Writing Ad Copy Like Your (Business) Life Depends On It with Ray Edwards

Jake Randall

Jake Randall: Well, welcome, everybody to another episode of The Profit Junkie Podcast, where we talk about making as much money as possible, and then making sure you keep it in your bank account. Today, I am very, very excited to introduce you to our guest today. He is somebody who, unknowingly to him, has influenced my life in a very, very big way. I recommend his book more than any other book that I recommend to people that I’m helping learn about marketing and sales and growth. So we’re going to talk about that a little bit today, but today my guest is a bestselling copywriter. He is a communications expert. He is a downright humble and great guy, Mr. Ray Edwards. Ray, welcome to the program today.

Ray Edwards: Thank you so much. My pleasure to be here.

Jake Randall: So, Ray, I got to tell you really quick my story. About probably six or seven years ago, I realized that we needed to do something different on our sales and marketing, and so I started studying Facebook marketing and I started going down that route and somehow took a hard right turn onto copywriting. And you were one of the first people that popped onto my radar. And I had actually read a number of copywriting books and attended a number of copywriting trainings before. And I had all these weird formulas in my head and I just couldn’t ever remember and I was learning some of this stuff.

And then, you came out with your book, How to Write Copy That Sells. I bought it and when I was reading that, about halfway through that book, the light bulb went on for me. And I said, “I get it.” I finally realized that there’s all these different copywriting formulas, they’re all the same, but they’re all going about it… I think that you are the best copywriting teacher out there. And there’s a lot of great books on copywriting, but as far as somebody learning and remembering and making it part of their bones, at least for me, that was the moment where that just clicked. And since then, I could attribute millions of millions of dollars of sales to you helping that click for me. So thank you very much.

Ray Edwards: Well, I love hearing that. Whenever somebody praises the book, my next question, you’ve already answered it, is, well, did you make any money with it? Because that’s the real test and it’s gratifying to hear that worked for you. So thank you for sharing that.

Jake Randall: Yeah. No, that’s great. Tell our audience a little bit about your background. Where did you come from? You’ve done some amazing things in your life, but I want to know, who was Ray Edwards before he became this marketing genius?

Ray Edwards: Well, like everybody, I started off the child of my parents, and I grew up in Southeast Kentucky and it was poverty stricken area. For me, the big driving force to my young life was, “I’m not going to be poor.” I loved communication. I loved broadcasting. I was in the radio broadcasting business for about 30 years, wrote lots of ads there. Learned that outside of radio, people would actually pay you to write the copy for ads. Gen slide radio is usually done for free by the DJs or the salespeople, which that should give you pause. If you’re buying radio ads, think about who is writing your ads and how much they know about what they’re doing.

Jake Randall: Right.

Ray Edwards: So, I learned how to make it work because I figured out pretty quick that was the way to be valuable to my radio company was if I could make the clients at the station money with their advertising, they would keep me around. And so that worked for 30 years. This was pretty good trick. And then, as I said, I discovered people would pay me just for the copy. So I set up my own copywriting practice online and struck out on my own in 2005 and haven’t looked back since then.

And I had the good fortune to have some great clients pretty early on. So I wrote for people like Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Robert Allen, some folks whose name you would know and some whose names you probably have never heard and never will, but it’s been a great ride. I got to the point I was writing so much copy, I could hardly find time to do anything else. So I started teaching people how to do it instead of doing it for them.

And so that’s our business today is teaching people how to write copy for themselves, for their businesses and teaching people how to be copywriters for hire, because, believe it or not, there’s more demand for copywriters now than ever before. And people have a hard time believing that, especially now post COVID or I guess we’re not really post COVID, but wherever we are on that timeline, whatever that timeline is, even now it’s even more of a need. People need to market their businesses, their services, their ideas, more than ever. And so the need for skilled copywriting has become more urgent than ever. So that’s what I do.

Jake Randall: That’s amazing. Just out of curiosity, what kind of a DJ were you?

Ray Edwards: Mostly country, but I did pop, did rock. I did a little bit of everything.

Jake Randall: Is music still a big part of your life?

Ray Edwards: Yeah. I love music.

Jake Randall: That’s good. My wife can’t do anything without music on, so we listen to a lot of music in our house.

Ray Edwards: Yeah.

Jake Randall: So, one of the things that I would love, I think, is so good about the stuff you teach… If you would don’t mind. I’d love to give everybody just a quick maybe a couple minutes of help on understanding why somebody should take the time to learn copy and who should take the time to learn how to write good sales copy?

Ray Edwards: Yeah. That’s a great question. So I would reframe the question like this. I would say, for whom is it important to be able to influence the decisions of other people? So if that’s important to you, if ever you need to make a sale or to get somebody to buy into your idea or your cause, or to donate to your charity, or to go to the restaurant you want to go to for dinner, or to marry you, or to go on a date, or to consider a purchase, or if you want to influence anybody’s decision about anything, you should learn how to persuade people. And really, copywriting is really persuasion in print or in type, in writing.

And it goes beyond that because people say to me, “Well, everything on the web now is video. Doesn’t that eliminate the need for copywriting?” No, it makes it more needed because what do people need to make a good video? They need a script, which is copy. Nora Ephron said it. She said, “Everything is copy.” And that is the truth. You’re always selling something. There’s always a sale being made. Either you’re selling people on your idea or they’re selling you on theirs. And so I personally want to be able to influence every situation I’m in to the greatest degree possible. So that means you need to learn how to write copy, or at least how to persuade.

I’m known for teaching copywriting, but what I’m really teaching people is how to communicate persuasively, to get people to move from one side of the decision line, to the other side of the decision line. And we do that through a simple framework. It’s six steps. It’s pretty easy to remember and it applies no matter what the situation is, whether you’re having a conversation, you’re on a podcast interview, you’re writing a sales piece for your website, you’re writing an email or you’re giving a talk at your church. It’s all the same thing.

Jake Randall: Yeah. I love that. And I think you’ve done a great job of organizing that six step framework. Do you mind if we talk really quick, give people a brief overview of what that framework is?

Ray Edwards: Sure. I would love to. It’s called the P.A.S.T.O.R. Framework, P-A-S-T-O-R. And it doesn’t mean you need to become a preacher. It’s derived from the original meaning of the word pastor, which meant to shepherd. And my thought is, we’re shepherding people to making a good decision. We’re not manipulating them. We’re not pushing them. We’re shepherding them. And what does a shepherd do? A shepherd cares for the flock, watches over them, makes sure they have food and water, that they’re protected from their predators. And in the story that we probably all of us know, some version of this story, where the good shepherd laid down his life for the sheep.

And if you can approach people that you’re selling to with the heart of a shepherd, a caretaker, a protector, a guide, you’ll never come across as salesy or pushy or sleazy because they can feel the energy that you have that you’re for them, not against them. And so I chose that word purposely to set the tone of the process. And then the letters of the word pastor stand for the framework.

The P is for person, problem, pain. You have to know who you’re writing to. You have to empathize with them, understand what their problem is and what the pain is as they perceive it, which may be different than the way you think they should perceive it. You may think they should lose weight so they’ll be healthy. They want to lose weight so they look good in a bathing suit. You’ve got to talk to them where they are.

The A in P.A.S.T.O.R. stands for amplify, which is to amplify the consequences of not solving the problem. If you don’t do something about your weight, these are the things that are going to happen. Or if we don’t do something about your profitability of your business, these things are going to happen. If you don’t do this tax planning to protect how much of your money you get to keep, then this is going to happen to you longterm. You’re going to lose this amount of money. Maybe lose your business. Maybe have to be a greeter at Walmart at the end of your career. So you show the consequences of indecision. And then the A also stands for aspirations. You show people the picture of the paradise they’re actually looking for.

The S in P.A.S.T.O.R. stands for story, struggle, solution and system. So for every product or service, I believe there is a story that you probably personally went through to arrive at the solution you have today. And it’s good to tell that story to illustrate the struggle you went through or that your clients go through before they meet you and work with you. The solution, and then the system, and the reason the system is important is either you’re teaching or selling or providing or using a system to serve your customers and that system ensures that it works for everybody all the time.

And then the T stands for transformation and testimony. What change does your product bring about in your life? Because they’re not interested in the product itself, the deliverables. So if you sell a course or a training, they don’t care about how many videos, how many modules, how many worksheets. What they care about is what’s the transformation at the end? Do you take me from being, working like a dog and making very little money in terms of profit to I work less than I make more profit and get to keep more of it, and I get to pile it up tax deferred over time so that I have a nest egg that takes care of me for the rest of my life? That’s the transformation. That’s what you’re selling.

When P90X sells their exercise program on television or online, they’re not selling the workout videos and the wall chart and the chin up bar, they’re selling that doughboy and picture on left, svelte six pack guy in picture on right. The transformation is what they’re selling. So then there comes the offer, which the offer is where you say, this is what I’m selling, this is how much it costs and you remind them of the transformation. You spend time on that again.

And then the R in P.A.S.T.O.R. stands for response. You ask them to buy, which is the thing that so many people fail to do. They get right up to that point, and they’re like, “Okay, well, if you ever think you might want some of that, come see me.” Instead of asking to buy very directly saying, “This will change your life. You see how that works. You’ve seen how it works for other people. You’ve seen the testimony of other people. Now’s the time to make a decision, click the button, get enrolled. Let’s go.” So in a very condensed form, that’s the P.A.S.T.O.R. framework.

Jake Randall: And just like you said earlier, if you think through that, person, problem, pain, amplify and aspire, the solution and the system and all that testimonial transformation, offer, response, risk reversal, that is anything, any communication. It really does boil down to that. And sometimes I know that when people get into copywriting they tend to be a little bit verbose, at least initially. Right?

Ray Edwards: Yes.

Jake Randall: And sometimes some of those sections are shorter versus longer, depending on where the customer already is. But, even a small short email, if you’re selling an email to your assistant and you want them to do something you can cram in a P.A.S.T.O.R. in some pretty small lines if you have to on some short, simple communication. It really is a formula that works for pretty much everything.

Ray Edwards: Absolutely. I apply it to everything. Every communication I engage in, I’m trying to apply the P.A.S.T.O.R. formula on a regular basis. It becomes ingrained. A lot of times, I don’t think about it, but I’ll go back and listen to a call I was on and realize, I started talking about the problem. I started talking about the pain that people feel. I worked my way through the framework. And sometimes it doesn’t always come in that order, but you must always start with the person and the problem and the pain, whether you talk about it up front or not, you have to start with knowing it, understanding it. That gives you the basis to have the conversation that ensues from that point.

Jake Randall: Yeah. That’s a good point. When I teach advertising, Facebook ads, sometimes I’ll have them flesh out. I’ll say, “Go buy Ray’s book first. Write a P.A.S.T.O.R. framework.” And then, maybe we’ll take P and A and S and we’ll put that in the Facebook ad. And then it’s click to learn more. Then, on the sales page the rest of it will all be there, or the whole thing will be there. But in order for somebody to buy, you’ve got to get all the pieces in there. Otherwise, you’re just leaving people hanging, not helping them out.

Ray Edwards: Yeah, for sure. I love stuff about selling, about copywriting, about persuasion. I’ve read all the books. I won’t say, all say all the books, many of the books. I’ve been through any of the programs, the trainings. What I’ve endeavored to do with P.A.S.T.O.R. and our whole system of teaching copy is to build a lot of the psychological triggers and complex things that are part of other systems into the process, so that we may not talk about them a lot explicitly, but they’re built, in they’re baked in.

Because I think what people really want, most people are not a copywriting nerd like me. Most people just want, “Tell me how to say stuff so that people will buy from me. That’s what I’m after.” So that’s what we’ve tried to do with this framework, is to build enough of it in so that you can use it. Maybe not even understand the depth of it. I know you do, because you mentioned things I did not mention. And you mentioned them in the proper places. So I know you studied. That’s awesome. But it works for people, whether they understand the deeper stuff behind it or not.

Jake Randall: Right. Yeah. That’s what I love about it. So, tell me a little bit about, you started writing copy and you’ve written for some really, really big clients. And when you first got into that framework… Let me back up. I guess where I’m going with this is, when somebody gets into, says, “Okay, I realize I need to be a better communicator. I realize that my business doesn’t have what I need it to as far as copy and things that go.” What’s the biggest mistake or stumbling block for most people that you see that come into your program that maybe already have a business, but are really looking to level up?

Ray Edwards: It’s funny, it’s the same whether people are beginners or they’re veterans. It’s writing from your own viewpoint instead of the viewpoint of the person you’re writing to. And the people who are the worst at doing this are business owners who say to me, “But I know my market because I am my market.” No, you’re not. Because if you’re selling something to them, you’re not them. You’re in this weird recursive bubble where you can’t even see what you don’t see. It’s like that saying, “You can’t read the label when you’re inside the bottle.” And so what you really must do, if you want to communicate effectively and persuasively to the max, is you’ve got to get inside their skin. They being your customers. And understand the world from their point of view and see it from where they’re standing, not where you are standing and not where you think they should be standing.

People get into this weird moralistic judgmental position where they think, “Well, my customers should know that their responsibility is to do this, this and this.” Well should don’t mean squat. It’s what do they know? Where are they coming from? If you want to do business with them, you’ve got to understand where they are, meet them where they are, and then escort them to the place they need to be politely. Not judgmentally. Tony Robins says, “You cannot influence someone while you’re simultaneously judging them.” And it’s true. If you think about it. Just test it out in your own experience. If you’re busy judging somebody, how much influence do you have over them?

Jake Randall: Yeah. That’s really good. How do you help some of your students get past that block? Do you have a secret trick there or process?

Ray Edwards: I do, but hardly anybody likes it. It’s, go talk to your customers. And I don’t mean in the formal, take a survey, methodology. Pick up the phone and call them or get on a Zoom call and just say, “I just want to talk with you about how things are going. How’s your business? What things are troubling you? I’m not trying to sell you anything. I just want to get to know you and get to know the people that we do business with a little better. So, could we have this conversation?”

And presumably you’d have this conversation with somebody who’s bought from you because you want to understand why they bought from you and let them talk about what’s working in their business. Ask them leading questions, but not leading questions about you, about them. Questions like, “So what’s not working in your business? What’s giving you trouble right now? Why do you think that’s a problem? What have you done to try to fix it? Why do you think those solutions didn’t work?”

And then, conversely, I also recommend having a few conversations with people who did not buy. It’s harder to get them to talk, first of all. It’s why I say a few. Secondly, I don’t want that to be your overwhelming view of things, but it’s useful to have a conversation too, with people who did not buy and ask them why. “What turned you off? What caused you to ultimately say no? You went this far in the process and said, no. I’m just curious. Why did you say no? Not trying to change your mind. Just want to learn from you.” So having those conversations.

And then, I also like going on secret spy missions, where you are undercover. It’s like that Undercover Billionaire show. You go undercover and get in the field where your customers are and just watch other customers. Pretend you’re one of them, but watch what they’re doing and listen to what they’re saying. And literally to the point of writing down words and phrases that you hear and you begin to put together a picture of, “Wow. They think really differently than I thought they think.” And when you start having that realization, you’ve begun to understand them. And the reason most people don’t this idea is it takes a lot of W-O-R-K.

Jake Randall: Yeah. And I think that’s also one of the things that I’ve had people that have approached me because they’ve seen some of our advertising or something, like, “Man, can you write me an ad?” And sometimes I’ll say yes or whatever. And I’ll get into the time commitment it’s going to take for me to do that. And they’re like, “Well, can’t you just whip something up in two hours?” And I was like, “No. It takes a long time.” I can just picture you, though, Ray, at a Tony Robbins event right now with your notebook, just, while everybody is doing the clap thing and you’re taking notes.

Ray Edwards: Yeah. It’s often when I’m at events, people sometimes ask me, “What are your notes? What do you write down?” Well, I’m not writing down what people on the stage are saying. I’m writing down what people in the audience are saying that they don’t want the first on the stage to hear them say, like, “This is stupid. This doesn’t help me. I wish somebody would just tell me how to do blank.” I’m looking for those phrases, those conversations. Those actually happen outside the seminar room, usually. This is something that I learned from a friend of mine named Armand Morin, who he used to have this seminar in the internet marketing space called, The Big Seminar. And at the time it was the biggest one of its kind in the world.

Jake Randall: Is that the one where they filled stadium with a bunch of different speakers type of a thing?

Ray Edwards: Yeah. And he started out in his business of providing marketing tools to people by going to seminars. And he would never be writing down the content of the seminar. He’d be writing down the questions people were asking. And he’s like, “Well, because dude.” He starts every sentence with the word dude. “Dude, that’s where the products are. That’s where the money is, what people are asking about. So that’s what I’m writing down.” Pretty smart.

Jake Randall: That is pretty smart. You’re obviously a bestselling author, which everybody listening to this podcast definitely should own a copy of How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards. We’ll put it in the show notes. If they go to rayedwards.com, do you have a link to it there as well?

Ray Edwards: Yeah. You go to rayedwards.com. You’ll find a link on the site or you go to rayedwards.com/freebook.

Jake Randall: Ooh.

Ray Edwards: Just saying.

Jake Randall: Did you guys pick that up? Okay. We’ll put that in the show notes as well. So go check that out. But definitely, it’s something I make everybody on my marketing team read and I’ve probably sold at least 300 copies for you.

Ray Edwards: Here’s a little marketing insight that may be useful to somebody listening. And that is, I always tell people, one of the greatest ways to do your marketing is to give away your best, biggest secret for free. And people say, “Well, I don’t want to do that because then I don’t have anything to sell people. I got to keep my magic secret.” And I’m like, “I wrote a whole book that tells people exactly how I write copy.” It’s not tricky. It’s not like I told them the B-level techniques for writing copy. I told them the A-level techniques. And the idea that people have is that, well, if you do that, then nobody will hire you to write copy.

Well, first of all, I don’t want to be hired to write copy anymore. Secondly, that’s the reverse of what happens. People read the book or read part of the book and they’re like, “Well, this guy obviously knows what he’s talking about, but this sounds a lot of work. I don’t want to do it.” So we get calls every week from people saying, “I read your book, I read part of your book. Will you write copy for me?” And that’s why we started an agency where we have people do the copywriting instead of me doing it because I got tired of saying no. And I realized, well, here’s people with money in their hands showing up at my door. I should find a way to say yes to them. So I did.

But that’s just the idea of giving away your best stuff for free. Even if your stuff is a service or a skill that is unique to you. Because I can teach people how I write copy. That doesn’t mean they’re ever going to write copy like me. They’re probably not going to write like it me. They’re going to write it like them if they pursue it far enough, but most people won’t. So how can you make money through that? You can have an agency. You can offer a personal service that you do for yourself. You can do done for you stuff personally, one-to-one. Charge a lot more money for it. There’s lots of ways you can make giving your secrets away into the best marketing vehicle you ever could imagine.

Jake Randall: I realize you’re not as actively writing for clients anymore, but you’re still teaching. You’re still staying up to date on everything. How do you keep yourself sharp and focused? Once you’ve reached that level where you’re perceived as, you’re definitely an A-list copywriter, one of the best out there, but how do you keep yourself sharp and make sure you don’t slip at all?

Ray Edwards: Well, that’s a really important question and it’s why I do occasionally still write copy. I take on two or three projects a year and I take on ones that are interesting to me, but also that look they’d be challenging. Which is a little scary because the concern is, well, what if I write something and it doesn’t work? Well, that happens even to whoever you pick. Pick the person you think is the best copywriter in the world and they have stinkers. They write pieces that don’t work. But the thing that makes them different from everybody else’s that drives us crazy. And we’re like, “Why did that not work? Let me have another chance at that. Let me write that again. Let’s fix it. Let’s test something different.” So, the only way to stay sharp is to stay in the game. Right?

Jake Randall: Yeah.

Ray Edwards: You’ve got to keep your blade engaged. So I go out and I write for a few people. I write stuff for our company as well, but I like writing for clients on a selective basis because it challenges me. It gives me a chance to do something new and different and something I’m not guaranteed to win at, which I’m never guaranteed to win. But we all assume when we’re good at a certain niche or product or category, we think, “Oh, I’ve got that covered.” That kind of thinking is dangerous. So I try to keep myself a little off balance at all times. In fact, that sounds a tee shirt, a letdown, a little off balance at all times.

Jake Randall: That is a great one. And that could go so many places. You could sell that in a bar, or you could sell that wherever. One of the things that I remember also that just sparked a memory, you did this program, geez, I don’t know how many years ago where you did it was a podcast interview type thing where you interviewed, I don’t remember how many people there was. It had to have been 30 or something different copywriters or something like this. Do you remember that?

Ray Edwards: Oh yeah.

Jake Randall: I don’t remember what it was called, but I remember

Ray Edwards: Virtual Copywriting Summit.

Jake Randall: Yeah. So I went through that thing, and I was amazed too at how many… Because you interviewed all these incredible copywriters and marketers and I was impressed with how often you and the other copywriters would talk about your failures. And learn from those. It wasn’t always like, “Hey, well, I wrote this one piece of copy that did a hundred million dollars sale.” You guys were pretty open about, “Hey, when I wrote this piece of copy and it bombed, but I learned that I wasn’t applying this principle correctly.” Or whatever. You guys were all very, very humble. And that was a really good moment for me to realize, “Man, the moment you get proud in this business, is the moment you lose your edge.”

Ray Edwards: You may be the only person in history to ever refer to a group of copywriters as humble. That’s neat. I think most of the people who get good at this game, at any game really, do learn that the learning comes from the mistakes. The learning comes from the parts that are difficult, not from the parts that are easy. The stuff that’s easy for me, what do I learn from it? It’s just easy for me. But the parts that are difficult, that don’t work, are the ones where I get the lessons in. If you’re succeeding, you’re probably just partying and enjoying success. And if you don’t succeed, then you’re wondering what happened, what went wrong? That’s where you start asking the questions. That’s where the valuable learning comes from. So, I’m definitely not afraid to fail. I don’t want to fail all the time. A hundred percent failure rate means you’re not learning anything at all.

Jake Randall: Right.

Ray Edwards: A hundred percent success rate means you’re not trying anything that’s outside… You’re not increasing your skill set at all or challenging yourself. So, got to have the happy medium and you got to be willing to fail and learn from the failures.

Jake Randall: I love that.

Ray Edwards: That’s life.

Jake Randall: That’s life. What’s one thing that you’ve done in your business to make sure that you’re out there growing a business? A lot of time people focus on the top line, bringing revenue in. What’s one thing that you have done in your business to make sure that you don’t spend all the money?

Ray Edwards: I put someone else completely in charge of that. I wish I’d done that a long time before I actually did it, because I was such a control freak, and I was controlling it badly. And I finally realized, “Why am I making so much money? And I’m not keeping any of it. That doesn’t seem like a good plan.” I remember how that ended for other people in my business. I don’t want to end up that way. So I hired somebody to take care of it for me, several somebodies, in fact.

Jake Randall: That’s good. So they manage the money and you just…

Ray Edwards: They manage it and I keep a very close eye on it because I learned that lesson as well from some of my friends who turned it over to somebody else and they found out via a note or an email or a phone call from the Cayman Islands that somebody else had taken all that money and taken it with them.

Jake Randall: That would ruin your day.

Ray Edwards: It’s not that I don’t trust people, but there’s a saying, “Trust in God, but tie up your horses.”

Jake Randall: I like that one. That’s another thing that I think I really admire about you, is that you are through all of your stuff, you’ve had some personal trials last few years and things that you’ve been working through, but I’ve always appreciated about you is you’ve never been shy about your religion as well, your belief in God and your faith in him. So thank you for that example for a lot of people. Not everybody has the courage to do that in their business life.

Ray Edwards: Thank you. I appreciate you saying that.

Jake Randall: Well, Ray, I really appreciate you coming on today and sharing some wisdom with our listeners here. Definitely everybody grab this book. I’m not joking. Of all the recommendations I make, if you want to succeed in marketing and growth and sales, you should buy this book. Personally, millions of dollars directly benefited from me reading this book. So grab this book, How to Write Copy That Sells. Go to Rayedwards.com/free book. Did I get it right?

Ray Edwards: Yes, sir.

Jake Randall: Great, awesome. And Ray, when this is all over, I’d love to fly out and take you to dinner or something and say thank you.

Ray Edwards: I’d love to allow you to do that.

Jake Randall: All right, everybody. Thank you so much for listening to the Profit Junkie Podcast and we will listen to you or you’ll hear us again next week.

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