Interviews Ben Settle

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Q1. Where are you from?

Bandon, Oregon

Q2. How did you discover copywriting?

A day or two before I graduated college back in the late 90’s, I was in “I don’t really want to have a job forever, and would like my own business” mode. I had no idea what I’d do. I had zero knowledge of direct marketing or copywriting or anything like that – just MLM. And I was watching TV one of those nights and an infomercial came on called “Financial Freedom” which was a Kevin Trudeau informercial. He was generating lead for the MLM he was in using the infomercial. I called the number, spent the $40 or whatever for the information kit, a few weeks later I was in MLM. I sucked out loud at MLM. The worst distributor who ever lived. Couldn’t enroll anyone. Literally got desperate, while living in an office since couldn’t afford anything else, and did some door to door sales, handing recruiting tapes to local businesses who laughed and mocked and rejected me. One night I was laying up, plagued with insomnia, in the office wondering what to do. I literally prayed about it – God you obviously don’t want me doing this MLM thing, what should I do? I ended up going to my book shelf and thumbing through books a few minutes later and saw a book I’d read a couple years earlier called “The Seven Lost Secrets of Success” by Joe Vitale. It’s about an old school marketer and copywriter Bruce Barton. He was the second “B” in the giant BBDO ad agency, adviser to Calvin Coolidge (I think), and Wall Street. Son of a preacher, open enemy of FDR, too. Thought business would usher in the second coming. He was also a household name back in the early to mid 1900’s. Everyone knew him. The joke was you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about this Bruce Barton fellow. Anyway, I flipped through the book and landed on a story about how, in 1919, when the economy was in shambles, and nobody was hiring, a man came to Bruce Barton’s office for help. This guy was a sales manager and said he was known for writing great sales letters specifically. So Bruce Barton took him to the window, showed him all the buildings in the city, and said, “look at all these businesses – you say you’re good at writing sales letters, why don’t you write these businesses a letter selling yourself to them?” Something about that story hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I didn’t know what a sales letter or copywriting was. But I loved the idea of writing a letter and money appears. So I hopped on Google and went down a rabbit hole – finding guys like Dan Kennedy and Gary Halbert – and have still not emerged from that rabbit hole to this day.

Q3. What forms of copy do you write?

I pretty much just write sales pages and emails, it’s all my business requires. I have written VSL’s, and other ads. But I don’t bother with them in my business. Just email, to sales page.

Q4. What are your favorite niches to write in?

I sell all my own offers which I enjoy, I used to enjoy writing to the self-defense niche in my freelancing days, you can never really get too crazy with it. Golf niche was also fun, and so was the prostate problems niche.

Q5. What is the #1 lesson you've learned as a copywriter?

It’s all about the market. A market-first approach will beat a marketing-first approach any ol’ day of the week. If you are a complete amateur but know your market better than a seasoned pro who doesn’t you will probably win. That’s been my experience.

Q6. Who is your favorite copywriter & why?

Gary Halbert and Gary Bencivenga for sales letters, Matt Furey for emails. That’s three, but whatever. Their skill at what they do is otherworldly. I get taken to school whenever I read any of their stuff.

Q7. Do you have any recent wins to share?

Probably when I wrote the long-running control selling a book called Magnetic Sponsoring for the MLM training niche. That thing just pulled and pulled and pulled. I was told by the guys using it that they could never beat it even when using video and other media. It made a lot of people a lot of money, apparently, which was great to hear.

Q8. What would you say to a prospective client who wants to hire you?

Be the most consistent guy in the room at everything you do and you’ll be hard to beat.

Q9. What is a good email address for prospective clients to contact you?

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