Green Copywriter Earns Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification

Green Ink Copywriting is proud to announce that its principal, Anne Michelsen, has earned the designation of ‘Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers’ through American Artists and Writers, Inc. (AWAI), a leading publisher of direct-response copywriting, travel writing, photography and graphic design courses.

Dan Kennedy copywriter certificationFOOSLAND, IL –  Green Ink Copywriting is proud to announce that its principal, Anne Michelsen, has earned the designation of ‘Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers’ through American Artists and Writers, Inc. (AWAI), a leading publisher of direct-response copywriting, travel writing, photography and graphic design courses.

Dan Kennedy is one of the most sought-after marketing consultants in the country. He is widely credited as having been instrumental in the development of the information marketing industry as well as the use of inbound marketing to promote traditional businesses.  He developed his copywriter certification course in conjunction with AWAI, in order to help remedy a perceived shortage of copywriters equipped to handle the unique demands of info-marketing clients.

Info-marketing refers to the online or offline sale of information products such as traditional books, audio programs, videos, or DVDs; magazines; newsletters; e-books; membership websites and clubs; teleseminars and webinars; telecoaching programs; and seminars and conferences—and combinations thereof. The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study in preparation for such copywriting.

InfoMarketing Association President Robert Skrob applauds the program. “Dan Kennedy’s Copywriter Certification Program creates a key resource for growing information marketers, copywriters who understand the business. In the info-marketing business, there’s always copy to be written, call notices, conference promotions and product sales letters. Having a stable of certified copywriters who understand the info-marketing business is a terrific shortcut.”

Anne Michelsen founded Green Ink Copywriting in 2008. She provides revenue-boosting copywriting, PR, and social media services to corporations and nonprofits as well as info-marketers. Anne has special expertise in sustainability and green product promotion, and is one of the most knowledgeable copywriters in the country on FTC green marketing compliance. Her free monthly green marketing tips and e-course on how to identify and sell to the 6 types of green consumer are available at GreenInkCopywriting.com.

For more information, contact Green Ink Copywriting here.

 

 

When Best Practices Can Land You in Trouble

Every industry has its best practices – methods and techniques that have been proven time and again to bring exceptional results. But best practices are based on what has worked in the past. What happens when an industry – or perhaps an entire society – is in flux?

in troubleEvery industry has its best practices – methods and techniques that have been proven time and again to bring exceptional results.

And few industries test their techniques so brutally as direct response copywriting.

After all, a slight tweak to a sales letter can mean a difference of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars in profit – or loss.

So when three of the highest-paid, most successful copywriters in America all endorse a technique, don’t you think you’d better listen?

Normally, I’d say, “You bet! Listen and emulate!”

But heads up – and this is important.

Best practices are based on what has worked in the past. What happens when an industry – or perhaps an entire society – is in flux?

Then you’d better watch your tail. Because blindly following best practices – even when endorsed by giants in their fields – can land you in trouble.

The Magic of False Logic

Bob Bly is an extremely well-known, top-tier B2B copywriter.  Bob publishes an insightful e-newsletter in which he shares many of his excellent copywriting, marketing and personal productivity tips. (It’s worth following.)

A couple of months ago Bob published an e-newsletter article titled The Magic of False Logic.

“False logic,” he explains, is “copy that manipulates (but does not lie about or misrepresent), through skillful writing, existing facts. The objective: to help readers come to conclusions that those facts, presented without the twists of a copywriter’s pen, might not otherwise support.”

He uses the example of a metal broker who claims that “95% of orders (are) shipped from stock,” even though he does not have a warehouse. When questioned, it turns out they are shipped from the metal supplier’s stock, not his own.

­­Green vs. the Three Giants

Bob Bly isn’t the only master copywriter to endorse the “false logic” technique. I’ve seen Dan Kennedy and Michael Masterson encourage it, too.

Now, each of these individuals belongs to the upper echelon of the copywriting world. To put it in perspective, they are the Donald Trumps and the Bill Gates of their profession. They know what they are talking about, and then some.

So when I say they are wrong, I’m risking my reputation.

But I’m going to say it anyway.

THEY’RE WRONG.

They’re wrong, at least, if you are selling anything that might be considered “green.”

What the Green Guides Say

False logic is an effective, proven technique. And it’s endemic in conventional marketing.

However, when applied to green claims, it’s an approach that is likely to violate the FTC’s standards for environmental messaging.

In Section 260.2 (Interpretation and Substantiation of Environmental Marketing Claims), the Green Guides state:

“A representation, omission, or practice is deceptive if it is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances and is material to consumers’ decisions…To determine if an advertisement is deceptive, marketers must identify all express and implied claims that the advertisement reasonably conveys. Marketers must ensure that all reasonable interpretations of their claims are truthful, not misleading, and supported by a reasonable basis before they make the claims.”

Preventing deceptive claims is the primary purpose of the Green Guides. The FTC doesn’t care about the literal truth – the only thing that matters to it is whether or not customers might find your statement misleading.

The FTC’s Zero Tolerance

Last October’s FTC action against two paint companies is an excellent example. The paints in question were labeled “Zero VOC.” This was technically true – for the paints as they came in the bucket.

However, depending on the final colors used to tint the paint, the customer could end up going home with paint containing measurable VOC content.

The FTC showed zero tolerance for truth twisting in this case. This, even though one of the companies had included a disclosure in their marketing collateral.  (The disclosure wasn’t obvious enough, according to the agency.)

A Better Best Practice

Best practice or not, I would be very careful about using false logic when marketing and advertising green products and services.

And given the trends I am seeing towards greater transparency even amongst mainstream companies, I would hazard a guess that it’s not the safest bet for anyone anymore.

Despite Bob Bly’s assurance that false logic is not lying or manipulation, it’s a fine line between truth and misrepresentation, and the technique can dance you dangerously close to the edge. All it takes is one or two dissatisfied customers who feel they’ve been lied to (whether or not it’s true) to smear your name all over social media. And then, of course, there’s the FTC.

A better best practice?

Use real logic.

Figure out how to position the truth of your service, product or company as a benefit to your customer.

Like that metal broker. It seems to me that instead of pretending to be something he’s not, he could position himself as having a unique business model (which he does; instead of being a dealer with a big warehouse like all his competitors, he’s one guy in an office.)

He could explain how his business is based on relationships, and how he uses those relationships to meet his customers’ needs better and faster than the competition.

In fact, a true story like that might even be more compelling than his dicey false logic claim.

Just sayin.’

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photo credit: CircaSassy via photopin cc

Hurray! I made the Top 5% Most Viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012!

All I can say is “Thank you!” to everyone who viewed my LinkedIn profile in 2012. I hope I lived up to your expectations.
And when you come to visit again, please drop a line, even just to say “hi” or introduce yourself. I totally value your connection

Wow. What can I say? I’m floored. And flattered. And humbled.

Top 5% congratulations email from LinkedIn
I was totally not expecting this in my inbox this morning.

All I can say is “Thank you!” to everyone who viewed my LinkedIn profile in 2012. I hope I lived up to your expectations.

And when you come to visit again, please drop a line, even just to say “hi” or introduce yourself. I totally value your connection. And just maybe we’ll stumble upon a way to help each other out! 🙂

Press Release Sale – 20% Off for New Clients

SAVE 20% on Press Releases Now Through February 15th!
(Valentine’s Sale for New Clients* Only)

Shout out - guy with megaphone
Don’t let your business news go stale. Shout it out and watch your traffic zoom!

Press releases aren’t just for the press anymore. They’re a super effective way to get in front of customers, too.

Shout out your business news, and get the attention you deserve!

I can help you by:

  • Finding the most newsworthy angles about your business for maximum PR effectiveness
  • Writing you a press release that gets editors and customers to sit up, take notice, and want to find out more
  • Getting you in front of the hottest editors in your industry for your best chance at media exposure
  • Introducing you to the blogging community, which can land you a powerful, everywhere-at-once internet blitz

SAVE 20% on Press Releases Now Through February 15th, 2013!

(Valentine’s Sale for New Clients* Only)

Got news? Don’t delay – fresh news is perishable.  Contact me for pricing on press release writing and distribution packages today:
[contact-form-7 id=”1716″ title=”Contact Anne – Press Release”]

*Existing clients – call me: I’ve got an even better deal for you!

When NOT to hire a copywriter, Part I

We freelance copywriters can provide you with effective marketing tools – such as sales letters, white papers, website copy, and the like – for a fraction of the time it would take to write them yourself. (No offense, but ours will likely work better, too!) But there are appropriate times to contact a copywriter, and times when it’s better for both of you to refrain, at least for a while.

In this multi-part series, I’ll explain several occasions when it’s best NOT to hire a copywriter, and why.

Part I: DO NOT HIRE A COPYWRITER…when you have no margin of error.

Lots of things can go wrong with a promotion.  Obviously the copy can be off the mark. But there are many factors that can contribute to the success or failure of any promotion.  Some of these include your list or target market, your offer, the design of the piece, the medium you choose, and the timing of the promotion.  Many such factors are powerful enough that even the best copy can’t overcome an unfortunate choice or circumstance relating to them.  (For example, what if you’d staked your entire marketing budget on a direct mail campaign that launched on September 9, 2001?  Unless you were selling terrorist insurance or emergency ration kits, your business could easily have gone up in smoke right along with the Twin Towers.) 

Here’s where an honest, knowledgeable copywriter can save you a ton of time and money before she even types a word.  You see, your copywriter wants you to succeed nearly as much as you do.  Your success is ultimately what pays her – and gives her bragging rights so that other people will pay her.  If you come to her wanting, say, an elaborate website and she suggests that for your budget, target market and product you might be better off with, say, a minimal website and direct mail (or social media, or whatever), she likely has a good reason to suggest it. 

Good copy is an investment. You can expect to spend a little money to be reasonably sure that the product you’re purchasing has as good a chance as possible of paying for itself – and then some- in increased business.  Going with the lowest bidder most likely will result in substandard copy you’ll end up not using. (If you really want to try, though, don’t let me stop you.  Try Elance or Guru.com. You’ll find plenty of low bidders there. Most of them are from India. Good luck with that.)

If you’re really on a shoestring your best bet is probably to learn to be your own best sales person and hit the phones. No, it’s not easy.  Yes, it can be painful , especially at first.  But in most cases it’s the fastest way to bootstrap your business into prosperity. (And a side benefit is that this kind of sales work will likely give you a ton of insight about what approaches work best in selling your product – golden information you can relay to your copywriter when you are ready for her services.)

(One great resource for telesales is Art Sobczak’s free e-newsletter Smart Calling.™ His book, also called Smart Calling, is also an excellent read, full of pain-relieving sales calling suggestions. It’s available on Amazon – but if you have a local mom & pop bookstore, why not check with them first?)(Full disclosure: I’m not an affiliate.)

Once you’ve solved your short-term cash deficit challenge by getting some cash flow going, you’ll have enough breathing room to sit down and work out a long-term plan for lead and sales generation.  That’s when you’ll want to contact your copywriter. Ideally she’ll be willing to work with you long-term to create effective marketing tools as you can afford them, and continue to tweak them for optimal response and ROI.

Use the “Rule of One” to laser-focus your marketing message

How to educate your customers effectively without causing confusion or turning them off

Part 1: Follow the “Rule of One”

This is a basic copywriting principle championed by master marketer and copywriter Michael Masterson.  It’s also an excellent rule of thumb for any kind of teaching.  The Rule of One states that you should address ONE idea at a time.  For example, if you’re writing an article don’t try to cover two different topics at once, even if they’re related.

Of course, within that article you may have several main points.  Just make sure that each point addresses ONE major idea, and that they all relate directly back to your ONE primary topic.  It’s really just a more sophisticated version of “Keep It Simple, Silly.”  Following the Rule of One will let you engage your reader more fully without distracting or confusing them.  By focusing on one primary idea you will make a much stronger impression and are more likely to persuade and convince your readers.

Use the Rule of One in all your advertising, marketing copy, and presentations for maximum clarity, impact and response.  It even works in management!


Marketing Insights From a Day at the Races with Dan Kennedy

Pacer and Sulky at Northfield Park, OH
Spending ad money without a good marketing plan is about as sure a thing as playing the horses at the racetrack.

Are You Gambling with Your Marketing Budget?

“Go, GO,  GOOOO! C’mon buddy, you can do it!  Go Number 6!  Pass ’em! Yes – YES YES!!!”

Have you ever seen a bunch of normally sane and controlled (at least on the outside) professionals suddenly leap up from the table they were seated at, jump up and down and start yelling their lungs out?  Then you’ve probably never witnessed the goings-on inside a harness racing clubhouse.

Or, at the very least, you weren’t there at Northfield Park outside of Cleveland, OH last Saturday night when three fellow copywriters and I each threw in two or three bucks and pooled our bets on a horse named Category Six.

Category Six belongs to a man named Dan Kennedy.  Dan is a harness racing

Dan and me at the Business of Copywriting Academy in Cleveland, May 2010. You can't tell from the picture, but this was taken during one of the most exciting moments of the conference - the fire alarm went off accidentally and no one could figure out how to turn it off for ten minutes! (Almost as if on cue, it happened right after Dan had remarked on the absence so far of technical glitches!) It drove me nuts, but Dan stayed cool as a cuke.

driver.  He also happens to be one of the most outstanding and results-driven copywriters and marketing gurus in the world.

The four of us, along with several dozen other copywriters from as far away as Korea and Australia, had not actually converged on Cleveland in order to bet on Category Six.  (Although for some of us the barn tour and races were the final incentive we needed to get us there.)  Rather, we were there to suffer through three brutal but enormously illuminating and productive days attending Dan’s Business of Copywriting Academy – a one-of a kind workshop in which Dan revealed a brickload (at least that’s what it felt like in my luggage and brain on the way home) of information on how to run a more effective and profitable copywriting business – not only for us but for our clients as well.

Now, I could go on and on about what I learned at Dan’s workshop.  But if I had only one thing to take away from it, that would be the importance of setting up systems in your business and your marketing.

And that’s why I started this piece with a horse race.  Because without systems, the odds are against you.

You can (and should) systematize everything in your business, from the way you answer your phone to how you track your numbers.  But the system I’d like to focus on today is your marketing plan.

How to Stack the Odds in Your Favor

Marketing, like horse racing, is always a gamble.  Even the best bet can throw a shoe and end up costing you money.  But it is possible to stack the odds in your favor.

Seasoned gamblers do this by developing a strategy.  Now, my experience with betting is limited to the two dollars I threw in on Category Six, so I can’t tell you what strategies might lead to better results at the track (sorry!)  But one thing I did pick up while hanging around the clubhouse is that it’s important to understand the whole picture.  Just looking at the odds isn’t enough.

Dan Kennedy's horse Category Six at the barn tour after the Business of Copywriting Academy
We all got to meet the Category Six and the other stars of the track during the pre-race barn tour.

One suggestion I heard was to get to know the stable insiders.  A grizzled stable hand can fill you in on the whole picture of life at the track.  Which driver had a fight with his wife the night before.  Whether the favorite in this race likes a muddy track.  Who the promising unknowns are.  These insights provide a framework that, while it may not guarantee you’ll win, at least gets you in the money far more often than not.   And it sure as heck is a lot better than simply choosing your bets based on how well you like the name of the horse.

(Or in marketing terms, how warm and fuzzy your Yellow Pages ad rep makes you feel.)

An intelligent plan can keep you focused on the moneymakers, prevent you from shelling out for a loser, and present you with the best chance for making it big.

That’s what your marketing plan does for you, too.  It provides a framework that allows you to choose your bets based on strategy and reason rather than wild-ass guesses.

Now let’s clarify a little.  When I say “marketing plan,” I don’t just mean a budget.

Sure, a budget is a very good idea.  It’s like ONLY taking to the track what you can afford to lose.  But what good is it if all you’re doing is picking your horses based on the color of the driver’s silks?

Here’s where the analogy breaks down.  You can still have fun at the track if you lose.  But losing in business is no fun at all.  (Trust me – I’ve been there.)

Your Fast Track to Profits

A marketing plan is so much more than just knowing your limits.  A good marketing plan…

  • Is a system that forces you to use your head and think strategically.
  • Makes you set realistic goals.
  • Helps you focus on results.
  • Keeps you on track and prevents unprofitable distractions.
  • Provides a great excuse (if you’re the type who needs one) to say NO! when pressured to spend money on ads and other marketing that don’t meet your needs.
  • Is your fast track to a profitable business.

Of course, there are marketing plans and marketing plans.  Just like there are stable grunts and real insiders.

But if you’ve got a good one, I’d bet my money on your marketing plan’s taking you straight to the winner’s circle.

Cheers,

Anne

Green Ink Copywriting

P.S.  In case you’re wondering, Category Six placed third in that race.  Which, the way we pooled our bets, resulted in us getting back a whopping $9 (exactly what we put in), for the most exciting free thrill most of us have had in a long time!

P.S.  If you’ve already got a marketing plan in place that’s working for you, good for you!  Go, go GO!  But if you don’t (or aren’t sure it’s working as well as it might), and would like someone to guide your bets, you can reach me at greengirlwrites@gmail.com, or 715-218-1373.  (I promise to leave the manure rake in the barn!)

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer who helps Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s bi-weekly tips and insights into Green marketing and sales writing, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

The Ultimate Success Secret

The Ultimate Success Secret book
Success insights from Dan Kennedy, Tom Ribar...and yours truly!

What an honor, to be included in a book – especially one by an amazing individual like Dan Kennedy.

Now, I don’t necessarily subscribe to Dan’s political views.  But like so many others I’m awed by his marketing genius and appreciate his “no-bull,” tell-it-like-it-is style.

I first found out about Dan through one of my clients.  Sean Greeley of Net Profit Explosion, LLC (2008 Glazer-Kennedy Infomarketer of the Year) hired me to go through and refresh a couple year’s worth of newsletter articles.  (They help fitness business owners gain new customers and increase their profits – if you’re in the fit biz, check them out – they’re very good.)

Anyway, as I was going through these articles, I realized, OMG, I’m getting paid to read thousands of dollars worth of incredible marketing advice,  including specific how-to techniques for landing new customers, regaining lost customers, increasing per-customer profits, etc.  Stuff any business owner would give his eye teeth for.  So what if it was written for gyms and pilates studios?  You could adapt this stuff for any business.

Well, Sean kept mentioning this guy called Dan Kennedy.  So I thought I’d check him out for myself.  I subscribed to his “No B.S.” newsletter and joined the Wisconsin  Glazer-Kennedy marketing chapter and mastermind.  And I can’t tell you what an incredible impact he’s had on me, both in terms of growing my business and personal success.

So, I considered it a true honor to be invited to contribute a chapter to a book co-authored by Dan and Wisconsin Glazer-Kennedy chapter leader Tom RibarThe Ultimate Success Secret: Wealth Building and Success Secrets of Wisconsin’s Top Entrepreneurs. The book is an easy read, but don’t be fooled – these two business veterans reveal solid nuggets of success wisdom any entrepreneur would do well to take to heart.

And as an added bonus, the book contains additional chapters by accomplished Wisconsin and Upper Michigan entrepreneus – including yours truly!  (In my chapter I share seven of my favorite secrets to creating sales writing that gets results.)

You can get your own copy of The Ultimate Success Secret: Wealth Building and Success Secrets of Wisconsin’s Top Entrepreneurs here.  It’s a great introduction to the philosophy that made Dan one of the most sought-after copywriters and marketing gurus in the world, and can help anyone become more successful, both in business and in their personal lives.

Even if it isn’t green.

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s bi-weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

Swine Flu and Silver Linings

The swine flu finally hit our household.  My 10-year-old daughter Clara and I were just finishing up our Halloween shopping last Friday.  We’d managed to find the perfect Alice in Wonderland dress in only the third store we looked.  I was just breathing a huge sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to stay up all night making a costume, when a small voice said,  “Mom?  I’m really tired.  I want to go home.”

I looked down.  The skin around Clara’s eyes looked bruised and the freckles stood out in her pale face.  We hurriedly made our purchase and drove home through the gloom.

By the time trick-or-treating time came around the next day,  Clara was down for the count.  Needless to say, she was disappointed.

So was I.  Disappointed for her sake (especially because I’ve been trying to convince her to be Alice for years – she makes a really good one!) and for my own.  That’s because I had been so looking forward to flying to Florida this week for the American Writers and Artists’ Copywriting Bootcamp – a conference just for direct response copywriters!  Not only would I get to attend lectures and workshops from some of the country’s top copywriters (including my hero, Dan Kennedy), I’d get to see fellow copywriters I’d met at last year’s Bootcamp, some of whom have grown to be dear friends.  But between my sick daughter’s need for Mom and the very mild but not-to-be-ignored muscle aches and fatigue I was experiencing I figured the only responsible thing was to stay at home.

Strangely, though, I’m not as bummed as I thought I would be.  Usually when faced with a major change in plans I’d get all riled up and upset inside before coming to terms with it.  But this time as soon as I started to feel that achey feeling, I made the decision not to waste energy fighting this.  Instead, I began to concentrate on  breathing deep, nourishing myself and going with the flow.

I’ve decided to use the unexpected time to catch up on loose ends, and to get a head start on some new copywriting work that recently came my way.  The week is going well, and I’m going about my work with a sense of peace and direction I haven’t felt in a long time.

The flu is still hanging around our house (my son and husband both came down withmild cases in the last couple of days), but life goes on.  And I think it’ll leave me something precious when it goes:  the ability to relax and go on with what needs doing no matter what is going on around me.