I was recently a guest on the Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh, where I first introduced the concepts discussed in this blog post. I’ve embedded the episode here for you to listen. The podcast is a supplement. This post goes into much more detail.
Question: How many consultants / coaches / service providers are you competing with? I have no idea what business you’re in, so let me tell you about my business. A basic search on LinkedIn returns:
- 300,000+ results for “copywriter”
- 700,000+ for “copy writer”
- 900,000+ for “content writer”
- 3,300,000+ for “writer”
That means there are at least 5,000,000+ copywriters (loosely speaking) in the world today.
If you count the non-English copywriters, and copywriters who aren’t on social media? I’d say the number is closer to 10,000,000+.
Even if you aren’t a copywriter, I expect you’re dealing with similar numbers in your industry.
How do you stand out from the crowd? Where do you even start?
I see a lot of good, competent service providers floundering when trying to market themselves.
- “But what should I write about?”
- “Who’d want to listen to me?”
- “I wish I could do X marketing, but I’m not like so-and-so.”
This article is not about beating your head trash or mastering your mindset (maybe next time, bros.) What I am gonna do is give you a way to think about marketing your business that will…
Apply Across Every Channel And Medium Of Communication!
Peep game, my G.
The overwhelming majority of service providers using social media are unpaid interns.
All they do is grow Facebook’s, Google’s, Twitter’s, Instagram’s, Pinterest’s, LinkedIn’s, etc., share value…
And get nothing back in return but f***ed up dopamine receptors and Hurricane Becky levels of endocrine disruption from too much exposure to blue-light.
A few service providers figure out how to turn their social media use from a net-negative to a net-positive.
For these folks, social media is an investment. It makes them money.
Fewer still figure out how to use social media – or, more broadly, marketing – to impose their will upon the world.
Thought leaders. Influencers. Dragons.
Their reach stretches across continents. They can change reality in front of our very eyes. And, in some cases, they can…
Become So Influential They MUST Be Put Down!
But you won’t need to go that far. 😉
Remember, you’re just here to build a nice little business for yourself and get to “F*** You Cashflow.”
So, where’s the “sweet spot”? To help you understand this, I’ve created the T.R.O.L.L. Framework™.
There are 2 aspects to the framework:
- What it looks like when executed correctly
- How to execute it correctly
I’ll walk you through both. But first, here’s the framework in its entirety:
Level 1: Lurker
If you use social media anonymously to chuckle at memes, watch funny videos, and live vicariously through other people, you’re a lurker.
Lurkers have no interest in a public online presence. Either they don’t see the value in it, or they don’t care for it.
Level 2: Public, Passive
At this level, the user’s identity is public but their only contributions are like, retweets, and follows.
Maybe they interact with family and personal friends on Facebook, but that’s about it.
They don’t use social media to build a network for advancing their careers or business. Levels 1 and 2 together form the “unpaid interns” of social media.
Level 3: Public, Active
This is your run-of-the-mill personal brand on social media.
It’s clear they’re open to “business” opportunities from their profile descriptions.
They share articles and comments from influencers in their space.
Maybe even comment on issues with their own opinion from time-to-time.
But all-in-all, they’re forgettable.
They don’t take any risks and aren’t adding any significant value.
It seems like they get along with everyone and are well-liked, but they do have some haters.
However, these haters are mostly silent because they don’t say anything of consequence worth reacting to.
Level 4: Thought Leader
Thought Leaders are followed.
They share wisdom (that is, knowledge + experience) on whatever platforms they’re active.
They’re willing to reject conventional wisdom and innovate in their space.
And not only are they experts, they share more of themselves than others care to.
Even if it makes them enemies.
They don’t PLAY a character online. They ARE a character.
This makes some people love them and others hate them.
Their fans bond with them over their “rough edges” because they are aware of and willing to embrace their flaws.
They have “hate followers” – people who follow them just to s***-talk and disagree with them at every opportunity.
But you know what?
It’s all good, baby.
Thought Leaders don’t sweat the haters.
They know it’s just part of the Game.
Level 5: Pariah
These guys have caused too much of a ruckus…
They’ve got a legion of die-hard fans but by the time they get to this stage, their haters are institutions or governments.
They’re a significant intellectual threat to the “powers that be” and have to be silenced.
Don’t worry, only a tiny minority of people even get this far.
Where Should You Be On This Scale?
You want to operate in and around level 4, “Thought Leader.”
If you’re a risk taker, you may push against the boundary of level 4 / level 5.
If you’re risk averse, you may prefer to stay closer to level 4 / level 3.
In general, though, you’ll be oscillating within this space.
It’s a dance to see how much you can get away with.
To see how well you can play the Game.
You don’t want to play at level 5, “Pariah.”
That’s where people like Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopolous, and Martin Shkreli ended up, and look what happened to them.
Alex Jones of Info Wars was virtually un-personed from the internet in a coordinated blitz by Facebook, Google, Apple, and Spotify.
Milo Yiannopolous, a rising-star conservative political figure made a lot of noise on social and mainstream media, only to become persona non-grata when he took his “Dangerous Fa**ot” persona too far.
Martin Shkreli aka “Pharma Bro” is in jail for 7 years over financial fraud (I mention him not to allege his innocence but to say he may have gotten a lighter sentence if he wasn’t at level 5.)
^^ If you have no idea who these people are, look them up.
The Antifragility Of Personal Brands
That is, your personal brand gains from disorder.
I’m paraphrasing a section from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s, Antifragile.
For creatives like authors, musicians, artists and, to a certain extent, copywriters (I don’t think we are)…
Controversy Is Great For Business!
Like they say in media, “all publicity is good publicity.”
If you’re at level 2 or 3 on the T.R.O.L.L. Framework, you can stand to take a lot more risks.
Most people overestimate the significance haters have on their lives.
Most people are too concerned about protecting their reputation when the truth is…
They have no reputation to protect.
Outside of their friends and family, no one knows who the f*** they are.
Consider a public figure who goes to great lengths to maintain a pristine, flawless reputation.
Is he perfect? Of course not.
His sh*t stinks just like yours and mine.
When he eventually slips up and shows a flaw, any flaw, what happens to his brand?
You guessed it…
Now consider someone who’s open about his flaws, embraces them, and bonds with his supporters over them.
What happens when he f***s up at some point?
“Meh. We never thought he was perfect!”
If you ever wondered why Donald Trump could get hit by scandal after scandal and come out – not just unscathed – even stronger…
^^ That’s why.
Applying The T.R.O.L.L. Framework
Honestly, I could have called this framework something Dragon-ish to keep with the theme of my book.
But I wanted the mnemonic to help teach the concepts.
T = Target Audience
You have a target audience you want to attract.
This target audience consists of people who are drawn to you (i.e. your personal brand.)
To attract them, it is enough to merely show up online as yourself.
The problem with attraction marketing is you tend to attract the wrong kinds of people too.
People who you don’t want as your audience or clients.
R = Repulsion Marketing
To combat this, you use a Via Negativa approach – addition via subtraction.
So, how you show up online is deliberately designed to REPEL anyone who isn’t “your people.”
People asked Michelangelo how he created the statue of David. He said:
“I simply removed what was not David.” – Michelangelo – badass artist from the olden days
When you repel all those who aren’t “your people” what are you left with? Your People. How do you repel people?
O = Overton Window
The Overton Window, or the window of discourse, is the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse.
It’s named after Joseph P. Overton, who said an idea’s political viability depends mainly on whether it falls within the window.
Think about it:
Do you have any ideas some people would consider radical or unthinkable that “your people” would totally be down with?
Let me give you an example:
I’m an observant Muslim and very open with my religious beliefs online and in person.
Many of those beliefs will be abhorrent to some people.
By expressing them, I would repel these people.
I’d also repel those who are uncomfortable when religion is brought up.
Now, you don’t need to use religion or politics to have this effect.
Here’s another example:
I’m very vocal about writing copy to SELL when many of my peers don’t believe sales is the primary purpose of copy.
In fact, they will go to great lengths to use any metric other than sales to judge the quality of their copy.
And you don’t even need to do it with ideas!
You can use your persona/personality to repel people.
You could be the nicest guy in the world but…
Some People Just Don’t Like Your Face!
Or your personality might just rub them the wrong way.
L = Love (fans) / L = Livid (haters)
Love and hate are essentially the same emotion.
And you want both when you’re marketing.
The opposite of love is not hate.
The opposite of love is indifference.
The worst reaction you can get is no reaction at all.
Those who love you will buy from you.
Those who hate you will become your unpaid marketing interns – you get free publicity every time they engage with you or talk about you.
Get your copy of Dragon Energy: The Tao Of Personal Branding here.
Alright, Chief. But does it work?
If you’re reading this and you know me… About 70% of you can’t stand my guts.
The rest think I’m one the baddest mfers on the planet.
I’ve used the T.R.O.L.L. Framework™ to grow a small but loyal audience.
AND pre-sell 100+ copies of my new book that doesn’t exist yet!
Here’s what my janky internal launch did:
- +16% Net list growth over 10 days
- 26% Signed up for the presale list
- 26% Of the presale list bought
- 7% Of the total list bought
But this ain’t some n=1 exercise in mental masturbation.
Here are a couple of examples of personal brands who are…
My Polar Opposites Using The T.R.O.L.L. Framework™ Masterfully!
I’m a big fan of Alaura’s skill as a copywriter and I consider her a legit af authority on marketing.
But she and I could never work together.
I’m just not “her people.”
WHICH IS TOTALLY FINE AND OK!
[Side note: Oxytocin and Vasopressin – the male version – are also the “racism” hormone. Look it up ;)]
I would NOT go near this chick with a 10-foot long crazy-stick.
BUT she’s built a successful business around her values.
And her people are totally down with it!
Also, she knows exactly what she’s doing.
Won’t I Scare Off Potential Clients If I Do This?
Depends on your business strategy.
Do you want to take on all comers, even clients you don’t like…maybe can’t stand?
Or do you want to build your business around clients you love, who are your strategic partners and will stick with you for the length of your career?
Look, I get it…
A lotta peeps don’t want drama.
They’d rather just do the work as it comes, wherever it comes from.
They suffer from “Nice Guy Syndrome.”
“If I can hide my flaws and become what I think others want me to be then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life. Do everything right, don’t rock the boat, don’t be a problem, hide your flaws and mistakes and you will get the love and approval you’re after.” – No More Mr. Nice Guy, Dr. Robert Glover
But these folks aren’t gonna be authorities in a world where social media is ubiquitous and the only currency is attention.
If you want to be see as an authority…
You need friction.
You need an “enemy” (doesn’t have to be a person…can be an idea) for you and your audience to rally against and bond over…
So you can turn into the Dragon.
(According to Taoist tradition, a Dragon refers to a group, moving together with singular purpose and intent, to achieve a common objective.)
This Sounds Pretty Intense, Nabeel. Is It Worth The Hassle?
Authority building is always going to be high-risk, high-reward, whatever strategy you use.
First of all, you need to GTFOT (Get The F*** Out There.)
Do not underestimate the balls you need to do even that.
Many don’t even try.
I just got an email the other day from a fella who bought Dragon Energy:
“How can you overcome shame that comes with creating personal brand? I already have a site, but don’t show it in social networks. Especially because I have men self-improvement site. It is controversial topic and provokes shame in me.”
Imagine that. You want to help men be better men…and you feel ashamed to try! It’s why the entire first section of my book is dedicated to mindset and overcoming head trash. Second of all, when you GTFOT…
You Open Yourself To The Playa Haters And Sh*t-Talkers Of The Internet!
It’s gonna happen whether you like it or not. Whether you’re the most milquetoast, apple-pie-eating, farts rainbows girl-next-door… (more on that in a minute)
Or whether you’re Nabeel Azeez the scary, brown Mozzlum with his “toxic masculinity” and memes about 4 wives.
You can either spend your time trying to protect yourself from it by being an anodine f***ing bore…
…apologizing at every perceived sleight…
…Or you can lean into it and charge it to the Game.
Obviously, I recommend the latter.
Why Piss People Off In The First Place? Isn’t This What’s Wrong With The World Today?
Here’s what I AM advocating:
Honest expression of who you are; your personality, your values, your rough edges, the whole shebang.
“Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualizing and self-image actualizing is very important. Most people only live for their image.” – Bruce Lee – the most honest artist who ever lived
Here’s what I’m NOT advocating:
Saying s*** to piss people off on purpose (unless your personality is to be a provocateur.)
Like I said earlier:
Some people just don’t like your face.
Your very existence is offensive to some.
And that is OK, baby!
If you are a man of principle, it is only natural your principles will clash with those that oppose it.
This is naturally gonna piss people off.
Now, if these pissed off folks wanna “throw hands” (as opposed to disagreeing agreeably)… You need to bring the bazooka.
“That’s why I tell people, ‘Get even.’ This is not your typical advice: get even. But this is real-life advice. If you don’t get even, you are just a schmuck…People do not want to play around with me as much as they do with others. They know if they do, they are really in for a big fight. Always get even. When you’re in business, you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back 15 times harder. You do it not only to get the person who messed with you, but also to show the others who are watching what will happen to them if they mess with you. If someone attacks you, do not hesitate. Go for the jugular. Attack them back in spades.” – Donald Trump – Think Big and Kick Ass
Here’s a real-life example of…
Deliberately Not Trying To Piss People Off…But Doing It Anyway!
Got The Picture Yet?
I hope I’ve inspired you to show up online and express yourself honestly using the T.R.O.L.L. Framework™.
Take more risks…I cannot stress this enough.
Share yourself with the world.
Because people who are like you, will like you.
Some of those people need a copywriter. 😉
And the potential reward?
Authority, e-fame, leads, referrals, gigs, hookers, blow…
Monay, monay, monay, moonaaay. MOOOONAAAAAAY!
Got any questions about the T.R.O.L.L. Framework™?
Leave them in the comments.
If we get a bunch of good ones, I might do a live stream Q-and-A.
Nabeel Azeez is Dubai’s most expensive copywriter and the co-founder of Dropkick Copy. He’s currently working on his debut book, Dragon Energy: The Tao Of Personal Branding™.
If you’d like to work with Nabeel and Dropkick Copy, book your breakthrough strategy session today.
(P.S. I know having more than one CTA is a copywriting no-no.)