“Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction” -Al Bernstein
Last week, my copywriter friend was a basket case – and it was my fault. She had submitted a draft of a sales letter to me for review. She was proud of it, and expected me to tell her that I was thrilled and impressed and sure that the client would be blown away.
But although most of the copy was excellent, she had failed to clearly establish her main theme or carry it through (no clarity of vision) … her tone wasn’t quite right in spots … and the organization left a lot to be desired.
I sent her a nice note, giving her my suggestions for sharpening the copy. I complimented the “good” parts, but told her that the copy still had a way to go before she could show it to the client. And I did my best to be encouraging and to motivate her to put in this last bit of effort to really make it shine.
I was, as it turns out, a miserable failure.
A couple of days later, I called to see how her next draft was coming along. “Terrible. I’m completely blocked. I just can’t get going.”
I spotted the problem immediately. I’ve been where she was a thousand times…
While she was writing her first draft, she was excited about the project. She was playing with mental images of how the client and I would be awed by her creativity, her consummate skill, and her ability to deliver grand-slam copy on a tight deadline.
She envisioned the copy sailing through the production process … being mailed … and producing heretofore unimagined response rates. She imagined her new “control” becoming the talk of the industry … held up as the ultimate example of what direct-response copy should be. And, who knows … maybe even an award. Would a tickertape parade in her honor be too much to ask?
But when I burst her bubble, she suddenly had a very different set of mental images to deal with.
Now, as she returned to work on the project, she felt as though she had let me down. She was embarrassed … disappointed … perhaps even a little resentful of my lukewarm response to her copy. She was nearly obsessed with the fear that the client would go ballistic over the blown deadline.
And because (like most of us), she has a belief filter that says “I don’t deserve my success. I’m a fraud, and someday the world is going to find out what a phony I am” … these thoughts blew the lid off a Pandora’s box of negative emotions within her.
As bad as all of that was, she was now imagining presenting her next draft and getting another lukewarm response and blowing yet another deadline.
No wonder she wasn’t enjoying her work. No wonder she found it impossible to focus on ways to strengthen the copy.
The good news is, an hour and a half later I had helped her discard most of her negative feelings about the job and had given her a whole new positive set of mental images to work with. She happily went back to work, producing what I’m sure will be a draft that will knock everyone’s socks off.
The Moral of the Story
This type of thing happens to everyone. You start a new project completely pumped … only to be sidelined by the first sign of a setback. Multiple setbacks in a short period of time frustrate you, and then render you completely immobilized. Fear of failure locks you up tighter than a drum.
I’m sure you’ve been in a situation like this at one time or another in your career. I know I have.
Here’s how to overcome the setbacks and keep yourself moving in the right direction …
As you work, never take your eyes off the prize. Visualize success at every step of the process. Believe it will happen … and then achieve it.
In the case of my copywriter friend, here is what I had her do:
Fantasize how she’ll feel when her client calls to rave about her first draft. Imagine the client calling to say that her copy blew the doors off his control … that he’s dropping three million pieces next month … that he’s mailing her $90,000 royalty check today … that he’d like three more packages from her – and that, if she’ll just say “yes,” he’ll rush another fat advance check to her right away.
Then I had her picture how she’ll feel when she finds that money in her mailbox … how she’ll proudly show it to her astonished and delighted significant other … and how she’ll chuckle at the bank teller’s amazement when he sees the amount on the deposit slip.
Today’s Action Plan: Sit back, relax and paint a vivid mental picture of yourself achieving your goal. Visualize success and everything that comes along with it. See yourself wowing the client, welcoming customers into your newly opened business, or sitting in your brand-new corner office. Go so far as to spend the money in your mind … envisioning the fabulous new car you’ll buy or the luxurious vacation you’ll treat yourself to. Or maybe simply the freedom from debt and worry.
That should get you back on track and one step closer to achieving the success you deserve.[Ed. Note: Master copywriter Clayton Makepeace helps his readers reap maximum profits through the Internet, direct mail, and print advertising every week in his free e-zine, The Total Package. To learn more of Clayton’s success secrets, and to discover better ways to attract customers to your product or service, make sure you sign up for this year’s Information Marketing Bootcamp.]