In the 42nd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira and Rob talk with Casey Slaughter Stanton about his career path and how he found his way into marketing by pushing a lawn mower. Today he runs his own marketing and tech business, and focuses on what he calls “functional marketing”. During our conversation, we asked Casey about his approach to business and working with customers. He shared:
• How you can sell more by selling to only one person
• How empathetic guessing can help you connect better with your customers
• The DOS formula and how it helps him understand his client’s business
• His approach to creating proposal clients can’t say “no” to
• How to qualify potential clients so you only work with the right ones
• What he learned working with Gary Bencivenga and Ted Nicolas (he didn’t know who they were at the time), and
• The “head, heart, and home” questions he asks about each of his clients
This one is less about copywriting and more about selling your client on your services and expertise. If you struggle to land more than half of the clients who you talk to about a project, this is a must-listen episode. Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
Tech Guys Who Get Marketing
Dr. Marshall Rosenburg
Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think
Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World
Titans of Direct Response
The Proposal Template Casey shared at Titans
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
The Copywriter Club Podcast is sponsored by Airstory, the writing platform for professional writers who want to get more done in half the time. Learn more at Airstory.co/club.
Kira: What if you can hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts? Ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work. That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Rob: You’re invited to join the club for episode 42 as we chat with Casey Slaughter Stanton about how single proprietors like copywriters can better market themselves, improving the sales process, creating client proposals that clients say yes to, and what he calls city dating.
Kira: Hey, Casey. Hey, Rob. How is it going?
Casey: Hey, great. Great, great to be on, you all.
Kira: Casey, a really great place to start would be with your story and since most of our audience has not heard of you before so let’s start there.
Casey: Sure. Back in 2008 I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy. When I say graduated, I just did the air quotes because I had to plead to my native American music professor to actually give me a D minus in the class and I think he gave me a D. He even threw me a bone there so I graduated somehow. I was pretty shocked and I hit the workforce and I was looking for jobs immediately after school thinking that I could get into a sales role. What I found was that unemployment was a real big issue and I watch the unemployment stats go from 5% to 6 to 7 to 8 to 9.
While I was still looking for a job, they topped out at 10.5% and I was screwed because I had no real experience in anything and environment policy. It kind of meant I could only work in lancing and I just couldn’t survive there. What I was forced to do was move back home with my parents and I took the basement over and picked up a job mowing lawns and spent a whole summer on the back of a lawn mower trying to figure out what I was going to do. Lucky for me I was able to grab a couple Tony Robbins tapes from the library. I found a bunch of resources online and just started listening and learning and just overloading my brain with different ideas and seeing what was out there.
I was mowing lawns at a guy’s place, his name was Dave and he had this beautiful house and he just really was like living the good life. Every time I saw him he was like having a Mai Tai or like a tea out on his deck overlooking the bay. I asked him one day. I said, “Hey, Dave, how did you do it? How did you get to be so successful that you could afford a place like this?” He said, “Well, Casey, I invented a product and got it patented and I have a group of distributors that sell it.” I said, “I want to do it, man. I want to live this life.” He said, “You can buy some of the products and you can go ahead and sell them.” I said, “Could you front me? I’m a little short on cash.” He said, “No, I can’t.”
A few weeks later I’d saved enough money up and I bought ten products of his and went door to door and I sold a couple and I made more money that first day of selling door to door in less time than I did in a week of mowing the lawns. I knew that selling was something that I was just naturally good at. Being a millennial and growing up with the internet, I said to myself like, “There’s got to be an easier way than going door to door.” I looked online and I talked to one of my dad’s friends who was in marketing and he said, “Oh, that’s marketing. You’re doing sales and if you want to multiply that, that’s marketing.” That definition of marketing and salesmanship multiply really fit in here.
That’s where I got started in marketing and started selling products online, finding local clients, doing copywriting in marketing and technology implementation for them. I ran that for a few years. Met up with a guy named Mike Cline who has a business Tech Guys Who Get Marketing, it’s kind of a collective of technologist and marketers and copywriters and designers. We all work together to support clients. I was working with them, became the chief marketing officer there and later went on to become a marketing professor at Tulane University.
Again, with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Policy, I was teaching at a business school, marketing. All of my education has been through spending time in other people’s businesses and learning about what they do and how they do it and just taking that in creatively applying it to different places.
Rob: Casey, what you’re doing now then is a lot more than just selling a couple of products, right?
Casey: What I’ve done is I’ve created my own strategy in marketing which I call functional marketing and functional sales and functional teams. It’s the trifecta of what I’ve had the most experience in and the things that I found that really move the needle in the business the most. Functional marketing looks at a business at large and says, “What happened in the past? What assets do you have? What marketing campaigns worked and didn’t work? What assets do you have? What mailing lists? What favorites are owed to you? What’s your unique ability to use a strategic coach term?” Really figuring out the history of a business and then from that I say, “Okay, where do we want to be in 90 days or two years?”
They give me ideas and then I help them get more solidified goals and then I lay out strategies in different marketing tests that are more holistic in the business to help them achieve the results that they want in 90 days and in two years. I work really with clients for 90 days at a time and we just keep going and going. In two years, we aim to hit that two-year goal. That’s the approach that I take and I need technologist and that’s the Tech Guys Who Get Marketing team. I can pull in the techs there and project managers so they can support me in places that I’m incredibly weak. I don’t want to be a good project manager, I want to be the best marketing strategist and that’s what having a team of other people allows me to do.
Kira: Casey, I want to get into functional marketing and your business but before that, I want to go back to when you were selling door to door. I want to know what made you that great sales person. What did you have at that stage? What can you advise us to do because we’re all selling whether or not door to door selling through online copy, what can we do better?
Casey: Great question. Ultimately, sales is a one to one human interaction and it’s about understanding who you’re talking to and fitting the product or service to them and not trying to say to a huge crowd of people, “This is the one product for you.” What I like to do is to sell individually and whenever I sell face to face, if I sell on a sales call I just had a big sales call before this call and it was me talking to one person or if I’m going to sell a product online I’m still only selling to one person. It may be that there’s a multitude of those people. There might be hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of those prospects that are online that might see the offer but I’m still just selling to the one individual at a time.
I don’t like to use you guys or group people together. I’d like to look at what makes people unique and different. I’m confident that that’s the thing that has made me so successful in sales is identifying who the person is, making empathy guesses and that’s the idea that comes from Dr. Marshall Rosenberg and his work on Nonviolent Communication. He says taking guess like an empathetic guess on how the person’s feeling and why they’re feeling that way and really clue into that and then talk through their experience in the world and how your product or service can solve that problem.
I think that that’s just made a huge difference in me being connected to the person and that necessitates that we as marketers, copywriters, business owners that we actually believe in the product that we’re selling because I can in good faith sell to someone and try to solve a problem that they have with the products that won’t solve the problem. Knowing that you can believe in the product that you have and that was my first problem with the door to door sales and I quickly drop that product because I realized that it actually wasn’t a great product and I had to move on to other things. That’s just been a huge differentiation I think in selling effectively.
Rob: Let’s talk a little bit more deeply about that sales process. I think you’ve talked in the past about how you used the DOS to get to know a customer in order to you help solve their problem. Walk us through that process.
Casey: What I love to do on a sales call is really have someone else to tell me what the problem is and I like to poke in and I like to get the emotional words from it. I want to know how they feel. I was just on a sales call with someone and she’s being in the health space and at the end of the call I said, “What’s robbing you of your confidence? What keeps you up at night?” A question I like to ask is, “What are you worried about before you go to bed or when you’re in the shower all by yourself? What are those moments of frustration?” If I can get clarity in what those are, I can solve them.
That’s me selling a service and I know my functional marketing strategy is going to be effective for this business but it’s only as effective as I understand the problems to be. If they limit the problems that they tell me, I can only solve the problems I know. I have to ask a lot of questions. Similarly, I like to poke in and ask really personal questions. When someone says something to me like, “Oh yeah, that’s frustrating.” I say, “How was that frustrating? How’s that frustration manifest itself? Do you have reduced confidence in your team? Do you feel like you’re not going to be able to make payroll? What does that feel like? What’s that like?” Really getting into the emotions of it.
I can sell people on the emotion because at the end of the day everyone buys because of emotion and the way I learned it was we buy based on emotion but we have to have enough logic to be able to defend our choice to our spouse. In the heat of the moment at the point of sale we’re always buying because emotionally we feel like, “Oh, life’s going to be so much better and I’m going to feel so relieved once this solution is in place.” It’s important to really play into that emotion side and not spend too much time just on the logic.
Kira: What does that look like in more detail when you’re asking those questions? Are you pulling those questions before you get, even get on a sales call? Maybe you have an online form that they are filling out and then you have that information so you know exactly what direction to go when you get on the call with them.
Casey: No, I don’t really have a ton of information.
Casey: In one of our businesses we call it engaged officers, it’s an outsourced chief marketing and chief technology officer kind of suite that we provide. We launched that at Genius Network’s annual event two years ago. On our table we just said, “I’m a tech guy and I’m a marketer.” My colleague Bill is a great technologist and I’m a marketer so we said, “I’m a marketer, I’m a tech guy, let us solve your problems related to marketing and tech.” We have a marketing and tech audit is what we called it and people would sign up and then we send them a questionnaire and then book the call. We would ask them questions about, “What’s the biggest result you’ve delivered for a client? What’s your call be? How successful has your business been in the last 12 months?
What’s your goal for two years out from today? Do you have any on staff marketers or technologist?” Some basic questions to guide the conversation but then when I get on the call, I ask really personal questions and I ask questions sometimes on the first call, sometimes on the second call but I always ask them related to what the income is actually of the CEO. I feel like it’s a really interesting question to ask and I’ve only been shut down once from it. The guy just said, “That’s none of your business.” I think that’s a really interesting piece so I ask people all of these questions, I ask the CEOs their income because when I know their income I understand how profitable the business is for them.
Then I can really poke into the problems that exist. I was working with someone, they have a 50 million dollar a year business. The CEO makes a $100,000 a year. Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t want a 50 million dollar a year business and payroll on my shoulders and only make a 100. I mean, that’s just silly. The conversation quickly turned to him with why, why you’ve made this decisions in your business and he came up with reasons and talked about low profitability and then that immediately pushed the conversation into what are the direct to consumer middle man removing products or services that we can sell that will build a lot of profit in the business so that you can take more out because you’re working so hard.
That got his emotional buy-in. It’s kind of a choose your own adventure. I think there’s definitely an art to it. When people say something I just start digging in deeper and deeper and asking more questions and sometimes I go down the wrong path. I go down a path and when I get to the end of it I’m like, “Oh, I guess that really wasn’t relevant so then I back up a little bit and I say, “Okay, Kira, when you said this, when you said your question about yada, yada, let’s unpack that a bit. What did you mean by that? What do you mean your competition is outpacing you in this product niche?” Get a better understanding to those things and I’m writing everything down as you all mentioned Rob with the DOS process.
The DOS process is dangerous opportunities and strengths and sometimes I might even ask that question and this comes from Dan Sullivan, “What are the dangers that exist in your business?” That might just be a simple question to ask, “What are the opportunities? What are your strengths?” Whenever someone said something I’m adding it because they are going to jump around on the call and it’s kind of a safe place for them to emote and tell me about their business. They might say, “I’m really frustrated about this.” “Oh, by the way I’ve got this new product that we’re working on but hey, I’m really frustrated about this thing.” I have a couple of dangers there plus I throw on the opportunity and then once they kind of tell me enough information I can say, “Okay, based on these things that you said, these are the top opportunities that I’m seeing.
Do you agree that these are the top ones?” They’ll say yes or no and we’ll get some more clarity there. It’s a lot of guessing and poking and just an art to probing the business to figure out where I can be the most useful but what I think is so great about that approach is I’m not going there selling one service, I’m there selling them their future success and I’m figuring out where I fit in. I’m doing a little business planning for them instead of saying, “I’m just a copywriter that’s going to sell you on a sales letter,” because they may not need a sales letter, they may need something bigger and then I can provide those services by bringing in other vendors which increases my value.
Rob: I love that advice, so many writers get a client that approaches them and says, “Hey, I need a website or I need a brochure,” whatever that piece of copy is and what they really don’t need is copy, what they need is copy that help solve a business problem and the advice and how you walk through that conversation with the customer really drills into where we can offer the most value so I really love that. Then the rubber hits the road, how do you turn all of that information into a proposal that the client wants to say yes to?
Casey: Great question. I don’t believe in RFPs and in putting proposals out and being a proposal on a stack of proposals. When I’m teaching at Tulane, one of the students brought this really serious concern up to me. She said, “I’m in a sorority. I kind of look like all of the other girls in my sorority. I’m towards the top in the GPA but I’m not a 4.0 student. I come from a similar socioeconomic class of everyone else. There’s this great new role at this great fashion business in fashion merchandising and I want to be in it. I want that job. How do I get that job?” On paper, she can’t win because the only thing that she’s differentiated by is her grades and they’re lower than some other people’s. By definition she’s going to lose.
That’s a game she can’t win. Similarly, I can’t win by putting together a proposal kind of sight unseen with the client, not really talking to them, not figuring out who they are in their emotions and the real problems behind everything and really what they’re looking for and all that. I just can’t. It’s going to be impossible. My advice to her which is my advice to the copywriters that are listening to this is don’t compete on paper. I get verbal closes for me a cover letter for a resume, that is something that you have to do once the job’s been verbally given to you. I wouldn’t write cover letters and just send out 25 of them if I was looking for a job, I’d go get a job and then do the formality of filling out a cover letter for that one job. I go sell.
In that situation, I sell people on the call and I have them repeat back kind of active listen what I active listened them and I say, “These are the top priorities that you want to solve. These are the ideas and I’d like to put together a proposal on that. Does that sound like if I achieve those outcomes you’d be happy?” They’re like, “Absolutely, that would be perfect.” No one else is walking them through a proposal at that level and because of that I get that verbal close. I get that yes on the call. I know that that yes is like a 90% yes.
I’m not going to pop the champagne yet but pretty close so then I fill out the proposal and I follow up and I continue to follow up and that’s something that maybe we want to unpack a bit is the follow up process but I finally get that close. The email that I send them is saying, “Hey, Kira, when we talked we talked about these things and you mentioned that if those resolve it would move the needle in this way and this would be the impact on the business. Here’s what I’m going to provide and here’s why it’s the right thing to do. Here’s the next steps.” Nine times out of ten that gets executed and I win the contract.
Kira: Okay, yeah I want to dig into all of that because it’s extremely relevant to all the copywriters listening. When you’re closing it on the call or in person, at that point have you discussed rates. You’re talking money, I know that’s always kind of a sticky subject for copywriters.
Casey: Yeah, it takes courage to talk money on the call. If anyone is familiar with StrengthsFinder, one of my strengths is woo which is winning others over, it’s a great strength but the shadow side is sometimes I withhold information in order to make people like me. I know that that’s a weakness that I have and I know that on the call I can paint this beautiful picture of this wonderful future that this people will have working with me. If I just remove the money part of it, it’s like a fairy tale, right? Everyone feels great but that’s not the right way to solve the problem. I do talk money and one of the ways that I’ve been able to do that really effectively is having a qualifier on the front end, qualify calls before I talk to someone.
You can qualify in a few different ways. If I go to Genius Network and I’m out there and that’s Joe Polish’s organization. If I’m out there and I’m prospecting and I meet someone, I just know that they have the budget. That’s my assumption and I’m right most of the time because if you can afford a $25,000 a year mastermind, you can probably afford an initial date that we have together as far as work is concerned. I’m not going to sell a year-long contract with someone to get started. I might sell a single piece of copy I guess would be the equivalent. I just know that they have the cash for it.
There’s that assumption that you can have depending on the audience that you have. If I don’t know the person, maybe they came in from a referral. Was the referring source and the relationship one where they have the propensity to pay me my rate, yes or no and I can have that conversation. I love working with people that are more affluent and I think copywriters will like that as well because they can afford more services than they can afford to spend more on better contractors. If I don’t have that and I have a colleague that comes in, I have someone on my team that qualifies and here’s a phone call that says, “Hey, I just got your information. I saw the request. Just want to get some more information from you real quick.”
They’re asking three major questions, “Do you have the budget? Do you have a reasonable expectation on delivery? Are you a nice enough person to do business with?” Those are the three questions that they ask and then they pitch them over to me only if they’re yeses so that’s nice. If you don’t have someone to do that, maybe your spouse could do that, maybe you could just find someone online for $10, $15 an hour, it’s not like a really difficult task to do. That saves you from having that immediate conversation. Another way to do it is through a web form. You could ask people what they’ve spent previously on marketing, that will give you an idea of their risk tolerance with marketing and what they look at, how they look at marketing and their business.
Then finally, on the call, I’ll say, “Okay, based on our conversation here, this looks like it’s probably going to clock in around about 50 hours which is about ten grand, a little less than ten grand. Just give me a quick gut check, does that sound like something that we’ll move forward with or not?” They say yes or no. If they say no I say, “I totally get it. Hopefully I’ve given you enough value. I’ll follow up with a recap on your next steps without me and when you have the budget to do something like this, we can move forward.” I can at the beginning of a call really suss out what the budget needs to be because I don’t even know what their problem is. Does that make sense?
Rob: Totally makes sense.
Rob: Then, you’ve got the proposal, you’ve had that initial conversation, you’ve done some work around qualifying them, what does the follow up process look like?
Casey: I’m a bird dog, I follow up. That’s a strength that I have, it has made me successful. I could do a poor job on the sales calls and if I kept my follow up process, I would still do well. A lot of my success is due to getting verbal closes and then making someone commit to their word saying that we’re going to work together. That’s part of it and that’s the morality of the game of business. You said we’re going to work together and it’s my job to make sure that I hold you up to your word so I’m going to follow up with you. Also, if I believe in a product or service, I want to chase it. Just this week I closed my two biggest accounts ever and I’ve been chasing them since October.
That’s six months, that’s six months of following up. That follow up might be every 30 days I’m reaching out, sometimes I send a message, sometimes I see something and I text a photo of it to them, I see a news article that they’re in or something like that and I just provide value. I’m not saying, “Hey, do you have money for me yet?” That’s not the conversation because that puts me in a weird place but I go into a giving position. I have a guy who this sales conversation stalled. It stalled pretty significantly and it’s one of those back pocket accounts that I could maybe drum up if I need it but right now I’m pretty maxed out.
I passed them the proposal and it was like hot, like we were right to get started. I thought we were going to get started that following Monday and no reply. I waited a couple days and then Thursday I sent them a note, it was like, “Hey, did you get that proposal? Any question for me? Let’s schedule a time to talk on Monday.” No reply, no reply, no reply. Then I pulled a tactic of having someone else on the team reach out because me being the person to do the work also following up at some level devalues me so I had one of the people on the sales team do that. She’s following up and he doesn’t reply. I say, “The hell with it. I want to get a yes or a no because that’s our job in sales.”
I don’t want to get a maybe and that’s what I’m stuck with right now. I don’t know if this is hot or not and if it’s a no, that’s fine, if it’s a yes, that’s fine. It’s just the maybes that kill us so I want to get that binary out of them so I sent him macaroons. I was living in New Orleans at the time and it was a holiday, some New Orleans related holiday, it wasn’t Mardi Gras by any means but it was something. I mailed him a dozen macaroons and he called me the day that he received them. That was like a $25 gift that I sent him and it got him on the phone and it changed the relationship of, “Hey, dude, hey, hey, hey, hey,” to, “Oh my god, Casey, you’re so great. Let’s talk.” Then he reset expectations with me. He was just busy so the follow up process is incredibly important.
We say that it takes eight to ten touches to close someone. With one of these big accounts that I close this week I think it was 15 touches. A lot of phone calls. They had to go through a series of funding before they could afford me. All sorts of stuff. I hadn’t experience that before and I could’ve easily just said, “Screw him,” like, “This is just not going to be an opportunity that’s going to close,” but I really believe in what they’re doing in and I’m so tickled to be a part of it that I stayed on top of it and kept following up and providing value.
At one point I even felt like I was getting taken advantage of and then I got the clarity from them that, no, in fact they were out at this event and it was last minute and these things happen and this big deal for them closed and because of that they were too busy to give me any work. That clarity helped me really understand where they were in their business instead of assuming that they don’t like me or I’m not good enough or all the other bullshit stories that we tell ourselves when things don’t go our way.
Kira: I want to shift gears a bit and ask you about your experience working with copywriters because I know you’ve worked with various copywriters through your business so you’ve seen firsthand what they do, what they don’t do. What do you think separates the winners from everyone else?
Casey: Back in 2013 our tech implementation company Tech Guys Who Get Marketing had a project with Gary Bencivenga and Ted Nicholas.
Casey: Right, and I didn’t know who they were. I’m like on the calls and I’m just listening to the audios again and just realize how sloppy you are, it was bad. What Bencivenga showed me in like his perfect kind of calmness was all he cared about was the result and he would test new things and every idea was a good idea and I came to the table as this 20 something marketer and we had some tech people on our team that were on the call as well and everyone’s ideas were valid. All Gary wanted to do was get it deployed, have it make sense and feel right. I think there’s like a certain feel to it that he needed but then after that it was just testing and he rewrote the offer a couple times and had no issue rewriting it.
He didn’t have any ego in his work, he just wanted to have it work and I thought that was a really great piece. When I work with copywriters, I’m an MVP guy so I love doing the least amount of work to give us the highest opportunity to be successful. I worked with a client and we knocked out some copy for a physical product related to like in the lice market. It was a single page and a half copy, not a whole lot in there, basic story, basic guarantee, not a whole lot of work. I think we knocked it out in maybe an hour and a half. This is by no means deeply researched or anything but we got it up, got it live, drove ads to it, got a result, realized that we were on to something and then made the recommendation to a great copywriter.
That’s me saying having good enough copy up and testing it is a whole lot better than waiting an extra three months and getting the best potential copy and then testing that. Being open to testing and not holding yourself to the immediate success or failure of copy is really important and I think Bencivenga was a perfect example of that. Although the stories go that his controls when he would write something he would be in control immediately. I think online we have the opportunity to test a lot faster, we have a much bigger market potentially to market to. If we burn 10,000 names out of a list of two million it’s not that big of a deal and it can move the business long faster.
Rob: Casey, you’ve written about your own copywriting process for those test pieces that you do. Will you tell us a little bit about your formula for stepping through how you write copy when you have to do it?
Casey: Wow, you all dug deep into the process. That’s funny. The process as it is today is I’m not a great copywriter, I absolutely understand that and I’ve actually been fortunate enough to pull in a couple of copywriters to help support me and that’s made the world of difference for me. Because I used to think I should be a Jack of all Trades, I should be the guy who understands WordPress and membership sites and like a little bit of PHP and definitely some server stuff and email marketing and all that stuff. I think at some level having a understanding of it all, not necessarily a deep understanding but being able to get it or being able to talk intelligently about it makes me unique but it doesn’t make me the best.
My process it’s honestly like creative swiping and getting new ideas from different pieces and poking around on different sites when I’m just not feeling bemused to write and laying out something that could work and getting a couple radically different ideas tested. How do I identify the hook? To me it’s always emotional, that’s always what I’m looking for is the emotion that makes the person take action. I have a avatar document that I use and I rewrote the traditional avatar document because I want more open-ended questions for my clients to work on. What I ask is head, heart and home, I say, “What’s in the head of this avatar? What’s the negative thing? What do they say to themselves at night before they go to bed?
What do they say in the shower? What do they say in the drive to work? What do they say in the heat of the moment when they’re so frustrated with whatever the problem is? What are those words?” and maybe we go on Amazon and we look at book reviews and say, “I was feeling this way until I read this book and now I feel this way,” and we’re pulling in that actual language that they use. All that head information is incredibly important and I say, “What’s in their heart? What are they longing for? Are they looking forward to like this future?” We paint that picture really clearly. Then finally they’re home which is what’s their physical makeup, “What kind of car do they drive? How old are they? Do they have kids, private school, public school?
What’s their job? What’s their income? Is it dual income?” Those kind of questions and from there I’m able to recopy as if I was emotionally talking to someone and kind of encouraging them to take action based on their pain. I don’t have a great formula for writing headlines, I don’t have a great formula for writing copy and this is my quick start. I’m a nine on the quick start and a one on the follow through. I just go and I get something out and done as quickly as possible and it’s good, it’s not great and I can get results from it and then I can refine it either through testing or through just hiring a better copywriter.
Kira: I want to know how copywriters can think bigger. What opportunities are we just missing out on because we’re so focused on that one thing we do, right, like I write a sales page that’s what I do and then maybe I’m missing out on this whole other opportunity with new clients, current clients. Have you noticed anything there?
Casey: Sure, there’s a couple of things. One is the future stuff, I’ve been so lucky to work with Peter Diamandis and see his work with, his book launch, “Abundance and Bold.” Our tech team actually did the launch for it. I actually wrote the copy for the whole boldbook.com site.
Kira: Wow, very cool.
Casey: If you go to the Wayback Machine and look at Bold Book back when it launched, I wrote that copy and then Tom and our team wrote or did all the design work. That was a really fun project and it was effective. I know it could’ve been better but it was as good as I could do at the time. I feel so self-conscious talking to copywriters because they’re going to like poke a hole in my stuff and say, “This isn’t right,” and they’re right. There’s a better way to do it but I’ll just say that I did it and having it done is a whole lot better than having it right and not done. I think the future stuff is really important and what you should know and the game that you should play and if you have kids or nieces and nephews or just friends, have drinks with the kids if you want or with your friends or whatever and have a conversation around, “What’s going to happen?”
Just play it out and just exercise that part of your brain, “What’s going to happen?” I’m moving to Pittsburgh in a month and in Pittsburgh that’s where those self-driving Ubers are and there’s a road that I can go on and that’s the highest chance that I’ll have to pick up an Uber that’s a self-driving Uber. What does that mean when we have a self-driving car? How does that change things? I think that’s the starting point. Play the game how does that change things. If we have self-driving car we probably don’t need a driver in it, obviously, right, we’ll get rid of them, we’re going to have more unemployment.
Okay, that’s interesting. These rides are going to be safer so that’s going to reduce the accident frequency which is actually going to reduce the available organs for transplants, okay, that’s weird, all right. Then what else is going to happen we’re going to see probably reduced car insurance fees. What does that mean for the car insurance market? Okay, if these engines get more, if we look at Tesla it’s going to have a frunk, it’s going to have a front trunk. What does that mean? I have more storage capacity in this sporty car why not outfit it with some cooling device and send my car to get groceries while I’m at work at the office. Do I even need a car now?
You start going through all these what ifs around what’s going to happen with technology and it really changes the businesses that we need to building. If you’re building a business just based on the short conversation around you’re helping someone in insurance sales, we’re going to live longer. I have a commitment to live to a 153, I have a long time left to go. What’s going to happen to my net worth after age 95? What is compound interest really going to look like? It’s really a fascinating conversation and if we don’t live through it because maybe someone listening to this doesn’t opt in to the idea of human longevity.
Listen, your kids or your grandkids are going to have that opportunity and that’s going to be expensive. My joke in my Instagram is, “I’m working hard enough to buy a ticket to Mars,” because I really think that we can buy a ticket to Mars if we want and what would we do there and all that kind of stuff. The world is changing and if you’re in a traditional business you’re going to lose and that means that copywriting is more necessary than ever because there’s more noise in the marketplace, there’s more charlatans and bullshit. It’s more expensive to mail, I mean, it’s so expensive to mail a postcard, it’s so expensive to mail a first class piece of mail. It has to be more effective so you have to have to have a good copywriter. It’s like a necessity.
If you have a bad copywriter you might as well burn the money. Looking at these things and seeing the value of this role I think is incredibly important so I think the future is huge. If you want education there, go back and listen to all of the episodes of 10xtalks.com, that’s Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach and Peter Diamandis and it’s awesome. You’ll hear about human longevity and robotics and all the stuff and you don’t need to be a science nerd to just be tuned into the fact that this stuff is coming. If you fail, you might be able to retire as a copywriter without heeding this advice but your kids won’t. If your kids are like, “Hey, I’m going to do what mom or dad did,” they’re gonna be screwed unless they heed the advice and look for ways to dig into an exponential market.
Rob: Wow, interesting stuff. Casey, I want to ask about a story that you have on your about page. A lot of writers when they’re working with a client they’ll provide them with a first draft or with their recommendations and the client will come back and say, “No, no, it needs to change and do all these things.” Against the recommendation of a copywriter, you’ve got a great story that you’ve shared about how you stood up for your recommendations and actually at least in a short term lost a client. Will you tell us that story and what you learn from standing up for what you believe?
Casey: That’s awesome that you read that. The notion was that this client, great client and friend just like really good people. I love them so much and that’s almost a problem in business is to like be such good friends with these people, be such good friends with your client that you can’t be objective.
Casey: They came to me and said, “Hey Casey, we’re going to do this thing,” and they hired this marketing company and it was uber expensive what they were buying and I could quickly see what was going on. I’ve put together packages like that like I know what the labor is involved and it was this convoluted funnel, I mean there was more down sells to the up sells to the down sells than I’ve ever seen before. I just knew that it was not going to be a winner and it was way too expensive and that money should just be put instead to the things that are working. They’re limiting our campaigns on things that are working or showing promise and they’re instead saying, “I’m going to take this big chunk of cash and I’m going to spend it on this thing.”
I kind of pleaded with them, I was like, “Don’t. This is a really bad idea and I don’t want your business, like take your business somewhere else but don’t make this decision it’s going to set you back. It’s going to really hurt,” they said, “You know what? We think it’s the right thing, we’ve heard from other people, we heard from this guru that it’s the right thing,” I said, “Okay, all right. You guys do your thing but these are the questions that you need to ask them and this is the way that you can ensure that you’re not going to get screwed.” They got the thing that they purchased and the deliverables were okay and the results were poor, the cost per lead was 25x.
Our cost per lead was with around the same propensity for a purchase of their product, it was a total failure. They came back to me and I didn’t even start the conversation but I took some distance from them because my relationship with them was, “I’m your trusted advisor, I’m going to make sure you do the right thing. I’m going to come out, I’m going to celebrate your kid’s birthday and I’m going to go to your event, like I’m going to be there for you,” and then they didn’t trust me so I was like, “Okay, like, maybe this redefines our relationship.”
I step back a little bit. They came back to me and they said, “Casey, it didn’t work. The numbers came in below even what you estimated at. We made a huge mistake and we screwed up.” I was like, “I didn’t want you guys to screw up but I appreciate you saying that,” and they’re like, “Yeah, so what you say is what we’ll believe moving forward.” That put more responsibility on my shoulders but it also strengthen the relationship that I had with them. Now, when I say something, it doesn’t get questioned which is really important, right, if we want to be effective. I don’t need to defend what I’m saying all the time.
Kira: Casey, we’ve talked a lot about the sales process and the importance of following up. A lot of our copywriters they are new to business and they’re just having a hard time even getting on a call. How can we market ourselves today while also being aware of the future and what’s coming but if I just want to get myself out there and stand out from all of the other copywriters out there, do you have any baby steps or action steps I can take this week?
Casey: Yeah, the first one is specialize, specialize in your niche, specialize in an experience that you’ve had like I should be arrested the next time I agree to write copy for women’s weight loss product, right? I have no business writing that. Sure I can write it reasonably well but I don’t really know how these women feel. If you’re a woman who’s lost 50 pounds or more, you do a really great job of being able to emotionally right to other women that want to lose that kind of weight. Specializing in that niche I think is huge. If you have a connection with a specific industry or niche do that, for me it’s health and fitness, those are the thing that I really love, futuristic stuff too and I think also that there’s a huge market in the cannabis business. I think we’re just going to see that explode.
Casey: Specializing is important. Once you specialize fly a flag that says that this is what you do and yeah you can do other stuff. Yeah, I love health and fitness products but some of the stuff that I’m working on isn’t health and fitness related, that’s okay, I’m still good at it, I might be the best at it but someone else could come in and probably stomp me pretty quickly because they get the market better than I do but specializing is better. Specialize first, fly a flag that say that you’re the specialist and then go reach out to people and don’t say, “Hey, I’m the copywriter who can write to everybody about any problem,” say, “I’m really, really great at this.”
If you have other work, yeah, I can support you but listen where I’m going to shine and where your dollars are going to turn into Benjamins is when you hire me to write this type of copy. Turn down the clients that are a bad fit immediately, I can’t tell you how many frustrating clients I’ve held on to when I should’ve let them go. You let them go and you be a stand up person and you refund them as necessary and you don’t create ill will but you got to drop that stuff quick. Those are two things and then the next is go get in that space, go get out there and do something that’s unique. I love gifts, I think gifts are a great way to get you in front of your right audience, you get attention that way, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
One example is back in 2013, I went to Titans of Direct Response, Brian Kurtz’s big event where he had all the titans. That’s really where I got to see how just incredible Bencivenga was and all that and it was amazing to go. I could barely afford to go, I was really like scraping together a check that I just received the day before the last day for payments and I was able to get out there and it really changed everything for me. What I did was I knew I was just going to be a nobody, I’m just going to be one of the people in the room, I’m not one of the greats in marketing or in copywriting so I’m going to get passed over.
Either I effectively hustle the room and try to meet people and like research the name of all the people that are going to be at the event and have a great conversations and say, “Oh hey, you’re this person, I’m this guy. Let’s talk about this thing,” and really try to push it which I did do. I also thought, “What can I do to get attention while having fun and being really like authentically me?” I heard last minute that Joe Polish booked his ticket late to Brian Kurtz’s event. I didn’t really have much of a relationship with Joe, I mean we had worked together on a project here and there through our tech company and Joe knew of me but I don’t think he knew much about who I was or anything. I don’t he could pick me out of a crowd.
I heard that Joe was last minute booking a room, no rooms were available the first night so he asked Brian if he could stay with him the first night. Brian is hosting this huge event like Brian’s Opus and Joe is going to like crash in his bedroom. I reached out online and I find a caricature artist and I get this fantastic caricature of Brian and Joe in a bathtub together that said on the bottom Bathtub Mastermind and I put it on Facebook and I tagged both of them. That image it cost me 40 bucks, that image has been in front of the Jimmy’s Network meetings multiple times, Brian has used it on Facebook always tags me.
It’s a funny thing to do and it lasts. Yeah, I could’ve gone out and bought dinner for a bunch of people and spend a $1,000 or $2,000 on dinner but instead I spent $40 on a gift that kept on giving and no one is going to forget it. Consider that. Consider the atypical things. I really like to look at families too. If an entrepreneur is successful and you want to get their attention and you hear that they have a family, don’t send them the traditional thing which would be like a cigar or something boring like that. Send them a board game to play with their family say, “Hey, I love playing this with my kids I thought you dig it too.
Looking forward to having a deeper relationship as the years go on,” those kind of things. People don’t forget it. I think it’s a big deal, I mean even Parris, I got to know Parris Lampropoulos through a couple different events and I was like, “This is a guy I really want to be friends with.” I found out from his daughter that Parris hates board games like just loathes them. I mailed them a board game for Christmas and he sends me a text message like, “Why the hell would you send me this thing?” and for me it was like the perfect thing. It was $30 and it’s one of those anchors in the relationship that are measurable and unique.
Those are ways that I would get into relationships instead of just trying to compete in the traditional way. Again, this goes back to that notion of the student who couldn’t get that fashion merchandising job. She couldn’t compete on paper, I don’t want to compete really in a room of people so what I want to do is I want to set myself up for success by having a better follow up by approaching people in the unique way and by offering a specific measurable clear value that when someone reads it they’re like, “Oh yeah, I get it. I get what you do and I don’t need you but my friend does so let me make an introduction,” that kind of thing.
Rob: I can think of other questions I’d love to ask you around avoiding being a commodity, so many writers deal with that. We’ve sort of danced around that quite a bit but we’re running out of time and I want to ask one last question because I think it gets maybe to who you are, Casey, and that is tell us about city dating and what you’re doing?
Casey: Okay, 12 months ago my fiance and I sold all of our stuff. We were living in New Orleans and I took a break from teaching at Tulane and we got a Durango and threw our dog in the back seat and have a small storage unit in Alabama with like our bed and some art and my banjo. We hit the road full time and the thought was we’re looking for a new city to live in so we’re going to spend two years on the road dating cities. We go and find furnished apartments in a city that we consider as a potential great city for us and we stick around there for 60 days, 90 days, play around, see if we like it, see if we like the community and so far so good we’ve done Toronto and Nashville, we’ve got Pittsburgh.
We spend time with family every summer and every winter so we get to maximize our time with all the kids in our family which I think is really important. That’s another piece of the switches, I read an article that said, “Most adults spend three to five days a year with their parents when they’re in their 30s.” I thought that was pretty unacceptable so we made a commitment to spend at least 60 days a year with our parents. We’re creating a lifestyle that allows us to do the things that are most important to us and I think that this distance from work also gives us the opportunity to be more creative at work and not be stuck in the same old, same old every day.
Kira: Any favorite cities so far? Are you feeling love towards any of them that you might commit to when your two years is up?
Casey: A classic conversation. We were going to be in Austin right now and then the lodging fell through, we’re going to Pittsburgh and I want Pittsburgh to be great, I really think it has the opportunity. It’s great and close to family on both sides, I’m from Michigan, she’s from Alabama but then there’s Austin and I think Austin could be great and then there’s Seattle. No, no real commitment yet but it’s really fun to operate a business like my computer, I got a virus back in January. My computer was offline for maybe three hours because I formatted it and came back clean. All of my stuffs is in the cloud, I’m so mobile, I’m so agile in my business. If my computer got stolen, if our car got stolen, everything got stolen, it wouldn’t take us long to get back on our feet because we live in this way that’s like really flexible and I think it’s just been a great lesson.
Kira: Casey, this has been really fascinating and we want to give our listeners a place to go if they want to find out more about you. Where should they go?
Casey: Sure, our website, the Tech Guys website is techguys.co or techguyswhogetmarketing.com and my personal site is CaseyStanton.com, C-A-S-E-Y S-T-A-N-T-O-N.com. I spend a lot of time on Instagram and on Facebook too. If you all have any questions you’re welcome to ping me on Facebook, love to help, point you in the right direction.
Kira: Casey, we’ll have to pull you into the Facebook group so you can join the party in there.
Rob: That sounds great.
Casey: Sure and I’ll also be happy to pass on that proposal that I shared with the Titans Group.
Kira: Awesome, that would be incredible.
Rob: Yeah, that’s great.
Casey: Yeah, share proposal that others can use and it has the basic legalese that you’ll run by a lawyer obviously but it’s got essentially the bones of what I use for proposals.
Kira: Oh my goodness, that’s amazing. Thank you.
Rob: Yeah, thank you very much.
Casey: Happy to help. Thank you all so much for having me on, this has been a lot of fun.
Like what you've seen so far?
There's plenty more where that came from. Sign up for The Copywriter Club newsletter today and we'll send you the unpublished Doberman Dan interview (plus two other awesome resources) in addition to regular updates about what's going on in the club. You won't find this on iTunes, Stitcher or anywhere else. The only way to get this "secret" mp3 and transcript is to drop your email in the box and hit "gimme!".