worth it? And people often would get if… Some might have nothing unique, if they have nothing unique, I cannot beat them and I have them give me something unique then they need maybe to think about what makes them unique and some of them have a lot of things that make them unique. They never thought about communicating it. It’s like, they think this is a Facebook ad, I’m going to write a short sentence and that’s all.
I give you another example. I know I’m having examples. It was a tax consultant and people will say your $10,000, there’s somebody who make it for 500, and they said yes but they never played safe. I look for every single deductible and even if the IRS disagreed, I would go to them and argue with them till you win. The other for $500 says, Oh, the IRS asked me to give them $5,000 too bad I cannot help you and often it’s just people never think about writing it in an ad but if you interrogate them they will tell you and if somebody is at McDonald’s and there is 200 McDonald’s in the same city and there’s nothing unique about that McDonald’s, why would they drive 20 minutes without McDonald if there’s a McDonald’s next to my home? I hate McDonald’s by the way but sometimes not everyone has something unique and you cannot do anything about it.
Louis: So did you choose to work with them if there’s nothing unique or you said no?
Sarah: No, I give it… I mean, sometimes people contact me say, hey, I want to start an online business. I look at their blog posts. They have maybe 20, 30 blog posts. So I’m like, is this generating any traffic or clients for you? They say, “No. I just paid somebody $50 per blog post and that’s it.” I’m like Facebook cannot amplify what’s not working already. Fix your content then come back because if people have a content problem, I could have the best targeting the best Facebook ad strategy, the best Facebook ad copy, but Facebook doesn’t work alone without interacting with the rest of the content that the business have. It’s not a magical solution that could sell everything and nothing.
Louis: Okay. So you can’t polish a turd.
Louis: Okay. So we’ve gone through step one, which is basically trying to get the beginner’s mind to collect everything about the business. Then talking to the customers, talking to the customer himself or herself or themselves. Then what do you do once you have this wealth of information?
Sarah: I organize it into angles that I might present to the client. I say I have angle one, angle two, angle three, angle four. Choose a few ads and okay. It’s basically high level. So I don’t tell somebody I’m going to make you a cake with egg and milk and the person said “I am vegan.” Then okay. They say, “I love this ad angle. Expound on it.” And then you’ll make an interest in for example, using framework like ADA. You want to capture people attention like the first sentence, is what made people decide, do they want to continue reading or do they want to scroll further? Okay, I’ve captured your attention now what?
Sarah: Give me some value or a promise or teach me something that I didn’t know where the outcome it might make my life or my business easier or avoid a certain problem, and then the call to action is like, why is that client solution the answer? So if I go to the language one yes, the parrot learnt Spanish, but we’re not telling you go to Duolingo because we’re the one that have an Ebook with common Spanish sentences that you could download right now. So it’s basically how to organize that in a structure that capture the attention, give some content, present the solution and then why is your solution the answer?
Louis: Okay. This still feels like there’s a lot of steps into one, but that’s normal. That’s the way. So you have a few angles and you pitch that to the client. Then they pick one or two, three and they say, “Yeah, any of them would be fine.” Okay. So then how do you… Tell me more about the way you turn this angle into an actual copy that is ready to go on whatever channel. Like it could be Facebook, whatever. Do you start working straight away? Just write the copy like fully, then you revise it the next day. Do you write an outline for the copy? Then write it, then edit it, then edit it again. Like what’s your typical process?
Sarah: I tend to say copy’s the same as food if you keep it one day in the fridge, the flavor will become stronger. So I would write an outline. Like start, middle, end of the ad. Let it on the fridge because the next day-
Louis: [crosstalk 00:07:16]. You take your computer and you put it in the fridge or your paper and you put it in the fridge literally or?
Sarah: Yeah. It is a way for speaking. It’s like your first copy [crosstalk 00:41:56], one and if you revise it the second day, but most importantly if I work on copy, I always work with somebody else. Okay. So if I’m-
Louis: What do you mean?
Sarah: So I would have people at work that I trained. So if let’s say I’m the one interviewing, I might give them the angle of the transcript and I tell them to write it. Why? because I want to make sure I communicated clearly. Did what they write when I read it back is in my head or would I tell them, Oh no, no. This is not what I meant please change it. And often when you have four eyes on a copy it’s better, because if I read it, if one, they don’t understand me. Probably the person reading the ad is not going to understand.
If I read it back and I don’t understand what I wanted it to say, probably the user on Facebook would be the same and then of course I give it to the client because you want it to look like a copy that was written by an expert not a copywriter, because there would always be domain knowledge that would look like it was written by somebody, not with the main knowledge based on mistakes. Not knowing the niche of the industry and if the client is happy, we just create the ad, target audiences, look at the numbers and so on.
Louis: So it’s actually the first time I ever heard someone mentioned that very, very interesting tip. Something I’ve figured out before. It’s very difficult again, once you’re inside the jar to get out of it, even if you’re a copywriter working for a client, it’s easy to get into this jar and not being able to get out because you take stuff for granted, you have some knowledge, you think all of that. So to make sure you understand… Let me repeat to make sure I understand what you’re saying. You ask someone else to write it for you to make sure that they understand what you’re trying to say, is that it?
Louis: Or do you write it then give it to them to make sure they understood?
Sarah: It’s in different steps. So I might write the angles, ask them to write the ads and then I’ll review it. So it’s nearly like tandem. I do step one, they do step two. I do like step three. The sense it’s easier to criticize somebody else work than your own, but I wouldn’t do the high level, the strategy. Their outline and then read it to make sure I understood because it’s easier to criticize what somebody else wrote than what I wrote myself.
Louis: Got you, but it’s a very interesting tip and then the other thing that you mentioned something I do, I’m not the best copywriter far from it but something I’ve noticed is that very much like a good Boeuf Bourguignon which is a French dish where that you cook with-
Sarah: I know.
Louis: … beef and red wine. It’s much, much better once you cook it once and then leave it aside and then cooking twice and then leave it aside and I do that with my copy as well. So I would really let my brain in the background work for myself, and I found you can find stuff then which is like the rule of the shitty first copy, right? The shitty first draft.
Louis: So how long does it typically take you from start to finish? Right from you have the angle to having the copy you reasoned?
Sarah: I would say this is approximate because I never measured it, but more or less one week. When I say more or less one week, because you cannot force creativity and there are… I mean, I never believe in saying, write 10 pages per day, write 50 ad per day, because some of them are going to be horrible and sometime it’s better if you’re not creative, not to write and once you have the creativity finish writing it and you have a better quality of writing. I believe more of the quality than quantity.
Louis: Okay. So is there a particular… Like we’re talking about Facebook ads, paid ads and we’re going to have to talk about some sort of platform here because even though hopefully Facebook is gone in five years, but I’m sure there’ll be another thing to fill the void. What other formatting things? What are the other principles that you’d like to apply for that type of platform when writing copy? Like is it better to have long paragraph or short paragraph? That kind thing. I know it might be… You might find examples of things that are the opposite of that, but generally speaking, what do you see happening?
Sarah: I think as long as you give value, you teach, you entertain, you’re not doing a hard sell, it doesn’t matter because 10 different people are going to have a different type of writing, and as long as there is an ‘aha’ moment, there is value. You taught me something I didn’t know. It is basically the content that teaches something and I often get people who say Facebook, should I do video or text? I say, “It doesn’t matter.” Maybe if I made video, I would make people fall asleep and maybe I’m better at writing texts. Maybe somebody else the writing is horrible, but their energy on the video is so good that everybody’s going to watch. It’s just that content is what makes people look like an expert and it’s content that makes people move from not being a client, to potentially a client and from potentially a client to a client or even a repeat client for existing clients.
Louis: So it doesn’t matter, it’s what you’re saying, right? Like the format doesn’t matter and I like the word energy. It’s something I use a lot as well to explain things and sometimes I feel it’s not that clear when you explain it. Like when you talk about this energy thing, but it’s… But again, I think it takes experience and a bit of gut feeling to follow, but this energy is really about the flow of things and is it boring as fuck when you watch this video? Is it boring when you read this copy or instead does it give you some… You know [crosstalk 00:47:58], to be honest, when the few stories that you said during the podcast, like the ones about the brownie, and I thought that was a drug dealer giving the brownie and all of that.
Those are the types of stories that actually interested me, genuinely interested me saying shit, what’s the end of this story? And I think this is a good sign of this kind of energy and this flow of like you just saying about language. Saying that actually it’s not true that kids learn languages faster. This is the kind of shit that I would remember, and you did it quite quickly. So I can see that you’re pretty good at what you’re doing and hopefully during this interview, we’ve been able to deconstruct it enough so that people can use that as well, and then I suppose what you need to do is just sheave the ad and see how it works and then tweak it, right?
Sarah: Exactly. It’s dipping your toe into the water marketing, especially interruption marketing. It’s better to have something not perfect. You free it, you test it. People are voting with their mouse. If it do well, keep it, if it doesn’t do well you keep going and doing more tests.
Louis: Yep. Exactly. Amen to that. Is there anything about your process that I’ve forgotten to ask? Is there a secret sauce? Something that you’d like to tell others that they don’t already know that I’ve forgotten to ask you about?
Sarah: I think it was… No. It was pretty complete. I’m sure maybe there is something at the back of my mind maybe I forgot saying, but I think it’s pretty complete.
Louis: Okay. So I’m going to ask you three questions I always ask at the end of the episode and thank you by the way for going through this with me, I know it’s not easy to be interrupted, but we’ve done it. So what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 5, 10, 50 years?
Sarah: Multi channel marketing. You could be an expert on Facebook and you know Facebook really good, but you should know a little bit of Google identity, a little bit of copywriting, a little bit of email, because every marketing channel never work in it’s own. It interact with many more. Facebook could drive Google organic and Google could also drive Facebook or a conversion could start on Facebook and finish via email, especially if it’s a high price item and understanding what work in niches outside of one own specialty, really give you the edge.
Louis: Yeah, amen to that. I think a lot of people think that people are in this silo and just the CNR device right away. Like well, digital marketing… I mean the practice of doing marketing on digital platforms, because I don’t think there is digital marketing per se, but anyway, this practice, it’s very easy to think of numbers as this kind of gospel thing and trusting every single number and trusting your Google entities. Well, in fact, journeys from customers and from just normal people are very much different. Damaged, more complex. They’re coming back and forth between each step. As you said, they switch platform, they switch context, you can’t track every single movement they have. So don’t overly obsess about those numbers and instead obsess over those people behind the screen who are actually trying to learn from you and buy from you. What are the top three resources you would recommend to our listeners?
Sarah: I was going to say made to stick, but I know other people in your episode said it so I’m not going to expand on it, but I would say a book by Andy Bound called The Jelly Effect and basically he is someone who’s blind from one eye. His mother was blind which mean he needed to be able to explain to things she’s not able to see. Like what is an image? What is people? What’s a movie? And he said, you know what? If you make him marketing, writing a message, people are blind to your own agenda. He’s not somebody who did an MBA, who studied marketing, who worked for a big company, but that life disadvantage taught him about how to communicate clearly better than anybody else and actually he helped Barclays get a 2.6 billion pound deal because of his communication skills. So that would be number one. The Jelly Effect by Andy Bound.
Sarah: The third one, nothing to do with marketing. It’s called Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale. He’s basically a very famous scammer. He used to be a scammer. He would make fake check. He would pretend he’s an airline pilot and at some point when he was doing it he was at JFK and somebody asked him, so what machine you’re flying and he knew the question, the pilot, what machine? And he just dressed as a pilot because people trust people who dress as pilot when they give fake checks and he just said something wrong. I believe he said, “General electric.” And then he thought about it and said, “Oh my God, I look like a stupid who’s flying a washing machine,” and then he started learning the terminology. He would read flying magazine. He would go to a bar where pilot are and just listen to their conversation, what they say and even one day he was in Atlanta in a really serioushttps://geni.us/catchme gated community and people would ask, what do you do?
He said, “Well, I’m a paediatrician.” And okay [inaudible 00:53:25], and was at the party, they said, Oh, you should meet that person. He’s also paediatrician and he escaped from the party and just so people doesn’t discover that he’s taken an identity that’s not his. He would go to an Atlanta library, read book, magazine, medical journal, et cetera. And when he ringed back the doctor one month later that he was so impressed. He said, “Oh, I’m on vacation leave. I’m on absence leave.” They really believed he was a doctor and even offered him a job. The moral of the story. Okay, don’t do market re-shared to scam people because what he did was bad, like using fake cheque, et cetera. But if you really go deep. Know the language people are using to the point where you say, I’m one of you. Then your marketing gets much, much better than if you just throw things at the wall. So this is why I selected couch [crosstalk 00:19:39]. Yeah.
Louis: Yeah. I think it’s a very, very good learning and story. I love the story. I love the movie as well. DiCaprio, I think if I’m not mistaken [crosstalk 00:19:51]. You’ve been a pleasure. Thanks for sharing your tips and your secret sauce and all of that. Where can listeners connect with you and learn more from you
Sarah: On my website. So it’s Sarah with an H at the end, minus sign, S-A-L.com or on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter. So social media.
Louis: Social media indeed. All right Sarah. Once again, thank you so much.
Sarah: You’re welcome.