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Stop Trying to “Win” the Marketing Game

marketing game

There’s a war going on right now.

Not in the geopolitical sense (though there are plenty of those). I’m talking about a war for our attention.

Attention, as Seth Godin pointed out, is quickly becoming the prized commodity online.

It’s getting harder and harder to come by. There are countless distractions fighting for it in our minds.

These distractions can pull you in a thousand different directions at once.

They can sweep you up in a current of sludge and clickbait and other time wasters.

They can drive you completely crazy, if you let them.

You can’t stop playing the marketing game. Business would dry up. But if you want to keep reaching people in a meaningful way, you can change how you play.

It sounds counterintuitive, but your best bet to thrive in today’s attention wasteland is to:

Stop trying to “win” the marketing game.

Most businesses are playing to win. They feel the increased competition and shortening attention spans all around them, and what do they do?

They go bigger. They make their copy and ads more sensational, hyping their products until they’re walking a gray line between lies and truth. They use flash to get attention and slick animations to keep it.

And then they wonder why their prospects don’t pull the trigger and buy from them!

This style over substance, Gawker-style approach to content creation makes me feel icky just writing about it.

Thankfully, you can go another route.

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to “win” the marketing game. Forget about winning. Focus on surviving instead.

While your competitors blow their advertising budgets with expensive campaigns, you just keep plodding along. Understand and execute on the fundamentals, and you’ll win through the process of elimination.

Everyone else will self destruct. They’ll run out of money. Their audience will run out of patience. And they’ll destroy their prospects’ faith in them to provide the solutions they need.

You’ll find yourself at the finish line – with people ready and willing to pull out their credit cards and pay you – with hardly anyone else around.

Fundamentals will help you navigate the minefield of smart phones, Youtube, and other attention grabbers. They’ll lead you right into the minds, hearts (and wallets) of the people you want to do business with.

Playing the online marketing game today is a lot like playing a game of Frogger.

There’s no need to psyche yourself out trying to “win” in record-breaking fashion.

All you have to do is make it to the end unscathed.

Which, paradoxically, is the easiest way to win!

Photo Credit: valthonis via Compfight cc

Leaking Faucet Marketing

leaking faucet marketing

Pop quiz.

It’s only one question. Multiple choice.

A leaking faucet is…

a) One of the most annoying sounds in modern existence

b) The foundation of any successful online marketing strategy

Okay, Okay.

Maybe it’s a trick question.

But I think a leaking faucet is both of those things.

If you’re not convinced about choice “A,” go over and turn on the nearest sink just enough to have water drip out every few seconds. Stay within earshot and try to work. See how long it takes before you’re crumpled in front of your desk in the fetal position wishing the world would end.


Got better things to do?

I hear you.

But what about choice “B?” That’s what’s been on my mind lately. I’ve noticed a lot of businesses either don’t get this concept, or they don’t think it’s valuable enough to put into action.

Whatever the reason, this madness needs to stop today.

Visit most marketing blogs and you’ll hear about “leveraging the power of social,” changes to Google’s search engine algorithms, and a zillion other ways to squeeze an extra conversion or two out of your web traffic.

I’m not against that stuff. But it grinds my gears when I see small and medium business owners – people with enough marketing knowledge to be dangerous – get wrapped up in the latest trends and gloss over the fundamentals.

They go on marketing campaigns.

They binge on promotion and “brand awareness” for a month or two, and then it’s back to business as usual.

They aren’t using leaking faucet marketing.

Instead, they’re trying to find the biggest, baddest water gun to soak their visitors with in hopes they’ll turn into customers.

Here’s the thing:

Occasional marketing blasts get attention. They get visitors “wet.” But they only nab the people who are ready to buy right now. Everyone else just dries off and moves on.

But you can’t forget about a leaking faucet.

It’s always in your mind. Leave your hand under the faucet, and it gets wet and stays wet.

That’s the difference. A leaking faucet is consistent. It’s a series of regular blog posts, emails, and promotions. It’s a steady stream of information designed to bond with viewers and turn them into customers.

Leaking faucet marketers don’t mind playing the long game. They put in consistent, daily steps to:

  1. Make more people find out about them, and
  2. Move people closer to becoming customers

Back to faucets…

Mine isn’t leaking right now.

But what if it starts leaking next month?

Who would I be more likely to hire? The stranger on an AdWords spending spree, or the guy who’s been touching base through my email inbox and Twitter for the past year?

You just don’t know when someone will be ready, willing, and able to do business with you. But there are a few things you do control:

What have you done today to make more people find out about you and move them closer to becoming customers?

How have you kept the faucet leaking and stayed in people’s minds until they need you?

Photo Credit: jDevaun via Compfight cc

August 2014 Men’s Health Headlines Masterclass

august 2014 mens health cover

It’s that time again, folks.

If you’re north of the equator, the dog days of summer are approaching rapidly.

It’s been mild so far here in Texas. And I’m going to shut up now before I melt in a ball of irony hot enough to scorch the pavement…

Anyways, summer’s here. That means swimming at Barton Springs, floating the Guadalupe, and barbecues. The magazine Men’s Health just released a new issue that’s ripe for the reason. That got me thinking: the time’s also ripe for a new headline breakdown. (I broke down Cosmopolitan headlines last month and decided to do something manlier this time around.)

The August 2014 Men’s Health issue has some fantastic headlines. They’re engineered to win attention at crowded newsstands, which makes them great examples for how to make your headlines compelling.


Let’s break them down one at a time…

Read More

Want to Write Copy That Punches Readers in the Face? Here’s How…

fight club marketing

You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your f****** khakis. 

Every so often, a movie comes along that strikes the nerve of a generation. In the endless series of formulaic garbage and Michael Bay-directed explosions, it drills a hole in your memory and sticks.

These movies capture the zeitgeist of a culture so perfectly they make you wonder if their creators can read your mind.

For me, Fight Club is one of those movies.

It’s dark. Twisted. Nihilistic. And completely unforgettable.

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June 2014 Cosmopolitan Headlines Breakdown: Learn from the Best

june 2014 cosmopolitan headlines A few strange things happened when I went to Walgreen’s the other night.

I made it to the front counter without a pint of Bluebell ice cream.

An employee I barely know suggested I get “an extra girlfriend who speaks Spanish” to help me on my quest to learn the language.

And something caught my eye in the checkout line. A glossy yellow magazine with a cover and headlines that stood out from all the rest.

Cosmopolitan is at it again.

Even though I’m well outside the magazine’s target demographic, I found myself sucked in while I waited to check out. The headlines intrigued me, and when I left the store, I left wondering…

How does Chrissy Teigen “keep it hot?”

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