Want to learn how to write a sales hook for your business in 60 seconds?
Former stand-up comedian and copywriting coach Kevin Rogers joins the podcast to talk about personality marketing and how to use humor to capture your customers’ attention.
Not only does Kevin share his four-step system for creating an enticing sales hook, but he covers how you can apply this powerful storytelling formula to your business–even if you don’t have a story to share yet.
Listen to this Episode:
- The 60-Second Sales Hook by Kevin Rogers
- Mark Ritson: 4 Steps to Creating a Rock-Solid Marketing Strategy
- Why winning your prospects’ attention comes first
- The key difference between cold leads vs. warm leads
- How Kevin uses stand-up comedy to connect with his audience
- His four-step system for writing an irresistible sales hook
- Why marketing yourself is the hardest thing you’ll ever do
- When you should talk about yourself vs. your customer
- How to sell something when you can’t use your own story
- How to interview your customers like a journalist
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour! Welcome to another episode of EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founders, and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host, Louis Grenier.In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the importance of connecting with people and, more importantly, connecting with your best prospects. We’ll also talk about something we’ve never talked on the show before which is personality marketing and even using humor in your marketing.
The reason why we’re going to talk about humor quite a lot is because my guest knows a thing or two about this topic. He’s a recovering stand-up comedian who retired in 1999. Even though in 2017, so 18 years after he retired as a stand-up comedian, he tried again and went on stage again for a special gig. I’m sure he’ll talk to us about that.
But four years after he retired from stand-up comedy, he started a career in copywriting, spent 10 years as a freelance, and then created Copy Chief which is really a way for business owners and copywriters to come together to get feedback on their copy, to get training, and also the opportunity to connect with each other.
My guest has also two podcasts, an interview podcast, The Truth About Marketing, and a teaching podcast, Copy Chief Radio. Kevin Rogers, I’m so happy to have you on board.
Kevin: Louis, it’s my pleasure to be here. I’m looking forward to this.
Louis: Before the show a few days ago, we had this idea that we’ll talk about headlines, and how to pick out headlines, and you sent me an email saying, “Listen, it’s boring as fuck. Let’s talk about something that’s a bit more important.” That’s the true story, isn’t it?
Kevin: Laughs. Yeah, it’s funny, man, because people think they want to know about headlines all the time when they think about copywriting. But I’ve surveyed my group about what trainings they want, and they never choose headlines. It’s always in there, and it always gets rated really low. That was eye-opening to me.
Look, we’re always going to need headlines. There’s a million resources on how to write them. I think we can give better value than that here.
Louis: Why do you think–before going into the actual topic–but why do you think people don’t really care about this topic?
Kevin: I think it’s because, I hope, that deep down they know a headline is born from really understanding what it is you want to tell people in your ad. An ad is a conversation. Plus, here’s the thing, I’ll give the best tip I can on headlines right now in a second which is, don’t try to close the deal in the headline.
Headlines are one of those things where, where people are in their development in thinking about headlines is a great indication of where they are in their business and their marketing. If they think that the headline is truly 40% of the success of the ad in that old-school thinking, then they’re not caught up.
The headline has one simple job: Get the next line of copy read or get the video played or whatever it is. It’s just letting people know they’re in the right place and invited to be part of a conversation that’s important to them. Beyond that, the headline can’t do anything to close the deal.
Louis: Right, and I think that leads us very well to what we want to talk about together, isn’t it?
Louis: The concept of connecting with people and connecting with your audience. I think this is probably the first question I want to ask, I’ve read, heard that sentence a million times. We have a mutual connection. André Chaperon who was on this podcast who talked about writing those amazing emails that get opened and all of that.
I know that when you want to talk about connecting with your audience, I know you mean it, and I know you have something super interesting to share. But I’ve heard this concept so many times. What is different, or should I say, what is more powerful about the way you like to think about it?
Kevin: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s intention. If I could say it in a word. It’s intention. It’s, what do you really want from this conversation?
If we just think about attention, I always say the most valuable thing somebody can pay us up front is not money, it’s attention. It is such a rare commodity these days. Everybody’s is fragmented and overwhelmed. If you do a good job of winning somebody’s attention, do something valuable with it, and that’s the way to kick off the relationship.
Yeah, I think it’s intention. Look, like you said, I love to use humor in my marketing. We’re working on a video now that I think is incredibly funny. But one of the things we’re struggling with now that we’re in post-production is, are we balancing what’s crazy and funny about this video with the real message?
Which is, how we can help the people watching it, so that when they do take the action we want them to take, which is opting in for a free book, are they doing it hopeful and excited for what they’ll learn, rather than, “Okay, great. Clickbait, you got me to click. Now, what do you got?”
I want to, as early as I can, establish that look we got something important to talk about. We’re having a little fun with it, but if you get what I’m saying, if you hear my dog whistle, then let’s have a deeper conversation.
Louis: I think that would be a perfect opportunity to go at it together and think about it in terms of step-by-step. How can our listeners, if you are listening to this podcast right now from your commute or walking the dog or whatever, how can you apply that in your business?
How can you use humor and a bit of fun and out there thinking to actually create attention? So making sure people engage with you or think or stop by and say, “Okay, let me listen to that,” and then connect with you so that you can sell stuff, I suppose.
You’ve just said that you’ve done this very exercise a few days ago or a few weeks ago. You started to think of, “How do we sell this book?” You naturally went into maybe humor or something a bit more out there, right?
Louis: Where do you start? What is step one if you have that in mind if you want to sell something? What is the very first step?
Kevin: Well, you start with the end in mind. Say the end is I want somebody to buy something. Because that’s the point, I guess, of getting attention as a business owner. If we just think of the ultimate ending, and I don’t want to complicate this, but I’ll just talk about this funnel a little bit to give it context, okay?
Kevin: Alright, so my main product is a membership, an annual subscription to my community called Copy Chief. That’s where I can, if you’re willing to make that commitment to me, I know I can give you a lot of great help. That’s my goal is to get you to a point where you see value in making this commitment. But, along the way, we have to start all the way on the other end of the spectrum for what we call a cold prospect.
Now, just a quick context between cold and warm. Normally, the power of podcasting alone on display here, my business, the reason I was able to move from a freelance career where I was beholden to clients to have a business, to breaking through to having my own business was I wrote a book called The 60-Second Sales Hook.
A very simple, little, tiny book that solves a big problem for people which is how to do exactly what we’re talking about, tell their story quickly and connect deeply with their best prospects.
Amazingly, that simple little concept, that simple little book and by talking about it on podcasts like yours, Louis, fueled my transition, built my list, and created a new problem for me. Which was people wanted to give me money to help them with this simple, little thing, but there was no way to scale that in a way that was going to allow me to have a business.
Through that began the journey of me figuring out, okay, how do I teach even more stuff? And what format to use and all that. That’s what Copy Chief is.
When I wrote the book and released the book, I got to be on every podcast. Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas, I’ve been in the top 10 of Entrepreneur on Fire since my interview there in June of, I want to say, 2014 or ’15, ridiculous.
I’m good on a mic. I know how to present myself. I tell good stories, but it’s because the power of this topic and solving this problem that created all this great what we call warm leads. That was it, man, just being on podcasts.
Not a ton of leads, man. And this is important because you don’t need … The data’s important, but it’s the relationships. I was getting about three to five hundred consistent leads every month into my business and just off of that book, and most people would learn about and hear me on a podcast just like this.
They’re very warm, because they’ve just spent 45 minutes to an hour hearing me talk all about this and giving them this tool that they find valuable, and they naturally want to learn more from me. From there, if they were a good prospect, we would convert pretty well on people joining Copy Chief.
Well, now, of course, once you’ve achieved that which is a great achievement in itself, and you want to scale, now you have to win the cold-traffic challenge. Which is having somebody who’s never heard of you, has not listened to you on a podcast, doesn’t know you from Adam.
Now you entice them to go through the same process of opting in for this free book and try to get them to warm-lead status from totally cold-lead status and, then, hopefully, convert from there. It’s a much different game. That really is.
If we look at people like Frank Kern, who most people probably know in the marketing world, he cites him going from doing really well and becoming something of a guru which was a very manufactured process for him to his incredible level of success now to he said, “I figured out the cold-traffic game.” You really have to do that to excel.
What we’re experimenting with now in this video … Let me start with what we’re seeing. People, the cold leads come in, and we send them … After they opt in, we start the email sequence, and we want to give them more and more help. We’re not really pushing for the sale, we just want to indoctrinate them and give them value, establish our value.
But, of course, the engagement, we literally write to them and say, “What business are you in? How can we help? Tell us more.” On the warm leads, people are freaked out that oh my god, Kevin Rogers is writing to me and wants to know about my business. It’s a great way to start a relationship.
The cold leads are like, “Wait, who are you again? I don’t remember anything about some book.” They’re just grabbing the free candies on the way out of the restaurant. They don’t remember the mint.
Now, we’re experimenting with okay, how do we kick off this conversation? How do we provide value in a more interesting and dynamic way once they’re in our world? That’s the difference between cold and warm, and that’s the challenge I think we all have as business owners.
How do we get beyond the people we know want what we have and try to reach a broader audience? What does it take to establish that relationship?
Louis: Right. Let’s drill down to that, because I think you’re painting a good picture there. I think people, thanks to your explanation, are understanding what we mean by cold versus warm and what we mean by trying to build a connection.
Going back to the warm part of it, it took you a long time to go through all of those podcasts. Some of them were major hits because they’re being listened to by a lot of people, some of them might be smaller, and, therefore, your one hour of involvement might not have led to that many hits.
But regardless, it took you months, even years maybe to get to a stage where “Well, this guy, this Kevin Rogers, I know him, I trust him. I’m a warm lead. Whatever he says, I’m going to buy.” That takes a while, doesn’t it?
Kevin: Undoubtedly, yeah. But I will say, it was shockingly fast once the book was out. Because it was an interesting conversation to have for a couple reasons. One was it solved a problem a lot of people had which is, I don’t even know what to say in my marketing. I don’t know how to stand out or be unique, or should I even be in this thing? What story do I tell?
Four short, little steps solved that problem, so that was a great win for any podcast audience. The other thing was it was interesting because my history is interesting. Not a lot of people have been stand-up comedians.
The fact that I took something I learned and developed as a stand-up and applied it to how any marketer could sort of by proxy become a comic or perform not even trying to get a laugh but use a comedian’s tactic to win their attention and make a connection was a little fascinating for people.
Because of those two elements, it resonated very quickly. Like I said, just between some of the bigger podcasts, I just saw an immediate and consistent flow of leads from those episodes. You’re right. From there though, I was like, “Anybody who wants to record my voice, I’ll talk for you.” Laughs. Certainly, a number of them helped me almost in no way except that it kept in the forefront, in the conversation, and people.
It’s really interesting, isn’t it, Louis? I don’t know if you’ve experienced this but trying to gauge your impact, how well people know you, and how well they don’t. I feel like I’m in this whatever a guru is, or whatever, but some people know me. I get love letters, and they follow everything I do, and they’re like, “I listen to every podcast episode and blah, blah, blah.” That’s beautiful.
Then there’s a bigger majority of people that are like, “Yeah, I kind of know what you do. I know you’re a copywriter, but what is Copy Chief? What is that about?” It’s really fascinating to see what is the result of that.
But I think the accumulative factor of being everywhere … Once you have something that resonates, and you’re getting good feedback from people that they’re using your tactics, and they’re finding value in it, I think you should go all out at that point and just put your voice out in any format where people will have it.
Louis: But I think what you’ve developed, you’re talking about it, you’re touching on it, but you’re not talking about it in detail. I think listeners now want to know this, how did you take your experience as a stand-up comedian, and how did you translate that into a four-step system that enables you to connect with your audience, enables you to tell people what you offer, and yet using maybe not humor directly, but, at least, something that is coming from this domain? Step-by-step, where does it start? What do you encourage people to do?
Kevin: Yeah, sure. When I was a stand-up comic–I didn’t know it at the time–but looking back from my copywriting lens, I realized that there are formulas to everything, especially humor.
We all know that triples, saying the third thing should be the funniest thing. If you’re giving examples, the first two build up to the third one, and the third one is the twist that gets the laugh, tons and tons of formulas in comedy.
However, what’s interesting is if you talk to any comedian, and you say, “Hey, I really love your formulas,” they’ll cringe. I hated the idea of being formulaic. That meant you were a hack as a comic. It wasn’t until I became a copywriter and needed these frameworks to make my work easier and faster that I appreciated them.
When I look back over stand-up through my copywriter’s lens, I realized that there is this joke formula that I called a persona-joke formula. I started to notice that it’s the one that comedians rely on when the stakes are high.
The stakes are never higher for a stand-up comic than when they get their first national television appearance. In the U.S., it would be you’re on Fallon or you’re on Stephen Colbert. That’s a national audience. You have to quickly establish your persona and set up expectations for who you are, where you stand, and why people should find you hilarious.
Just a little side note, this is kind of interesting insider business stuff. The reason that’s so important, and here’s something most people don’t know, is that I have a friend who used to be the comedy booker for David Letterman.
He would work with stand-ups sometimes for six months on their five-minute set that they would do on Letterman. Realize that these are comics who have been at the game for usually at least five, if not 20 years. You would think all you got to do is book that comic, and they’re going to come out and kill it, because they know what they’re doing.
Now, the reason they would work with them so closely on that five minutes is because the bigger opportunity for both parties in that five-minute set is that the audience will love the comic so much that the company behind the show would see fit to sign them to what we call a development deal.
A greatest example of this is when Ray Romano did his first Letterman set. He did so well that Letterman’s people at Worldwide Pants came to him and signed him to a development deal. They went on to develop the show, Everybody Loves Raymond, and both make a zillions dollars.
That is really the underlying goal or at least the opportunity for the producers of the show and the comedian as the ultimate victory in that five-minute set, okay?
Louis: Right. Can I cut you there? I know where you’re going to go, but I want to say, because it’s such a beautiful allegory to the business and the marketing world where you don’t have five minutes to convince someone. You have maybe five seconds, and you have to pick your worlds, your battle.
You need to pick your core idea very well, and you can’t say everything either. I just wanted to say that because it’s such a nice correlation, not correlation, but such a nice connection between the two worlds. Anyway, going back to your step-by-step.
Kevin: Yeah, that’s a great point. Okay, that persona-joke formula goes like this, here are the four parts: It is identity, struggle, discovery, and then surprise. Who are you, what was the situation you were in, what was the element that turned the story, and then how did it end in a way that we didn’t see coming, and, so that, our gut reaction is to laugh.
An example I love to use is a comedian named, Karen Rontowski. The first time she was on Letterman her opening joke was, “My kids were so bad in Walmart today that I pulled a fly swatter off the shelf and I smacked them with it. The second the fly swatter hit their ass I realized, I don’t have kids.” Laughs.
It’s so clean and quick. It got a big laugh, and she was off and running, because the audience knew exactly who she was. It was a relatable topic, and she did great.
Now, if we look at that joke, so simple, but it has all four parts. Identity is what we think is a mom at Walmart. Struggle is her kids are being assholes. We’ve all seen that or experienced it. Discovery is the fly swatter. The surprise is she’s beating someone else’s kids. Hilarious, right? That’s it.
Now, as a marketer, we change that last part. Because surprise is not the result that we want to give our audience. We’re not there to trick them into laughing. We’re there to impress them with what we were able to achieve and hope that they aspire to do the same. We change that last part from surprise to result. The 60-second sales hook that marketers use is: identity, struggle, discovery, result.
A quick example of mine for this very thing is, “My name’s Kevin Rogers, and I spent years as a dead-broke, stand-up comedian until I discovered how a simple joke formula could be used as an irresistible sales hook and began teaching it to marketers and copywriters so that they could explode their conversion rates.
If you’d like to discover this 60-second sales hook and apply it to your business, simply enter your email in the box below, and I’ll give you the entire formula for free on the next page.”
Kevin: That’s it. It’s the exact same. My struggle interestingly in that is so quick of dead-broke, stand-up comic is all they need to know, to go, “Well, nobody wants that.”
Then the discovery is the meat of it, because that’s what this is really about. A key note in there, in your discovery, you want to make it feel proprietary, name your thing. Show your work that you’ve thought about this, and it’s become such an entity that you’ve named it, and people have used it, and then you give the results.
Then the CTA, the call-to-action is the fifth part. That’s so important, because, once you know the ending, and the action you want people to take, it’s much easier to write the joke.
Louis: Right. The beauty of what you just said there is that it sounds so simple. Everyone is like, “Duh, that sounds … That’s just so simple.” It works. People want to know more. But yet, that took you at least 10 years as a stand-up comedian, then–
Louis: I don’t know how many years as a stand-up comedian, actually. 10 years as a copywriter. It takes a while to boil down everything that you know into such a simple sentence that sparks people’s curiosity, right?
Kevin: Yeah, it also takes work to cut out all the fat, right?
Kevin: That really is the thing. It’s once you decide your story, it’s how quickly can I tell this? I could go on and on about why I struggled as a comic. Look, I was a good comic. I have to get my ego out of it and not feel the need to qualify, “Hey, wait. I did well. People laughed.”
It’s just that, but none of that’s relevant. Laughs. You know what I mean? A lot of it is gut checking yourself and making your choices. As we say in writing, kill your darlings, kill your babies and get all the crap out of the way that’s interrupting the story.
Louis: How do you do that?
Kevin: Having other eyes really helps. It’s very hard to do for yourself. Again, here I am 10 years in each practice, we’re in post [production] with this video, and I’ve spent my entire day getting feedback from people I trust about how we can improve this thing.
Is the message clear? How can we make it funnier? All these things because really hard to do. By the way, writing your own story is always the hardest thing you’ll ever do or marketing your own self and your own product.
Kevin: If you’ve struggled with that, you’re not alone. I struggle with that the most. Everybody does. There’s just too much ego wrapped up in it. Look, when you get past the ego and perceptions you’re afraid people will have and only think about the end result, it gets much easier. Then you just need trusted feedback.
Louis: Right, so remind me the four key components, please?
Kevin: For the marketing hook, it’s identity, struggle, discovery, result.
Louis: Right. Identity, struggle, discovery, result. Let’s take another example, because I think listeners want to know more how to do that themselves. I think it covers almost everything we just started to talk about. How to connect with your audience, how to drill down to people who will actually connect with you, how to use your personality in your marketing and even humor into it.
Let’s take a … Maybe a fictional example would be a bit shitty, because you need a real story. I know it’s going to sound easy to take this example, but let’s take my example, because I can tell you a bit of my story, a bit of the struggle I went through, and let’s say we’ll try to come up with such a statement for the podcast, for example, right?
Kevin: Sure, okay.
Louis: Identity. I can tell you about the fact that, yeah, I’m a Frenchman living in Ireland, but who gives a shit when it comes to the podcast. I can tell you more about the fact that I struggled in my marketing and my business career. I had a business and I went almost bankrupt. How do you say that? I burned out to the point where I had to let go all of my team because I just couldn’t function every day in front of the screen. I was just staring at it for eight hours a day, and I just couldn’t do anything.
The reason why I did all of that is because I had no credibility. I started a business with no fucking credibility. Nobody trusted me, nobody knew me, and I, from the top of my, 25 or 26-year-old at this stage, I thought that people gave a shit about me. I started this practice, marketing consulting, I knew almost nothing about consulting. I was underpaid, I burned out.
On the other side of it, I started a podcast at the end of this and I really enjoyed. That’s when I realized that connecting with people like you. Basically, intelligent people who much smarter than me, not only enabled me to learn a lot from them but also enabled me to build credibility.
The reason why I do all of this because in my heart I truly despise shitty marketing. I cannot stand people lying to one another to try to get to their ends, to what they want to do. Fighting marketing bullshit is something I really enjoy.
I’m trying to summarize as much as I can. But, let’s say we want to use this framework now, what would be in your opinion the identity side of things?
Kevin: Well, let’s keep going for a second because we need to know what action we want people to take here. Like I said, when we know the ending, it’s so much easier to write the story, right?
Louis: Right. Listen to the podcast.
Kevin: Listen to the podcast, okay, all right. Listen is the CTA, okay, great. Then, what is the result of you starting this podcast? What’s happened? Give us some context to that.
Louis: The result for people listening?
Kevin: Well, we’re telling your story right now, so what’s been the result for you?
Louis: Well, I got hired for a software company in a job that I absolutely love. I get to know a lot of people I never dreamt of getting to know. Seth Godin is one of the marketers I interviewed. Many people I just was reading books about, I managed to talk to them directly.
Kevin: Okay, but we just want them to listen, so interesting. Well, think through this. We’re going to get our hands dirty a little, so, hopefully, this will remain entertaining for the listener.
Now, this is where it’s interesting because we have to make choices if … This would be easier if the call-to-action was, you want to help other people start their own podcast, and do what you did to get a leg up in business, right?
Kevin: That would be very congruent with why you’re telling your story.
Louis: We can do that.
Kevin: Let’s just do that. Let’s just say that, that’s what you’re doing.
Kevin: By request, people go, “Louis, how did you do it? I wonder if I could do that.” The call-to-action is, we’re going to have a download, a free download called Authority Through Podcasting.
Kevin: Alright, let’s just say that. Podcasting, okay, so I’m just going to riff this. It’s going to be sloppy, but this would be like a first draft, okay?
Kevin: Alright. “Hi, my name’s Louis. I’m a Frenchman currently living in Ireland, and I’m the host of Everybody Hates Marketing Podcast. For years, I struggled to grow.”
Maybe I’d back up and say, “I knew from a young age that I was proudly unhireable and would spend my life as an entrepreneur. However, I spent years struggling to build a business as a consultant and, ultimately, faced spending eight hours a day stuck to a computer screen until I finally burned out to the point where I was bedridden for a week straight and seriously wondering what the hell was the point of my life.”
I’m being dramatic, but that’s a shitty first draft.
Kevin: Then maybe we transition and say, “By sheer act of not knowing what to do next and wanting to solve my own problem, I started a podcast, so that I could have an excuse to ask the people I admired most in business what they would do and share their answers with an audience.”
“Since then, the podcast has achieved X amount of listeners, allowed me to make great connections, and even become friends with people who I previously only read about in books and, also, get hired by a software company that’s turned out to be my dream job.”
“If you’d like to learn how you can use a simple at-home podcasting setup to build your authority and transition your business and possibly your life, download my free report called Authority Through Podcasting, and I’ll walk you through every step of how I did it.”
Louis: Nice. There you have it. Kevin, thank you so much for going through this exercise with me. I know it’s not easy to do it on the fly like this. I’d like to just briefly deconstruct what just happened there.
Yes, I was open … I discovered a few things about myself through this journey, so I was able to identify quickly enough the core turning points of the career, of my career, of the biggest struggles. I’m very transparent with that.
Kevin, you might agree or disagree on this–but I would advise people to start with maybe mapping out their career from start to finish. Mapping out their biggest victories, their biggest struggles, their biggest pain points to try to identify the things that really made them shift from one thing to another. The thing that really made them go to a completely different direction, or something that they’ve learnt about themselves through the journey, right?
Kevin: For sure, yeah, absolutely.
Louis: Then we have that. Then we start to pinpoint maybe the biggest struggles. The biggest thing, the biggest shift, the biggest point in the story that makes it interesting, and maybe we select two or three. As I mentioned, I burnt out building my own business. Another point in my story is that I started a career that wasn’t in marketing whatsoever, and I was super unhappy there. That might be another one.
The other point was that actually from the result of burning out that I started just to interview people like this on the fly. It wasn’t even a podcast. Maybe those are the top three.
Then you probably would start to see a connection. It’s all about seeing an angle that you can start using part of your identity to struggle that could connect with what you want people to pay attention to, right?
Kevin: Yeah, and this is where discovery is probably the most complicated part. Because this is where you got to get a little creative. Not untruthful, but you’ve got to take some liberties and really own what you discovered. Again, even if it’s something that you know has been taught before, or there’s other examples of or even products around, you just need to own it. Name it.
I don’t remember what we said exactly about discovery, “But then I discovered, by sheer not knowing what to do and being desperate for some direction, I started to reach out and interview my business heroes. What I discovered was through doing that a process that I now call … ”
I don’t know, authority something or whatever, borrowed knowledge. I don’t know what it would be, but make it sound really proprietary. Play with words, give it a title. You discovered this thing. That show that work’s gone into it. That’s where the authority comes from, and then the result that specific discovery led you to.
Louis: What I love about this way of thinking is we are not talking about features. We are barely talking about benefits per se. We are at least not talking about product benefits, right?
Louis: We are touching on the customer benefits. We are touching on what benefits bring this product to you as a person. But I think even more importantly, we are climbing up the ladder to touch the emotional benefits.
We are starting to touch the benefit from the feeling of being lost, no credibility, not knowing what to do next, feeling stuck. We are selling the feeling of, actually, this guy felt the exact same thing that I’m feeling right now but he somehow managed to overcome it up until a point where he’s interviewing Seth Godin and Kevin Rogers, and all of those marketers that he may have … Now, he gets to talk to them every week, right?
Kevin: Right. I just want to … That’s critical, because … That’s really smart what you said. Now, this is what’s interesting about this formula is we hear all the time in marketing, “Don’t talk about yourself.” It’s always about them, and your customer’s the hero.
That’s true, but they need some context about you. Why you? Why should I listen to you? The beauty of this simple formula is that you are telling your story, you’re blatantly talking about yourself. But what your audience is hearing is their story, and they’re instantly connecting like you just said, “Wow, I can totally relate to his struggle. I’m sure now that he can relate to my struggle.”
Here’s an interesting fact of psychology. When somebody helps you see your problem through a new lens, you instantly make the deduction that they are the best person to help you solve it. That’s what this formula does so effectively and totally non-obviously.
Louis: Yes, exactly. If you’re listening to this podcast, and you want to more about this ladder, it’s called the benefit ladder. You might know him, Kevin, but I interviewed Mark Ritson recently who’s at Marketing Week, if I remember well. He’s Australian. He’s one of those brand strategists, really clever guy.
He talked to us about this benefit ladder, and I really loved this concept. Because as a marketer, the point in the ladder, the furthest you can go, the place where you will know you will connect deeply with people emotionally is this emotional benefit. That takes sometimes years to get to, to the point where I understand what are my company’s emotional benefit or the product emotional benefit.
But going back to your formula. I think it’s faster to go to the emotional benefit if you’re able to understand your story and your struggles yourself. If you’re selling is somehow connected to that which is what you asked me. Actually, it would be better if you’re selling a book or method about … switch it from being stuck to launching a podcast enables you to get credibility.
Kevin: Exactly right. Yeah, because it’s congruent. If it’s just, “So listen,” it’s like, “Well, you’re asking me to contribute to your success by asking me to listen. I’m sure that’s cool and interesting, and now I have more context around you. But there’s a lot of podcasts I could listen to that offer a similar benefit.” The CTA we came up with is much more congruent with the story you’re telling.
Louis: I think there we have it when it comes to that. When it comes to creating an emotional connection with your audience, connecting with people, connecting with your best prospect, using your personality.
It boils down to your personal story, and how it deeply connects with what you’re trying to sell. I think I can take from this conversation, Kevin, that it’s not always the case that you can use your own story to sell something, right?
Kevin: Ah man, great point. You’re so smart. Laughs. You really are, because that’s exactly … I’d say that’s the number one struggle is–I’m sure people listening right now saying, “Yeah, but my story does not equate to the problem I solve with people.”
I’ve had architects, for instance, I had a great architect in the U.K., and he said, “Man, I’ve tried so many ways to write this, but I didn’t have a problem with the kind of homes I build.” I said, “The simple fix is you don’t tell your story. You tell the story of your best customer, your best clients.”
The flip would be, again, using yours loosely, would be, or a loose interpretation of it is, “People, I’m this successful podcaster, and people constantly ask me, ‘Hey, Louis, how can I have a successful podcast like yours?’ For the longest time, I didn’t know how to help them until I discovered that the key to a great podcast was X, X, and X. Around that I created the XXX formula that does X.” There you go, now I’m helping them, right?
Louis: Right, exactly. I’m glad you’re going there, because this is where I wanted to go as well. Which is, it’s not always about you. It’s easier to start with you, your own story, because you don’t have to extract it from anywhere else.
But, definitely, one of the best way is to talk to your best customers, as you mentioned. People who suffer from the struggles that you’re trying to describe and who are reaching those emotional, this emotional state of, “Wow, I’m at a much better place right now.”
Louis: Talking to them, interviewing them, spending time with them, and almost acting like a journalist. We talked about this quite a lot in previous episodes where you’re not trying to sell anything to your customer.
You’re just trying to listen and get them to talk about their own story. Using that in you’re marketing somehow will definitely propel it from talking about features to talking about all the way to the emotional benefit.
Kevin: Oh, yeah. That’s one of my other favorite topics. Can I give you a really cool tip for that?
Louis: Please do.
Kevin: Okay, yeah what you said, 100% important. Especially, two things, one is talk to your customers, your best customers who are thrilled to tell you all about how much they love you and your service and your product, and the result they got.
Also, though, make sure you understand the language of the people who have not yet solved their problem. Get the pain, get the emotion of where they’re struggling and confused and scared and lost. That’s really important.
Now, when you do interview your best customers, here’s a great way to do it. You’re right, it’s very much like a journalist. Actually, I stole this idea from a friend of mine who’s a journalist. I asked him, he was a TV reporter, I’ve always been fascinated by, man, what do you say to somebody who’s just experienced this tragic event in their life, and you want to stick a camera in their face and have them talk about it. Why would they even want to do that right then, right?
Kevin: I asked this reporter friend of mine, “What do you say when you knock on a family’s door who’s just lost a loved one, and you need to get this quote?” He said, “I tell them that even though they’re struggling so much right now that their story and their feelings around this will help so many people who are in or have experienced the same thing.”
He said, “They buck up, and it empowers them to see the bigger purpose behind what I’m doing.” I was like, “Wow, that makes a lot of sense.”
When you do reach out to interview your best customers empower them by reminding them that the reason you want to get their story is not so you can brag about yourself or even them. It’s so that by doing so, other people who are sitting where they once were, can be where they are now. That’s really powerful, and people really step up to that proposition.
Kevin: When you’re doing it, here’s a great little tactic. Talk to them, use this exact same framework, by the way, identity, struggle, discovery, result. Walk them through that and say, “Okay, we know who you are, identity’s done. What were you struggling with? What was it like using my service, and what is the result?” That’s the best story you can tell.
Now, once you’ve gotten that done, ask them two things. One, “What was your rock bottom moment? Bring me into the exact moment when you remember feeling like, ‘I can’t do this anymore. Something’s got to change.’ Do you remember that moment? Could you explain to me where you were and what you were feeling?” Right? Really powerful.
The other one is: Once they’ve said that, get to that story and say, another one is, “Could you bring me into a very specific moment recently where you found yourself doing something that just wouldn’t have been possible when you still had the old problem?”
That’s a great one for weight loss. They might say something like, “It’s funny you say that, because, two weeks ago, I was in a department store, and I remember standing in the dressing room, and, for the first time in my life, actually feeling good about the image I saw in the mirror. Suddenly, I could choose almost anything in the store I wanted. It became a matter of what can I afford rather than what will fit.”
Yeah, give it that. Empower them and give them very specific context and allow them to remember the emotions that they felt at those times, and you’ll get gold.
Louis: Wow, right. That’s super, super interesting question to ask. I love that. That’s super powerful. Thanks for sharing that, Kevin. More importantly, thanks for going through this exercise with me on the fly, because we hadn’t prepared, and I know it’s not easy. But I think that what makes the best conversations.
Kevin: Yeah, I’m always up for that.
Louis: Oh, I know. I knew you would be up for it. I have two questions I always ask at the end of each podcast. The first one, what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years, 50 years?
Kevin: Yeah, one thing that will never change is if they commit to telling their story or the stories of their best prospects and doing it in a way that is shameless in regards to going deep on the struggle, because that is a huge advantage over corporations who have to vet such actions through legal teams and other departments. You’ll be much more nimble and much more effective when you just give yourself permission to get a little naked in front of your audience.
Two is: always start with intention. When you know what you want ultimately for your messaging, and how you want people to end up, where you want them to end up with you on this journey, it’s much easier to reverse engineer how you want to have this conversation.
Louis: What are the top three resources you would recommend to our listeners? It could be anything like podcasts, books, conferences.
Kevin: You say top three, am I naming three?
Kevin: Okay, alright. I want to make this tactical and not too philosophical. Certainly, having people in your world who help you, having a good team. That may seem obvious, but if you’ve never had a VA, a virtual assistant or an executive assistant, that’s a recent just huge life change for me.
Getting control of your email and your calendar, there are pros who are really good at that who can help you even though it feels like too personal to get help. That’s a big one.
Two is, yeah, you have to network live. You’ve just got to get out and press flesh and look people in the eye. One little tip there is, I have a rule. I hate the word networking. It just sounds so shitty, but it’s really what it is. You’re building your network, and your network is one of the most valuable things you can have.
But I have this rule where I’m committed to having the conversation I’m having at any given time at a conference. If I’m hosting it, or if I’m attending, even if I can see that the person I really need to talk to, because I think the best opportunity for my business is with them sitting four seats away alone looking bored and just dying for me to come talk to them, I will finish the conversation I’m having with somebody seemingly, let’s say, “less significant” at the moment, because everything is relationships.
That person you’re talking to will tell 10 other people what it was like to talk to you. They may in a year or two become somebody much more significant to you. Have the conversation you’re having.
I heard a great quote about Bill Clinton, and anybody who’s an effective politician, he said, “He has an amazing presence because he’s amazingly present. When he talks to you, you feel like you are literally the only person in the world, even if there’s 10 people standing behind you waiting for their photo,” right?
Kevin: That’s important. Third resource, geez, let’s go with something really … I got to say, I used to hate Basecamp. The old version was terrible, but Basecamp 3 is an amazing tool. People have tried to sell me on Slack, but as a project management software, the new Basecamp 3 has been the lifeblood of our company for keeping everything on track in project management.
Louis: They are a great example of … They’re able to merge their vision and their point of view with the features inside a product. It’s so rare to see. They have this automatic out of office hours. They have this new feature now where you can visualize your project on a very simple graph from planning to execution. It’s just I respect them a lot. They are probably one of the best marketers out there, even if they don’t call themselves marketers.
Kevin: Yeah, for sure.
Louis: Kevin, where can listeners connect with you and learn more from you?
Kevin: Yeah, CopyChief.com is where you can go and get a lot of really cool content, free content, years of blog, lots of stuff about how to use story. You can find the podcasts there. Everything’s linked at CopyChief.com, so come see me.
Louis: Awesome. Once again, Kevin, thank you so much for spending the time to do this with me today, and I learned a lot, so thank you.
Kevin: It’s been my pleasure. I appreciate it.
How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.