The Moral of My Story

For the first several years of our lives, pretty much everyone lies to us. We’re taught to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and, of course, the monster under your bed who’ll nibble your feet if you get up after you’ve been tucked in for the night.

By the time you’re a teenager, you’ve figured out that Mom and Dad were just having a good laugh at your expense. So you can’t help but wonder if the other stuff they told you — about life and love… God and government… morality and money — might be just as specious.

What’s more, since you were smart enough to discover The Truth about the Easter Bunny, you may fall into the trap of figuring you’re actually smarter than your parents — and probably most other adults, too.
What you don’t know is — the Tooth Fairy aside — most of the things they told you were probably pretty good.

In fact, most of what you need to know about success and life, you learned in grade school, Sunday school, and at your parents’ knees.

Just a few examples…

“Don’t Cheat.”

In the early 1980s, I had a client who figured he could get richer quicker by tricking his customers. His promotions (which I wrote) promised that the rare coins he sold were of an extremely high quality and, therefore, were likely to soar in value.

What I didn’t know was, the coins he actually shipped were of a much lower grade than we were claiming in our sales copy — a massive violation of the law.

And what’s worse, because my client was charging top dollar for those low-quality coins, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance his customers would ever make money on them.

Lucky for me, a friend bought some of the coins and had them appraised independently. And as soon as he saw the results, he called to tell me what was going on.

So I quit. Unceremoniously and immediately. Within six months, state and federal regulators had driven the guy’s company into bankruptcy. Within a year, he was headed for the pokey on fraud charges.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: If a product you’re promoting isn’t as good as your sales copy says it is, try to improve it. If you can’t make it live up to your copy, change the copy. If you can’t succeed with diminished claims, abandon the product altogether.

“Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”

Last year, at AWAI’s annual FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp, I agreed to critique copy being written by a dozen or so attendees in what they call Peer Review Sessions. A nice lady in my group named Carolyn Warren told me that she had written a book and wanted to learn how to write ads to sell it.

I thought Carolyn’s book idea was brilliant. So I encouraged her to submit her manuscript to Wiley & Sons — a major international publisher I’d worked with before.

A month or so ago, Carolyn e-mailed me to say thanks. Wiley jumped on her manuscript.

Then she asked me a favor: “Would you please give me a short testimonial for the book jacket?”

“Sure,” I said — and sent her three or four paragraphs.

A week later, another e-mail from Carolyn appeared in my inbox. Seems her contact at Wiley was so thrilled with my testimonial, he checked out my e-zine, The Total Package — and he was so impressed with its content, he wants ME to author a book for them.

So we talked. And who knows… if I can find the time, you just might see my book on bookstore shelves one day soon.

MORAL OF THE STORY: I had no time or incentive to help Carolyn. So why did I do it?

I remember what it’s like to have a fire in your belly. To believe in something you’re doing so much — and at the same time, to feel completely inadequate to the task.

I remember wishing that someone — anyone — would just give me a chance. Help me get started. But in those days, there were no mentors. There were no copywriters or marketers selling courses or seminars, let alone giving away free e-zines like this one. So I had to do it on my own.

That’s why I took time away from my businesses to see what I could do to give Carolyn a leg up. Put simply, I did for Carolyn what I had wished someone would do for me.

Then, completely out of the blue, POW! WHAM! Karma kicked in with a vengeance.

A few years ago, I wrote about how being self-centered is a major cause of depression. I also believe it’s a major cause of failure. Helping others works!

“Quitters Never Win, Winners Never Quit.”

I became a freelancer in 1979. But I didn’t do it voluntarily.

My boss at a small L.A. ad agency had promised me a $20,000 bonus if I brought in $1 million worth of accounts in a year. But when I did it and asked for my bonus, the bastard fired me.

I was desperate. At 26, I had a wife, two young kids, a mortgage, no savings to speak of, no money coming in, and no real prospects for a job.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I used the skills I’d developed to attract accounts to my boss’ agency to find clients of my own.

It was brutal at first. We barely had enough to eat — let alone pay the bills.

One Saturday, as my wife and I rode my motorcycle into town, a cop spotted my defective taillight and pulled us over. When he ran a check on my license, he found a six-month-old traffic ticket I had completely forgotten about.

I got arrested. Within minutes, I was cooling my heels in the Redondo Beach Jail. The cop said the only way I’d get out would be if my wife brought the $70 bail to the court clerk — in cash.

Not only didn’t we have $70 in our pockets, we didn’t even have $70 in the bank! But that was a problem for Monday. The problem for that Saturday was to get me out of the slammer.

And so we did what had to be done: My wife called a cab and cashed rubber checks at three different grocery stores to get enough to pay the bail and the cab fare. Fortunately back then, it took three days for a check to get from the store to the bank — and somehow, I covered them in time.

At that point, an intelligent person would have just given up. A sane person would have said, “This copywriting thing just ain’t cuttin’ it. I’d better find a real job and just resign myself to living paycheck to paycheck for the rest of my life.”

Not me. I was too dumb, stubborn, and cocky to abandon my dream of becoming a world-class copywriter. And so we continued scrimping and scraping by for another year…

… and, lo and behold, I started to make it work!

Within two years, I’d more than sextupled my income. Within three years, I was up to $350,000 a year. Seventeen years later, I hit the $1 million a year mark — and kept right on going.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Winston Churchill said it best: “Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in…”

Or as David Zucker put it:

“Quit now. You’ll never make it. If you disregard this advice, you’ll be halfway there.”

It sounds trite, I know — but it’s true: If you can conceive it, you CAN achieve it.

It won’t always be easy. You won’t always appear to be winning. But if you hold the picture of your perfect success in your mind — and if you can muster the courage and energy to keep going when all around you urge you to quit — you’ve already won. It’s only a matter of time until you make it a reality.

[Ed. Note: Honesty and ethics are a huge part of being successful in business. People will be more likely to do deals with you, customers will be loyal, and all the rest.

But you also need some practical skills. And if you’re going into business on the Internet — which we at ETR recommend — that means search engine optimization, joint ventures, copywriting, marketing strategy, e-mail list building… and much more. It may sound like a lot to learn. But these are the exact same techniques and strategies ETR uses to run its business — and they work! And in our Internet Business Building home-study program, we make it easy. We give you a step-by-step guide for starting and growing your own profitable Internet business. You get all the tools — and instruction — you need to make it happen… without any of the technical headaches.

Master copywriter Clayton Makepeace publishes the highly acclaimed e-zine The Total Package to help business owners and copywriters accelerate their sales and profits. Claim your 4 free moneymaking e-books — bursting with tips, tricks, and tactics that’ll skyrocket your response rates — at]

Clayton Makepeace

In many of the 34 years since Clayton Makepeace began his career, his marketing brainstorms and sales copy have generated over 100 million dollars in sales for his clients - all told well over a billion dollars so far! Clayton's copy has generated as many as TWO MILLION NEW CUSTOMERS for a single product in just 36 months and doubled, tripled - and on four specific occasions, quadrupled - the number of paying customers on his clients house files in as little as a year or two.He has increased his client's sales revenues by up to 1,000 percent in a single month, and multiplied monthly sales revenues by up to 4,400 percent in one short year.Clayton's direct response copy has pulled in as much as $3.6 million in sales over a weekend $5 million in a few weeks and $16 MILLION in a single month!