Why Everybody Loves Apple

Apple makes products that are so cool, a product demo alone is enough to make the sale. But that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t “selling”. It’s just that they’ve compressed the old AIDA formula into a one-step sale (on a surface level, anyway). Here’s what I mean… let’s break down Apple’s typical product demo using AIDA as the framework. Steve Jobs steps onto the stage and begins talking…

We know he’s going to say something interesting, because he always does.

Ah, he’s talking about Apple TV. He’s hinting they’ve done something new. He’s actually talking about the shortcomings of Apple TV! Now I’m interested for sure…

He shows the super tiny NEW version. He demos the cool new features. I’m beginning to salivate. The he drops the bomb… the unbelievable low price.

Steve mentions the date it’s available. Everyone listening is ready to buy now. Anticipation is near frenzy level.

Andy Jenkins has duplicated this process fairly well with his launch of Kajabi, the integrated marketing platform. It’s been kind of amusing to see how people are actually angry they can’t give Andy  their money yet (maybe by the time you read this they will have opened the doors).

Good exercise: think about how you can duplicate Apple’s process in your own business.

How I Work Each Day As a Writer

I receive many questions about how I work, how I manage my time, and what my “systems” are for working as a writer and consultant.

Open notebook with a pen on white

I offer the following with this caveat: I’m still workin’ on it, and I don’t always follow the system perfectly. But each time I fall “off the wagon”, I get up, dust off my britches, and climb back on. So far it’s worked pretty well.

A “day in the life of Ray” is a busy one. Here are current projects I’m working on:

1. Private Client product launch.
This is for a new product that teaches a system of “workforce leverage”; this is a sophisticated product that is aimed squarely at real business owners, not “biz opp” seekers, and includes a robust web application. This one keeps me very busy; and it has huge potential. Of course I get a piece of the sales, so my hard work should pay off handsomely.

2. Private Consulting Client
. This relationship translates to weekly phone meetings, a small in-house launch every quarter or so, and reams of copy generated for upsells, ridealongs, retention, phone scripts, etc. This is a retainer + revenue deal, just like the one above.

3. Private Retainer Client. This client retains me strictly for two sales letters per month, for different products each month; again, I have a piece of revenue.

4. Private Client in the real estate market; we did a product launch together (for which I still receive royalties over a year later — than God for honest clients!), and we also work on periodic promotions. And, once again, I share in the revenue (detecting a theme?).

5. Inner Circle Program. This is a monthly “coaching club” I run for those who cannot necessarily afford to hire me but who want to learn from my work, get me input, and receive training from me each month.

6. Book Promotion. My new book on copywriting for the web will hit store shelves soon, and I’m working with my publisher on developing the sales promotion for this book.

7. Three books in progress. One is a business book (first draft completed), one is a book for Christ-followers on the importance and power of forgiveness (first draft about 75% complete), and one is a book I’m not ready to talk about publicly just yet (still in outlining phase).

8. Two monthly newsletters. I write one for my clients, and one for paying members of my inner circle.

9. Workshops. I have three scheduled for the next 4 months, each taking place in my offices in Spokane. These workshops are small, for 5 participants only, and focused on Strategic Writing for the purpose of Influence.

10. Copywriting Protege Program.
My students write for clients who either (a) can’t get on my schedule soon enough or (b) can’t afford my fees. My team writes your copy, I critique the drafts for re-writes, and then I approve the final work that is delivered to you. This means we can deliver affordable copy that still receives my “touch”. (To inquire about a project, please submit your request here: http://RayEdwards.com/contact )

The Big Question

How is it I’m able to juggle so many priorities and projects? Through careful conscious choice, and good systems.

And quite frankly: it’s a work in progress.

In order to deliver the very best work to my clients and partners, and to still leave room in my schedule for rejuvenation (sleep, family time, time with God, and time to just plain relax)… I have to guard my time vigorously. And I have to be on guard against what Dan Kennedy calls “Time Vampires”. Some tactics that work for me in my current system:

My Morning Success Ritual is vital to my most productive days. While I don’t manage to get this in every day, I’m getting better at it. My goal between now and the New Year is to achieve 95%+ compliance with this ritual every day.

The MSR is summed up by the acronym WWW B PREP, which stands for:

  • Wake
  • Water (16 oz. filtered)
  • Walk (at least 20 minutes)
  • Bible
  • Prayer
  • Eat
  • Plan (the day)

The days when I follow this MSR, starting the minute my feet hit the floor out of bed, are invariably my best days (most productive, most joyous, most satisfying). Probably because the most important things were done first – and when I’m still in the “NDZ”: No Distraction Zone (meaning no email, no voicemail, no phone calls, etc.)

The first thing I *must* do each day, after my MSR is complete (and after I have showered, driven to the office, etc.) is WRITING. I am primarily a writer. So this is my #1 Revenue Producing Activity (RPA). At this point my phone is off, I have still not checked email, not checked voicemail, etc. Still in the NDZ. I write for a large block of time at the beginning of the day — often 4 hours. NOTHING gets to interrupt the writing — including (and even especially) the clients for whom I may be writing.

My auto-check feature in Apple Mail is turned OFF. I only get email when I press the “Check Mail” button. I check it twice per day, Monday thru Thursday. Usually around 11am Pacific and 4pm Pacific.  This is one of my policies that tends to be unpopular with those who are “urgency addicts”, and who want me to have a constant email discussion about minutia with them. I refuse to sacrifice my highest valued commodity (time) for the sake of what usually amounts to trivia. I suggest you adopt the same policy.

Any meeting that lasts longer than 15 minutes is probably too long. Not always, but most of  the time. Any project that requires multiple meetings each week is probably in trouble. Long meetings = inefficiency at best, and postponement of the inevitable at worst. (As a sidebar: frequent short meetings are just a disguised way of having long meetings. HEAR ME: if you have “meeting-itis”, either you just want an excuse to talk about work instead of doing it, or something is wrong with the project … something another meeting won’t solve).

Phone Meetings / Conversations
Same as meetings, only worse. Conversations and phone meetings should be 15 minutes or less. Anything longer and you’re probably wasting time for at least some people in the group.

Instant Messenger
Just say no. The only time I use it is when I have SCHEDULED events on Skype (usually interviews). Also, I occasionally chat with family or friends — but again, this is SCHEDULED. I am NEVER “just available” to be interrupted. (If I was, that would mean that I was either doing something unimportant, or that I was doing NOTHING. If I’m doing something unimportant… WHY? And if I’m doing NOTHING, it’s a PLANNED nothing and it’s important that this not be interrupted!).

Office Hours
Yes, I have an office outside my home. I lease currently. I’m considering buying an office building. I keep regular business hours most of the time: Mon – Thurs, 8am – 5pm Pacific.

By the way, my office phone is answered by a LIVE HUMAN (not some stupid voicemail torture device) Monday – Saturday, 8am – 6pm Pacific time. Why do I have the phone covered even when I am out of the office? Because other members of my team keep different hours… and because emergencies DO happen, and I like to be available if a TRUE emergency arises. My  phone team knows how to reach me in those cases.

Why The Emphasis On Not Being Interrupted?

Interruptions cost you dearly.

As a writer, I know that allowing myself to be interrupted by a client or vendor (“Hey Ray – got a minute to talk about the new logo?”) can seem harmless… but it isn’t. That interruption costs me (a) the state of “flow” I was in while working, maybe impossible to recover, (b) the time of the interruption itself, and (c) the time it takes me to get back into the “zone” with what I was working on… minimum 20 minutes, maybe longer.

I can’t afford to let that happen.

My clients and customers can’t afford for me to let that happen.

I once had a client who loved to call me at 11pm at night and talk for two hours. I tried to tell him I worked set hours and was available at those times, but he didn’t seem to understand. When our first project was finished, I fired him. His dysfunction did not automatically become my problem. Be warned – people will WASTE your time if you let them. Will you let them? be polite, be loving… but don’t be a victim.

In the end, if you guard your time, you are being most respectful of other people. Think about it: if you allow yourself to be interrupted, or your time wasted when you should have been doing something else… who suffers? Your clients. Your customers. Your family (“Sorry honey, I have to stay late because I wasted 2 hours today listening to the web team make excuses…”).

You’re not serving anyone by being a poor steward of your time.

New Experiments In Time Management

I’m currently going through a re-vamping, refining, and re-evaluating phase and I thought it might be useful to you if I shared some ideas I’m trying out. While I’m sold on the stuff I mentioned previously, I’m telling you right now these next items are EXPERIMENTAL. If they prove successful, I’ll have more to say here in the future about them.

1.Three-Sentence Emails.
If you receive a lot of email, you know what it’s like to feel overloaded by it. This is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be three sentences or less. Read more at http://three.sentenc.es/

2. Fifteen Minute Meetings. Just like the above, only not quite so regimented. *Most* meetings will be 15 minutes or less. That’s my default meeting length. If it needs to be longer, we can negotiate in 15 minute blocks. If it needs to be longer than 45 minutes, we better be working on something like the Middle East Peace Talks.

3. Free Days. I used to cheat on this. I’m sorry to admit it. But no more. A “free day” is one in which there is NO business activity of any kind: no emails, no blogs, no IMs, no phone calls, no reading articles, no business books… NOTHING. Right now, I have at least one scheduled FREE DAY per week (Sundays). The purpose is to allow for real refreshing, rejuvenation, and creativity to arise. My goal is to eventually reach 3 FREE DAYS per week. This does not mean that I’ll be spending 3 days a week doing NOTHING… these days will be filled with family time, spiritual and charitable pursuits, and yes, even recreation. For more on this, see Dan Sullivan’s “The Time Breakthrough”.

This was a long post – I hope it was useful to you. If you have questions or want to add some ideas of your own, please do it below!

Make Money in Tough Times

It’s a hot topic these days. How do we make money in these “tough times”?

I’d like to propose that the answer is pretty simple: to make money in tough times… solve tough problems.

If you can solve tough problems for people, they’ll be willing to pay you for it. Especially in tough times.

Hey, I said the answer was simple-I didn’t say it was easy.

Recommended Internet Marketing Teachers

Lately I’ve been asked by more than a few people: “Which Internet Marketing teachers should I listen to?”

Often that question is followed up with: “And who are the ‘Bad Guys’ I should avoid?”

I’m not in the business of judging who the so-called ‘bad guys’ are. But what I can do is recommend the people who have helped me. I was going to write up such a post, and then I realized I had already done so — back on January 1, 2009. As I went back and read it, I realized it needed very little editing… so I present the updated (only aesthetic updates, really) list of people I have been helped by.

When I originally wrote this, it was at the beginning of a New Year. I had been reflecting on who I owe my success to in the copywriting and internet marketing world. Because you know, none of us do this “internet business thing” on our own. I’m not an island. I’ve been helped by a number of people along the way. And I wanted to publicly thank and acknowledge a number of them.

Disclaimer: making a list like this always opens up the risk that I’ll leave someone out. If you have helped me, and I somehow forget to mention you, remind me privately and I’ll add your name to the list. Also, this list includes people who have strong points of view on some matters – in many cases, points of view that are in conflict. I think a diversity of opinions is a good thing, don’t you? I don’t agree with everything any one person says. But I do value and recommend them all. How do I reconcile their differing opinions or approaches? I take personal responsibility for making my own decisions, after having considered their advice.

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

Armand Morin. Armand is the guy who has taught me the most about Internet Marketing, and he pushed and prodded me to create my own info-products (I went from zero to over 20 in less than a year) and to get serious about my speaking career. Without a doubt, I recommend Armand’s Big Seminar and his Internet Marketing Newsletter.

Alex Mandossian. Alex taught me how to use Teleseminars to build my business (even though I was a copywriter at the time, my first year using Alex’s techniques easily made me over $100,000). He’s also a man of deep integrity.

Brad Callen. One of my top clients, I am actually involved in a site with Brad and his brother Matt. These guys have been with me as clients for a long time now, and have been a great encouragement to me.

Willie Crawford. One of the first friends I made in this business. Willie and I had some pretty amusing adventures together.

John Carlton. Possibly the world’s greatest living copywriter. I have learned so much from John, I can’t even begin to tell you. I attended a seminar once just so I could buy his “mother of all offers” where he sold a $5,000 box of his materials. Pay attention: I went to a seminar so that I could spend $5,000 with John. That ought to tell you something. I had the privilege of hanging out with John in Vegas recently, and it was the highlight of my trip.

Harlan Kilstein. Killer copywriter and Carlton’s top student, Harlan is also a master of hypnosis and NLP. Harlan taught me how to get paid what I’m worth as a copywriter. Seriously. After attending one of his seminars, I TRIPLED my fees. Thanks Harlan.

Matt Bacak. One of my top clients, Matt was one of the very first people to hire me to write copy. We met because I saw him sitting in the bar… with his laptop! I knew he was a kindred spirit. We’ve done some great things together (recently we did a $3.5 million promotion), and I’ve learned a lot from Matt. He’s also been a good friend.

Mike Litman. Mike was the first Internet Marketer to pay me for copy. He paid me a scandalously low amount of money. When he ordered 2 more sales letters from me, he coached me on raising my prices – on his project! His was the first IM event I ever attended, and it’s where I met my long-term friends (and now clients) Armand Morin and Matt Bacak.

Mike Stewart. Mike showed me “lifestyle business” at its best when he invited me to spend a couple of days at his lake place in Georgia. We played around on the lake, ate a lot of good food, and created a new video product (on copywriting) in his home studio (said product to be released soon).

Frank Kern. I’ve learned a lot from Frank, and he’s hired me more than once to write copy for him. Frank gave me my all-time favorite testimonial (it’s a bit off-color, so I won’t quote it here). It’s through Frank I first met John Carlton, Sarkis, Neil Strauss, and a bunch of other “fancy people”. And Frank recommended me to Tony Robbins for some copywriting work – so how could I not acknowledge Captain Kern?

Ed Dale. I actually met Frank Kern and Ed Dale at the same time. They had hired me to write copy for their Underachiever Conference before we ever actually met. What endeared me to Ed first was his love for all things Apple. Instant bonding. And Ed actually gave me the testimonial that ties with Frank’s for my all-time favorite. Since it doesn’t contain the “F Word” I’ll quote it in full: “Ray, I bless the day your copy met my bank account”.

Jeff Walker. The creator of the Product Launch Formula, Jeff taught me the art of Product Launches. I was one of the first customers for the original PLF, and ended up in Jeff’s high-end Platinum Coaching group. Jeff coached me through my first launch (of my own product). Jeff has made me… well, a lot of money. And he’s also a good friend. Jeff credits me with being the first person he’s ever actually paid to write copy for him. I can’t thank him enough for all the guidance, encouragement, and generosity he has shown me.

Jon Walker. Jon is Jeff’s brother. I actually got to know him before I got to know Jeff, and I count Jon as one of my very favorite people. He’s kind, diplomatic, and has a razor-sharp business mind. He is truly one of those “guys behind the scenes” who is responsible for some big stuff in the online world. Jon has given me some invaluable counsel, advice and insight on my own business, and he’s one of the people I love to bounce ideas around with.

Michel Fortin. One of the first people I got to know in the copywriting world, I owe Michel several debts of gratitude. I’ve learned a lot from him about copy, marketing, and online technology (Michel convinced me to migrate from Movable Type to WordPress, for instance… and was at least partially responsible for getting me hooked on Photoshop). He’s also helped me navigate through a couple of difficult situations, and has unselfishly helped me grow my business.

Sylvie Fortin. Sylvie is one of the most vibrant, determined and principled people I know. She has the courage to speak her mind even when it might be unpopular to do so. I am astounded by her willingness to share personal challenges publicly so that others may benefit. And her keen insight played a crucial role in rescuing me from total burn-out in 2008. Really. I love Sylvie Fortin for these reasons and more.

Craig Perrine. Smart, funny, intelligent, and willing to encourage me in my tendency to sit in the back of the room and cause trouble, Craig is a great friend and a smart marketer.

Kirt Christensen. One of the first people I bought an information product from, Kirt agreed to meet with me not knowing for sure whether I might be a stalker. We ended up become friends and business partners. Kirt helped me define my pursuit of the “ideal business”: working 20 hours a week and making $100,000 per month. That’s not too much to ask, right? (Still workin’ on it, FYI…)

Christina Hills. Christina is the CEO of “Shopping Cart Queen” – a company that educates online businesses on how to use their shopping cart software. They also teach a lot more stuff, including other software and systems. Christina was crucial to my first product launch coming off well, and she’s helped me in a pinch on more than one occasion.

Stu McLaren. Stu was one of my early clients. I wrote the copy for his Idea Incubator Seminar. I was so excited by it I decided to attend. Stu and I became friends, and through him I met Stephen Pierce, David Frey, Alex Mandossian, Jeff Walker and many others. Now Stu not only is a big-shot Internet Marketer but is now working with his wife Amy to change the world. Bravo!

Mike Filsaime . I met Mike before he was “famous”. We had a conversation outside the seminar room in Denver where Mike told me the story of this new product he was creating called “Butterfly Marketing”. We have remained friends over the years, and Mike recently had me work on the “7 Figure Code” launch with him (which was a blast). We’ve worked together on several other projects, too. I’m amazed by Mike’s willingness to work harder than just about anyone else I know, and his adaptability to changing trends and technologies.

Tom Beal. Tom and I were in a Mastermind Group together for a while, and when we met through that group I only had a vague idea that he worked with Mike Filsaime. Tom and I have laughed together, hung out in the back of many a seminar room, and worked together on a few projects. I count him as both a friend and a great marketing mind.

Joel Comm. Joel and I knew each other a while before we ever did any work together. Joel has been a true friend, and has done a lot to help me as a person and on a business level. Joel got me my publishing deal, invited me to be a guest expert on The Next Internet Millionaire, hired me to write copy, and has been a true supporter.

Andy Jenkins. You know him as the StomperNet guy – and so do I. I’ve written some copy for the Stomper guys (Andy and Brad Fallon). Andy has been encouraging, enthusiastic, and promoted me in places where it counted.

Rich Schefren. Controversial, smart, challenging, and able to wear you down. And that was just my first dinner with Rich! Rich is not only a client, he’s one of the people I’ve learned some of my most valuable business lessons from.

Brian Johnson. You may know him as Schefren’s right-hand guy. I know him as a trustworthy friend and tireless supporter. He’s also a guy who will be there to get the job done, even when other people have gone home.

Ryan Healy, Ben Settle, John Angel and Daniel Levis are all part of a secret mastermind group I belong to. The weird thing is we’re all copywriters. And it’s one of the most profitable and enjoyable groups I’m a member of. This group has been referred to as “The Five Horsemen of the Copywriting Apocalypse”.

Jeanette Cates. She’s organized, she’s diligent, and she’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever met. She’s also fun to hang around with.

Dave Bernstein. One of the first products I ever created, I created with Dave. He’s absolutely nuts about all things audio. And he is smart enough to live where it’s warm all year.

George Callens. George works with Armand to run a $25 million dollar a year company and makes it looks easy. He’s on top of things, he’s in charge, and he’s one of the most stunningly competent people I know. George has helped me sort through some important challenges in my business.

Chris & Jim Howard. I’ve been friends with Jim & Chris just about as long as anyone in this business. They are a continuous inspiration, and “go to” people when I need help or advice.

Dr Mike Woo-Ming. He’s a friend, he’s a client, and he’s an International Man of Mystery.Remember that time you rented that house in Vegas and we all hung out there? That was awesome.

Howie Schwartz. One of the smartest and funniest people I have ever met and someone I am proud to know and call friend.

Yanik Silver. Brilliant marketer, tireless entrepreneur, and peerless promoter. I love the Underground Seminar, and his YSS is brilliant. I’m also inspired by what he’s been doing with the Maverick Brand.

Dan Kennedy. What can I say about Dan that hasn’t been said? I think he mostly invented the info-product/coaching business. He’s a writer’s writer. He lives the life he chose to live. And he seems to be a true genius when it comes to this stuff.

Jason Moffatt. Jason and I are probably about a much alike as East and West – but I count him as a friend, a keen marketing mind, and one of the very best salesmen I have ever met.

Tracy Childers. Tracy and I have held a few late-night brainstorming sessions involving large quantities of what another friend of mine calls “barley pop”. Every time I talk to him, I get about two dozen new ideas. And Tracy is inspiring in his ability to get products created, and his integrity and kindness.

Marlon Sanders. The first marketing product I ever bought was “The Amazing Formula”. It blew me away. Since then I’ve had a chance to get to know Marlon as one of the funniest, most intelligent, and most interesting people I know. Plus, have you seen this guy’s hats?

David Frey. He’s the “gentle giant” of Internet Marketing, He’s been an encourager, a good teacher, and someone I’ve felt inspired by since we first met at Stu McLaren’s Idea Incubator.

Ken McArthur. One of my favorite clients, Ken has been another ardent supporter of mine. He’s someone who is universally loved by everyone who knows him. And he invited me to speak in Orlando in February (Orlando is always a great place to visit in February!).

Clayton Makepeace. One of my copywriting “heroes”, Clayton is one sharp guy. And Clayton is the guy about whom I have the strangest “how we met” story of all. Sorry, I’m not telling. Not today, anyway.

Mary Mazzullo. She took the pictures that make me look good. Of course, that ‘s what she does. She also got me into the mysterious “Club 33”. And she’s a true friend.

Bob Bly. The copywriter’s copywriter, a scholar, and a gentleman. Bob really got me started down this road, and one of the highlights of my career was being quoted on the cover of his “Secrets of a Freelance Writer”.

Mari Smith. First she was my student (in copywriting) and now she is my teacher (in Social Media Marketing). Thanks Mari!

Seth Godin. Some of the most intense learning I ever did, I did at Seth’s office. His books are amazing. His blog is legendary. He is generous. Thanks Seth!

This post grew as I was writing it.

The truth is, there are so many people I should thank I probably could never write it all down. So please, if you don’t see your name here, don’t take it personally. I love and appreciate you — and if you know me at all, I hope you know that’s true.

Bear with me, I have a couple more acknowledgments: my business could not exist without the support of my family (both near and far).

My wife and son are the two most important people on earth to me. I love you both with complete and reckless abandon.

Finally, and most importantly, I would be nothing if not for the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Every good thing I have (or ever will have) comes from Him.

Clean Up Your Act

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by too many obligations, too many “little messes” that you need cleaned up, or too many “open projects” on your mind… it may be time to “clean up your act”.

Try this: set aside a day (maybe a Saturday) and designate it as “cleanup day”. On that day, start off by making a list of every obligation, mess, or situation that you feel needs dealing with in your life. Make a long list.

Now identify the items on that list that you could take care of in five minutes or less. Then… take care of them. Make that phone call, visit that website, send that letter or check, or what ever it takes. But spend the five minutes on each of these items to clear them off your list.

Now experience how you feel. You’ve made some progress. Good work. Here’s the next step…

Decide what the next action is you need to take for every one of the remaining items. Don’t use broad brush strokes; be very specific about what that “next action” is. For instance, you may have a note that you need to “call Bob”. But perhaps you don’t know what Bob’s phone number is. So the “next action” is actually “look up Bob’s phone number”.

Now, with this new-found clarity about what the next action is for each of these items, see how many of these “next actions” you could accomplish in… five minutes or less. Do those actions.

For the remaining actions, decide whether you need to do them yourself (and if you do, go ahead and schedule them in your calendar), whether you need to delegate them to someone else (and if you do, go ahead in delegate them now), or whether you could actually just delete them from the list altogether.

If you’ve taken the time to follow through on this exercise, chances are you feel about 100% better about all those “obligations”.

This powerful exercise can create a real space of freedom in your life. For more about operating from that space of freedom, you might want to check out David Allen‘s seminal work, Getting Things Done.