Where should I go to live in January?
Split? Tenerife? Or somewhere new?
If you didn’t already know, I’ve been working remotely for 10 years (before ‘digital nomading’ was a thing).
Am I telling you this to brag?
My main goal is to shine a spotlight on something John Carlon said on David Garfunkel’s Copywriter Podcast.
As per usual, Mr Carlton was dropping so many knowledge bombs I was struggling to move my pen fast enough to guide them into my notepad.
Yet there was one particular salvo that ate up the biggest dollop of ink…
And that’s John’s advice on how to look inside the reader’s mind and make sense of the thoughts zooming around like traffic (or Wacky Races, in many cases):
Here’s what he said (more or less):
“Live a wild life. Put the book down and put yourself outside your comfort zone every day. Take a dog for a walk and talk to other dog owners. Go to a bar and drink virgin mary’s and talk and listen to people. Go to bowling alleys. Go to stores. Interact with people. Get into relationships and explore those relationships [to understand what makes people tick].”
So there you go.
Living a wild life is what drew Hemingway to reporting on the Spanish Civil War.
Sure, impressing a lady was part of the equation.
But he knew seeing people in extreme situations would make him a more intuitive writer.
It’s why I also shuffled my meagre possessions into a suitcase a decade ago.
Not to live in war zones (I’ve only been in one semi-active theatre of war, thankfully)…
But to meet people I’d never encounter if I settled for a home office and two weeks vacation a year.
- Debating the merits of marketing with Tony Robbins’ former NLP teacher (and somehow walking out agreeing to rewrite her website at half my normal rate)
- A multi-millionaire who runs free self development workshops from 5 star hotels after getting so disgustingly rich from Shopify stores his life became a struggle for meaning
- Getting a valuable life lesson from one of the four founders of Booking.com on why he always travels coach
- Discussing the nature of reality with someone who abandoned the modern world to live in a cave with his family (and says he’s never been happier, and looks much younger than his 50+ years)
- Recommending to a Vietnam vet that he looks into infusion therapy and DMT for his PTSD rather than choking down fistfuls of anti-depressants
…and a long colorful list of dreamers, sociopaths, monks, hooligans, fellow laptop wanderers, and people on all sorts on madcap adventures through life.
Now, you may be thinking, “That all sounds whoop-de-doo for you Matt. But what if I can’t drop everything and live from a suitcase to ‘live a wild life’?”
I hear you.
You may even find the idea horrifying.
Yet like John said, there are lots of ways you can step outside your comfort zone and get into situations that help you better understand how people think:
- Work from a coffee shop in a different part of town
- Take up salsa dancing, public speaking, or do a standup comedy workshop
- Attend a coffee meetup (or even better, set one up)
- Throw a free BBQ and invite people who match your target audience (hat tip Carlos Redlich)
- Hang around the same supermarket aisles as your prospect and ask them questions (one well known copywriter, Marcella Allison, actually did this. And in the adult nappies section, of all places)
However you do it, you want to find ways of joining your customer’s REAL conversations and finding out what they REALLY think.
It’s why you’ll see me making a beeline for boomers at networking events… and why the topic swiftly changes from the weather to big pharma’s dastardly tricks.
The bottom line is this…
There’s only so much insight you can dig out from Reddit, Amazon reviews, and YouTube comments.
More often, it’s in everyday conversation that people provide the ‘needle moving’ line you can drop to open up your VSL like a hand grenade.
And like I said in last week’s post, you can’t get people to trust you unless you build empathy first…
And the best way to build empathy is to reflect your reader’s worldview…
And the best way to do that is to ask them what it is eyeball-to-eyeball, in the flesh.
P.S. In this post I’ve shared a glimpse of what’s inside John Carlton’s armoury of conversion rocketing insights on writing high impact copy. If you’d like to get the full motherload, I recommend checking out his online course – The Simple Writing System.
I’ll warn you though, it’s not for people looking for surface level tricks and templates instead of getting deep inside the reader’s brain.
But if you think you can handle it, a quick glance of his sales page reveals a roll call of today’s heavy hitters who’ve raised their copy game, results, and fees thanks to Mr. Carlton’s phenom knowledge of sales psychology and salesmanship in print.
Disclaimer – Links to John Carlton’s Simple Writing System are affiliate links. Yet, if you check out the testimonials on his sales page, you’ll see his course is legit.