How to pick the right software? I tweeted this the other day to start a conversation. Several people replied and some got close but no-one got the answer.
And while outlining this email, I realized it’s the perfect example to show you how to choose a copywriting coaching or mentorship program. Between the lines of this tweet is a concept that will be the deciding factor on whether or not you’re going to buy what I’m selling.
The concept is differentiation.
In mature markets, all competitors have achieved “feature parity” which is a fancy way of saying every brand can do the same s***. If that’s the case, how do you convince someone to choose you over your competitors? You can compete on:
I may be missing some but you get the idea. You have to find some way to look different to your prospect than everybody else. Let’s look at Basecamp vs. Monday first, and then I’ll apply it to copywriters and copywriter coaching programs.
If you’ve seen any Monday ads, you’ll notice they’re competing on features and marketing. Their positioning is… I don’t know what their positioning is. It looks like they’re everything to everyone. Their home page headline says “A platform built for a new way of working.” If you ask me, they should fire their marketing team. But that’s another topic. Monday’s hoping their ads will brainwash me enough so they’re top of mind when I’m ready to buy. They succeeded in being top of mind but failed to convert me.
And if you observe their competitors – Clickup, Asana, Notion, Trello – their marketing is all the same. “We’re better because of x, y, z, features.” In fact, I could spend a month researching all their features, comparing their pros and cons, and still not be able to make a decision on which software is best for my business.
Whoever tells the best story wins
Why doesn’t Basecamp advertise? It’s not because they’re one of the oldest project management tools and so, have the most market share. It’s not because they have the most or the best features. (Parity, remember?) It’s not because they have clear(er) positioning. Their home page headline says “A refreshingly simple, and remarkably effective, project management platform.” Adverbs. Joshua Lisec will have an aneurism when he sees it (I sent him a screenshot.)
Do they think they’re too cool for ads or something? Actually, they do. It’s not that Basecamp doesn’t do marketing. They’re superb marketers. It’s that they’ve understood the “feature parity” problem and chosen to stand out the only way you can in a stuffed market like theirs.
I ran my business for several years without a project management tool. I only have a handful of clients at any given time so I do everything hand-to-hand. Not efficient but it works. And I’ve always known, eventually, I’m going to need a project management tool. And I’ve always known I’m probably going to go with Basecamp. Because they tell the best story.
I follow both Basecamp founders on Twitter. And for as long as I’ve been following them, they’ve stood for something. What really endeared them to me was their philosophy on work. They hate meetings like I do. They believe in remote + asynchronous like I do. They’re bootstrappers. They care about internet privacy. Even though I don’t agree with all their positions, for some reason I just vibe with them.
And their software is built around their clear philosophy. Their design choices, the features they include or exclude, their pricing etc. Simple. Neat. Persuasive. All because they took a stand and told a story. “We believe this is how things ought to be and we’re going to make it happen.”
How to choose a copywriting mentorship?
In The Problem With Paid Membership Communities (the next chapter of this manifesto) I list some of the most popular copywriting mentorships. How do they differentiate themselves? How do they compete?
You could say they compete on price but even though some are cheaper than the others, they’re all high-ticket. What about features? Even though the programs vary in their packaging and delivery, they all make the same promise: make a full-time living as a copywriter. What about results? They all have results, case studies, and testimonials coming out of their ears.
The only thing that differentiates any of these programs is who’s running them. They’re competing on (personal) brand and marketing. They all have a hero’s journey. They’ve all had immense success as copywriters. They all use marketing to build a fan-base so they can sell them on joining their programs.
Besides who you vibe with and like more what’s the real difference between you learning from Pauline Longdon (my pick,) Carline Cole, Joanna Wiebe, Alex Cattoni, Adil Amarsi & Shiv Shetti, Lukas Resheske, Stefan Georgi, or Justin Goff. There is none. Even if there were, only an expert can tell them apart. This is a good thing, by the way, because it means they don’t have to compete on price or features.
But there’s no story. There’s no narrative. There’s no point of view (besides boilerplate freedom, success, and entrepreneurship.) No stand being taken. Until now.
If you’ve been reading my emails over the past couple of weeks – and you should read them all; this is why I’m linking them at the top of every email – you’ve watched me construct a narrative, tell a story with a distinct point of view and take a stand in real-time. Every choice I’m making for this trade school for the next generation follows from this narrative. The ideal member, the price, the community platform, how the coaching will happen, the invite-only enrollment.
I could’ve chosen to play it safe. My personal brand is such that I could start my own copywriting mentorship and create a nice revenue stream for myself. But this is an all-or-nothing play. It’s either going to change the copywriting industry forever or be a mythologized failure. There is no in-between.
Choose your fighter (copywriter edition)
Why should people hire you over the copywriter next to you? He’s got results and so do you. He’s got testimonials and so do you. He writes for the same niche. He offers the same services. He’s made up a bullshit unique mechanism so he can pretend what he does is different just like you. And don’t get me started on AI copywriting tools. Now what?
Be interesting or be ignored.
To start with, it’s no longer enough to just be a copywriter. Even if you have a horizontal (e.g. only writing website copy) or vertical niche (only writing for fitness experts.) You have to be Copy+. A copywriter plus something else. And that something has to be tied to outcomes your clients want. From my perspective, and to borrow a term from RPGs, there are three Copy Classes.
- The lead generator
- The converter
- The brand-builder
This isn’t scientific. There’s a lot of overlap between them as well as specializations or “builds” (to borrow another RPG term) within each class. But those are the three business outcomes you’ll have control over as a copywriter. And for your chosen class, you’ll have to know:
- How to write the copy
- How to do the execution
A lead generator with a cold outreach build won’t just write the scripts, he’ll be able to build and launch an entire omni-channel campaign to generate qualified leads for his clients. A converter with an email marketing build is a master of autoresponders, editorial calendars and email copy. A brand-builder with a social selling build can grow a following of buyers in weeks. And so on. For what it’s worth, I’d consider myself a brand-builder because that’s what I enjoy most. What are you?
Your Copy Class is only half the equation. The second half involves you having a point of view that makes you stand out from the crowd. A point of view can only be developed. It takes experience. And so, it is not for noobs. Noobs need to stfu, do the work, and pay their dues. I should also note that a point of view is not a cause du jour, like being feminist, communist, pro-rainbow, or pro-black. Nothing interesting or unique about any of them. Frankly, they’re cringe. These days it is more noteworthy to be based and redpilled.
And just like the example at the start of this email, you must remember the most important factor is vibes. Vibes will get you more work than a portfolio or even results ever will.