Everything you know is wrong...

19 replies
Something funny happens the moment you decide you KNOW something.

You immediately begin integrating this knowledge into your very identity (and protecting it with vigor.)

It becomes synonymous with who you think you are.

When I boxed...

I would throw a jab a thousand times before I felt like I really snapped one good punch.

So there is relevance to repetition.

But I also knew I could always throw a better jab.

So I never assumed that just because I could win a fight based upon the merit of my jabbing skills alone that I was at the peak of my abilities.

Get me?


In other words...

I had to keep on releasing what I thought I KNEW to take my skills to the next level.

In copywriting...

There are seemingly endless techniques and formulas for creating an emotionally compelling, converting campaign.

Gary Halbert said this....

John Carlton said that...

Dan Kennedy has proven...

Eugene Schwartz believes...

Copywriters glom onto the legacies of gurus like a hardcore Republican drops Ronald Regan's name every time a microphone is in front of his or her face.

I get it.

It's important to learn what does and doesn't work - based on what others have accomplished.

It can chop your learning curve in half.

However...

It isn't YOUR knowledge.

It's theirs.

You're simply doing the best you can to interpret their information - so you can practically apply it (based upon your present skill level.)

The techniques that copywriting greats have indelibly ingrained in our minds via books, blogs, audios and courses are just tools on your belt.

They're not the end all, be all rules of persuading conversions.

Do you NEED a headline to make a massive amount of sales?

No. I've done it (and seen it done by others.)

Do you NEED to spend countless hours researching to sell a product or service?

No. I've done it (and seen it done by others... for BOTH high and low priced items.)

Do you NEED to target fear or acknowledge your prospect's objections to create a river of sales?

No. I've done it (and seen it done by others.)

My point?

I don't discount assimilating the expertise of the greats of yesterday and today.

But if you think you KNOW anything by learning their proprietary tricks of the trade, you're wrong.

Every project;

Every audience;

Every market...

...has unique circumstances.

If you're so blinkered by your massive encyclopedia of knowledge (when you begin the process of selling something) to think there are MUST DO'S to generate conversions...

Again...

You're wrong.

Sure...

You might make money.

Maybe a lot of money.

But you can always make more.

And you can always establish copy that will produce residual results for years to come (rather than one big burst of profits) when you approach it as the unique MONSTER it is.

Here's the bottom line:

EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG!

I can say that straight faced whether you have $20,000 worth of education under your belt...

...or just the cost of a few copywriting bibles from Amazon.

And me saying that doesn't mean you're dumb or there isn't extreme value in reading everything you can get your hands on.

Just don't base your life on it or assume you have THE ANSWERS.

You absolutely must remember that no matter how much knowledge and skills you have, every project that crosses your desk (whether it's your own gig or a client's vision) is an opportunity to redefine your skills.

You can always grow.

Always.

After all...

How do you think the greats became, great?

So...

Never assume you have THE ANSWER.

It's the kiss of death.

Just start asking different questions...

...if you catch my drift.

Mark Pescetti

P.S. The moment you assume that you know something, your ego instantly starts protecting it. So you have to overcome your own beliefs to launch your skills into the copywriting stratosphere. Pretty stupid, right? Here's how to avoid falling into this ridiculously predictable pitfall... Just say: "I know nothing." Seriously. And the moment you adopt this way of learning, you'll eclipse everything you used to know... as well as the wisdom of those you revere.
#wrong
  • Profile picture of the author betterwtveter
    Well said, I never would have thought of it that way.
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Excellent post, Mark.

    Creatives rejoice reading intelligent, inspiring thoughts like these.

    Brian
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  • Profile picture of the author Marvin Johnston
    Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

    You're simply doing the best you can to interpret their information - so you can practically apply it (based upon your present skill level.)

    The techniques that copywriting greats have indelibly ingrained in our minds via books, blogs, audios and courses are just tools on your belt.
    Thanks for the post! I think this is the gist of your post, and I couldn't agree more.

    And it doesn't matter what discipline someone is practicing, building a good tool chest with not only things you understand and use, but know when to use is key.

    Something about everything being a nail if the only tool someone has is a hammer.

    Marvin
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Hill
    Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

    The moment you assume that you know something, your ego instantly starts protecting it
    While I agree overall with much of your post, this quote is an absolute statement which is not true for everyone.

    For example, the more I know, the more I realize what I don't know. But I also realize that what I do know is the key to understanding that which I don't yet know. That which I learn later may prove what I thought I already knew to be wrong or incomplete, which is expected. This type of perception is not all that unusual.

    Some may feel compelled to protect and defend what they do know, but to others, it is simply a means to understand advanced concepts, and they remain open-minded in their beliefs. In other words, the knowledge is simply a base to build upon, and it is open to change at any time.

    In a sense, absolute knowledge is emphemeral, because it is always shifting according to experience and further refinement, which you also alluded to.

    In the end, I'll certainly agree with you that structured knowledge (from gurus, forums, WSOs, etc.) is just means to an end, or tools on the belt. It's what the possessor of that knowledge does with it that matters, not what so-and-so did back in the day with the xyz technique.

    It's been my observation that every guru has the ability to use their collective knowledge in unique and successful ways, because they are able to respond not with rote formulas and static techniques, but with whatever is required to get the job done, drawn from their collective knowledge and further refined upon application and examination of results.

    Just my $.02, based on the thought-provoking comments in your post.
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  • But there are cases where you can over study, or overload your self or something, making the quality of what you do worse. I remember doing this with my writing style for short stories. I learned too much. Tried to apply too much knowledge at once, and my voice was lost. I sounded stiff. Next thing I knew, my short story didn't sell.

    I went back to the basics. Wrote with just my voice, not paying attention to all the stuff I learned. Then I only lightly edited it, being careful not to destroy my voice. Then the story sold.
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    Gary Halbert said this....

    "John Carlton said that...

    Dan Kennedy has proven...

    Eugene Schwartz believes..."

    I would love to see a post on this forum longer than 25 words that doesn't mention one of those monoliths.

    Just once.
    I think you might have missed his point
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    A very thought-provoking post, Mark.

    What you're describing is ADAPTABILITY. The ability to adapt to your target audience.

    You wouldn't speak to your grandmother about computers in the same way as your IT manager.

    You adapt.

    With your grandmother, I'd go all low-tech, maybe compare the memory size of the computer to how many volumes of books she could store... stuff to which she could relate.

    The IT guy would probably punch me in the face if I talked to him like that

    Exactly the same is true when writing copy.

    Adapt.

    Focus on THEIR (the prospect's) needs, wants, desires, hopes, fears, problems, dreams, fantasies... where THEY are coming from, where THEY are at right now... and where they want to be.

    That's where I'd work from.

    If I had to throw out everything I knew about copywriting, that's where I'd start from.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      What you're describing is ADAPTABILITY. The ability to adapt to your target audience.
      Adaptability could cover it.

      That being said...

      Think about this:

      We go to school to learn.

      We read copywriting books for those golden nuggets of magic we can duplicate (again, to learn.)

      We observe winning sales letter, videos and complete marketing funnels to understand (or at least attempt to understand) why they work and swipe the hell out of them (again, to learn.)

      We take our skills to the next level by gaining an understanding of psychology, NLP and various other constructs to reverse engineer the consumer's mind (again, to learn.)

      Adaptability?

      Maybe.

      But did you ever consider you need to unlearn everything you think you know- to become a billion dollar sales technician?

      Yes...

      Knowledge is essential.

      However...

      Knowledge can also be blinding - if you don't know how to discern; if you don't know how to look beyond the techniques and vividly perceive their emotional reason for existing.

      Only the people who create the formulas we adopt know their true emotional purpose in the sales process.

      We can only interpret these techniques to the very best of our abilities.

      At the end of the day...

      The experience of revealing the emotions you choose to target (from your unique perspective) and the willingness to follow your gut trumps knowledge.

      Likewise...

      Use all the tricks of the trade you want. Eat your heart out.

      But when you NAIL connecting with the right emotions with clear, simple writing...

      ...that's when the magic happens.

      Anyways...

      Mark
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      • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
        Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post


        Knowledge is essential.

        However...

        Knowledge can also be blinding - if you don't know how to discern; if you don't know how to look beyond the techniques and vividly perceive their emotional reason for existing.

        Mark
        I think this is an important point. A lot of what Guy Kawasaki (I believe - I could be talking out of my behind since a lot of what I read gets jumbled together) talks about is the fact that much of his success stems from not really knowing what he was doing when he started, so he wasn't constrained in the same way as the so-called experts with their established systems and reliable formulas. Without that knowledge restricting his thought process, he was able to create his own methods for doing things.

        And apologies if I'm paraphrasing the wrong guru - I remember the messages better than the names.
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        • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
          Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

          ...talks about is the fact that much of his success stems from not really knowing what he was doing when he started, so he wasn't constrained in the same way as the so-called experts with their established systems and reliable formulas. Without that knowledge restricting his thought process, he was able to create his own methods for doing things.
          There's a story of Peter O'Toole that comes to mind.

          Here's a seasoned, trained stage performer.

          He proceeds to give the performance of his life during one of shows.

          The crowd is on their feet.

          Multiple curtain calls.

          Finally...

          I think it's a reporter (or someone similar) that goes to his dressing room... only to hear him throwing a tantrum, chucking furniture all over the room.

          He enters and says something like: "You just gave the performance of your life! What's your problem?!?!"

          Peter O'Toole responds with something along the lines of: "I know I just gave the performance of my life... and I don't know HOW I did it!"

          Here's a guy who is so conditioned to follow his training that when he let his instincts take over (organically allowing everything he knows to come out,) it frustrated him to no end because he couldn't put his experience into a box.

          The point?

          You know WAYmore than you know.

          Get me?

          You have to get the flip out of your own way to let what you're truly capable of to come through.

          You also have to realize, you'll NEVER know everything.

          EVER.

          So you might as well accept the fact that a lot of what your write will come from places you simply don't understand...

          ...and appreciate the fact that it came through you.

          Go ponder.

          mark
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          • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
            Banned
            There's a reason why you will hardly ever see me mentioning any of the great masters of copywriting...

            ...it's because rather than follow in their footsteps directly...

            I want to make my own damn mistakes. It's from mistakes made after all, where I learn the most.

            Copywriting isn't just about acquiring knowledge. Yes, it has it's place but...

            ...it's applied action through words and word choices which will give you the best learning curve in the business. Not some other master for a different product in a different niche.

            Sure, swipe and deploy for creative ideas to employ in your salesmanship-in-print but the second you adopt someone elses total methodology you lose track of your own mind and the greatness within yourself to deliver the superb results you want not just for yourself but your client/s too.

            You can't model yourself on a master. You need to strive to become one yourself through trial and error.

            Like they did.

            But what I do I know?

            I know nothing.

            Smoking hot,


            Mark Andrews
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          • Profile picture of the author Steve Hill
            Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

            Peter O'Toole responds with something along the lines of: "I know I just gave the performance of my life... and I don't know HOW I did it!"

            Here's a guy who is so conditioned to follow his training that when he let his instincts take over (organically allowing everything he knows to come out,) it frustrated him to no end because he couldn't put his experience into a box.
            ...
            So you might as well accept the fact that a lot of what your write will come from places you simply don't understand...

            ...and appreciate the fact that it came through you.
            What you're describing here sounds like "being in the zone" where writing, performances, acting, sports, etc. just pours out, pretty much on autopilot and without a lot of conscious thought?

            It takes accumulated knowledge and skill to get to the point where a professional level of output is reached, but then, as you say, it's a matter of getting out of our own way and letting things flow, unconstrained by conscious frameworks, structure, and rules, even though they are a subconscious (or unconscious) part of the process. (It does become easier with practice.)

            Is that what you meant in your first post too?
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            • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
              Originally Posted by Steve Hill View Post

              What you're describing here sounds like "being in the zone" where writing, performances, acting, sports, etc. just pours out, pretty much on autopilot and without a lot of conscious thought?
              There's definitely similarities to getting in The Zone.

              You learn, learn, learn... then try to shut off your education and just allow your body (or mind) do what it already knows.

              For me personally...

              I equate how I feel when I'm writing to something more akin to channeling.

              Oftentimes...

              I'll read my own work and have NO IDEA how I wrote it or where it came from.

              Keep in mind...

              My level of education pails in comparison to the people on this forum.

              When I say I have a 4th grade public school education, I'm not lying.

              I was self-schooled from 9 years old onward - with only one tutor (for math) that lasted about 4 months.

              I also haven't read all of the copywriting books most of the people on this forum swear by (I'm more of a self-development guy.)

              I personally rely on my emotional awareness to sell, more than my ability to simply write.

              So I'm always fascinated when I see what I DO write, because more times than not...

              ...it's not something I know.

              Sure...

              I research, interview, collaborate, etc.

              But at the end of the day...

              Writing is almost a spiritual experience for me.

              The name of this thread is really how I think.

              I never assume knowledge.

              Because when I'm ready to take my awareness to the next level, what I think I know only serves to hold me back...

              Mark

              P.S. When you brought up the zone, I remembered a little tennis PDF I wrote back in the day. I actually sold the program to a well-known tennis guru down south (and collaborated to write a full-blown book,) but I'm still allowed to show this. If anyone plays tennis, take a read. It might help you: http://markpescetti.com/wp-content/u...o_the_Zone.pdf
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              • Profile picture of the author Steve Hill
                Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

                There's definitely similarities to getting in The Zone.

                You learn, learn, learn... then try to shut off your education and just allow your body (or mind) do what it already knows.

                For me personally...

                I equate how I feel when I'm writing to something more akin to channeling.

                Oftentimes...

                I'll read my own work and have NO IDEA how I wrote it or where it came from.
                That definitely sounds like copy coming from "the zone."

                From your previous posts, I recall that a lot of focused research get done first to get completely into the mindset of the prospect, followed by some thought/percolation, followed by the content generation process.

                If you just sit down and pour it all out, then go back and edit later, then that's very similar to what (guru name-drop alert!) the late Gary Halbert wrote about in his "How to Get Started" posting:

                (The Gary Halbert Letter)

                It's certainly not unique to Gary, however - many well-known authors follow this approach, because it works.
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                • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
                  Banned
                  Ahhh the zone. That blissful heavenly mystical place within the mind where one is conscious of writing but not of the words one writes. Nor often in my case my surroundings. Like writing in spirit the words just pouring out of one's fingertips.

                  Often too, when I look or read back to what I've written in the past, I'm like, by jove! did I really write that? Blimey - it's not bad. Sometimes you see I even surprise myself.

                  It's a beautiful feeling writing in the zone. Like taking ecstasy and yes, I've taken a good few of those in my lifetime too. Many, many years ago I add. And a bit of this and a bit of that as one does when one is young, wild, and carefree in spirit.

                  When you're in this zone, well, I can't speak for anyone else but for me, well, it's like making no assumptions whilst writing. I don't judge my words as they pour out of my fingertips. I just write, perfectly non-judgmentally.

                  The spirit within takes over and the words just tumble over one another like a brook going downstream, the first thought pattern to enter the mind naturally following on from the last. In a never ending stream of conscious thought.

                  Like a river of words all vying for attention, cascading downwards in a tumultuous fun filled party of raindrops hell bent on enjoying the journey as much as possible before journey's end.

                  See? It's easy.

                  Book recommendation: Julia Cameron - The Artists Way.

                  Smoking hot,


                  Mark 'painting pictures with words' Andrews
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  • Profile picture of the author gabysanchez225
    Adopting the role of a lifelong student, regardless of your craft, leads to learning without that "but I already know this!" kinda resistance that settles in the longer you've been in whatever you're in, whether it be copywriting or playing an instrument. I think it helps to never lose the initial fascination that drew you to what you do. You'll make huge progress.

    Thanks for the great post!
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  • Profile picture of the author TheSalesBooster
    I'd say your 'lack' of education probably helped you become a better copywriter.

    Most people get caught up in what to say and how to say it.

    The way you write is so simple and easy to read.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Here's another perspective:

    When I used teach bodywork...

    We'd dive into the anatomy, physiology and kinesiology so the students would have a HUGE Rolodex of knowledge to draw from to help people heal their bodies.

    We'd break the body down into its tiniest bits and pieces so everyone walked away with an intimate understanding about why people "break down."

    I also wanted practitioners to have a keen awareness about HOW the body compensates and manifests referral pain - as it tries to deal with trauma and inflammation.

    When the class, seminar or course was over, I'd always say:

    "Now forget everything you just learned. Always follow your instincts and intuition when you work on people. The science is more about making sure you don't hurt people."

    Everyone would always laugh.

    But it's true.

    And the same basic premise applies to copywriting.

    Yes...

    Never stop learning.

    But forget everything you read as quickly as possible.

    @Mark Andrews:

    The zone is like this mythical place for athletes AND writers alike.

    But man...

    When you're there...

    It's better than sex, drugs and rock & roll.

    It also miraculously makes even the most complex of subjects feel simple.

    Reminds of a Jack Kerouac quote: “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

    Mark
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