I‘m frequently asked about the “guys you listen to, Jon“; in other words where do I or did I get all my considerable marketing savvy from?
Well, most of it has come from experience, and usually bad experience, at that. It’s a sad thing about us humans, but we tend to take the good for granted and piss and moan at the bad.
But underpinning it all is work of the masters, the people who really worked all this out the hard way. And, then there are my contemporaries of whom I think very highly, who have a very different view of things from me and from whom I always learn something.
So here, in no particular order, is my top-ten list of kick-arse business, marketing and copywriting resources.
- Gary Bencivenga. Probably the best copywriter you never heard of. I strongly suggest you visit the site and get his bullets. And then, when you’ve saved your pennies, get his 100 Seminar DVDs. It’s $5,000 and comes with a two-year money-back guarantee, but you’ll never take him up on it because it’s quite simple the best thing you’ll ever have in your hands if you want to become a good copywriter. My friend, Ben Settle tells me he’s been through it 20 times or so and says it makes his spine tingle every time he reads it. I’m virtually a Bencivenga Virgin since I’m only on my fourth reading of the manual, but I agree with Ben. It’s a masterpiece.
- The Robert Collier Letterbook. Written back in 1937, I think, this book costs hundreds in its original form. But Carl Galletti sells a version for about $40 from the website. Get it. A few years ago I lifted a simple copywriting technique from this book and translated it to email for a client… and we made something like $76,000 off two emails selling a product they were sure had “bottomed out”. I still use the same kind of wording today, and it works extremely well.
- Ben Settle. I know, it sounds like I’m kissing his arse. But no, Ben is, like me, one of the honest copywriters you come across from time to time. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I value his expertise enough to subscribe to his $27 a month print newsletter, and I just bought his email copywriting course just to see what it’s like (one of the luxuries about being at the top of your game is you can afford this stuff without worrying about it. Arrogant, I know, but it’s true… and the reason I am at the top of my game is I bought some of this stuff when I couldn’t afford it).
- Now, here’s a strange one, Ross Jeffries. Ross is the “seduction guru” and basically teaches guys how to get laid by using NLP, or something that has its roots in NLP. In a nutshell. Now, I think there’s a lot of balls talked about NLP, and Ross says as much himself. But there’s no doubt there’s a lot of good stuff in there, too. I have loads of Ross’s materials and I’ve been to his Seminar in London, back in 2009. And I think his stuff is some of the finest marketing and life-skills training you’ll get anywhere. Yes, it’s also good for getting into a chick’s knickers, but that’s not the point. Ross is also a thoroughly decent bloke, too – he took me out to dinner on the first night of the Seminar. Again, I don’t agree with everything he says, but he’s a fine fellow, to be sure, and his materials are worth every penny.
- John Caples. One of the advertising legends. If you can get a copy of Tested Advertising Methods, I suggest you jump on it quickly (although looking now, it seems it may have been reprinted).
- And of course, no list would be complete without David Ogilvy, and Ogilvy on Advertising. I also recommend Confessions of an Advertising Man. It’s not really about advertising, but it’s a fascinating insight into the man and his life.
- Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Baed on research way back in the 1970s, this amazing book uncovers the six principal ways in which we humans influence each other. But what I found so fascinating about it all was how it seems this stuff is all hard wired into us – it’s present in all cultures and societies and can be readily explained in terms of evolutionary advantage. Sadly some people take this stuff so literally they seem to think knowing it makes you into some kind of mind-control Jedi-Ninja or something, and it’s simply not so. That said, the concepts he reveals in this book are very powerful and they can definitely make a difference in your sales when you apply them.
- Nido Qubein. One of my favourite people on the entire planet. I had the privilege of being in Nido’s mentoring group a few years ago and spend some time with him at High Point University. On the right there’s pic of me breaking the ground for one of the new buildings with him. He even recommends me as a copywriter, here. I’d recommend all his stuff from his website.
- Earl Nightingale. What can you say about the old geezer? I remember the first time I listened to Lead the Field – I was quite blown away. He clearly had (and continues to have) a massive influence on people even today – even some of the big names. I swear his influence was there with the great (and, sadly, recently late, Jim Rohn, too). I never had the honour to meet Earl, but I did meet Jim, once. A lovely chap… and even shorter than I am.
- And finally, Joe Sugarman. His books, Advertising Secrets of the Written Word and the other two (whose titles escape me at the moment) are a goldmine (but certainly not cheap, even if you can find them).
Now, this list is far from exhaustive and I’ve not even mentioned other greats like Paco Underhill, Claude Hopkins, Dan Kennedy, Tom Hopkins, and countless others who’ve laid the path for us and made it all so much easier.
So, gentlemen, I salute you all!