Is this the easiest way to generate a new idea?

Here’s a nifty idea for you.

A Fisher-Price-level creative technique is simply taking two separate objects and combining them into one.

The Swiss Army knife is a great example of this on steroids – it’s a knife AND bottle opener… and a corkscrew… and a set of nail clippers… AND an almost filled 1982 Panini World Cup sticker album.

(One day you’ll be mine, Trevor Brooking… one day)

When copywriters come up with creative unique mechanisms, “putting two things together” is often the first thing we explore.

(Though obviously, we don’t call it “putting two things together” in front of clients. You can’t charge $25,000 for something that sounds like something a blind, uncoordinated chimpanzee could do)

If you’re thinking of selling your new bookbinding glue for instance – and I know you are – can you find a new hook by sticking something onto it?

Something to help it stand out from the other, well-known, bookbinding glues… you know, like… er… Bindermax, Sheetstick, and, er… Missive Mount.

(A word of warning: if you’re going to Google “Sheetstick”, be VERY careful with your typing fingers)

When you add something, you end up with something that’s not JUST a bookbinding glue, but a bookbinding glue that ALSO:

– Is kid-friendly (only 53% toxic, so the little brats will only suffer a mild case of gastroenteritis)…

– Contains 1,253% of your RDA of Riboflavin…

– Removes nail varnish and descales your Nespresso machine

If you’re selling a course in a market flooded with competitors, you COULD spend time coming up with an interesting angle to ADD to your course to make it stand out:

– A sparkly new bonus

– Edit the videos to make it the shortest/longest course ever

– Make it Vegan friendly by printing out all the handouts on Ryvita

But ADDING stuff is hard work.

(Besides, you could tell by the way I wrote “COULD” in caps there might be an easier way, right?)

What if you could come up with a unique mechanism for your offer – something to help it stand out from the market – by adding NOTHING?

Here’s an example…

Whenever I’ve been talking about my email writing course “Sent.”, I’ve kinda casually mentioned it’s an easy way to write personality-packed emails that sell… emails that actually sound like YOU wrote them.

There are actually TWO benefits lurking in that mess of a sentence:

1) A simple approach to writing emails that sell

2) How write funny emails that sound and FEEL like YOU

There are probably a ton of courses that teach either of those things. 

But how many do BOTH?

(No, seriously. How many? I’m too lazy to research.)

I’ll be honest, I’ve not been making the most of this double-pronged unique benefit.

My derriere has been lazily perched on a pretty powerful hook for a while… 

I just had to wake up and see it.

Now I don’t know you as well as I’d like to, but…

I’m willing to wager you might be sitting on a unique mechanism somewhere in your offers. Something that might make your customers’ eyeballs pop out of their skulls in delight as they reach for their wallets.

So look at your offers again. Come up with all the benefits and features you can for everything you have. 

Is there something powerful lurking there you’ve not been talking about…

… something that makes your “Appendix Assassin” DIY Appendectomy course different from all the other DIY Appendectomy courses out there?

Find it… and start talking about it more.



Clumsily talking about “Sent.”

Last year, I put it back into the mythical vault for a while.

(On a scale of 1-34, how cheesy would it have been to call it “Holt’s Vault?” 

487? Thought so. Glad I didn’t do it)

For reasons I won’t go into now, I’m thinking of putting it back on my imaginary shelf again, along with “Endless Emails”.

If I do, I’ll give you fair warning, but consider this your first “heads up”.

“Sent.” and Endless Emails probably won’t be available for much longer. And I’ve no idea if/when they’ll be available again.

Wanna check them out before they vanish?

Here’s an easy-to-click bunch of blue text that’ll help you discover more about “Sent.”


Here’s a similarly easy-to-click collection of characters if you want to find out more about “Endless Emails”.

Inadvertently simulating pigs

As an ex-magician, there are a lot of metrics I COULD have used to track my performance.

– I could’ve analysed the number of new tricks I’ve mastered…

– Or how many witty retorts I had in a quick-fire quiver, ready for the inevitable “no seriously… what do you do for a proper job?” lines…

– Amount of phone numbers collected*…

* “I bet you get loads of numbers” is a common misconception about being a magician. Or at least it was for me. Maybe other magicians were swimming in slips of paper, filled with hastily written digits. Me not so much. Though I did once share a lingering glance with a lady with a glass eye.

Even on the business side of things, I was pretty lax about metrics.

I just did stuff that got the best results.

For me, that was sending funny emails to agencies, bookers, and event companies that might have use for a weird chap who can make people laugh every once in a while.

There was only one performance metric I kept a close eye on…

I even invested in a measurement device to keep track of it.

Amount of snorts.

That’s right, I collected snorts.

In a world where a Nobel prize was given to someone researching people who collected belly button lint, I should probably come up with a formal name for snort collecting.

(I’ll go with “Oink Fancier” for now, but won’t commit to popping it on my business cards just yet)

The device I used to collect these knee-jerk nasal blasts was a tally clicker.

Yep, the same tool favoured by doormen and 12-year-old ride operators at amusement parks was always in my right jacket pocket, ready to bring out should a member of my group inadvertently simulate a pig.

(Mental note – make sure “simulate” doesn’t autocorrect to “stimulate”)

The best snorts were always from people you’d least expect – elderly ladies or the prim and proper crowd – folk trying their best to maintain their best social face.

Magic has a great way of yanking that mask right off you.

In one second, the Royal duchess you’re doing a trick for goes from:

“Oh yes… very spiffing. Well done, that man!”


“Bugger me sideways with a kettle. Where the fuck did that coin go?”

Most magicians prize gigs, applause, and tips as measures of success.

Me? Snorts.

To each their own.

There are two reasons I could be telling you this:

1) To do my best to convince you to learn one solid magic trick, so you can experience the majesty of this mask pulling power for yourself, or

2) To help you realise that, even though there are lots of metrics you COULD look at…

… most of the time it’s about choosing the right ones for you.

Business owners always ask me:

“What’s a good open rate?”

I don’t really care.

Are you clicking the links I ask you to?

^^^ That’s a better – snort-worthy – metric if ever there was one.

Action-based metrics are like snorts – you can’t fake ‘em. Either I did something worthy of making you click or I didn’t.

Ultimately, pick the metric that best helps you answer this uber-important question:

Did my email achieve what I wanted it to do?

To know that, you need to be clear on two things:

1) Your goal for the email

2) The best way to measure that

For example, for this email, I won’t be looking at clicks or opens, but I will be checking searches for “tally counters” on Google trends…


Am I kicking you out of my “email club”?

I’ve just done something that terrifies most business owners.

Did I:

a) Sell something without ending the price in a 7?

b) Actually say my price OUT LOUD on a discovery call with a client?

c) Take a day off?

Nope. None of those.

In a second, I’ll tell you what I did AND challenge you to give it a bash too. 

If you’re lucky, I might even give you one or two pretty convincing reasons to do it… in the most inefficient way possible.

Here’s what I’m doing…

Manually deleting “bad” subscribers every time I go into my email software.

Whenever I’m on a podcast or Facebook group talking about email marketing* – getting business owners past the “Be myself? Are you mental? Won’t people unsubscribe?” belief is always one of my main goals.

(Along with remembering the host’s name and praying they don’t ask me when to use an em-dash)

* Yep, that was my super-subtle reminder I’m available for public appearances.

So… if you’re suffering from a severe bout of Unsubscribeaphobia… you gotta get over it.

And there’s no better prescription than getting into the habit of saying “Arrivederci Alan!” to folks who are never going to buy from you.

Of course, you could come up with a high-tech, easy-peasy solution by creating a segment that automatically updates and deletes the inactive folks every month or so, but as my torture sensei, Phil Haversham is fond of telling me…

Small repeated actions can induce higher levels of untold, agonising suffering have better results.

Don’t rip the bandaid off… slowly and mercilessly tease it so you feel every single pulled hair.

Whenever you open your email software think “ABC – Always Be Culling.”

Right now, I’m ditching people who’ve been on my list for over 3 months and NEVER opened or clicked an email.

Your tolerance may vary. Do whatever feels good for you – there are no wrong answers here.

(Though, saying that… if you’re eliminating folks because they haven’t downloaded your lead magnet, put it into action, or had it tattooed onto their gran… AND IT’S BEEN 38 MINUTES!… you should probably loosen the shackles a tad)

Oh, and if you’ve never heard me on a podcast* and are wondering why you should bother getting rid of the deadwood… here are a few good reasons.

* Yeah… that one wasn’t quite as subtle.

1) Deliverability – every inactive subscriber is a warning shot to your software company, telling them someone isn’t liking what you’re putting out. This isn’t a major problem, but the more inactive folks you have on your list, the more shots ring out and the worse your deliverability will be.

2) Cost – Sure, you’re bleeding Mailchimp dry using a free account now, but when you’re a marketing megastar and Edna Kardashian is DMing you for tips on how to build an audience, every single subscriber will be costing you money… every single month.

If you wouldn’t spend your hard-earned money to email the agnostics in your list when you’re bigger than Ryan Reynolds, why should you now?

3) Mentality – Most business owners consider it a privilege their subscribers deemed them worthy of knowing their 14th best email address.

(I’m looking at you

Now I’m not saying you need to be an arse about this, but gratitude and privilege should go both ways… 

Start filling your head with the idea that your subscribers should be grateful to YOU for letting them join your list, so they can soak up your gold.

You don’t have to have a monstrous ego about this and demand sacrificial offerings.

(Getting goat blood out of your Axminster carpet gets old real fast) 

It’s just a tiny shift. It’s remembering that your list is your land – your real estate. 

Welcome them onto your property and be a kind and benevolent host, sure. But be clear – if they start taking the mickey or peeing on the rug… they shouldn’t be surprised when you show them the door…

… as you boot their arse out of it.

– – – 

So that’s my challenge for you – dive into your software, find the folks who are less committed than a gamophobic polygamist… and get rid of some.

You up for it?


P.S. You’re right…

This email does also make for a pretty solid “cunning way of letting you know you should probably click on a link or two every month” template.

Feel free to steal it.

That said, if you’re reading this, you’re good. And I’m glad you’re here. 🙂

Why I’m watching The Mentalist at 16X speed (SPOILERS)

When I watch a TV series, I’m always a little bit gutted when it’s one of those standalone episodes that doesn’t move the main plot forward.

Or, as the Barenaked Ladies sang about the X-Files:

“I hope the Smoking Man’s in this one”

If you tuned into Mulder and Scully and caught a glimpse of an old white guy lighting up a Morley’s in the shadows, you knew you were in for a belter of an episode.

I was thinking about this over the past few days, as I’ve been rewatching The Mentalist.

For any non-mental fans out there, the main plot revolves around tracking down the notorious serial killer, Red John (no relation, though definitely an inspiration) – the man who butchered Patrick Jane’s family.

I like murder mysteries, but even I remember watching the series every week and thinking it was a bloody slog. 

I’ve seen Glaciers make faster progress.

They bled that single reveal dry for six seasons – the same time it took “Lost” to wrap up every single one of their 4,000 Gordian plot knots.

I remember losing patience with the Mentalist and giving up.

As the entire series is on Prime though, I thought I’d give it a rewatch. Only, to save me having to consume 120+ episodes to get to the big reveal, I thought I’d Google:

“Which episodes of the Mentalist feature Red John?”

The answer? 15.

Now, instead of having to time block 3 weeks out of my hectic calendar so I can finally say “wait – it was Sheriff McCallister? REALLY?”, I just need to find ten hours or so.

And as a man who has very little going on in his life, that’s a doodle.

(That sounds way more depressing than I intended)

Hell, I made it through four seasons’ worth of episodes in one day.

(Again, that’s a depressing thing for me to boast about)

There’s a lot to be said for focusing on the bits that move the needle. Not only do you get to where you want to go faster… it’s also a more enjoyable journey too, as every step feels like you’re actually making progress.

I think this is one of the reasons people enjoy my email writing course “Sent.”.

It’s not the “Encyclopedic encyclopedia of everything email” course because Lord knows, I’m not the guy to make that course.

Besides, you don’t need to know absolutely everything about email, copywriting, or hosiery repair to write money-making emails.

Instead, “Sent.” is the “Red John” needle moving episodes of email marketing – the pieces that help you sit down and effortlessly write an email that sells AND sounds like something you would write…

WITHOUT getting bogged down in boring, standalone episodes that don’t advance the plot.

“Sent.” is delivered day-by-day via email over 15 days, meaning you can either take it one episode at a time… or do what I’d do and wait for everything and then binge the hell out of it in one sitting.

There’s also a daily video, in case you prefer watching rather than reading.

Oh, and there’s also a bunch of FREE bonuses you’ll get when you join today though, in true TV cliffhanger tradition, you’ll have to click through to this page to see what they are:

(10 bonus points if you can use your Mentalist powers to spot my favourite testimonial)

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy procedural copy TV shows, I’d heartily recommend Googling the relevant episodes.

If you’re looking for a way to write an email that sells without feeling like a sleazeball, I’d heartily recommend “Sent.”.

Check out the lovely things people have said about it here:


What the attendees of INBOX 2022 DIDN’T see…

Presenting at Inbox 2022 on Tuesday was a load of fun.

(Thanks to those of you who messaged me and watched my talk – appreciate it!)

If you couldn’t make it or didn’t click my affiliate link to claim your all-access pass, no biggie…

… just realise that you’ve now been relegated to “second tier friend”, along with people who think Timothy Dalton was the best James Bond and Dame Helen Mirren.

(Don’t ask. She knows what she did)

Note: “second tier friends” no longer get access to my gran’s closely guarded devilled eggs recipe…

(Only kidding, she dishes out the directions for that paprika-packed delicacy to EVERYONE!)

Here’s something you WON’T have seen though… even if you DID catch my talk…

The GALLONS of liquids I had stacked just out of camera shot.

You see, a few days ago I found out I had Covidius Delirious Maximalis (probably not its real name).

I feel fine, but my throat was kinda scratchy and I was getting a little breathy at times.

(If you’ve ever wanted a rude, late-night call from me, now is the time. Check out to book yours) 

I spent the hour before my talk filling glasses and Googling as many weird and wonderful potions as I could to see me through the hour.

I had syrups, soothing drinks, steaming water, cough sweets, honey and lemon, warm Ribena, and cold Ribena….

Name an old wife’s elixir for sore throat and I had it within arms reach, just in case my throat packed in or I started coughing like a chain smoker.

My desk looked like the set of Breaking Bad.

I thought about mentioning the c-vid thing, just in case I needed to take a few moments to catch my breath… or to save attendees from learning how to spell “Emphysema” as they played “What The Hell Is Wrong With The English Guy?” in the chat.

… but I didn’t.

The reason? Well, it came down to an oldie-but-goodie copywriting maxim…

I didn’t think the audience would care.

I figured that, since I felt OKish, mentioning it would be more of a distraction than anything, so I kept my yapper shut.

It’s good to give your audience a peek behind the scenes… to show them how the sausage is made, but…

You still need to remember the “so what?” factor.

Yep, consider this your six-monthly reminder that your audience – like everyone else on the planet – are a bunch of selfish jerks, constantly asking “what’s in it for me?”

By all means, give ‘em a peek behind the scenes of your Architectural design firm, where all blueprints are sketched on hemp. But don’t JUST give ‘em a peek…

Tell them why they should care. Let them experience what it would be like to celebrate a successful project by smoking the blueprints.

In my head, the Inbox 2022 folks only had one question on their minds:

”Are you going to show me how to be funny or not?”

Hopefully, I did. 

But if you want to find out for yourself, I’ve good news…

You still got time to pick up recordings of ALL the sessions (and a few extra bonuses besides) for a special discounted price here.

That discount won’t be around forever though (about 24 hours as I write this)… so if you’re interested, click the link above sooner rather than later, as it’s not my event, so I have no say in it whatsoever.