Imagine you wrote a report 20 pages long.
Then imagine that report got translated into seven languages – French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, Dutch and Italian. Imagine that that single “work of art” was requested in a print format well over 10,000 times (at a cost of about $2.50 – $3.50 each. And then sold about 1000 to companies who wanted to distribute them to clients and employees.
Imagine that companies you don't know call you in after having held onto the report for several years. And just to put a dollar figure on the report, let's say put a modest $1 million in both direct mail projects, seminars and presentations over the years.
One report, ten years of ongoing leverage.
That's the story of direct mail copywriter, Alan Rosenspan. About ten years ago he put together this report called “101 Ways to Improve Response.” And since then the report has done an enormous amount of grunt work for Alan. As is plainly obvious from the results above, Alan has generated enormous business and credibility by making the report his envoy.
So what makes a report so powerful?
In one word: packaging.
You didn't expect that, did you? You expected to hear that it's the contents that matter (and they do). You expected the name of the report to matter (and it does). But the biggest factor of all that gets the report more notice day in and day out, is the factor of packaging. If you were to take the very same 101 factors and put them in an article (or four articles for that matter) they would still attract enormous interest (because people are always interested in lists).
And yet the moment you put it in a report, the very same content with the very same headline gets elevated to rock star status.
So why does packaging matter?
1) No one wants to throw good information away when it's packaged.
2) It's “small and edible”. And hence easier to consume.
3) It takes effort to create a pleasant layout for a report. And this creates a factor of greater value.
No one seems to want to throw information away (when it's packaged)
Alan mentioned that many companies (that he doesn't know of) call him and show him a copy of the report. At that point, Alan knows how old the report is, based on the cover (they've changed covers many times over). Somehow this prospective customer has gotten his hands on the report and has been holding onto it for years on end.
The fact is that a well-packaged piece of information is hard to throw away. You know it's going to be useful sometime in the future, so you hang onto it for dear life. Then one day you need the services/product/training and you pull up the report again. Or of course you stumble onto the report (at just the right time) while tidying up stuff, and you decide to give the person a call. Of course it's critical that you make it easy to consume the information in the report. So how does a report improve consumption?
2) The package is small: Hence “edible”
If you give someone a book, they usually read it. When they read it is a matter of conjecture. However if you give them a report, it's easy to get them to open the pages and slide into the contents. The reader/customer knows that they're being educated without having to read through mountains of content. You can fill a report with 101 points, or just three points (which are well explained).
This ensures the reader consumes the contents almost instantly. And in a matter of minutes you (the writer) has gained enormous credibility. Compare this with an article which is far lower-ranked, or the book which has a higher-ranking but also requires a decent amount of clearing time, just to read the information. And of course, the best feature of all is the formatting. The formatting makes a world of a difference in a report.
3) Formatting matters
Graphics, fonts, colours. They all matter. Most articles don't have the kind of whiz bang you can put in a report. Books may have a decent amount of graphics, fonts and colours, but a report allows for limited content laid out in an easy to read manner. Some reports may be gloriously filled with images and captions and flowing fonts. Some (like Alan's report) may be vanilla-plain, and yet have the formatting that sets it off from just another article on just another website/blog.
And how do we know that all of these things matter?
Because at the Psychotactics site we give away a free report: “Why Headlines Fail”. The content (as you would expect) is superb. Yet at the end of the report there are several points leading to different articles. And Point 18 has a formatting problem. All the other points are in red and just Point 18 is in black. And almost without fail you'll find at least a few complaints each day about this Point 18 in our report.
Formatting does matter. What also helps is that the report is just 10 pages long an hence “edible”. What's different between our report and Alan's report is that ours is online only and his has both an online and offline component.
And yet just like Alan, we can track tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods and services down to that single report. I've had clients who've used the concepts in that report—and signed up for expensive workshops after using the concepts outlined. From that one client alone we earned well over $5000 USD. When you think about the hundreds or thousands of folks we run into, or whom you'll run into, you'd think it was worth your time putting together a report.
This report can be in audio, or video, or text.
One presentation from Hans Rosling (on Ted.com) made him an international superstar. One audio or text report can do the same for you. One medium doesn't have any apparent superiority over the other, and yet somehow text does have a bit of an edge.
So go out there and create a report: and make it well packaged, edible and well formatted.
Do it right, and you'll start to see results shortly after.
Next Step: “My first meeting with a client used to be nothing more than a presentation of my portfolio.”
The Brain Audit has given me a system that I can illustrate to the client, and I can tell I sound much more professional and competent. Also, the system makes my job easier and faster. I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time.
Yes, The Brain Audit is a system that makes communication more effective and makes me appear more professional. It also opened my mind to a new way of seeing my profession.
Not just a designer, but a valuable designer that thinks and can help clients grow.”
Cesare Ferrari,mfwebmarketing,Du Bois, Pennsylvania, USA
Judge for yourself The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy And Why They Don't
Get on the 5000bc Waiting List
“I'm one of those people who has a lot of trouble spending money on training and education, so paying a fee to join a membership was a big step for me.”
What I've found, is that people are serious and they contribute. That makes a big difference. The forum is completely worth the price of admission, though of course I wish I'd joined several years ago when it was cheaper. (Ironically, it seemed too expensive to me then, but I'm sure if I'd joined then I'd be further in my
The biggest piece of value for me so far is the “critiques” section of the forum. After seeing the quality of feedback people were getting, I took the plunge and wrote a sales letter I've been meaning to write for almost two years. In the days after I posted I got a lot of helpful feedback that's helping me make it stronger.
But the most important thing is that I actually got it written. Without a friendly and intelligent audience to evaluate the draft, I might never have sat down to do it.
I'm also enjoying the general discussions. As a solo entrepreneur, most of my days are spent in isolation. And because of where I live, I'm not around other similarly-minded folks. The forum is inspiring; it's great to be in contact with other people who are working hard on their businesses and facing so many of the same challenges I am.
I just wanted to say that I'm finding the content and community in 5000bc so valuable, and I'm very glad I joined.
Joe Thoron, Eastsound, WA, USA
Judge for yourself https://www.5000bc.com
New Products: Introductory Price
1) “Lazy Testimonials” Attract The Wrong Clients. Learn how to use the power of the ‘six critical questions' to get incredible testimonials–and attract clients that make every day an absolute joy.
2) Do you sometimes wonder if planning books are written just for the ‘organised' people?
Learn Why Most Planning Fails: And The Critical Importance of Chaos in Planning
3) Does your websites, brochures, presentations, etc..confuse your clients? .
Put some sanity into your design with some really simple tweaks.