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Latest Posts

Listening to your readers and customers is good. Being smug about it isn’t.

arrogant man about to fall

Last week I wrote about how I’m putting together a new course on writing headlines for web content, social media and email marketing.

At the end of the post I asked readers to email me with their suggestions on what should be included in the course, and which questions about writing headlines they would like to see answered.

When I extended the invitation, I was thinking maybe I’d pick up on a few points and questions I might have missed. Truth be told, my slide deck was pretty much done and I was almost ready to start recording.

I just wanted to be sure I hadn’t missed anything big or obvious.

Read the full post…

Please help me with my new course on writing headlines.

Young boy in bow tie writing.


Way back in July I was trying to figure out the topic for my next short course.

So far I’ve published two short-form courses this year – on content optimization and on selling with stories.

I wasn’t sure what to tackle next.

So I asked everyone who reads my newsletter to take part in a short survey.

I made two suggestions for my next course:

Read the full post…

7 Blog post ideas for any small business.

Inside a bicycle store.

Most days in the summer months I go cycling for an hour or so after work.

And every few months I find myself at my local cycling store. Maybe for a new inner tube, some better gloves, or just to salivate over their high-end road bikes.

Over the years I have come to know the owner a little bit. And he knows I do marketing work.

Anyway, the last time I was there he was telling me that a business friend of his had suggested he create a blog for his store, and write a new post for it every week.

“But what would I say?” he asked me.

That made me smile, because I hear the same question from so many small business owners.

Read the full post…

But Nick, you didn’t teach me how to create stories that sell. Fail!

Two kids reading storiesI have paraphrased a little, but that’s pretty much what someone wrote after taking my course, Selling with Stories.

He felt a little disappointed because I hadn’t given him a structure or template he could use for creating stories as part of his direct sales promotions. My bad. Kind of.

My mistake, I think, was not in what I taught… but in how I failed to be 100 percent clear about what I’d be teaching.

When I created the course I did so based on a strong belief that the whole idea of “selling” online is changing, and changing fast.

The traditional hard-sell approach is on the way out.

A more sincere and story-based style of selling is on the way in.

There are two reasons for this.

Read the full post…

How to differentiate your product with a compelling story.

the death wish coffee storyAs you may know, I have a bit of a thing for coffee.

I have way too much coffee making equipment, and have tried dozens of different coffees from all over the world.

And… given what I do for a living… I have become something of a student of the coffee business.

When it comes to marketing, coffee presents us with a few challenges.

First off, coffee is essentially a commodity. Literally, it is second only to oil in terms of its value as a traded commodity.

But from a marketer’s and a copywriter’s point of view, coffee is a commodity because… well… it’s just a green bean that is roasted until it’s brown.

It’s a brown bean.

Read the full post…

When selling online, content does most of the heavy lifting.

Web content does the heavy lifting

Ask an online copywriter how to sell stuff online, and she’ll likely tell you it’s all about great sales copy.

Makes sense, right?

If you want to sell stuff, you need strong copy that sells hard and closes the sale.

Well, this may have been the case back in the days before the web.

But today I would argue, and do argue, that most of the heavy lifting is actually done by web content, not sales copy.

Why? In large part because consumers online are becoming increasingly resistant to sales messages. In particular, they dislike sales messages that interrupt them and get in the way of what they really want to do.

Read the full post…