Month: July 2017

Convert Any Image Into A Stylish Duotone With These 7 Free Photoshop Actions

Convert Any Image Into A Stylish Duotone With These 7 Free Photoshop Actions

Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features

Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features

Quick Copy Tip

One cool thing about being a content marketer is that you tend to become an expert in your topic. You probably know an awful lot about your business, your project, or your subject matter.

In fact, you might actually know too much about it.

It’s called the curse of knowledge. Because we research our topics deeply and spend so much time writing about them, we tend to understand the technical specs inside and out. We have a great grasp of the under-the-hood details that make the thing work. And we think customers want to know all about those details.

But most of your potential buyers? They don’t care.

What have you done for me lately?

To be effective, marketing needs to show exactly what the offering does for the person buying it.

The features of your offer are what make it work. The benefits are the results it creates for the customer.

What transformation does your product or service empower? What does it allow the customer to become that she isn’t today?

Jimmy Choo high heels aren’t coveted because they’re comfortable or well-made. (Even though devotees believe they are.) Women buy them to feel confident and gorgeous.

Hybrid cars aren’t popular because they’re fuel-efficient, money-saving, or environmentally friendly. The real benefits are feeling virtuous and smart, with the warm, fuzzy glow that comes from believing you’re saving the world.

Your content and copy will never be truly relevant to your audience until you translate your features into customer-focused benefits.

The five-minute feature check

Quick, take a look through the last persuasive piece you wrote (blog post, sales page, podcast script) and take note of all of the features you talk about.

  • The process
  • Your qualifications
  • The patented mechanism
  • The policy
  • The dimensions
  • The speed
  • The materials

Copy and paste them all into a fresh document. Then, after each feature, add the words:

so you can …

The final results will be phrases like:

  • I have 10 years of experience helping clients exactly like you, so you can feel confident that together we can solve even your trickiest widget problems.
  • Our course is the most rigorous on the market, so you can leapfrog ahead of your competitors.
  • Our grape jam has 50% less sugar and no weird additives, so you can enjoy it guilt-free.

In about five minutes, you’ll uncover the weak spots in your persuasive content — the places where you were thinking about you and what you offer, and not about them and what they get out of it.

You might not use the words “so you can” over and over again in your final copy — but you will be writing with an understanding of your audience benefits.

Not all benefits are equal

The curse of knowledge can also lead you to focus too much on what some copywriters call fake benefits.

These are the benefits of your product or service that you think are important. And you might be absolutely right. They could be critical to delivering the results your audience wants.

The trouble is, the customer doesn’t particularly care.

These could be things like:

  • Stabilizing blood chemistry levels
  • Improving efficiency of project delivery and implementation
  • Mastering the ability to write a college entrance essay

But that doesn’t tell us what the buyer gets to have, do, be, feel, or become by moving forward with this purchase.

What those customers might actually want could be to:

  • Get slim without feeling hungry
  • Pull off a great project and look like a hero to their boss
  • Feel like brilliant parents because their teenager got into a great college

Features do matter

Features are the specific, convincing details that demonstrate why your solution is effective. As long as they’re tied directly to customer-focused benefits, your buyer will stay interested.

Here are some features that have been translated into benefits and presented as a set:

This nutritional program stabilizes your blood chemistry so you can finally lose weight … without getting hungry.

Our proven process makes you more efficient … and that makes you look like a hero when you deliver your next project in half the time and under budget.

This quick course teaches your teenager how to write a masterful college entrance essay … which could be the deciding factor in whether they get into their first-choice school.

Take another look at your five-minute benefit check. Any fake benefits in there?

Wants, not needs

You’ve got one more check to make before you call it good.

Are the benefits you’ve identified things your audience genuinely wants, or are they things you think they need?

Paying for things we need is boring. Spending money on things we want is a lot more fun. That’s why it’s easier to sell big-screen TVs than life insurance.

When you’re translating your features into benefits, make sure those benefits are driven by wants. Look for emotional drivers like pleasure, comfort, status, and self-image. You can also seek to put a stop to pain, either physical or emotional.

It’s not only hedonistic emotions that can drive behavior — values like patriotism, justice, and fairness can play powerful roles with the right audience. It’s still a pretty good idea, though, to pair them with a little self-interested hedonism if you can. Fair-trade coffee wouldn’t sell nearly as well if those arabica beans didn’t taste so good.

We like to think that logical drivers like efficiency, physical health, preventing future problems, and scientific evidence influence our decisions, but, they typically don’t have much impact. But those “rational” benefits are helpful when they’re used to justify an emotional decision that’s already been made.

The customer who already wants the beautiful high-heeled shoes tells herself that Jimmy Choos will last longer and feel better than a cheaper brand.

The customer who already wants to feel enlightened and virtuous tells himself that the fuel economy of the Prius clearly makes it a sensible choice.

Marketing vs. manipulation

There’s an important difference between putting your best foot forward and crossing the line into manipulation.

The key lies in making two promises:

  1. Don’t say things that aren’t true.
  2. Don’t omit significant things that are true.

The impression you create with your marketing needs to be realistic and truthful. If it isn’t, you’re a con artist and a creep — and your audience will rightly shun you when they figure that out.

If you liked this Quick Copy Tip, click here to read other posts in the series.

The post Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features appeared first on Copyblogger.


via Copyblogger

July 31, 2017 at 09:17AM



Choices have consequences.

I love dark. And depressing too. But mostly “Ozark” is just dark. Why is it so satisfying?

Because in a life of phoniness we want reality played back to us. We want to feel honest emotions.

And we love story.

That’s what the short attention span theatre people don’t get, those who keep going on about people having no ability to focus, making everything more brief, distilling it down to the hook, we want to go deep, we want to grab hold and go for the ride. We want to see how it all turns out. Because life is a long complicated journey with unforeseen twists and turns that will take you places you heretofore couldn’t contemplate. Some of them good, most of them bad.

That’s the truth. Life is about loss. If you’re lucky, you emerge from the womb intact. And from there it’s downhill. Your parents don’t give you enough attention. You’re not good at school. You fall down and get hurt. You get dumped. The key is to pick yourself up and keep going because life is about hope, and when you lose that you’re finished.

And ironically, watching these extended series gives you hope.

“Game of Thrones” will take you away. And escape can be good, but I’m eager for a touch of reality, with a twist, like on “Ozark.”

Now here comes the spoiler alert. If you’re gonna watch this Netflix series, stop here. Because art is best when you’ve got no idea what is coming. Which is why modern reviews suck and I don’t get seeing a flick over and over again. I want a fresh experience, just like life. You wake up and walk out the front door and you’ve got no idea what will happen.

And you’ve got no idea what will happen in the first ten minutes of “Ozark,” you have no idea what it’s about.

And then you do.

Let’s just say that Marty Byrde made a bad choice.

And he’s living with the consequences of that.

That’s the problem with life. What seems inconsequential today has devastating effects tomorrow. You slack in high school and then you find you can’t get into a good college. You’re too anxious to stop and put on a condom and now she’s pregnant. And the truth is we’ve all experienced these situations, this private angst. How do we get out of it?

Some people run. Those without character.

Character is everything in this life. Far superior to money. There are plenty of lying, stealing rich people who have money but little else. They trust nobody but themselves and believe accumulation and power are everything. But that’s untrue, relationships are key, you’ve got to do the right thing or be wary of your choice changing the rest of your life.

Now we’re all tempted a bit.

And we need to be broken from our cocoons.

But the irony is those ruling today, the Silicon Valleyites, did the hard work we were unwilling to do. Or didn’t see on the horizon. All that studying, being labeled a nerd. Life is long. You don’t want to top out in high school.

So Marty Byrde does not have the luxury of saying no. Not whatsoever. His back is up against a wall, he can neither pussyfoot nor waste time. He has to make one decision after another, it’s literally life or death.

Now few situations are like this. But what would you do when pressed against the wall. Cry for mommy? Pray to God? They don’t work. You’ll fall or get shot anyway.

And crisis supersedes petty disagreements, even major disagreements. You’ve got to come together to conquer, and people rise to the occasion.

Or they don’t.

The criticism is right. “Ozark” gets the vibe right, but the plot not so much. And unlike the best of “House of Cards,” there are few life lessons, few nuggets.

But the emotions…

You think your fancy degree will triumph against the nincompoop hillbillies you degrade? As if your education and breeding are a trump card?

Irrationality rules. You might think two steps ahead, but someone else might be running on emotion.

So the world can be split into two types of people. Those who believe in instant gratification, running on their emotions, and those who navigate on the highway and never hit the guard rails. To win, you’ve got to walk the wire in between. You’ve got to have your wits about you.

I thought about all this while watching “Ozark.”

You should watch it too.




via Lefsetz Letter

July 31, 2017 at 01:39AM

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Exclusive: Tesla Model 3 First Drive Review

We believe in people.

We love our technology, our devices, but what thrills us most is the individuals who spearhead their development. And although occasionally it’s a pair, like Larry and Sergey, it’s usually just one. The faceless team doesn’t excite us. The same way we wait for the slugger to take the plate at cleanup. We want to see the naked feats of the soaring soul.

And it’s not only men, it’s women too. Madonna was the star of the eighties. Because she kept pushing heretofore unseen boundaries. She flipped the script. Calling herself the “Material Girl” when the boomers had been trying to disown that concept. Which drew fans to her. And haters too. We argued about Madonna.

We rarely argue about pop stars anymore.

They don’t have that impact, that ubiquity. And their goal is to play it safe and go for the money, otherwise why would every act utilize the same writers and producers, and mixers too! They want to buy insurance. Whereas our heroes fly without a net.

Elon Musk has haters. Especially on the right. Especially in the “Wall Street Journal.” They can’t stop talking about subsidies, about economics, but that doesn’t matter to me, those are the people cleaning up after the elephants in the now lost and forgotten circus. I’m interested in people on the bleeding edge, who not only can see the possibilities, but EXECUTE!

I just read the above-linked review of the Model 3 on Twitter.

That’s another thing the wankers don’t get. They think a company is supposed to be more, more, MORE! Gaining more adherents, making more money. If Wall Street ran Columbia Records Bob Dylan would have been dropped for not generating a greater return on each record. And “Sgt. Pepper” would have been scrapped for having no singles. I’m not saying critics are not important. I’m not saying the public should not have a voice. I’m just saying our priorities are screwed up. Twitter is the best place to be plugged in, to get the news interesting to you. If I didn’t follow Elon Musk, I’d have never seen that “Motor Trend” article.

And when I read it, I started to smile.

Do you know how hard it is to build a car? To start a company from scratch?

First and foremost, the Model 3 looks cool. And it also goes from 0-60 in 5.1 seconds, which is less than half the time it takes a Prius. And it handles better not only than a Bolt, but the Alfa Romeo the writer drove to the site. And all you can do is sit at home and wonder…HOW DID THEY DO THIS?

That’s what it was like in the golden era of classic rock. We broke the shrinkwrap, dropped the needle and wondered…HOW DID THEY COME UP WITH THIS STUFF!

And to tell you the truth, we had a similar feeling in the heyday of MTV. Sure, “Sledgehammer” is a great song, but it was even a better video. But now every track features a TR-808 when that sound was passe in the 80s.

There’s commerce and revolution.

The Model 3 is a revolution.

Sure, you can put it in context, ask about the penetration of electric cars, note that England is outlawing gasoline engines by 2040. But I’m still stunned that they came up with it.

Kinda like my original Mac with LaserWriter. It could print circles without jaggies. WYSIWYG. I don’t think anybody under forty knows what that means, but it was jaw-dropping thirty years ago.

So we buy Teslas to show our devotion, like we used to wear rock t-shirts, as a badge of honor, illustrating not only our faith in the artist, but that we went to the show. Now you can buy the same shirt, pre-aged, at the mall. Who wants one of those? That’s fashion, I’m talking BELIEF!

I need more to believe in. I love my iPhone 7, but I don’t believe in it.

When I listen to “It’s Alright Ma” I’m flummoxed, how did Dylan come up with this stuff?

Our leaders are not in D.C. And they’re not on Wall Street either. They’re people deep in their niche who will hear no naysaying on their way to putting a dent in the universe. It’s not about the money, that’s not what drives them. It’s about making what they see in their head come to fruition. It’s about the achievement. It’s about the bettering of society.

And it titillates us all.

@TeslaMotors: Watch a Tesla Model 3 vs. Volvo S60 side-pole impact test



via Lefsetz Letter

July 31, 2017 at 01:39AM

McCain Says No

McCain Says No

We don’t like team players.

That’s the American Way. We’re one of a kind mavericks who believe we can go our own way. Maybe that’s how we got into this mess. All this millennial hogwash about getting along, being a member of the group, staying silent rather than throwing a monkey wrench into the discussion.

Meanwhile, we laud the leaders, the entrepreneurs, those who are different.

That’s how Trump got elected in the first place.

Hillary, and I can’t believe they’re still talking about her, after all they won, was the best prepared and the best educated but she was so busy triangulating that she ended up inauthentic. And what we Americans crave most is authenticity.

We can debate all day long whether McCain’s reputation is deserved, whether he truly is a maverick, we can go through his history and find fault but one thing’s for sure, he gave the Republican Party the middle finger tonight.

Now this was not foreseeable. He flew back from surgery to put this process in action, to enable this vote. But it turned out that was just the first inning, the first round, it was a head fake.

And maybe it’s about being near death. When you just don’t give a fuck.

That’s what the young don’t understand about the old. They’ve seen the movie, they know it’s b.s., at some point they’re gonna do what they want as opposed to what they’re told to do.

And why is it Republicans recant on their death beds, remember Lee Atwater?, but the Democrats don’t. At this point both parties are beholden to corporations but when the grim reaper comes knocking at your door, no corporation is gonna save you, no big daddy, you’re on your own, you can kiss your ass goodbye.

That’s what America has turned into. Paying fealty. Giving to get back. Even though very few can win. And we’ve all become disillusioned, we don’t think great things can happen. Hell, that’s what Trump ran on, making America Great Again. Well, I’ve lived a few decades at this point and I don’t want to go back to the past whatsoever. I decry income inequality, I’ve got complaints, but it’s better than it’s ever been. Technology has made all of our lives better. Even though it’s hard to pay the rent for so many.

But the solution is not to jet back to the past.
And there’s no jetting back in health care.

Turns out people want to be taken care of. They want a level playing field. Just like everybody’s got a gay uncle or sister or cousin, everybody knows someone who’s gone bankrupt from health bills, or has fought the system unsuccessfully, or has been presented with a bill they cannot afford. Through no fault of their own! They’re just minding their own business and they get cancer, diseases they’ve never heard of before. They’re on the precipice of death.

And some don’t care.

But that’s not what they say.

They obfuscate. They say you should have taken responsibility. That everyone can get health care in the emergency room. That we’ve got to protect jobs, we’ve got to protect the corporations. They talk about small businesses, but that’s fallacious, the man, the company, is the big kahuna here, in terms of revenue and employment.

Slice and dice it however you want, I don’t care. I don’t even care what side you’re on.

All I know is we’ve got entertainers more sold out and more duplicitous than politicians. You might bop your head to the sound, but they live for sponsorship. They don’t stand for anything but money. And then tonight, just when we think we know who McCain is, that he cannot do the right thing…

He does.

That’s an American. That’s the American Way.

Doing the right thing as opposed to the expedient.

Not worrying about the team, but the game.

And the game is we’re a nation of individuals. We have to get along. We have to look after each other. Or else the whole thing fails.

Countries are fragile. Just look at Venezuela. Hell, the globe is different from the one I used to have in my childhood bedroom.

Who do we tell our kids to look up to? Who are their heroes? Who speaks the truth?

Tonight McCain did the right thing, damn the team, he was worried about the consequences.

Are you gonna follow in his footsteps?

We need people to point the way, otherwise we get lost.

Tonight we were found.



via Lefsetz Letter

July 29, 2017 at 01:38AM

How To Promote

How To Promote


“A great song can make the worst artist in the world a star.”

Quincy Jones

Which is why no one from the “Voice” has had any success and Bob Dylan is the most respected solo artist of the rock era. Quincy Jones went through eight hundred songs to find what ended up on “Thriller.” Michael Jackson has the fame, but without Q he’s not the King of Pop. Think about this after you record your number and expect it to go straight to the top of the chart. Hell, some of Springsteen’s GIVEAWAYS were smash hits. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, I’m just saying the bar is very high and woodshedding pays dividends and the song is the most important thing.


And only them. Don’t hire a PR person to send CDs to every outlet. You’re wasting your money. And don’t send a file EVER and if you send a CD, file or link to someone in the business, they’re just going to ignore it and throw it away/delete it. And they’re not going to tell you they did this and they’re not going to tell you your music sucks if you even get an answer, they’re going to encourage you, because everyone inside has a story of being harassed by a wannabe. Ten percent of the public is certifiably insane, the problem is you just don’t know which ten percent it is, so you ignore everything.


If your friends say it’s great, they’ll spread the word for you. It’s even cool if they rave to put them on the spot and tell them to spread the word further. But if you get no reaction, or a negative one, just post your work on Soundcloud and YouTube and move on. Your past is a time bomb, a land mine, waiting to go off if you gain any traction in the future. Although it’s funny, seemingly everybody who makes it wants to bury their initial attempts.


Put it on Spotify. All the streaming services. It’s cheap and it’s easy. Use Tunecore or CD Baby. But don’t expect to make any money, don’t even expect any listens, it’s just that if you’ve got something worth hearing you want it to be available.


That’s all purveyors are interested in. All labels are interested in. They’re looking for a story, if you can’t tell one, they’re not going to sign you. They know how the game is played, they know the above facts, the know the barrier to entry is almost nonexistent. They also know great tracks are ignored and good is not good enough. They’re looking for the one listen smash, not the work track, it’s hard enough to break the smash, hell, Rag’n’Bone Man’s “Human” was number one all over the world except for America, where Sony couldn’t break it, and that’s one of the best tracks of the past year. Sure, you can rail against the system and go your own way, that’s fine, but it’s all about the story.


Ticket sales are more important than listens. If you can prove you can sell tickets, agents are interested and all the money is on the road. But this is a grass roots operation. You can’t get an agent worth their salt if you’re not already bringing in people. So, you’ve got to beg the club, pay the club, trade dates with other acts, and don’t complain, this is the way it is. Do you know companies have to pay to get their products stocked at supermarkets, they’re called “slotting fees.” When you bitch and moan about inequities it just demonstrates you’re an amateur, you’ve got to break through these barriers.


Everybody gives up. Perseverance is key. You get better, you know more people and opportunities arise. But it could be ten years and it could be never. Focus on being friendly and networking, and if you’re not willing to give something up, if there’s no quid pro quo, expect doors to remain closed, no one likes a taker.


It happens on streaming services first. Radio is last.

If your listens are building you can hire a playlist company to lobby Spotify, et al, to give you a chance. But know, if you’re on a list and you’re skipped or not saved, you’re over. That’s the modern game. It’s all in the numbers. Telling someone how great your track is is worthless.


Tracks move slower than ever before. Sure, there are cuts by stars that are acknowledged instantly, but so many of them instantly disappear. Whereas stuff like Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” was released in 2016 and it’s only recently that it’s gone ballistic. It’s the same song, but when people hear it they react. And the key here is Daniel Glass, whose label Glassnote released it. Once you’ve got traction, it takes a team to put something over the top. Best to employ those who have skin in the game, those on per project contracts talk a good game but oftentimes don’t deliver, there’s always another track. And Glass has acts signed to his label who’ve made tracks he won’t put out, because if they’re not great, it’s not worth expending the effort of his team.


It’s harder than ever to make it. And don’t listen to the wankers, if you do make it you’re gonna make a ton of coin. And there are stories of total independents succeeding, acts all by their lonesome, but most success stories are a result of relationships. Which is what labels have. Managers too. The usual suspects are part of the network. To deny this would be like hiring your neighbor who coded at the Ivy and expect him to gain you entrance to Silicon Valley, it won’t happen.

So don’t bother promoting yourself to those who do not care. No one has any time except for great, and it’s hard to wade through the weeds to even find that. When you ask for someone’s time you’d better deserve it.

Most don’t.

But a few do.


via Lefsetz Letter

July 29, 2017 at 01:38AM