Are you making this mistake with your lead generation?

Modern marketing experts – especially on the net – are always telling us that ‘building the list’ is a priority.

And, whilst having a large list increases the odds for getting business, perhaps sometimes we forget that the quality of those contacts is also crucial.

I was reminded of this in an email I received from Chris Marlow. I reckon the point she makes for copywriters is valid – and in fact for any business that delivers mainly offline – so I got her permission to share with you. Over to you Chris,

“Copywriters on my list have been finger-wagging me a lot lately.

And even some of my new coaching students are challenging my instruction!

It all revolves around the proper use of Form Fields. And believe me, those of you who are using them wrong are losing business.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Last month I held a FREE webinar entitled, “How to Land High Quality, High Value Clients: 3 Transformative Secrets of the World’s Most Successful Service Providers”.

This is the information I asked of signups (those with an asterisk were required):

First name *
Last name *
Email *
Company phone
Address 1 *
Address 2
City *
State *
Zip *
Country *
Your occupation *
How did you hear about us?

Right after a promo email in February, one copywriter came to my Facebook page to politely register a complaint about having to give up so much information. He refused to come to my webinar because of it.

But I didn’t want to spend time educating so I ignored it.

Then another, and yet another, joined his conversation. And then an email came directly into my inbox.

She said, “You ask for too much information. An email, maybe a name.”

I could see that it was growing and I had no choice but to address the problem.


So I reluctantly stopped what I was doing and spent time to respond to my Facebook and email complaints. As briefly as possible, I explained where they were going wrong.

And while my argument was accepted as one would allow a friend to have their say, I didn’t feel that I’d done a great job at convincing. I had neither the time nor the space to do an effective job of teaching.

So I vowed to write this letter… especially since my own coaching students occasionally fight me on this one.


Copywriters who want LEADS are erroneously listening to the marketing teachings of Internet entrepreneurs who want SALES.

Most of us who live in the online copywriters world know of the “big boy Internet gurus” who brag of having huge lists.

Many copywriters are, or want to be, Internet marketers. And they’re listening to the teachings of the big boys, and they’re getting it all mixed up.

Ok, so let’s get some learning: what is the #1 obstacle of getting an Internet business going?
Easy. It’s building a list.

So this is the major pain point of the Internet entrepreneur who wants to build a very large list.

His intent is to make SALES, and the larger the list, the more the sales. Therefore he wants a low barrier to entry.

This is why he asks only for a name and an email. His strategy is to capture the name now, and analyse for demographics and psychographics later.

(As an aside, these very large lists are usually mostly made up of freebie seekers; one of my colleagues is an Internet entrepreneur with 80,000 names but only 7% are repeat buyers).

Ok, now let’s look at the…


For the coaching side of my business, my goal in collecting names is vastly different from the mass market Internet marketer whose goal it is to make direct sales.

I want leads. And NOT crap leads. Good, high quality leads that will convert well. I don’t want millions on my coaching list!

A service such as mine would not survive millions of non-paying, low-quality tire kickers (people who want your work and knowledge for free, and have no intent to ever work with you).

Plus it would cost me a lot more to send emails to a million low quality prospects (see ~ below) than a few thousand good ones.

So the lesson here is, if your goal for a promotion is NOT to sell a product, but to sell your services, you want a tight list of high
quality leads who are really interested in working with you.

This is how you convert well. And this is how you are profitable.

Unlike the Internet entrepreneur, my goal was to sign up 12 new coaching students (which I did).

Not only must my prospects give me a lot of personal information to gain access to my Webinar, but they must also fill out a probing
questionnaire and supply a bio and writing sample before we can go to the next step, which is a free consult with me.

Those who don’t want to share their information in exchange for access to a presentation that took me 40 hours to build, are not good leads.

Neither are those who don’t want to complete the paperwork that gains them a free hour of time with me.

Therefore my conversion rate is extremely high, and I rarely waste time on a bad lead.

Furthermore, by capturing physical address information I can do direct mailings, which are also very profitable for me.

One final point here: If I don’t know who signed up for my Webinar, how will I make changes to fit the audience?

I have lots of copywriters on my list but I also have many other types of service providers. And in fact, the title of my presentation uses the words “service provider,” not “copywriter.”

In order to give my best presentation, I need to know who my audience is.


Copywriters, like coaches, perform a service. So they should ask for a lot of information. Certain information is crucial.

When you gain a lead from your website, you surely want to know the prospect’s name, title, company name and website.

This allows you to go to their website and learn more about their company so you can respond to their inquiry appropriately.

How you respond has a lot to do with starting a conversation that turns into a successful close.

Here’s the Form Field my coaching students use:

First name *
Last name *
Company *
Website *
Address 1
Address 2
Zip/Postal Code

* = required

Now here’s something that will surprise a lot of copywriters who read this: you can tell the quality of the lead by how much information they give you.

Low quality leads give you only what they must. But high quality leads will give you all their information, even that which is not required.

Use this format and over time you will find this to be absolutely true, almost like clockwork.

And here’s the advantage. For a low quality lead you now know not to put a lot of effort into a response. But for the high quality lead, you will study their site and carefully craft your response.

Perhaps you live in the same city. Or you did work for a similar product. Or you use their software. Or you have a Case Study that would interest them.

These days many copywriters understand they will do best with an offer to their target market… something like a White Paper that shows how the copywriter can raise ROI or solve a marketing pain.

I hope you have an offer, and that it drives your prospect to a Contact Page that has the proper Form Fields!


Even as I explain to my students the right way to set up your Form Fields, they cite studies that “prove” that the less information you ask for, the better.

In closing, I would like to point you to a MarketingSherpa study that proves this to be true.

But they also explain, as I have, that it all depends on your objective. Do you want high quality leads? Or a mass of names?

To see a cool competition between Long Form Fields and Short Form Fields, and MarketingSherpa’s take on the results, visit this link for WhichTestWon:

Which test won?

Chris Marlow
visit Chris’ blog at

(~ If you are thinking that sending more emails does not cost any extra it depends upon the autoresponder method you use. Some autoresponder servers charge a higher monthly fee for larger lists – you could be paying for storing unresponsive contacts! CB)

On my main services website I did ask for a little more than the usual ‘name & email’ from enquirers, but Chris’ point, about assessing the quality of the lead by the amount of information that is freely given, rang a bell with me. So I’ve updated my enquiry form and I’ll keep her lesson in mind when crafting forms for other projects.

Worth thinking about, isn’t it?

~ Carol Bentley

Written by Carol Bentley | 1 Comment »

revisiting.. a tense situation

I started this blog in October 2007 and in one of my posts I shared my thoughts on how your sales letters should be written. Here’s what I said…

The tense you use in your writing makes a surprising difference.

Present tense is so much more active – it breathes life into your sales letter.

Describe something as if your reader is experiencing it right now and it is easier for them to visualise owning whatever it is you are selling; whether a solution to a problem, a service or a product.

So should you always use present tense?

Absolutely not!

Let me explain…

Anything written in future tense is not so vivid; it’s something that may happen – but could just as easily not. And your reader may not see himself in that particular scenario. And there are times when you don’t want him to.

Here’s an example…

You write your letter or advert or web page describing the pain or problem he is experiencing; or the pleasure he is missing. You paint the glowing picture of the relief or joy or satisfaction or status he does have because he took up your offer. That’s how you want him to see himself.

Offer a guarantee and your prospect is ethically persuaded to take your offer; especially if you include a risk-free money-back guarantee. But you do not want your new customer to visualise himself asking for a refund. So you use future tense:

“If you are unhappy, for any reason, all you have to do is ask for a refund and we will give you your money back, no questions asked”.

In this way you are showing that asking for a refund is a possibility – but not a definite.

I believe it is still as important to get your prospect to see themselves experiencing the benefits you describe – and it doesn’t matter if you are writing a sales letter or talking to them in a video or on audio – or even face-to-face.

Want a winning combination? Write in present tense and avoid passive sentences and you have a greater chance of getting those sales.

~ Carol Bentley

Written by Carol Bentley | 3 Comments »

Is procrastination decimating your business?

When we procrastinate we run the risk of missing crucial chances to grow our business. And there are times when I do put things off… πŸ˜‰

So, when John Forde asked in his latest Copywriter’s Roundtable e-newsletter “Do You Have a Procrastination Problem?”

And he suggested “Take This Quiz and Find Out” (which is reproduced here with his permission), I gave it a go – and fortunately – I didn’t come out too badly… how about you?

“Procrastinate now,
don’t put it off.”
– Ellen DeGeneres


“Call it the secret sickness.

Something you do in the privacy of your home… behind drawn curtains… when nobody is watching…

Yep, I’m talking about procrastination.

If you don’t know the feeling, then maybe you can stop reading and get on with the rest of your to-do list.

But if you suspect you might be one of the millions of silent perpetrators… er, afflicted… worldwide, then I urge you to read on. Even if you feel like it’s something you’d rather do later.

I’ll even make it easy for you by cutting to the chase. The focus of this article is a quiz I came across a long time ago.

It was developed at the University of Alabama by H.E. Florey. And what it’s supposed to do is help you discover just how MUCH of a procrastinator you really are.

It has just a handful of questions. Try answering them and tallying up your score as you go.


Rate each statement as it applies:

a) “It’s easy for me to find reasons for not getting started on tough assignments.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

b) “I know what I’m supposed to be doing, but often start doing something else.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

c) “I often carry books or work assignments with me but never get around to opening them.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

d) “I like last-minute scrambling because I perform best when the pressure is on.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

e) “If it weren’t for all these interruptions, I’d get more of my top priorities accomplished.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

f) “When faced with unpleasant decisions, I try not to answer directly.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

g) “If you take half steps, you can often avoid or delay unpleasant actions.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

h) “I would finish things, but sometimes I get too tired, nervous, or upset.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

g) “I need to straighten my office/room/kitchen before I get started.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

h) “Sometimes you just have to wait for inspiration before you sit down to get started.”

4 = Strongly Agree
3 = Mildly Agree
2 = Mildly Disagree
1 = Strongly Disagree

Okay, now let’s see how you did

If you scored below 20, says the research, you’re only an occasional procrastinator. Not so bad.

Score between 21-30, and you’re already in the chronic procrastination stage.

And — oh man — if you’re above 30, well… let’s just say I’m surprised you’ve even gotten this far in this post.

Heck, I’m surprised you got out of bed this morning.

What to do?

Some of my favourite suggestions are, appropriately, pretty simple.

First, I’m sure you already know the old standby from Eugene Schwartz. He applied it to writing sales copy, but you can apply this golden nugget to just about anything. It’s the famous ’33:33′ secret. Set a timer for 33 minutes and 33 seconds and just get started.

You can then go one of two ways.

Either just keep rolling when the timer dings, which often happens because in those moments you’ll find your momentum.

Or you can do what a very successful copywriter friend of mine does, which is insist on pulling at least six ’33:33′ sessions each day, before he does anything else. In all, that adds up to less than four hours of writing per day. Yet he’s extremely productive.

Second, you could opt instead for the ‘three big things’ approach. This is great for anybody who loves making ‘to-do’ lists (a great habit) but finds themselves making the SAME lists day after day, because they’ve made no progress (a terrible habit).

‘Three big things’ means simply listing everything you can think of that you need to get done, which is cathartic in itself, but then going back to pick ONLY the three biggest things on the list you need to do.

Get those three done, you’ll tell yourself, and that’s enough to pat yourself on the back for a good day.

And here’s my last suggestion: If even ‘three big things’ is overwhelming, try ‘one big thing.’

Isolate the single most important thing on your list to get started on. Finishing it isn’t your goal. Making progress is (during the course of which, you might find yourself getting it done anyway).

When you roll out of bed the next day, do the minimum of what you need to do to start the day and then do that thing.

No email or anything else until you’ve at least logged an hour on that one thing. Or 33:33, if you have to (no reason you can’t combine the timer and the list).

Of course, there are other great suggestions out there. If you have some favourites, share yours in the comments below

Until then… get to work!”

from John Forde

A solution to procrastinating about writing Sales Letters

The most frequent excuses I come across for not writing sales letters are “I don’t know how to get started.” or “I don’t think it would be good enough.”

Are they genuine reasons? Or just disguises for procrastination?

If being unsure of what and how to write a sales message is a genuine reason for you not putting ‘pen to paper’ or ‘fingers to the keyboard’, keep a look out for an email from me offering a possible solution.

~ Carol Bentley

Written by Carol Bentley | 2 Comments »

do these word mistakes stop your sales

Does it bug you when someone uses the wrong word or punctuation in their sales letter?

For example, are you irritated when the word ‘your’ is used instead of ‘you’re’?

I’ve frequently said that writing as you speak is more important than using correct grammar in a sales letter. But correct spelling – and using words in the right context – is also important.

When I’m reading something… whether it’s a sales letter, advert, web page, article, book (yes, I’ve spotted these mistakes in books!) I find myself automatically correcting these foibles. I can’t help myself – it bugs me.

Do These Mistakes Undermine Your Credibility?

What concerns me more – especially in a sales letter – is I think these mistakes can undermine the credibility of the writer in the reader’s eyes. And we have a big enough job persuading someone to read our sales message and, hopefully, buy our products or services without creating additional barriers for ourselves.

My problem is, occasionally, I’ll miss these mistakes in my own writing. A classic is when I miss the ‘r’ off the word ‘your’! It’s a good reason for getting someone else to proofread your work, a fresh pair of eyes may pick up mistakes you’ve missed.

So, what other words and punctuation mistakes am I talking about?

Sometimes people confuse words such as lose and loose, or later and latter, or there, their and they’re!

Why have I brought this up today?

Because I found a great lens on squidoo, called Grumpy Grammar, in which a Vet explains, tongue-in-cheek, his take on correct grammar (and word) usage. It is well written and reminds us, in an amusing way, of some of the rules that are often broken.

As far as writing a sales letter is concerned, the only point Chris makes that I do not agree with is not starting a sentence with ‘Or’, ‘And’ or ‘But’. And that’s purely because we often start a sentence with one of those words when we are speaking and so it is a natural way to write sales copy. πŸ˜‰

So – Do You Make These Mistakes In Your Sales Letters?

Take a look at Grumpy Grammar then come back to share; does it annoy you? Have you discovered something useful to know or are your letters all OK?

~ Carol Bentley

Written by Carol Bentley | 3 Comments »

are Christmas ecards impersonal?

I know… I said I was closing until after Christmas but I wanted to share this with you…

I read an article about a survey asking people what they thought about sending an ecard instead of posting a Christmas card. The majority seemed to think that ecards were not such a good thing.

I must admit, I do like getting cards through the post – especially the prettier or specially selected cards. But, on the other hand, it can get a bit cluttered displaying all those cards… I know, you can use card-holders and I do have 2 – but I always seem to run out of room!

So are ecards a viable solution or would people be offended? In one of the posted Christmas cards I received the sender said they would only be sending ecards next year because of the heavy cost of postage, others said they would donate to charity rather than spend on cards.

I tend to post cards to close friends and relatives and send specially selected ecards to all my other contacts. I rather think the acceptability of an ecard depends upon the quality of the one that is sent and the intention behind it.

And – I’d like to recommend an ecard delivery service that I think is absolutely superb. The cards are all works of art using music and animation to bring them to life. I spend quite a long time browsing and selecting the ecards I decide to send and add my own message to each one.

Let me show you… here’s my Christmas Greeting to you – via a beautiful ecard πŸ˜‰


Your Christmas eCard

~ Carol Bentley

Written by Carol Bentley | No Comments »

new words for Christmas favourite

My good friend Michael Bland assures me he is not losing his marbles – although I have my doubts! He sent me a festive teaser, just to prove he is compos mentis but his new words for a well-loved Christmas song may be proving the opposite. πŸ˜‰

He’s so confident he happily agreed to let me share it… take a look at the PDF New Words and tell me… do you think he’s lost it?

Christmas Closing

As I’ve not taken much of a break this year, I’ve decided to close the office from this Friday, 17th December, until the day after my birthday. So we re-open on 5th January 2011.

Mind you, I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to resist checking any messages that may come in… so if you have a question you want answered pop over to the Ask A Question page.

Christmas Night Scene

May the peace of Christmas be upon you
And happiness be yours too
May the New Year dawn bright for you
And success next year accrue

Wishing You & Yours
A Very Merry Christmas
and a Happy & Prosperous 2011

~ Carol Bentley

Written by Carol Bentley | 2 Comments »

Business survival & prosperity… book review

Easy to read, enjoyable as well as informative and thought-provoking. There’s not many business books you can say that about. It is a true (in my opinion) description of ‘Business Survival and Prosperity Guaranteed’ written by Paul Hurst (great title, isn’t it?)

Although the book is aimed at entrepreneurs and fledgling business owners, it also has great reminders for people like us who have been running a business for some time.

Paul draws on real-life experiences with his own businesses and regales us with interesting stories to demonstrate the points he makes.

(BTW – his businesses are very diverse… from musician and band leader to accountancy and consultancy services… so, as you can imagine, his stories are very entertaining).

Paul’s approach to business advice is clear and refreshing. He explains how to get into the right frame of mind to succeed; how to find your market and how to treat your customers – if you want to thrive.

What’s more he doesn’t flinch from explaining how to tackle the boring activities we all have to do (like it or not) such as accounts. He even shares how to get your book-keeper firmly on your side by showing respectful consideration.

But it’s not all ‘tedious stuff made easy’… he looks at other skills you, as a business owner, should develop. Such as lateral thinking – covered in chapter 17. 10 straight forward problem-solving questions test your ingenuity! (They certainly tested mine!)

At just Β£9.97 this is a publication I’d recommend having on your book-shelf – it is worth more than it’s weight in gold (even with the current high gold prices!).

The first edition of his book is available from Amazon.

But you can get the updated, second edition if you purchase directly from Paul. What’s more, you also get a valuable CD, containing this series of interviews with Paul Gorman:

  • What are the 5 most important things to know and understand about marketing?
  • How can advertising make any business flourish?
  • What are your most successful decisions of your business career?

In fact Paul rates this book too:

Not only an original gem, but a rare and, I would say, must read for every fledgling entrepreneur plus those who are further into their business career yet not privy to the wisdom of experience every one of these pages exude.

This is not just another book claiming to make you a millionaire in a year, nor another individual claiming to be a marketing guru. It is a hard line, brutally honest, down and dirty instruction on what it really takes to start and succeed with a business of your own.

You can read more about the content of the book (and order a copy if you want) at

Business Survival & Prosperity Guaranteed (This is not an affiliate link).

After you’ve read your copy – pop back and share your thoughts.

~ Carol Bentley

Written by Carol Bentley | 10 Comments »