Impact -> Communication -> Persuasion

Many cold approaches fail because they go straight to persuasion.

The very first line starts with something like … “We’re the best people in the world at X… We’ve worked with X client and are ground-breaking X technology is a world’s first…”

YUCK! Of course, that gets deleted!

Your job is to sell the idea that a call or meeting with you is not a bad idea. Not to give every little detail – or to sell your entire offering in one go. Those steps come later…

Dave Trott talks about this when talking about effective advertising.

He brings it down to a level anyone can understand.

Imagine for a moment that you wanted your other half to make you a cup of tea or coffee.

You need first make impact.


That gets her attention.

The communication is next…

“Cath, will you make me a cup of tea?”

However, that’s not very persuasive.

“If you make me a cup of tea, I’ll take the trash out.”

The same rule applies to direct mail or cold email or any form of effective advertising.

You need to make impact first.
Then communicate.
Then persuade.

You need to stand out.

Your prospect likely gets a ton of other letters and emails (and cold calls) – and they all look and read the same.

You need to make IMPACT.

It’s the single most important thing you should focus on.

Without that, it doesn’t matter how good your communication is. It doesn’t matter how persuasive you are. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is.

Most people think persuasion is the most important.

They focus on using specific words and formulas and forget you’re writing to a human.

You’re not trying to beat a machine at chess.

You need to get a reaction. A bite. A nod. A smile. A laugh.

You need people to actually see and read and listen before you can communicate and persuade.

Being able to get cut-through – especially if it’s done in a unique or clever way – is persuasive in itself.

Think about that.

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Funny Writing Hack (Not me…)

My friend, Sam, used to work at Primark (discount retail store) until we took him on as a copywriter.

I asked him if he missed it.

This was his response.


This reminds me of a great exercise for writing funny copy from the book “Be A Great Stand Up” by Logan Murray where you write a “letter of hate”.

Think of something that has made you angry. Perhaps you had some bad service somewhere.

Then write a letter congratulating the owner on the bad service you received.

Instead of turning the volume up on your anger, you twist the knife by ostensibly praising someone (or something) while you’re actually mocking them.

This gets you into the habit of saying one thing and meaning another. This is a critical skill for writing comedic copy.

It also enables you to take your anger in the moment, and all those exaggerated feelings, and turn them into something funny and positive, rather than just have a depressing winge that nobody enjoys.

Letters like this (if they’re genuinely funny and not overly angry/bitter/scathing) can go viral and can lead to a response from whomever you are annoyed with. Bonus!

So start using the “Letter of hate” experiment today!

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Character Matters

I’m proud of what my Facebook Community, Charm Offensive, has become. I love the types of content people submit. It’s become the unusual, amusing, ‘pattern interrupting’ place I wanted it to be. I enjoy the blend of topics that are discussed.

We cover cold pitching, sales, copywriting, advertising, growth hacking and tribe building with a focus on pattern interruption; showing people how to stand out out using creativity, honesty, humour and disarming candour. This is quite the weird niche we’ve carved out!

A lot of folks ask me what makes some groups successful and others flop.

There’s a lot of different factors.

I think first and foremost, character matters.

Everyone has content. We are drowning in it. We choose to listen to people that are interesting and do things differently.

Here are a few of the folks that I think are good examples of folks that do a good job at standing out from the crowd.

Colin Theriot from The Cult Of Copy helps other copywriters and ‘demystifies’ that particular world. His advice goes against what many others suggest, telling people they don’t have to ‘hand copy’ sales letters from the 70s to become competent. He will often engage in lively discussions with people on all manner of topics, showing his writing (and persuasion) chops in the process.

Josh Fetcher from Badass Marketers and Founders gives away his best knowledge. We all know that most lead magnets often aim to educate while not providing all the pieces of the jigsaw. Conversely, Josh doesn’t even ask for an opt-in. When he discovers something, he not only tells you about it, he gives you a point by point Google doc, explicitly explaining every part of the process. He also posts frequently about his failures and infrequently about his successes.

Katya Varbanova from Livestream Marketing for Entrepreneurs is hard to ignore. She is ambassador for the format of live streaming. She is blunt, telling people that live streaming is not an instant route to riches. She practices what she preaches/pitches. She started with 0 followers and used live streaming exclusively to grow her brand. She has many others, but she herself is perhaps her best case study.

Ben Settle is a guy that Colin pointed out to me when I first started my group. He doesn’t care if he offends you. He’d rather be loved and hated than have everyone have a lukewarm opinion of him. At first I didn’t like Mr Settle. Now I see that was perhaps deliberate. He forces you to make a decision about him quite early on. His talent for writing and his demonstrable success allows keeps people tuning in. (Heads up: I’ll be interviewing Mr Settle on November 3rd at 9pm UK time.)

Dan Meredith started Coffee with Dan to keep himself accountable. Now he helps thousands keep themselves accountable. Dan’s honesty about his personal life and frame of mind is refreshingly honest. We often see people’s highlight reel but not their ‘behind the scenes’. Dan shows both. This helps inspire other folks with similar troubles to take action. Dan is an absolute beast when it comes to creating content, and challenging people to improve their lives. His group frequently appears at the top of “Best Facebook Groups” lists and with good reason.

Vin Clancy and Charlie Price from Traffic & Copy are not an obvious team. They are different ages, have different areas of expertise and different backgrounds and personalities. But it works. It also shows that having a ‘whacky’ group name isn’t important. It is far more important to deliver great content consistently.

Having a unique angle and/or hook does help. I combined cold pitching and humour. The pinned post for the group introduces a funny (and true) story about how I wrote a cold email when I was drunk, that lead to meetings with some of the world’s largest brands. I included screenshots showing the kinds of responses I got from my drunken cold emails. People like stories. They also like to share cool places they’ve found with their peers. Without my funny story, I don’t doubt my group wouldn’t have grown nearly as fast.

I hope the examples above help you think about potential ideas for your own engaged tribe.

I’ll be posting here more often should this blog get engagement. If you’d like more free content, make a comment. It’ll give the the dopamine hit I need to write more of these posts.



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Podcasts I’ve been on

Hey folks,

Wanna hear me say words?


Excellent. Check out the podcast appearances below.

The Truth About Marketing with Kevin Rogers –

The Unconventionalists with Mark Rustle –

LinkedInformed with Mark Williams –

The Sales Evangelist with Donald Kelly –

City AM with Emma Haslett –

Happy listening!



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How to get the attention of your dream clients

It’s hard to get the attention of senior decision makers at the world’s most famous companies. They are inundated with people vying for their attention.

Many of these are your competitors who may have fancier officers, ostensibly better case studies, bigger client names and other advantages of scale.

These advantages are by no means insurmountable.

You can tackle this by employing ‘predatory thinking’. Dave Trott explains this with the story below:

“There’s the story of two explorers walking through the jungle.
Suddenly they hear a tiger roar.

One explorer sits down and takes a pair of running shoes out of his back pack.

“You’re crazy, you’ll never out run a tiger” says the other explorer.

“I don’t have to out run the tiger” he replies.

“I just have to out run you.””

Creativity is the last legal unfair advantage over the competition and you should abuse it with reckless abandon.

So let’s look at the problem…

Senior decision makers at large brands often have a ‘filter’ for cold pitches.

They cannot possibly dedicate much of their time to looking at messages from strangers.

One way of breaking through this is to be creative. Use unusual lumpy mail, cold email or some combination of this. You can be novel, entertaining and/or interesting.

Another way of breaking through this is brute force. Dan Meredith talked about this in our Pitch Perfect webinar. Sheer persistence works. You can out-work the competition.

The third way is both cunning, and lazy.

I call it “The Charming Opening Letter Technique”

Instead of trying to penetrate the senior prospects sales firewall, you penetrate their ‘intimate circle’ instead. (Lol.)

You can generate a response using equal parts charm and well… peer pressure.

This works better for creative agencies/professionals, but I can see it working elsewhere too.

Here’s the process:

1. Develop a (hopefully compelling) idea for a company.

2. Write an ‘open letter’ as a blog post. Write why you love their brand, their mission and your ideas for them. If you can, try to make this light-hearted, funny and endearing.

3. Add a polite request in the blog post for their colleagues to forward your blog post to the right department/person. (They may end up knocking on their office door and telling them about it face to face…)

4. Make your ask and sugar coat it “We’d love to take you for coffee, lunch or tequila shots. We’ll even give you more ideas of varying quality you’re free to humour or steal as your own!”

5. Put your email address and phone number – make it easy for them to get in contact with you.

6. Create a LinkedIn Ad targeting all or a segment of the employees of that company – directing people to your post. (I used to suggest Facebook ads for this, but it looks like the employer targeting isn’t possible anymore, at least in my 30 second attempt…)

7. Alternatively (or in addition), you can cold message more junior employees at your client’s company with a link to the blog post.

You can be quite specific with LinkedIn Ads. I just set up a sample campaign where I’m targeting Red Bull employees in the USA who work in the marketing department. LinkedIn tells me this targets around 600 people.

Amongst those 600 people, you can guarantee that someone is going to have a conversation about you. You can be sure of that much…

If your letter and idea is good enough, you are likely to get a response from your target.

Even if you don’t, someone else at the company will likely get in touch. You have your ‘in’. BOOM!!!

A few side points:

1. Try to be specific with who you want to get in touch with. When dealing with big brands, never make assumptions. For example, many big brands often have multiple Marketing Directors. The same is true for other senior roles.

2. Include a video of you and your team in the blog post. This makes getting a response even more likely. It’s the closest thing to getting a meeting – you can even joke “This would be a lot more fun if it were a 2-way conversation…”


Do let me know how you get on with this…

Happy Friday folks,


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Writing a book

I’m going to have an ugly first draft done of my book, “Have Your Way With Words” on the 24th September.

I hit on something when I launched my Facebook Group at the end of March this year. There’s plenty of resources and courses and books on sales copywriting. There’s less material available on how to use words to introduce yourself in a way that stands out and compels a response.

The advent of the Internet has made it easier than ever to contact busy people. Getting your message read and responded to is another matter entirely. Most resources focus on communication and persuasion, leaving out the crucial first step, getting attention.

You don’t need bells and whistles. As one person once said in response to one of my letters, “Another agency sent me a jumbo packet of chocolate biscuits. I can’t even remember their name… Your letter was captivating and made me laugh. This is worth far more than biscuits.”

There is a style of writing that is disarming and endearing and I believe it to be teachable.

There is a framework for the type of humour that works when making an ‘ask’. There are rules of thumb and formulas that one can follow, without having to pretend you’re someone you’re not.

I’m still piecing together the exact outline. I want to write a book that is accessible to everyone. A “mainstream” book.

The right words in the right order to the right people can get you anywhere in life. I want to help people find those words. I want to give people the tools to change their life for the better. But most of all, I want to be able to tell people I’m a published author. 🙂

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Sex sells, especially when paired with one of the most contentious, divisive and profitable issues of our time: Our choice of smart phone.

This piece from OKCupid pulled in coverage from hundreds of publications.

A search on Google for “iPhone users have more sex” reveals coverage in Time, Wired, Buzzfeed, Cnet, Business Insider, Gawker, CBS News, Huffington Post, Engadget, Gizmodo – and this is just the top 10 results.

OKCupid surveys their users on a whole raft of subjects, from what smartphone they use, to how often they have sex.

This data (anonymised, obviously) can be used to create stories.

This coverage was because of a blog post containing a graph. Nothing fancy. The right words.

It contained content that was irresistibly shareable by both iPhone users and Android users as they partake in one of the pointless endeavours of our time: arguing with strangers on the Internet.

Here are the key reasons why this worked:

-> The subject matter… sex & smart phones. It’s hard to imagine a better pairing of topics.

A few ideas that could easily have been done before:

-> Apple / PC laptop choice and alcohol consumption per week
-> IQ and political affiliation
-> Average life expectancy and socioeconomic status
-> Reported salary and favourite NFL team
-> Average number of children and level of education
-> Divorce rate and religious affiliation
-> Reported happiness and job title.
-> Suicide rate and birthplace. (Morbid, I know)

You’ll note some of these involve surveying an audience, (e.g. Apple/PC and alcohol consumption per week) and others are take existing data and creating a story out of it (e.g. Divorce rate and religious affiliation).

Surveying has long been used by PR professionals to craft stories, but often these are resigned to the middle pages of free newspapers.

One example was an online bingo company who surveyed the UK asking “How lucky are you?” and ‘Where do you live?”. From this, the company could identify which area in the UK was the ‘luckiest’.

This got coverage… but it’s not really a story that you’d remember, save for trying to finding an example of the obvious use of surveying for PR purposes.

Few experience coverage in countless highly authoritative publications like OKCupid’s piece.

Here is how you can do the same.

The recipe:

Just add 1 metric that is a barometer of success, e.g. average salary, life expectancy, IQ, suicide rate.

And add 1 metric that is either:

– a personal choice (Apple/PC, smartphone choice, favourite NFL team, job title)

– an event of circumstance (birthplace)

There also needs to be:

– 1 winner
– 1 loser
– A big patch of grey area.

On that last point:
There has to be room for people to pontificate widely or at least utter their favourite profanity.

It’s obvious the iPhone story is based on self-reported survey answers.

Perhaps iPhone users, like men under the magical 6ft mark, are known to exaggerate on dating profiles or surveys?

Perhaps Android users, with their penchant for standard headphone jacks, prefer to express more discretion?

You can see the arguments forming when you start connecting the stories.

For the PC/Apple example, you can imagine the jokes and memes already:

“PC users drink more because they have to dim the pain of using Windows!”

“Mac users drink more to dim the pain of having to take out another mortgage to buy a laptop!”

Here lies the fun. Just like smart phones, everyone has an opinion.

The Internet, with all its transformative power, has somehow convinced people they should definitely tell the world their opinions, insights and inventive pejoratives.

You can see how there are deeper stories lying under the surface with many of these.

For example, “Is ‘level of education’ always a choice?” – This doesn’t even have to be woven into the story, someone will add that element to the discussion on social media.

When I speak to journalists about a potential story, I show them examples of how other stories containing elements of mine have gained traction on social.

I show them Google Trends examples to show how much interest my themes have.

I give them headline ideas.

I talk in their language.

Journalists have KPIs too. Unique views, page views, new visitors, social shares, comments etc.

If you can help them write a story that will interest their audience and help them give their stats a boost, you have the magic formula and it’s likely they will cover your story – even if they’re on team Android.

I’ve attached a second picture, which is from the website, “Spurious Connections” which shows “the number of people who drown in swimming pools” is closely correlated with the number of films Nicholas Cage has starred in.

This also got a lot of coverage – just because it’s an amusing story that proves a point “Correlation does not mean causation.”

While this is a funny example, one can imagine a swimming pool company reacting, adding to the discussion that there is also a correlation between swimming pool ownership and “Who has the best pool parties?”

So there you have it – how to create a viral news story using a blog post, a graph, and internet users who know they are ‘right’.

I’ll end with a quote:

“Last night’s ‘Itchy and Scratchy Show’ was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever. Rest assured, I was on the internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.”

– Comic Book Guy, The Simpsons
(pictured, right, yellow face, smug/angry disposition, has opinions)

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Who says?

“You have to be more professional.”

“You can’t write an email like that to C-Suites!”

“[job-title-that-apparently-makes-them-inhuman]’s will hate it!’

I hear this all the time.

Apparently, when someone achieves success, they stop being human.

If you want a meeting with someone important, you better write a message devoid of humour. It has to be bland and boring.

When someone achieves success, they decide “I don’t like to laugh anymore.” “

Smiling is something I used to do – before I became successful!”

Think how absurd that sounds!

BREAKING NEWS: CEOs at global brands are people too.

They don’t need or want to be put on a pedestal.

Show respect, yes. Of course.

But if you want someone’s attention, you better bring something to the table.

You have to stand out. Give them a reason to hit reply.

They’re people too.

Treat them that way.

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What’s next? ✅

I’ve been busy the last 3 months.

I forget just how much I’ve been doing, how hard I’ve been working and how much I’ve achieved in such a short period of time.

In 3 months, I have:

  1. Build a bustling community that grows daily around my weird area of expertise. I’ve also built an email list that grows every day.
  2. Helped many of my “Charmers” to book sales calls and win clients. Often these successes are posted in my Facebook group, further inspiring others to take action.
  3. Successfully invited myself on some awesome podcasts and succeeded in getting the attention of influencers I admire.
  4. Developed a new source of inbound leads through my new community.
  5. Drafted the outline of two books I intend to write this year.
  6. Created demand for a course that details my “Charm Offensive” way of opening opportunities.
  7. Discovered that I have a specific skill that is far more valuable than I suspected. This can’t be taken away. I may be the best in the world at this particular thing.
  8. Learned a hell of a lot. Realised that I have a hell of a lot to learn.
  9. Had a great deal of fun.

I’m now planning to:

  1. Launch my course.
  2. Go ‘all in’ on content creation. I’ll be posting far more on my own Facebook, on LinkedIn, and begin answering questions on Quora and putting videos on Facebook.
  3. Going Live on Facebook at least once per week.
  4. Get that first book completed.
  5. Get PR coverage in key online publications.
  6. Build out a more concrete b2b sales & marketing offering.
  7. Exercise every day and get in shape.

Not much, then…

In other news, I just finished writing an email for my good friend, Henrique. It’s to try and get his band, Buttered Bronson, some gigs at London venues. He’s created a mock poster to go with it. I love doing this stuff. Let’s see if it works.


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