Story Power Blog

Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.10.03

Recommended ViewingWhat Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work Dan Ariely is a brilliant behavioral economist (more on him below) who explores what motivates us — at work, when we shop, in our relationships, and more. In this TED talk, Ariely describes two fascinating studies that reveal what drives us in the workplace. Recommended Viewing…

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Do You Mind If I Blow Cigar Smoke in Your Ear?

Sex sells. Always has. Always will. Take this modern day ad for Lindor truffles, oozing with innuendo:  “Taste the Lindor Truffle. Created with passion…Like nothing you’ve ever experienced.”  That would make Milton S. Hershey blush. But here’s the crazy thing… That Lindor spot and other ads released in our 21st-century, anything-goes, twerk-crazy world… …they’re nothing…

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Process Automation Gone Wrong. A Cautionary Tale…

It began as a shoulder ache. Now I have a headache.  And it’s all because of process automation gone wrong. I woke Monday morning – after a restless, painful night – with a sore shoulder. The pain had spread down my forearm,  to my hand.  I knew these symptoms. I’d had them before – 15…

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I have a Feeling You’ll Open This Email Even Though the Subject Line is 103 Characters and 20 Words Long

A VIP member of my Content Transformation Academy asked me last week: What’s the ideal length for a subject line?  “Provocative question,” I replied. My answer: “Size doesn’t matter.”  The VIP shot back: “I read ‘shorter is better.’”  “Yeah,” I replied, “Some say short. Some say long.”  I Googled “what’s the proper length for a…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.0926

Recommended ViewingTim Ferriss and Neil Strauss re: Writing and Creativity Watch the first two minutes of this video. You’ll hear a brilliant insight about how to develop a productive writing habit. Then keep going. The YouTube video description: “…best-selling author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss sat down with his friend and fellow writer Neil Strauss. Ferriss and…

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Email Away — as Long as You Don’t Drop Boredom Bombs

I spoke yesterday to a business owner who doesn’t like getting emails… …so she doesn’t want to send them. “I’ll be honest about email lists or subscriptions,” she said. “I don’t really like being on them. because I always feel like I’m being bombarded by emails…So I’m only intending to send (email) out once a…

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Lessons Re: Stupid Social “Trends” And The Stupid People Who Report Them

Ripped from the headlines: The Food and Drug Administration does not want you to cook chicken in NyQuil I repeat:  The FDA does NOT want you to cook chicken in the nighttime sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine.  In a “consumer update” on its website, the US government agency…

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The Brilliant Way Scammers Find Their Best Marks

A few years ago I got an email that claimed to be from my friend Mark. It said, “Hope you are doing well? It takes me great pain to write this email to you and I feel so devastated. My family and I had a trip visiting Manila,(Philippines) unannounced some days back for a short…

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Why Social Media Sucks for Selling — And What You can do About It

A quick story about the awesome selling power of social media… …or lack thereof: Last month, I heard Kim Garst speak. She’s a Forbes top 10 Social Media Power Influencer with 23,364 followers on LinkedIn.  And she said this:  “I’m known for social media,but only 3% of my salescome from social media.” As Scooby Doo’s…

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Last Week’s Gifts – With Corrected Links

Hi, Last week, I sent you an email to celebrate National Online Learning Day.  I was on vacation last week, and I wrote/scheduled that email during the frantic hours before I left… …and I screwed up the links.  So here are the same gifts, this time with the links corrected. If you have any trouble…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.09.19

Recommended ViewingHow to Stop Languishing and Start Finding Flow This is a great TED talk! From the YouTube description: Have you found yourself staying up late, joylessly bingeing TV shows and doomscrolling through the news, or simply navigating your day uninspired and aimless? Chances are you’re languishing, says organizational psychologist Adam Grant — a psychic malaise…

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Not so Fast, Romeo… How to Court Prospects the Right Way

Last week, I re-watched Romeo + Juliet — the 1996 version starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. I love the scene where the star-crossed lovers meet.  Love at first sight around a tropical fish tank. Here’s the video clip… Audiences enjoy love at first sight stories. (This clip — which is one of many on YouTube showing this scene…

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Holiday Gifts For You

Happy National Online Learning Day To celebrate the big day, I’m sharing three free resources… E-Book: 5 Storytelling Secrets to Help You Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Buy The most successful marketing and advertising campaigns tell powerful stories.Why? Because powerful stories captivate prospects and inspire them to buy. If there was a Storytelling Hall…

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Productivity Secret From Martin Luther, Perry Marshall, and Me…

Martin Luther was a busy guy. He wrote “95 Theses…” that challenged the Catholic Church and kicked off the Protestant Reformation. He defended himself before Church bigwigs who condemned him as a heretic and burned his writings.  He went into hiding and spent 10 months translating the New Testament from Latin to German.  And he…

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Paul McCartney Ain’t All That. Let Me Explain…

Fifty-seven years ago today (September 13, 1965), The Beatles released “Yesterday.” Paul McCartney wrote it, and he says the song came to him in a dream. Here’s the story from McCartney’s biography Many Years from Now by Barry Miles:  “I woke up with a lovely tune in my head. I thought, ‘That’s great, I wonder…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.09.12

Recommended ViewingPreferences and Beliefs Are Often Assembled Two questions that get at the same idea — but are actually very different: What age do you expect to live to?  What age do you expect to die by?  Researchers gathered a random group of subjects and asked half of them the “live to…” question and half…

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Screening Prospects? Why Harsh is Good…

Last month, I met with a VIP member of my Content Transformation Academy to help her tune-up her sales funnel. Sarah worried she might be turning away good prospects.  She’s a business coach who offers a free discovery session to prospects.  They have to complete a form to schedule that session. And that form asks…

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Lingo-lovers Lose. A Cautionary Tale…

A quiet morning in St. Louis, MO, USA. Your friendly neighborhood storytelling expert sits at his desk, peacefully interacting with some new connections on LinkedIn when… …the alarm sounds… …The Lingo Alarm. Here’s the LinkedIn post that triggers it… (Our company) delivers expertise, market experience and a proven track record in bio-based composite manufacturing (masterbatch,…

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Biz Tips Inspired by Batman, French Verbs, and The Quest for World Peace

In case you missed the news yesterday: I’m hosting a complimentary content planning workshop… How to Generate a Constant Flow of Content Ideas — Without Suffering from Writer’s Block Tomorrow at 1 p.m. EDT, 12 p.m. CDT. If you want to attend, reply to this email with “give me the workshop details.” I’ll send you…

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If You Ever Feel Stuck Coming Up With Content Ideas, This is For You…

Hi — I was planning last month to host a complimentary content planning workshop… …How to Generate a Constant Flow of Content Ideas — Without Suffering from Writer’s Block… …but I postponed when a flash flood destroyed my dining room. I’ve rescheduled it for this Thursday at 1 p.m. EDT, 12 p.m. CDT. If you…

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Why Faster and Shorter Isn’t Always Better

Storytelling standout Bill Mueller shared a tale recently about a critic who told him “I don’t read emails with long copy.” Said the critic: “98% of the people who open email give you 3 seconds of their time.”  That caught my eye… …because I write… …ummm… …you know.  Still with me?  Depending on your reading…

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A 929-word Recipe to Cook up More Persuasive Copy

A gift for you today… A .pdf copy of Scientific Advertising – the groundbreaking book by advertising pioneer Claude C. Hopkins. Grab it here: tommail.me/sa And then read Chapter 7: Being Specific.  Last week, I sent an email about the Great Moon Hoax (Marketing lessons from horny man-bats and two-legged beavers), archived here: tommail.me/moon. Readers fell for the hoax, in…

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The Dirty Little Secret Newspaper Publishers Don’t Want You to Know…

A sequel to the email I sent yesterday re: Dan Kennedy and direct response marketing (archived here in case you missed it). I worked in the newspaper industry for most of the 1990s.  By 1996, I was working on the online side.  Most newspaper display advertising was (and still is) paid brand awareness. No calls-to-action. No tracking. …

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Why This Marketing Legend Never Bought a Blimp

I heard Dan Kennedy say this yesterday… “I believe in brand. I have brands of my own that I relied on my entire career – starting with ‘No BS…’ But I’ve never spent a nickel trying to BUY awareness for that brand…Instead of spending money, figure out ways to get paid to build a valuable…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.08.29

Recommended ViewingPerspective is Everything Rory Sutherland is Vice Chairman at the giant ad agency Ogilvy UK. In this 2011 TED talk, he says several profound and powerful things, including: “Things are not what they are; they are what we think they are.” and “The circumstances of our lives may actually matter less to our happiness…

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Why an All-time Fail-er Belongs in the Hall-of-Fame

Earlier this week, I watched Albert Pujols fail – twice. Major League Baseball at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals against the Chicago Cubs.  First failure: Top of the 4th inning, runner on first base with no one out. Pujols grounds into a double-play. One swing. Two outs. Nothing doing for…

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Marketing Lessons From Horny Man-bats and Two-legged Beavers

Imagine pouring your first cup of coffee, grabbing the morning paper, and reading the news: There’s life on the moon.  So it went on this day (August 25) in 1835 for readers of the New York Sun.  In a series of six articles published over one week, the paper reported that English astronomer John Herschel built…

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How Often Should You sell in Emails? The Answer May Surprise You…

Got this question from a client the other day: “Tom, how often should I sell in my emails?”  He told me he’d read an article that suggested a 1:4 sales:storytelling ratio – one “sales email” for every four “storytelling emails.”  “Is that the right ratio?” he asked. I hear that question often… …and mama always…

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Why Your Rags-to-riches Story Will Fall Flat

Raise your hand if you feel an emotional connection with Amazon because you’re drawn to founder Jeff Bezos’s origin story. (Me neither) Why do I ask?  Because I read yet another article about storytelling in one of those big-time business magazines that dished out rotten advice. The article said… “Online shopping behemoth Amazon is another…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.08.22

Recommended ViewingThis Video Will Help You Turn Content From Boring to Brilliant Mary K. Sloane and I had a great conversation last week on her Inspirational Influencer News show. If you want to know how to harness the power of storytelling to captivate prospects and inspire them to hire you… …this is a great crash place to…

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This Show-must-go-on Story Blew Me Away

We’ve all heard the expression, “The show must go on.”  Here’s a “show must go on” story that blew me away. It was a Thursday afternoon last month in St. Louis, MO, USA.  Three days earlier, record-breaking rainfall – 9+ inches in less than 10 hours – flooded the town (I told that story here).  Another…

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Dr. Oz’s Grocery Gaffe — and Why it Matters to Marketers

We interrupt this program to bring you breaking news from Pennsylvania… Dr. Mehmet Oz went shopping at the grocery store because – in his words – his wife wants “some vegetables for crudité.” GASP! Dr. Oz said “crudité” (From Webster’s: crudités ~cru·​di·​tés ˌkrü-di-ˈtā  krᵫ-dē-ˈtā : pieces of raw vegetables – such as celery or carrot…

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You’re in This Business — Whether You Know It or Not

I spoke the other day with a business owner who said, “I’m too busy serving my clients to spend time marketing my business.” I hear that occasionally. Maybe you’ve thought that yourself.  I responded by citing the great Dan Kennedy who taught me long ago:  All who run a business are in the marketing business. …

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Warning: Funny Stuff Enclosed…

My friend Mike walked into his boss’s office last week and said, “I know the economy’s a little shaky right now. But I have three companies after me, and I’ve come to ask for a raise.” He and his boss haggled for a few minutes before agreeing that Mike would get a 5% raise.  As…

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Monday Mash-Up 2022.08.14

Recommended ViewingSpeaking with Confidence and Selling with Authority My friend Jane M. Powers is a public speaking master who knows how to sell from stage. I learn valuable business-building strategies and tactics every time I hear her speak and talk to her. Here’s a great interview she did with SalesPOP! — a digital magazine that…

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Why Knowledge Alone Will Get You Nowhere

Here’s the sad tale of a trivia master I knew back in college. His name was Noah Lott Doolittle.  When we played the game Trivial Pursuit, Noah always won.  What is the scientific name for a rabbit’s tail? Noah knew. (Scut) Before Hollywood, which New Jersey town was a center for the motion picture industry?…

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Leonardo DaVinci and I Share This Problem…

A few months ago, I was working on a new version of a 60-minute storytelling presentation. I was tinkering and tweaking, adding and adjusting. I wanted to make it “just right,” and that was holding me back. My friend Susan, who was helping me with the presentation, had seen enough. Gently but firmly, she said,…

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[Quick hit video] Close More Sales with Less Pitching and Prodding

A new thing today… A quick-hit video with Michael DeLon and me. I was in a meeting with Michael yesterday afternoon, and he said something really smart. I planned to write an email about it. But later yesterday, Michael and I decided to shoot a video about it.  It’s all about how to build personal connections and rapport with prospects BEFORE…

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Why I Keep Reading This Book Over and Over and Over

Legend has it that in 1912 Dale “Carnagey” urged the Y.M.C.A in New York to pay him $2/night to teach public speaking to business people… …and the Y.M.C.A. told him to get lost. The Y had offered such courses before, and they always flopped.  But he was ambitious, and he had a vision.  So he…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.08.08

Recommended Viewing4 (Stoic) Secrets To The Good Life Here’s another great video from Ryan Holiday, author of “The Daily Stoic” and several other great books. Here’s the video description from Ryan’s YouTube channel: Virtue is one of those words that contains multitudes. If you think about it, being virtuous is not doing one thing all the time, or…

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D’oh! I Forgot To. Tell You About the $400 Discount

Yesterday, when I told you about Vance Morris and his DBOS 2022 Live Bootcamp (November 2-4 in Baltimore), I forgot to mention three critical things: DBOS stands for “The Definitive Business Operating System.”  The system Vance will share at the event is the same one he has implemented for his own business. This system transformed…

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How to Thrive, Not Just Survive, During These Crazy days…

Last week, my friend Vance Morris told me about all the great stuff that will happen at his upcoming business-building bootcamp, and then he dropped this bombshell: “I’m getting away from being the ‘Disney Guy.’”  Holy Richter-scale, Batman. That shook my world.  Vance Morris is a former Disney executive who is the world’s leading authority…

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The Problem With “Look at Me…” Origin Stories

I read an article this morning in one of those big-time business magazines about “how to create an unforgettable origin story.” It was kinda forgettable.  It contained lots of dos and don’ts… …be honest… …don’t just list a chronology of events… …include specific details… …describe a vivid moment… …and so on, and so forth.  But…

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Why I’m a Shameless Self-promoter (And Why You Should be, Too)

A self-proclaimed “respectful” reader reacts to yesterday’s email about Bill Russell and dominating presence…. “This one was a bit self-serving – don’t you think?” Here’s what I think… Oh no! The jig is up.I’ve been exposed.My evil scheme is foiled.  Oh wait… …check that… That’s not what MEthinks.  That’s what HE thinks.  Turns out he…

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You Can Be a Dominating Marketing Presence. Here’s How…

When basketball great Bill Russell died on Sunday, I spent a couple of hours reading about him, watching videos, and searching for his quotes. He said lots of memorable things.  But here’s the quote that stood out, the one I included in yesterday’s Monday Mash-Up:  “What distinguishes a great player is his presence. When he…

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Monday Mash-Up 2022.08.01

Recommended ViewingSam’s Philosophy for a Happy Life Thanks to Tim Ferriss for introducing me to this extraordinary TED talk video, featuring Sam Berns. Sam delivered this talk in December 2013, about one month before he passed away. He was 17. When he was 2, he was diagnosed with Progeria, a rare, rapid aging disease. In…

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Do Not Read This If You Dislike “Bad Grammar”

Funny story I heard from Laura Belgray…. (She’s an email marketing master who writes copy oozing with personality.) In her email this morning, Laura told us about her run-in with a grammar cop.  Officer Grammar Grump is a lawyer who objected to a phrase in Laura’s previous email. Laura’s offending phrase: “Looking forward to seeing…

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I Curse the Friggin Water But I Ain’t Gonna Drown…

When Melissa and I moved into a century-old house 25 years ago, my father-in-law offered this unsolicited advice: “It’s all about the water. If you control the water, everything will be OK.” I had no idea what he was talking about.  Now, I know.  Friggin water. I hate friggin water.  I wrote the other day…

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The Trap That Killed a King. A Cautionary Tale

Back in the 1980s, Micropolis Corporation was the computer disc king. They sold more 8-inch “portable” discs than anyone.  But trouble loomed.  Competitors introduced a better product – the 5-inch floppy disc. Less expensive. Easier to use. Simpler.  CEO Stuart Mabon understood the threat and directed his manufacturing team to switch focus from 8-inch to…

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Noah Knew… Business Lessons From a Biblical Rain Fall

I usually send my emails first thing in the morning. But not today. I’ve been busy… …building an arky, arky and… …helping the animals come in by twosies, twosies.  Actually, it’s too late for that.  It’s raining here in St. Louis, MO, USA.  Big rain. Record-setting rain. Biblical rain.  Nine inches and counting – in…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.07.25

Recommended ReadingThe Power of Authentic, Human-to-Human Contact I love this blog post from the great Mike Weinberg. Mike trains sales managers and sales people and is the author of three great books — including one of my favorites, New Sales Simplified.  In this post, Mike discusses the power of HUMAN prospecting — and why it’s more effective than the…

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Why a Would-be Subscriber Transformed from Hesitant to Happy

The meeting with my new friend, Erica, was rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ along.   We agreed to promote each other’s businesses. We discussed ways we might work together. We hit it off. But when I asked Erica if she’d like to join my daily(ish) email list… …we went from rollin’ to reelin’.  We went from “Yes!…

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Why Cassette-loving Radicals are Raging Against the Machine…or Not

On my 14th birthday, Mom and Dad gave me two 10-packs of Maxell XLII-S cassette tapes. Yes!!!!!!!!!! Greatest birthday gift ever.  Back in the early 80s, before CDs or MP3s were a thing, cassettes were THE thing.  Affordable. Portable. Swappable. Indispensable. High-fidelity cool I raided my friends’ record collections and taped my favorite albums. I…

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Cautionary Tale: Don’t Cast Your Net Unless You’re Ready to Process the Catch

My son Jacob makes his living as a commercial fisherman in southwest Alaska. Sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay.  This year, the salmon run will shatter records.  Average sockeye run (2001-2020): 41.3 million fish. 2021 sockeye run: 66.1 million fish (a record).  This year: 74 million and counting.  And the season continues through July! What a…

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Better Call Saul vs. Breaking Bad — and a Lode of Storytelling Lessons

Here’s a question sure to prompt furious debate: Which show is better:Breaking Bad orBetter Call Saul?  If you don’t know these shows, stick with me. There’s a heaping helping of storytelling how-to below… …and you don’t need to know diddly about the shows to dig in.  If you do know the shows, cast your vote. Which…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.07.18

Recommended ListeningSmashing the Plateau I’ve began listening to David Shriner-Cahn’s podcast, Smashing the Plateau, since soon after I met him earlier this year. I think David and his podcast are great!  I was honored to be his guest recently, and the episode dropped this morning. We discussed:  Why I started Story Power Marketing Why I decided to focus on…

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Why Your Beautiful Website Might be a Bust

A few days ago, when I offered website mini-makeovers to the first five people who requested them, I got an email from a subscriber who wanted my help… …but needed, first, to point out for her site’s “shortcomings.” She wrote: “My caveat…we are a small organization and pay an independent web designer to do our…

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Shark Bites not Severe? This Story Paints a Different Picture…

Shark-attack stories are in the news. East coast. West coast. Sharks are attacking from sea to shining sea. Two attacks off the same Long Island beach yesterday.  And earlier this summer, a swimmer in California nearly died.  He described what happened on the morning news: “I was bitten ferociously by a shark right across my…

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Reply Quickly if You Want a Better Website

Yesterday, I conducted a website makeover for a VIP member of my Content Transformation Academy. 30 minutes to transform his front page from “blah” to brilliant, prospect-repelling to prospect-attracting. In a week or two, after he launches the transformed site,  I’ll put the URL in a bookmarks folder called, “Websites – Good Examples.”  I also have…

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How a Slobbering Rat-dog Inspired me to Fight Crime

I witnessed a crime yesterday… …and I did nothing to stop it. Melissa, Maddie, and I were enjoying a quiet dinner on the patio at Saigon Cafe in St. Louis when we were interrupted by a high-pitched “Yip, yip, yip.”  Startled, I dropped my chopsticks in my bowl of Bun Tom Heo Nuong Cha Gio, turned…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.07.11

Recommended Listening/ReadingHow to Make B2B Content Less Boring “People want to do business with people, and also people that they trust. Those people have the same motivations and desires and emotions and challenges, just like the rest of us.” So says content marketing expert Julie Revelant during a recent episode of the Marketing Smarts podcast.  This episode…

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Why This Legendary TV Character Would be a Rotten Marketer…

Remember Eddie Haskell? He was the guy on Leave it to Beaver (a TV classic!) who oozed insincerity.  “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver. Isn’t it a lovely day,” he’d say to Beaver’s parents.  And then, when the adults left the room, Eddie would wreak havoc.  The sweet-talking devil.  I had an Eddie Haskell flashback the other day. …

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Reply Requested: Finish This Sentence…

Finish this sentence I get my best content ideas from… Please reply to this email with your thoughts. If you’re not sure how to answer… …if you’re having trouble completing that sentence, please reply and let me know that. BTW, if you’re having trouble, you’re not alone.  I used to have no ideahow to generatea consistent flowof…

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The Sad Tale of a Guy Who Failed at Content Creation

Back when I ran an email marketing company, a client named Mike asked me to help him build a list. He ran a roofing company, and he wanted to send weekly emails.  My advice: “Before you build a list, write two or three practice emails. Make sure you have your content creation game down. Confirm…

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You’ve Got to See This Rotten, Robot-generated Email I Received…

I got an email from an artificial-intelligence robot this morning… …that’s so bad I had to share it with you and break it down. Here it is (display images to see it): I knew something was wrong when I read the first line: “We hope things are looking nice at Story Power Marketing.”  Looking nice…

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The Difference Between Editing and Proofreading — and Why I Focus on The Former…

Rumor has it that some crafty marketers sprinkle typos and misspellings into their emails on purpose. The reason: Emails with typos and misspellings seem more personal and authentic — or so some claim.  I get the idea. Typos and misspellings ARE common in “personal” emails.  But I’m not into the fake-authenticity thing.  When you see…

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My Ancestor’s Incredible Journey and How it Instructs Yours…

My great-great grandfather Joseph Ruwitch was born in 1852 in a place known today as Ukraine. Back then it was part of Russia – an area called the Pale of Settlement.  It was a massive place created by Tzar Catherine the Great. It was a place the government set aside for Jews… …a place to…

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Here’s What Really Sets Apple Apart

Fifteen years ago today (June 29, 2007), Apple released the first iPhone. The rest is… …you know.  Here’s the thing about Apple: The company makes great technology, but what really sets it apart is the storytelling.  So many great, story-powered ads.  My favorite? One called “Bounce” — a 2019 ad for AirPods (ear phones).  I…

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Top Gun Marketing Tips – How to Pilot Your Business to Soaring Success

“It’s not the plane…It’s the pilot.” So says Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) in the new movie Top Gun: Maverick.  I saw it over the weekend, and I liked it.  That quote about planes and pilots keeps knocking around in my noggin. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many business people get it backwards.  They…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.06.27

Recommended ReadingHow to Stay Relevant — The Beatles and George Carlin Way In past Monday Mash-Ups, I’ve recommended the documentaries “George Carlin’s American Dream” (HBO) and “The Beatles: Get Back” (Apple TV). Here’s a great article by Brian Kurtz that is loaded with lessons about how the best creators evolve to stay relevant (and then some).  And…

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The Greatest News Ever

Hello and welcome. We’ve introduced new security protocols here at Story Power Marketing. So before you read any further, you must complete a “simple” CAPTCHA puzzle to prove that you are not a robot, alien, aardvark, or orangutan. And by “simple,” I mean: “Isn’t it amazing how SIMPLE it is to turn a perfectly calm human…

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How to Make Your Content More Readable

Notice anything different? A quick story to help you solve the riddle… Last night, I was going through my inbox when I came across an email from a talented coach named Kim. I wanted to read Kim’s email but I didn’t… …because the font was too small. My aging eyes struggled to read it —…

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Friendly PR Guy or Satan? You Decide…

I met a “PR guy” named Mark at an online networking event last month. He seemed like a nice guy. (Spoiler-Hint: Remember Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate, Robert De Nero in Angel Heart, or Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick? At first, they seemed like nice guys, too). So I was happy to hear from Mark…

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How to Identify Ideal Prospects? Here’s a Hint…

A curious subscriber named Cynthia asked me last week: “If I want to create a business based on my expertise, how do I begin to identify my prospects?” Great question… …because most business people think they’ve identified their prospects well, but most get it (somewhat or totally) wrong.  So most waste time and money on marketing…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.06.20

InvitationAsk Tom Anything You’re invited to a special live Zoom event called “Ask Tom Anything.” When: This Wednesday, June 22, 4 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CDT. Where: Zoom. Registration: Click the blue button below Anything on your mind now? Ask away asap. If you reply to this email and ask a question right away, I’ll answer it at the beginning…

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Avoid This Storytelling Advice at All Costs

A few weeks back, I stumbled across an article by a so-called “storytelling expert” who droned on and on about something called Freytag’s Storytelling Pyramid. Freytag was a 19th-century German playwright. And, unless you’re a glutton for punishment, I have good news for you:  You don’t have to know anything about Freytag or his pyramid…

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Any Questions?

Next week, I’m going to host a special live Zoom event called “Ask Tom Anything.” You’ll be invited (keep an eye out for an email with the details).  Anything on your mind now? Ask away asap. If you reply to this email and ask a question right away, I’ll answer it at the beginning of…

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Don’t Market Like This Booger-eating Blowhard

Back in the early 1970s, I was still a wee lad playing kick ball on the blacktop at Conway School… …when I heard the rumor. Cathy Summers eats her own boogers. (GASP!) I don’t remember who started the rumor, and I have no idea if it was true.  But I know the booger-rumor stuck.  And…

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Are You Stuffing Chocolates Down Your Shirt Like Lucy Ricardo?

A few days ago, I watched the old I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel take a job at the chocolate factory… …and can’t keep pace with the assembly line. It might be the funniest scene in television history.  Classic slapstick comedy… …that also has me thinking about business systems. Assembly lines and other automations are…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.06.13

Recommended ListeningRichard Koch on the Tim Ferriss Show Richard Koch is an entrepreneur, investor, former strategy consultant, and author of several books on business and ideas, including four on how to apply the 80/20 principle in all walks of life. In September 2020, Koch was a guest on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. This conversation is a beauty…

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Dave Letterman Dissed Us, But We’re Not Gonna Take It

A few days ago, I was watching David Letterman on the living room flat screen. He was interviewing the singer/songwriter Billie Eilish, and he said this: “I have seen your concerts…And the commanding power that emanates from you and the music is stunning. Do you remember the first time you recognized…” Dave paused for a…

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If This is Your Mindset, Get a Job at Amazon

Every so often, I hear from a sad-sack marketer who plays the “easy for you to say” card… …as in “Write story-powered emails that captivate prospects? Easy for you to say, Tom. You’re a storytelling genius.” (Sigh!) I heard from someone yesterday who griped about my list-building advice.  In yesterday’s email, I encouraged you to…

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The Surprisingly Simple Way to Build Your Email List

How can I build my email list? That was the question I got yesterday from a member of my Content Transformation Academy during our weekly group meeting.  He has transformed his emails from boring to brilliant. Now he wants to share his content with a larger audience and reap the rewards.  My answer: Just ask. …

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Why Your “Why” May Miss The Mark — And What You Can do About It

I touched a nerve yesterday. In my Monday Mash-Up yesterday, I shared an article that called “B.S.” on Simon Sinek’s “start with why.” I received lots of replies from subscribers who agreed. No one defended Sinek. Sinek’s big idea from his 2010 TED talk, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”  That…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.06.06

Recommended ReadingWhy ‘Know Your Why’ Isn’t Great Content Marketing Advice I say this often: Storytelling for business is not about fashioning your origin story. It’s about discovering your prospects’ stories. That’s why I love this article by Robert Rose. So many marketers “start with why,” thanks to Simon Sinek who touted the idea in his TED talk…

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Do Toddlers Write Better Emails? You may be Surprised…

Yesterday, while I was walking Moose around the block (actually, Moose was walking me) I heard this gem from marketing master Justin Blackman: “Want your writing to sound more natural? Make zero effort to sound smart. That’s it…Sentences are short, and my vocabulary is on par with a toddler. And no big words. I just…

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Today’s Email From Me

Quick question:  Why did you open this email?  Really, it’s not a trick question. Please shoot me a quick reply and let me know. You can do that now (the rest of this email can wait).  … … … So…back to the question at hand… Why’d you open the email?  It couldn’t have been the…

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Why I Called B.S. on my Friend Who Said All Marketers are Liars

I met yesterday with a friend who’s feeling down in the dumps. His business is struggling and so is he.  And even though he’s a brilliant mindset coach, he now questions everything he’s doing – including all things marketing.  “I don’t like marketing,” he told me. “It’s the use of psychology to deceive people into…

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Invitation: Stand Out Above the Trash-generating Crowd

The email from longtime subscriber “Scott H” landed in my inbox last week with a “thud” It flashed as a notification on my iPhone’s home screen, revealing just the first line… “I have a problem with your…emails…”  “Uh-oh!” I thought.  I took a deep breath, sat up straight, and clicked the notification to open the…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.05.30

Memorial Day ViewingHonoring Soldiers on Both Sides of the Battlefield Memorial Day. Every year around this time, I re-watch Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima — a pair of films directed by Clint Eastwood and released in 2006. Both tell the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima — “Flags…” from the perspective of the Americans and…

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Storytelling Lessons From a Good Song by Taylor Swift

Driving yesterday from St. Louis to Kansas City, Melissa and I listened to one of my favorite podcasts called “Good Songs.” The singer/songwriter Peter Himmelman and his son Isaac pick a song they love and discuss it briefly.  As we drove through Kingdom City, MO, we listened to the episode about Taylor Swift’s song “Tis…

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How to Rise Above The Dime-a-dozen

I got a GREAT email last week from world-class marketer Dave Dee. Dave told about a conversation he had with a lawyer who thought creative, personalized marketing was below him.  “I didn’t go to law school to be seen as a celebrity,” the lawyer told Dave.  I hear the same from some coaches, consultants, and…

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The Difference Between “Motion” and “Action” — and Why it Matters

In the Mastermind Book Club this month, we’re discussing Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, by James Clear.  You’re invited to join us tomorrow for our monthly meeting (Thursday 5/26, 1 p.m. EDT, 10 a.m. PDT). You can join the Club here (it’s free).  Club members will discuss lessons learned…

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I Wanted to “Murder” the Prosecutor in This Murder Trial. Here’s the Story…

As jury selection entered its second hour, with no end in sight, the prosecutor strolled slowly to his table, grabbed his notes, paged through them, paused, paged through them some more, took a deep breath, and then asked, “Have any of you ever had a negative encounter with a prosecutor that would prevent you from…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.05.23

Recommended ReadingSeth Godin on Quality vs. Quantity Here’s another short blog post from Seth Godin that packs a big punch. Here’s a bit from the post… “The media and our culture push us to build something for everyone, to sand off the edges and to invest in infrastructure toward scale. But it turns out that quality, magic…

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Entertainment vs. Sales — Which Matters More? (Hint: It’s a Trick Question)

I was up past my bedtime last night watching the NHL playoffs (St. Louis Blues 4, Colorado Avalanche 1. Woo-hoo!) And I had to rush downtown this morning to report for jury duty. So I’m sitting here, sleep-deprived, in the St. Louis Municipal Courts jury waiting room (quite possibly the dreariest place in the galaxy). The…

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How to Know if You’re Sending Too Many Emails

After sending my daily email yesterday (subject line: “I didn’t punch Chad in the face, but his email tempted me” — which you can read here) I received a reply from a surprised-to-be-happy subscriber named Kimberly. When she signed up for my list earlier this month, she was hesitant. Daily emails? Not her thing, she thought. …

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I Didn’t Punch Chad in The Face, But his Email Tempted Me

I woke this morning to an email from a guy named Chad who claimed his appointment-setting firm could  add “an extra 20K to 40K” to my monthly recurring revenue. Wow! What a promise.  The email contained a video. And in the video, Chad said this:  “We have a system that allows us to harvest anywhere…

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The tragic Tale of Sweetie and The Prince of Joy

Sana met “Prince of Joy” in an online chat room after she grew tired of her husband, Adnan. She called herself “Sweetie” in the chat room, and she poured her heart out to Prince of Joy. Prince poured back.  They had so much in common. Both from Bosnia. Both in loveless marriages. Both looking for…

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Monday Mash-Up ~ 2022.05.16

Recommended ReadingCreative Thinking – What’s Holding You Back? Brian Clark was serving up great, creative content before “content marketing” was a thing. He created Copyblogger, one of my favorite sites for marketing tips. Here’s a post by Brian from last year that I especially like.  I say this often: Every one can deliver content that…

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