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WYODC Confidential #31: TWO Copy Mistakes that got me fired (Pt 1)…

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Hey ,

I promise… you’re gonna like this issue. 

Because I’m gonna share one of the biggest mistakes I made in my career as a copywriter. 

If you’re an up-and-coming copywriter, I promise this issue alone is gonna be worth at least $5,000 for you (It’s worth this much for me if not more). 

If you’re a business owner, then this issue will be super valuable too. Because it’s gonna help you manage your marketer or copywriter.

This issue is painful for me to write because I don’t exactly like to share about my failures or struggles. 

But after a convo with a friend (Allan Ngo), I realized that these incidents are as valuable as gold since other people can too learn from them. 

And that’s why I decided to write about it… 

Here goes… 

This happened in 2019 which is way back before I joined Holy Grail Copy. 

At that point, I was learning copywriting from all sorts of different sources (Books, online courses like CopyHour, Ian Stanley’s course). 

To tell you the truth… I didn’t really know what I was doing.

All I thought was this… 

If I wrote well… if I had a good story or a good angle… that will make ALL the difference. 

My client will get rich and I will build up my reputation as a solid marketer and copywriter.

At that point… I probably knew the basics….

  • How to write an attention-grabbing headline or subject line.
  • How to craft a great Big Idea
  • How to churn mouth-watering Bullets to arouse interest and curiosity… 
  • How to write a pre-selling email sequence to nurture your audience and get them to find out more about you.

I also probably had the impression that I had to make very big promises or claims to get people interested.

I thought:

“If you tone your copy down a lill… people won’t want to find out more.” 

That is true… but I felt that at that point of time, I didn’t have much experience with managing clients and aligning marketing direction.

All I knew was to create unique stories and angles for their email marketing. 

And I did a pretty good job doing that for a client I was helping with. 

Bringing in about 300 leads from their email list in 8 months. 

That’s close to an average of 40 leads per month. 

Statistically, my copy was bringing in leads to their LIVE previews which wasn’t a bad thing. 

Everyone was happy. 

However, one thing that didn’t really sit well with the CEO was that he felt that I had the tendency to make unsubstantiated claims. 

He didn’t tell me that outright. But now looking back, I think that’s what he felt. 

And true enough, back then I didn’t really have the wisdom to work with claims.

I thought the right way to make claims was… the bigger… the badder… 

Of course, there should be a margin of believability. 

But back then, I didn’t really know how to work with proof. 

Because that’s something that most copy courses don’t really teach.

How do you substantiate your copy with the right proof elements so you can make big promises and at the same time sound believable…. 

Not hypey… 

One gripe I have with traditional headlines is that they are too hyped-based…

If you’ve studied the likes of Carlton, Halbert or Dan Kennedy… you’ll know what I mean… 

They tend to teach more tactical stuff… and they don’t really show you how to work with proof to make your copy more believable and convincing… 

By the way, I’m not saying that their copy is bad… it’s just that the way they wrote was relevant for the market back then.

Back in the good old days, we lived in an era where people weren’t constantly bombarded with information. 

Moreover, the rate of information flow back then isn’t as quick as it is now.

Which is why you can get away with loaded claims and very little proof in the past…

But not now… 

One of the more advanced things I learned while doing consulting is that… 

Stronger Proof Allows You To Make Stronger Claims…

If you studied Bernie Madoff (the maniac who was behind one of the biggest ponzi schemes in the world)… 

He has all the proof elements… 

He was featured on major news outlets like CNBC and Wall Street Journal and almost everyone in the Banking and Finance industry knew about him… 

He was a respected member of the Wall Street Elite…

He was even the chairman of NASDAQ at one point… 

Everyone liked and trusted him… 

People were willing to invest millions into Madoff’s hedge funds because there were extremely prominent people who recommended him and they were able to get consistent returns.

In fact, Madoff only gets his clients from word-of-mouth referrals and he doesn’t open it up to the public. 

Most importantly, Madoff NEVER offered his investors something that’s too good to be true… 

It was GOOD ENOUGH to be TRUE and GOOD ENOUGH to be ATTRACTIVE.

If you’re a copywriter or marketer (especially if you’re in the financial niche), this is gold.

You have to be able to manage your client’s and target market’s expectations… 

You must know… 

What’s a yardstick that’s too good to be true… 

What’s a yardstick that’s believable… yet attractive enough for them to find out more… 

You don’t want to risk making exaggerated claims when you don’t have enough substance to back it up… 

Do this only if you want your target market to ignore you. 

That’s all for this episode. 

I hope you got value out of it. 

And yeah… I guess some of you might be thinking…


“Where Is The Firing Part?”

I’m gonna elaborate more on that in Part 2 (The next WYODC Confidential).

But yeah, I’d say my mistake of making HUGE claims without defending them properly was probably enough to put me one step in front of the firing line. 

What was the last straw that led to my firing was I’d say… 

Not managing the expectations of that client properly… client mismanagement. 

Which is a huge, huge lesson on its own and I will dedicate a whole new chapter on that in the next issue.

Cheers,

Zachary Tan

P.S: Kenneth negotiated a special one-of-a-kind bonus with Rich Schefren JUST FOR YOU. It’s a special compilation of the world’s top copywriters (including yours truly) revealing persuasion strategies that’s WORKING right now. Note it expires in the next 12 hours, so quickly watch this video:Check the deets out here! 

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