Friday, July 25, 2008

Last Lecture Professor Dies

At times I post news on this site that doesn't seem directly or overtly "copywriting" in nature. Today is a day like that. But as I have expressed in the past, always remember that any sort of communication that evokes a response has a copywriting lesson in it. The nature of copy is such that it is a form of communication designed to evoke a response. So here's your lesson for today:

Randy Pausch, known by many as the "Last Lecture" professor, died in his home today after a long-fought battle with pancreatic cancer. Pausch became famous for a lecture he gave called the "Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". The video is below.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sharing Without Saying a Word

The greatest expressions don't come through words but through actions. This story and video is a heart-warming example of the power of actions by just one man.

Here is your Friday story,

Be sure to watch the video at the end of this story.

Free Hugs

"Do you want a hug?" The young man asked Ginny. He held a sign in his hand, "Free Hugs." I looked around. There were other people with him. They held their hand-made signs high. The message was the same on all of them - "Free Hugs!"

"Do you want a free hug?" The young man asked Ginny again.

"Sure!" Ginny smiled and walked up to him. She reached up, wrapped her arms around his neck, pulled him down to her level, and hugged him with all the love she had in her heart.

They parted. "WOW!" He exclaimed. "That was the best hug I've had all day!"

"I'm a hugger." Ginny smiled at him.

He looked at me. "How about a hug?"

"You got it!" I walked into his open arms. We held briefly and parted.

A young lady walked up and hugged Ginny. She turned to me, opened her arms, and hugged me too.

Ginny and I stepped back and watched the "Free Huggers" work their magic with those who accepted them. They offered hugs to anyone and everyone.


Juan Mann (One Man) returned to Sydney, Australia in 2004, after living in Europe for several years. He was depressed over his parent's divorce. Most of his friends had moved on. It was just him. He sat for months. Alone and depressed, Juan Mann decided to make a difference and reach out. He made a sign that read, "Free Hugs" and stood at the Pitt Street Mall - one of the busiest streets in the center of Sydney. He put his arms around anyone who accepted his offer.

At first, he left his wallet at home, had a friend watch over him, and expected to be ridiculed. After fifteen minutes, a woman approached him. "My dog died today." She said. "It's also the first anniversary of my only daughter's death. I could use a hug."

Juan was quoted as saying, "That first woman, it was more than a hug; it meant something to her."

People joined Mann. They opened their arms to others. His message spread across the city. Afraid of lawsuits, officials banned "Free Hugs". The people revolted. More than 10,000 people signed a petition to allow him to continue his mission.

Shimon Moore, the lead singer of "The Sick Puppies" happened to see Juan. They hugged and became friends. Moore borrowed a video camera and filmed Juan giving hugs. When Mann's grandmother died, Moore put the video together with his band's song called, "All The Same" and posted the video on "YouTube" with the following caption:

"Sometimes, a hug is all we need. Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, a man whose sole purpose mission was to reach out and hug a stranger, to brighten up their lives."

The video was a hit. It spread around the world. Juan has appeared on Oprah and several other major television shows. His idea continues to gain support and grow.

After his first day on Pitt Street, Juan wondered if others were doing the same. He found Amma - The Hugging Saint of India, Jason Hunter in Atlanta, Georgia, and Jayson Littman in New York.

Jayson started his hugging campaign the same year as Juan. They both felt a need to reach out to humanity. A financial analyst in Manhattan, Jayson believed New Yorkers could use a hug. From 2004 through to 2006, he spent one weekend afternoon a month holding his "Free Hugs" sign in his hands and opened his arms to anyone who needed human comfort.

Since then, Jayson's mission has been taken over by others who believe - hugs for all. On the last Saturday afternoon of the month, you'll find them gathered in Union Square in Lower Manhattan. They hold their signs high and offer their open arms to all who need a human touch.


The huggers worked the crowd. Most people ignored them or shook their heads to indicate they were not interested. Those who opened their arms in return, walked away with a smile on their face.

I felt a warmth - a glow - fill my heart. Ginny and I were going through rough times. Money was scarce, bill collectors called on a regular basis. We were stressed and worried, but on that afternoon, for a brief moment, it was all forgotten. It took a simple hug to make everything better.

Michael T. Smith

See Juan Mann and the song about him here:

Ginny and I plan to join them this month. We want to hug those who don't know the power a hug can have.

Michael lives in Fort Lee New Jersey with his wonderful wife Ginny. He works as a project manager in the telecommunications industry during the day. In his spare time, Michael writes stories for a collection to be called, "From My Heart to Yours." To read more of Michael's stories, go to To send Michael a note, email

Click here for our printable version

Sent to you as a courtesy of:

Bob Proctor
Be Coached by Bob Proctor
"If you can tell me what you want,
I''ll show you how to get it."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Zap! Boom! Pow! Use Will Smith's "Magic Formula" to Ramp Up the Selling Power of Your Copy

Since it has been an eternity since I have posted on this site (must improve posting efforts!), here is a great AWAI article for you to enjoy:

By Guillermo Rubio, AWAI Staff Copywriter

Will Smith has made Hollywood history.

And his personal "magic formula" can accelerate your growth … and income … as a copywriter.

His most recent film, Hancock, has raked in $107.3 million since its release last week. This makes him the first actor to star in eight straight movies that brought in over $100 million.

Simply put, Will Smith is the industry's most "bankable" man.

How does he do it?

A recent USA Today article reveals his secret …

"I study patterns," he says. "Nine out of the top 10 biggest movies of all times have special effects; eight out of 10 have creatures in them; seven out of 10 have a love story. So if you want a hit, you might want to throw those in the mix. I just study patterns and try to stand where lightning strikes."

As a copywriter, you can use Will's "magic formula" of studying patterns. In fact, if you plan on becoming an "A"-level copywriter with the earning power to live out the life of your dreams, this might be the easiest and quickest way to get there.

Here's why:

Your biggest challenge as a copywriter is to attract and keep your prospect's attention. The better job you do of this, the higher your response rate—and the more money you and your clients make.

One way to learn how to keep your prospect engaged all the way to the order device is to study control promos that are, or have been, blockbuster hits.

But you can take it one step further by actually studying the patterns in movies like Will Smith does.

Legendary copywriter Gene Schwartz regarded watching successful movies as the best way to train a copywriter in writing persuasive, engaging copy. His reasoning was that popular movies do a masterful job of keeping an audience captivated, all the way through the credits.

In fact, Gene used to tell copywriters to watch the blockbuster film, Lethal Weapon. It keeps the audience riveted right from the start with an explosion, and every few minutes there's a new action scene.

But Gene isn't the only one who knows the value of watching a hit film.

Gary Bencivenga, considered the world's greatest living copywriter, suggests it too.

Gary says, "Watch movies, because movies are the playgrounds of human emotion. As a marketer, you want to be an expert in human emotions. As you watch, try to identify every emotion the actors are playing, and let yourself feel it intensely. It's fun and instructive.

"You'll also open up your emotional channels as never before. This will help you immensely in writing more emotionally powerful copy, because you will feel what you are writing about."

Without question, movie watching can put you on the path to crafting control-crushing copy that can earn you industry-wide respect.

So what patterns do you look for?

Structure. Part of what Gene Schwartz loved about the movie Lethal Weapon is that it has an identifiable pattern in its structure. Action scene … dialogue … action scene … dialogue, etc. This pattern creates what he called a "rhythm." When you watch a movie, notice how often an action scene comes up … how often dialogue between action scenes occurs … at what points new plot elements are introduced. You can use this same pattern, or "rhythm," in your copy.

For instance, begin with an attention-getting headline (action scene) … a compelling lead (dialogue scene) … followed by a new, and attention-grabbing piece of information (action scene), etc.

Emotions. Just as Gary Bencivenga suggests, analyze and feel the emotions in a movie. Understand how you're being set up to feel them. Did the movie give you a peek into the main character's troubled past? Was a word said in a certain way? Was it the music? Facial expressions? How many times throughout the movie are your emotions jerked?

Also, notice patterns across different hit films. Maybe 8 out of 10 focus on suspense and anxiety. And maybe only 6 out of 10 focus on happiness and hope. Knowing these patterns will clue you in to what emotions "sell" best.

Plot. What is it about the plot or story that's engaging? Do 9 out of 10 movies follow a similar plot structure? At what point does the plot climax? The answers to these questions can help you keep your copy fresh and engaging. For instance, many hit movies might seem predictable at first, and then go in a completely different direction than expected, to grab your attention.

Hit movies offer a great copywriting education. Watching them is the quickest, easiest, fun way to learn how to gain and keep your prospect's attention all the way to the sale. Plus, you'll gain a deeper understanding of human emotion.

Next time you watch one, don't just watch it. Study it. Who knows, it might lead to a string of million-dollar controls—making you the most "bankable" copywriter in the industry.

This article appears courtesy of The Golden Thread, an e-letter from AWAI that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on how to build your freelance copywriting business. For a free subscription, visit