La Traviesa

There’s a restaurant here in town called La Traviesa.

In the nearly six year I’ve lived here, I’ve seen the place change ownership at least seven times.

The food has generally been decent to quite good, depending on the owner at that time.

But as nice as the view might be, and as good as the cook may be, the fun kinda gets spoiled if the kitchen window opens onto the terrace, and the cook is a screaming fury who insults here staff whilst loudly throwing skillets through the kitchen.

Continue Reading

Power to the markets: How the Internet Emancipates You, the Consumer

When I just started writing salescopy, I thought I’d gone over to the dark side.

After all, from monk to marketer is a fair leap.

A small library worth of reading about ethics, and a few weeks of serious meditative contemplation later, I had come to a resolution of my dilemma:

Ethical sales are possible. It’s tricky, but it can be done.

Continue Reading

The Sales Psychology of Leaving

The other day I told you how trying to sell to someone before you build a relationship with them is like trying to kiss a woman right after you introduce yourself.

It’s a wacky metaphor, but there is a lot of similarity between dating and sales.

In reality, everything, ever, always, is essentially a sale. But that’s a story for a different day.

I’m reminded of that email from a few days ago because I just read an article that dealt with body language in the context of dating.

One of the telltale signs it mentions is what people do with their feet.

Who’d have known? Apparently our feet say a lot about how we truly feel.

Continue Reading

How I Sold Six Vintage Ferraris and Made $0 on the Deal

I put the phone down and wondered how the hell I had gotten into this situation.

Next, I wondered how I was going to get out of it.

My friend Eduardo had just told me his trip to Cadiz was successful: he had found a buyer who would buy our six vintage sports cars immediately.

There was only one tiny problem: We didn’t have six vintage Ferrari’s to sell.

What we had was a connection in Holland, who was trusted and who could deliver six of the beauties to us in the South of Spain.

But, we had to buy them from him first, with upfront payment.

Otherwise, nothing would get sent, not even a gas cap. Whichever buyer we would find would have to send the cash first.

That was the deal my Dutch connection wanted, and I had discussed it with Eduardo.

He however had decided to ignore this crucial bit of information.

He had told the buyer that payment would take place when the trailer truck delivered the cars.

From the start, I never had much faith in it working, but Eduardo refused to see difficulties. As long as my connection could actually deliver, he could sell.

So off he went to Cadiz, because it must be said: he was an amazing salesman. If anyone was going to be able to find a buyer, build trust and close the sale, it was him.

The problem was that his strength – relentlessly refusing to back down – was also his weakness: He was unbelievably stubborn.

He was in fact so stubborn that he closed that sale with different terms, agreeing that the cars would be paid for upon arrival.

The call I had just had was some 30 minutes of him trying (unsuccessfully) to bully me, so that I would call Holland and pressure my connection in accepting changed terms.

Obviously I didn’t relent because I knew our contact would never let the cars go without money in the bank. And I didn’t blame him, in fact I had agreed that was how it should be done.

In retrospect, I should never have had as much faith in Eduardo as I did. It was clear from the start there would be trouble.

Not because he was a bad guy, but because if someone is that stubborn, and won’t listen, it shows from the start and will be a pain in the ass until the end.

Which it did and it was.

In this case, nothing too dramatic happened. I lost some money on international phone bills, and I had invested a little time. No big deal.

The upshot of the experience: I learned that being able to deliver is more important than the ability to sell.

It also taught me to be wary of people who use hard sales tactics, but that’s a story for a different day.



P.S. Just because I don’t want to be a pushy salesman, I’m hiding my covert sales pitch in this P.S: If you want more sales, un-pushily, go here to get some of truly stellar sales copy for your site:

You Really Don't Want to Serve Arroz con Gris

In this part of Spain there is a tradition called tapas.

When you order a beer or a glass of wine, the house will serve you a small plate of food with it, at no extra charge.

Sometimes it’s olives, sometimes a small portion of paella, or you might get some locally grown tomatoes with garlic, parsley and the olive oil made from olives of the owner’s backyard.

It’s a great tradition. Tapas actually means: a cover, a lid. It started way back in unsanitary times, when your beer or wine used to be served with a slice of bread to cover it, keeping the flies out.

Recently a Cuban bar opened up nearby, and since the owner is Cuban, he decided to serve a menu of authentic Cuban food, tapas and all.

I thought it was a fantastic idea and I was interested, so I went to have a try and see what cuisine is like in Cuba.

Continue Reading

Don't Be Like Ryanair. Seriously

A friend of mine was telling me how she wants to start a paid meditation course.

I whipped out my marketing brain and asked my favourite question:

How are you going to sell that stuff?

Her reply:”We’ll make the core service available for free and make money with upsells”.

Books, CDs, incense, meditation mats and comfy linen clothing, that sort of thing.

On the surface it looks like a good idea but actually it isn’t.

I told her: “So you want to be Ryanair”.

Continue Reading

Drink First, Kiss Later


Imagine you’re a guy in a bar, and you see an amazingly attractive woman.

You go up to her, you tell her your name, and you instantly lean in to plant a big smacker on her lips.

Nobody in the world would take that approach, right?

If you were to try, you’d be more likely to receive a slap in the face than a kiss.

No surprises.

Except, thousands upon thousands of businesses do exactly the same thing with their customers.

Continue Reading

So Martin, Where Did You Learn Copywriting?

In a monastery.

When I tell people this, they tend to raise one or more eyebrows.

A monastery? That’s where you go to learn about sales and psychology and persuasion?

I did, yes.

For many years I was tasked with making sure things ran smoothly in the monastery.

When groceries had to be fetched; when a roof needed repairing; when dishes didn’t get done; when people were shouting in the corridors or showing up late for meditations, Martin was the guy to go take care of it.

Since we were all volunteers, you can imagine it was a pretty tough job to get compliance from people.

Continue Reading

How to Not Piss Off Your Customers – And Outsmart the Big Boys

Companies often have systems and policies in place that drive customers up the freaking wall.

For example, your bank will allow you to download only three months of bank statements. Why? What good reason is there?

If I send an email to my bank to request they add a feature like ‘Download Last 12 Months’ Statements’, I doubt it will have an effect.

Being smaller than the big boys may seem like a disadvantage, but I think we should apply some Martial Arts thinking: Your weakness can also be your strength.

You’re smaller than Amazon? Then don’t worry about them. Worry about your customers.

Continue Reading

Does Humour Belong in Marketing?

People don’t buy from Clowns.

-Claude C. Hopkins

Some say no, humour does not belong in marketing. We’re supposed to inform and persuade, and we’re not meant to be funny.

Dean Rieck has an excellent piece that explains in full rational justification why humour doesn’t sell.

And yet…

This ad for a television network gets it absolutely spot on.



Because the message and the way it’s formatted (played out, rather) are absolutely, perfectly apt for the audience. People who enjoy drama, fun and entertainment on TV – well that ad gives them precisely that, doesn’t it?

I suppose it comes down to really knowing your customer. Knowing them so well that you know exactly what will and will not work for them. If it’s humour that will work for them? Then you just might want to inject some fun in your marketing.

Just be careful, because you have to get it exactly right. If it’s over the top, or if it’s ‘look how clever I am’, it can backfire.

Humour in marketing works, but not always. Proceed with caution.

Menu Title