Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together by John Carlton
One Line Summary
The SECRETS marketers use to reel-in your attention revealed! (For a limited time only though…)
Want to know where the bloodiest battle in the world is being fought right now? Because most people have no clue it’s even happening.
It’s not in the Middle East.
It’s not African warlords.
It’s right here, in front of your eyes. It’s the war between businesses for your attention. And the casualties range from burnt out entrepreneurs to consumer’s health.
John Carlton, author of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together, knows this war better than anyone.
Shit, after spending nearly 30 years in marketing and becoming the go-to-guy for sales copywriting, it’s safe to say that Carlton is more like a grizzled general with major league battle scars. This book offers us a lens into what that world is like.
It’s a hilarious book, filled with not only down to earth marketing advice but precious life wisdom coming from someone who’s “been there”. And isn’t that what anyone is looking for in a marketing book?
Why It’s Awesome
Is there anyone who doesn’t hate ads?
I know I do. You’re scrolling through a website, enjoying what you’re reading. Suddenly that cheesy pop-up demanding your E-Mail address bursts onto the screen. Focus, gone. Annoyance, high.
I will personally obliterate every megabyte of Aurum Reviews from the blogosphere before I turn it into some cheesy adspace. This blog is my child.
We all despise being sold to. There’s something inherently slimy that we seem to associate about it, like they’re inherently trying take from you. And certainly we’ve all been burned before by a sleezy salesman who didn’t give a fuck.
But what I know, per written in The Setup, is that you can’t survive in business without selling. Because I believe so strongly in the mission of Aurum Reviews, I see it as my responsibility to learn how to sell and do it well.
If that means using some click-bait, cheap tactic to get attention, fine. Because I know the content and ideas I’m sharing isn’t. Coca-Cola is doing the same thing, but they’re selling you cancer, high fructose corn syrup to fry your brain and who knows what else.
That’s why I love marketing books like this. No “wouldn’t it be nice if…”. Just the raw, dirty secrets of the best in the business.
Anyway, let’s get to the content.
This book is less about specific tactics (although there’s plenty of those) and more about the general MINDSETS that you’ll need in order to sell anything.
The first and foremost? Stop wishing human beings were anything than what they are.
People want to believe that if “they’re just a good person” or “if they just have a great product” they’ll succeed in business. That’s so far removed from reality it’s insane.
Here’s the real secret: markets know all your hopes, dreams and biggest fears. They know what keeps you up at night. And they will exploit those primal motivations with ruthless precision.
Even if you’re not at all interested in running a business, it’s 1000% worth it to read this book just to understand how advertising really works. You may be disgusted by what you see.
A girl with a body image issue isn’t a “problem” to someone interested in selling, it’s a gold mine. That emotional insecurity she has can be played on again and again in order to sell all sorts of products.
In fact, someone who is content with themselves is the worst type of consumer. All the people I know with self-esteem are the ones who tend to not really give a fuck about consumer culture. It’s the insecure, depressed ones that are constantly trying to fill a void with spending.
Bottom-line: Marketers look for unhappiness in order to sell to you.
Now, this is not some anti-business or consumer rant. Aurum Reviews is a business, and I play this game to a degree. And some products really are fantastic and worth buying…
…but the majority are just absolute shit and will do nothing to make you happy.
Carlton acknowledges this several times in this book. He often laughs at the very culture he is so immersed in, seeing it for the charade that it is.
After all, you can’t play the game without learning the rules.
Another marketing mindset from this book: you must be able to deliver on your promises.
A well written sales pitch is one thing. Having an actual product that people will actually want and talk about is another.
Every good salesman knows, you don’t make money on the initial sale anyway. You make money on the comeback. Repeat customers are where the gold is, and that requires the usual business advice like good customer service and providing value.
So it’s not all bad. It’s just that we don’t want to acknowledge the dirtier aspects of selling.
There’s also direct tactics in this book, like how to write a decent headline (hint- it has to grab their attention first), but that pales in comparison to just understanding how the game is run. All those tactics you can do approximately right once you understand the “why”.
There’s another reason to read this book besides getting advice from Carlton: SEEING Carlton actually write sales copy.
If I’m going to learn how to hit a baseball, I don’t just want someone to tell me how to stand and hold a bat. I want to get real close and see exactly with my own two pretty eyes how he does it.
That’s what reading this book is. He’s SHOWING YOU how to write sales copy just through his own writing.
Look at how he crafts his chapter titles. Look how he orders the sequence of the book. Look at the tempo of his writing and his use of language.
This is the REAL stuff you want to be soaking up.
Put those mirror neurons to work, man.
At the end of the day, even if you hate selling to your core, that’s no reason to throw away some kick-ass super powers. These powers can be used for “good” or “evil” intentions.
The choice is still yours.
Why Does It Suck
If you just want the nitty gritty, “how-to” tactics of sales copywriting, you’re probably better off reading John Carlton’s other book, Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel. Like I said in the previous section, this book is more about MARKETING MINDSETS.
And while it’s true that mounting a moral campaign against marketers is dumb (human nature is what it is), it’s also true that there’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy effect going on here.
Humans beings have natural mechanisms which trigger fear -> Marketers take advantage of said fears -> Human being remain in fear -> Marketers sell more shit which reinforces fear
It isn’t your job to single handedly to save the human species. Nor am I saying you’re under any sort of moral obligation to solve this problem.
But what I would say, is that for your own happiness, you’ll probably enjoy your life much more if you’re selling something that legitimately helps people.
I understood that “help” is also a loose word. But at the same time, we all know when we’re being selfish pricks. And it isn’t a good feeling.
So be careful with your decision to blindly apply Carlton’s tactics. I’m not saying it will make you more money, but only that maybe more money isn’t what’s most important. Greed can infect anyone
Even Carlton would tell you that.
The Wrap Up
A must-read for all entrepreneurs, especially for anyone who may need to write a killer ad in the future. And even if you aren’t writer, this will give you a great frame of reference on which to judge your sales copies. Just don’t go all “ego-crazy” on me, because these tactics really are that lethal.