Best Strategies For Allen's Contest? Questions to Elmer Hurlstone

by zapseo
15 replies
Elmer wrote this interesting post in Allen's contest thread.

I didn't really want to respond to it in that thread, because it would then be taking that thread somewhat off track.

Here's what Elmer said:
One of the more interesting things about this contest--aside from the extremely generous prizes (Thanks, Allen)--is the ability to not only see your competition but to read their entries.

This fairly unique situation can be a two-edged sword.

While it's great to know exactly what your competition is doing there may be a tendency to think, "That's OK, but I can do it better", and then trying to "one-up" some other person's work. Or, in a slightly better case scenario, be inadvertently influenced by another submission.

Having read only one submission in the test forum before deciding it was a bad idea I don't know if "thanks" are enabled. If they are and are being used that may also jaundice your view.

So, as difficult as it will be, if I enter, I won't be doing--this one time only--competitive research.

Just a couple things that occurred to me...

Use them as you see fit,

Elmer
And...my questions (and I welcome anyone to join in the conversation -- that's why I posted here rather than just bugging Elmer privately -- which would avail me of his wonderful thought processes -- but they are so worth being shared with more than me!):

One of the first things I ask my clients for, Elmer: links to the competition's copy.

People might want to one-up someone else's copy? Why would this be a bad thing?

In fact, I'm kinda hoping someone would try to one-up my post above. I would LOVE it, in fact. I know there has to be some great "prods to excellence" that I've failed to cover!

And how can you help but be inadvertently influenced by others' copy, and why would you want to avoid it?

I'm not sure I understand, at all!

I love reading the genius' of other people's writing, and if I can make my entry better by reading/swiping/etc from someone else -- well, what's the goal here?

The goal, as in most of marketing and advertising, is to GET THE SALE.

And, to me, that means using anything and everything (within an ethical, moral and legal framework) to make it happen.

More vegetables in the soup make for a richer soup!

Live JoyFully!

Judy
#allen #contest #elmer #hurlstone #questions #strategies
  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    well, what's the goal here?
    As a rule I agree with you - but for a contest such as this I think part of the goal is originality. If you take what one person did and twist it a bit or add to it, you may improve on the original but clearly what you end up with IS a tweak of someone else's original idea.

    But I'm sure it will happen.
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    • Profile picture of the author Martin Luxton
      Judy,

      In one way I agree with you. I looked at a lot of the entries and thought, "I don't want to go down that road" so I did a video.

      In your post in the main contest thread, you wondered why nobody had quizzed Allen about the target audience. That was the first thought I had, but then I thought, "Allen is the audience".

      He's the one who decides the winners and I know a couple of important things about him.

      1. He likes to keep things simple
      2. Recently he's been trying out lots of different things to see what works best

      So, a simple video that's different from the other entries.

      And it can go on lots of different video sharing sites so he can cast his net wider

      Martin
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      • Profile picture of the author zapseo
        Originally Posted by Martin Luxton View Post

        Judy,

        In one way I agree with you. I looked at a lot of the entries and thought, "I don't want to go down that road" so I did a video.

        In your post in the main contest thread, you wondered why nobody had quizzed Allen about the target audience. That was the first thought I had, but then I thought, "Allen is the audience".

        He's the one who decides the winners and I know a couple of important things about him.

        1. He likes to keep things simple
        2. Recently he's been trying out lots of different things to see what works best

        So, a simple video that's different from the other entries.

        And it can go on lots of different video sharing sites so he can cast his net wider

        Martin
        I guess I missed it -- I thought he said the winner would be based upon results? sales? something like that?

        Anyway -- gotta go, will be back later.

        Great discussion guys.
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    • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
      Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

      As a rule I agree with you - but for a contest such as this I think part of the goal is originality.
      Kay,

      That may be part of the goal, but I doubt that is the main thrust.

      I'm certainly not speaking for Allen here, but if the main goal is to get a new control for his sales letter for the War Room, originality of the contributors would be a by-product of that, not an important factor.

      What would be important is that the new control converts better than the old one. If that takes a group think where the heavy hitters weigh in at the last moment after having the benefit of a lot of niche research provided by the early responders, well that would reflect how things are done in the real world of copywriting.

      Allen is generous, but he is also brilliant. If shear originality was important this would be a blind contest where no-one gets to see others input.

      But that wouldn't yeild the best results for a new control.

      KJ
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  • Profile picture of the author Valorie
    I did not look at another entry either before or after. I went with my first thoughts, and I refuse to second guess myself by reading what other people have done. Mine is done and now I wait.

    After all is said and done, I plan on reading through them all to see if I can figure out why one is better than another.

    -Valorie
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  • Profile picture of the author Valorie
    I think he actually said to write them like you were running a WSO on the War Room. Also, he said he would pick three winners and run them against each other. The winner would get an additional $5,000, above what they won for their prize level.


    Do people really not take the time to read? This is not a slap at anyone specifically, but I saw what the prizes were, and I read the directions 3 times, just to be sure.
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  • Profile picture of the author Elmer Hurlstone
    Thank you for the compliments, Judy!

    As writers we read, we read, we read and then we read some more. I'm guilty of it and I'm sure you are too. And we aren't alone.

    It does, from that viewpoint, seem contrary to what we typically do and have been taught to do to suggest the opposite.

    My reason for being contrarian in this specific situation is simple. This is not a contest for only writers. It is open to any member of the Warrior Forum.

    The magnitude of the offered prizes has garnered a lot of interest. Some, perhaps much, from skilled, experienced writers.

    Quite a few others saw visions of 8,000 one-dollar bills floating, majestically and magically, through the air from Allen's bank account to theirs.

    Come to think of it, that's probably a vision shared by all.

    Back to the point. Some contest entrants or potential entrants may see submissions by very skilled, gifted, creative and talented people and think they have no chance. Others may decide to "just spin and tweak this a little bit..."

    Others may, halfway through their own piece, see an excellent entry and become totally discouraged and quit.

    Or, there may be a general theme shared by several submissions and the tendency may be to follow along because if "they" do it that way it must be right.

    One thing about this contest is the "rules" are sufficiently general as to permit almost any type or style of entry.

    One more thing, Judy, you did notice that I said, "I won't be doing--this one time only--competitive research." [emphasis added]

    Elmer

    PS. I do and will continue to read copy, articles, books, magazines, forum posts, Skype chats and bean cans.
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    • Profile picture of the author tjmiller
      Originally Posted by Elmer Hurlstone View Post

      Back to the point. Some contest entrants or potential entrants may see submissions by very skilled, gifted, creative and talented people and think they have no chance. Others may decide to "just spin and tweak this a little bit..."

      Others may, halfway through their own piece, see an excellent entry and become totally discouraged and quit.
      I find this entire thread fascinating! I am a relative beginner to this particular kind of writing. (I am a writer yes, but hesitate to call myself a copywriter.)

      I have certainly read the submissions of "very skilled, gifted, creative and talented people" and have felt intimidated. I've considered spinning and tweaking, but when I look at my entry, I fear I would be destroying rather than repairing.

      The one thing I have not considered is quitting. That is just not in me. But I know that I see elements in some of the creations that make me green with envy!
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  • Profile picture of the author Peter Bestel
    It is rather peculiar that this is such an open contest, i.e. we can all see each others' entries. Even more bizarre that we can go back and edit after submitting, (and presumably checking out the competition) but it is the way it is.

    I chose not to look at other people's entries before I submitted mine. I just figured that, whilst I might get ideas and even be inspired, I wanted the thrust of my submission to be wholly mine.

    I have now had a look at quite a few of the entries and I have also gone back and edited mine. It's impossible to say whether I've been influenced by what I've seen (hard not to, I guess) but I just went back to tweek the copy, the overall original message remains.

    It may even have been an oversight of Allen to have the competition structured the way it is, but I tend to agree with Killer Joe, it may lead to a better class of winner.

    Peter
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  • Profile picture of the author zapseo
    Elmer

    Far be it from me to think that you have ever given up reading of anything.

    Never crossed my mind that it would be anything different -- other than under the very precise, and circumscribed conditions you defined in Allen's thread.

    And, as to originality -- guess in the two years of expensive copywriting mentorship (especially considering the source) -- originality was down at the bottom of the criteria for writing successful copy.

    I'm amused, though, that, since it came up -- no one has sought (including me, so far) to re-visit the Contest thread and ferret out what will determine the winner in this contest.

    Note that, it could be quite intriguing, could it not -- because "best selling" letter (if that, is indeed the criteria) could be the one that sells the most. But that would not necessarily mean it was the highest converting...

    And even within highest converting -- could pre-selling be involved ?

    Live JoyFully!

    Judy
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    • Profile picture of the author Elmer Hurlstone
      Originally Posted by zapseo View Post

      Elmer
      <snip>
      And, as to originality -- guess in the two years of expensive copywriting mentorship (especially considering the source) -- originality was down at the bottom of the criteria for writing successful copy.

      Live JoyFully!

      Judy </snip>
      Judy,

      Your point is well taken.

      There is much to be said for emulating success.

      Analogous to that is the old saw, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

      I'm currently teetering on the brink of retracting my almost vow/promise/declaration of "not doing competitive research."

      The reason is simple. I've had a bit of a brainstorm. An approach I think may be unique. But, there is no practical way to determine if it is unique--at this time--without knowing how the current entries are presented.

      Yes, I could PM, Skype and email several of my WF friends and ask them to check out the contest entries... I suspect I'd end up with a few less pals. Quickly.

      I'll vacillate through one more cup of coffee...

      Elmer

      PS. Judy, I really hate when you're probably right.
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  • Profile picture of the author zapseo
    How the first 3 letters are chosen is not stated...however, among those 3...

    THEN, I'm going to split test those and the winner of the split test will win another $5000 on top of what he or she already won.
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    • Profile picture of the author Elmer Hurlstone
      Judy,

      I've read that thread several times today. Primarily on the email notifications regularly appearing on my screen but again a few minutes ago on the forum.

      Sadly, I'm unable to divine the unexplained and to me, at least, the indecipherable mind and thought processes of Allen Says. Most people that are thought mysterious really aren't. Allen is a notable exception.

      Surely if we have patience all will be explained--or not.

      Elmer
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      • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
        Judy,

        I have to tell you I saved your post into my personal notes here on the forum because you brought up some excellent points!

        While I don't have ANY idea what Allen plans to do with the results, the prize money is A LOT of money.

        I am entertained by some of the submissions, but I am taking it seriously!

        I like to see what others are doing - but my eventual style/result will be different from everyones.

        Not looking to "up" someone by copying their style, but look more for what they did that is working on me and how can I incorporate that into what I'm doing.

        And if there are "plans" for this material to be used in some other way other than a contest for fun, then I certainly want to do my best to comply.

        "any questions, just ask" was clearly stated.

        "Like one would post a WSO" has several implications. Was this stated to make it easier on the contestants to give them a way to format? Or will Allen indeed run a WSO to get members to convert who have not?

        Details are important!

        Does he want them (details to conform to)? Or can I play hippie and truly run naked and free in the fields and just get all kinds of wacky creative? Because you know what? I can do that and it will look like a complete koolaid acid trip.
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        "May I have ten thousand marbles, please?"

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  • Profile picture of the author zapseo
    Thanks for the compliments, Jill -- and I hope (from a good will, not an ego gratifying, perspective) that those notes will serve you well.

    It's fascinating to see how people approach a problem. What do they do about things left undefined? What assumptions do they make?

    Entertainment is certainly an important part of advertising -- insofar as it keeps the prospect's attention. Then, having gotten that -- keeping it and carefully, subtily (sp??) moving the reader from attention to interest to desire to action....
    the wonderful formula of A.I.D.A ....
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