5 Productivity Lessons I Learned As Bill Glazer’s Copywriting Apprentice

In 2006 I got the opportunity of a lifetime when I was chosen as Bill Glazer’s Copywriting Apprentice. For about a year, I worked directly with Bill to create several marketing campaigns for GKIC, as well as BGS Marketing Systems. Not only did I learn copywriting from the best of the best, but I was given the opportunity to get a peak behind the scenes at one of the most successful info-marketing companies in the world. In this post, I’d like to share a few things I learned about gettin’ stuff DONE, old-school GKIC style…

1) Don’t Be A Marketing Wimp. Take Chances. I often get asked how I was chosen to be Bill’s apprentice out of the 120 applicants from multiple countries. Funny story…

First of all, let me explain that I was a personal trainer at the time. I had been to one GKIC event with my husband and I had no idea who the big white-haired dude with the pinstripe suit was, or who the funny, grumpy guy with the goofy mustache was. But I wanted to learn some ideas to market the corporate wellness program I was trying to sell to local businesses.

We received the newsletters but I really didn’t read them all that much. What I did do was look at the samples and swipe ideas for my own letters. I had never taken a copywriting course or attended a single copywriting seminar. My husband just encouraged me to apply for the apprenticeship since he felt I had a natural knack for writing. I honestly applied to shut him up! I didn’t think I had a chance. Thank God I was wrong.

IMG_5154The task was to write a single page, one-sided letter as to why you should be chosen as Bill’s copywriting apprentice. That’s not a lot of copy to sell yourself, so the one thing I knew was that I needed to stand out from the get-go. Bill’s the King of Outrageous Marketing so I went in search of a concept that would demand his attention and maybe even make him question my sanity. I decided on one of those blowup dolls that you see at the novelty stores (not the nasty kind – so get your mind out of the gutter). I blew her up and put a child’s t-shirt on her that had additional copy and reasons to pick me, then taped a box of Ex-Lax in her hand. Stay with me here…

I taped the sales letter to her and folded her down into a large cardboard shipping box with “air holes” along the sides and wrote on the outside “CAUTION: Hot Chick Inside”. The headline on the sales letter was “In One ‘Smooth Move’ You Can Make All of Your Copywriting Worries Disappear by Choosing Darlene Nicholson as Your Apprentice”. I went on to tie the Ex-Lax / smooth move into the body copy. It was sort of gross, but really funny. Not my finest work – but it did get his attention. He still laughs at it to this day. Talk about sticking in someone’s memory!

My point is this – BE BOLD. Don’t be afraid of that crazy idea. Let your personality shine in your writing and your marketing. Being memorable is so much better than doing what everyone else is doing. I took a risk, and it launched a career that has treated me VERY well over the past 9 years.darlene-bill

2) “Good Enough is Good Enough. Let’s Get It Out.” So many times I would write the copy, only to edit and change it over and over again. I’d have several people read it, and each would have something to say about this and that. I would finally give it to Bill and he would give me his feedback. I would edit away and change it around again, often coming up with additional angles, graphics, and ideas that we could try. I can hear him say it like it was yesterday: “It’s good enough Darlene. Let’s just get it out”.

He explained to me that delaying projects to get more feedback and/or over-working the copy was one of the biggest mistakes people make. Sales letters or campaigns get delayed weeks, even months past when they should go out. Why? Because someone wanted to try some new landing page format that’s all the new rage, or an email layout that “so-and-so says works better”, or a special kind of video that all the big dogs are using, whatever. But in the end good copy and tried and true direct response methods are your foundation. That’s what works. Get it out there NOW. Tweak for response later.

3) Don’t Get Distracted By The Shiny New Object. This is a big one! Now that I have worked with some of the biggest and best in the GKIC world, I see how focused Bill kept his team.While they were always trying new media and new techniques, they never let projects fall by the wayside in pursuit of the next best thing. Sure, they tried new things, but they never let go of the platforms and techniques that proved to be the most successful for them.

barry-darlene-dan-300x252Working with other marketers I’ve seen entire projects that were 60% to 90% complete get pushed to the side and never mailed or launched. Why? Because one person came along and said “this new such-and-such is killing it for us, you should try it!” Look – just because you hire this whoop-tee-doo new consultant or manager doesn’t mean you ditch everything and jump on their bandwagon. Not only do you lose the time, energy and money you’ve invested in the project, you lose the potential sales you would have made from it. Plus (and this is a big one) you frustrate your team. They won’t say it to your face, but every time you ditch a project that they’ve worked hard to complete, they start seeing you as a leader who doesn’t follow through. The next big project that rolls around, they’re thinking to themselves “Gee, I wonder if this project is gonna get shelved like the last one did…and the one before that…”

4) Create Deadlines For Yourself and Your Team Members On All Marketing Projects. When Bill would give me a writing assignment he would also set a deadline when I should have a draft to him. We would also set the deadline for his review and when he would return it to me, and my final deadline. He did this for several reasons: 1) to make me get things done and not drag out the copywriting and 2) so he could be sure the end product was launched in a timely manner so we could get on with the next project.

The GKIC marketing calendar was impressive. The only way they could churn out the new launches, emails, mailings, webinars, events etc. was to have set deadlines for every step of every project. So, while I had my copy deadline, there was a deadline for the graphics person, the tech person in charge of the landing page or email prep, the assistant would have her deadline to prep it for the printer, and the printer would then have their deadline for the mailing.

I can’t tell you how many marketers I have worked with, some with ample staff members, who just can’t seem to get $#@! Done! I have seen projects painfully dragged out because copy would get hung up in ridiculous amounts of review and over-analysis, assistants who are “just too busy” to place a stinking envelope order, tech people who take way too long to put up a simple landing page. Good Lord Almighty I could go on and on! This is the main reason we decided to build our own team and branch out into total marketing project management, instead of just copywriting. I was sick of seeing our copy just sit there collecting dust due to others delaying their part of the project!

When you have a set schedule with deadlines for each outsourcer or staff member, it allows you to get your marketing out the door so you can start generating leads or sales quickly. It doesn’t matter if they are on staff or not. It will keep you on schedule and show you very quickly if your team is on the ball or not. Even if you’re the one doing everything you should still set deadlines for yourself.

5) Surround Yourself With People You Actually Like And Can Get Along With. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have people on your team that just don’t ‘gel’ with you or your team CUT THEM LOOSE. When Bill chose me as his apprentice, it was basically down to me and one other person. Bill gave us both a writing assignment (a test run) and worked with us individually on the task. He had considered keeping us both but it came down to who he felt comfortable working with. I’m a pretty ‘normal’ and easy to get along with person, and let’s just say the other guy’s personality wasn’t going to cut it around Bill or anyone else on his team. Go with your gut and stay clear of annoying personalities and people who just don’t fit.

GKIC may not be the same now as it was back in the day, but Bill and Dan’s teachings, ideas, passion and insights won’t ever go out of style or lose their effectiveness. We may package them a little differently, and apply them with new technology, but the core of what they teach is as true today as it was back in 2009 when I was a scared young mom from Indiana who somehow was chosen to be the copywriting apprentice to one of the best marketers in the country.

Darlene_headDarlene Nicholson was Bill Glazer’s paid copywriting apprentice from 2006-2007. During that time she wrote sales copy (several in Dan Kennedy’s voice) for Champions of the Info Summit, X-Rated Sales Strategies, The Ultimate No B.S. Marketing & Wealth Creation Training Conference with Dan Kennedy & Zig Ziglar, The Phenomenon Practitioner’s guides and more. As owners of One Stop Direct Marketing with her husband Barry, they have planned, written and managed top-selling marketing campaigns for many current and former top GKIC members, such as Rory Fatt, Michael Jans, Dr. Tom Orent, Ed O’Keefe, Dr. Chris Tomshack and more. Contact Darlene today and receive a free 20-minute marketing consultation.

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