How’s my segue? Call 1-800-CLUNKY

How’s my segue? Call 1-800-CLUNKY

Funny how your view of things can change…

Case in point – on this morning’s dog walk, a helicopter flew over.

Back where I used to live, that could only mean one thing:

“The Police are searching for a hoodlum”.

Where I am now, it still only means one thing. But a different thing:

“The guy opposite me’s Waitrose delivery has arrived”

You think I’m joking? I’m not.

Moving from one of the most deprived areas of the UK to living across the road from a man worth £950 million pounds shifts your perspective.

It’s like wanting to boost your click-thru rate…

Actually, that’s a lie. 

It’s absolutely NOTHING like boosting your email click-thru rate. 

It’s not even close.

But that absolutely WAS my next thought after seeing the chopper whizz by, scaring my fearless beast.

And that ^^^ – officially the world’s clunkiest transition ever – actually has a point:

The more you think about how life events can be turned into emails…

… the more transitions randomly appear in your head.

Truth is, I could’ve easily used the “perspective/changing environment” angle to smoothly segue into:

“When it comes to your marketing, here’s a simple way you can shift the perspective of your audience, so they’re more engaged…yadda yadda yadda”

But no. That would be too easy. And valuable.

Instead, I chose to give you an insight into how my brain works. So now you, me, and my court-ordered psychiatrist (Hey Dr. Tomlinson!) now have something in common.

If you struggle writing emails, or you’re OK starting them… but find yourself veering wildly into different tangents, ending up with something so knotty, even M Night Shyamalan gave up on it halfway through…

… you might have a transition problem.

The good news – it’s a reps thing. The more reps you put in, the easier it gets.

The bad news – YOU have to do the reps.

Transitions are a “groove” you get into.

But to get into the groove you’ve got to prove your love to meeeeeeeee. oh oh oh oh…

… create it first. That takes reps.

John Holt

P.S. Oh, and If you’re feeling brave…

There’s an “EXTREME LEVEL” transition exercise included with this.

All you need is an internet connection and the willingness to fly by the seat of your pants. You’ll even get to watch over my shoulder as I go first…

Does your audience care about your _____?

In an effort to cram more useful stuff into my noggin, I’ve taken drastic action…

I’ve finally started watching some of the 18,253 marketing courses I’ve bought in the last 23 minutes.

Writing about Breakthrough Advertising reminded me I have a long-lost video of Eugene Schwartz talking about his writing process so, as my brain was already in “Schwartz mode”, I thought I’d watch it.

Let me tell you… this thing has more mic drops than a clumsy, three-fingered roadie after 3 bottles of vodka, but let’s focus on one.

Eugene admits he’s not the best copywriter on the planet, but he does make one claim:

“There is no one working here – that I know of – that works harder than I do…”

The man isn’t a legend JUST because of his work ethic, though undoubtedly that’s a big part of it.

Point is, he knew what he did best.

Let’s turn this over to you…

Can you pinpoint one important aspect of your work where you run rings around your competitors?

To paraphrase Tina Turner…

What do you do better than all the rest?

“Hi, I’m **** FIRST NAME***and I _____ better than anyone else.”

Of course, it helps if your target audience cares about your _____.

“Dave, meet Phil, he can recite more digits of Pi while juggling pensioners than any matador I know…”

Me? I’m shooting for “funny”

“Funny-est” seems like a stretch goal… but one worth going for.

(Especially for someone that doesn’t seem to own a fucntioning spell checker)

“You want funny, engaging, split your sides copy? I know just the guy…”

^^^ That’s what I’m hoping people will say… followed by the words:

“… his name’s John Holt”

What about you? What’s your “thing”?

John Holt

I’ve broken 0.009875% of my body

I won’t tell you HOW I did it, but I’ve hurt my little toe pretty bad.

It’s not because it’s embarrassing or anything, but If I told you, you’d definitely make this face…

And I don’t want you to do that, so let’s just leave it at “I did something… and now my toe hurts”.

So, I did something… and now my toe hurts.

Bashing your tiniest digit isn’t a major injury. If you check your favourite news app, you’ll notice it didn’t make the headlines.

You might think damaging 0.009875% of my carcass wouldn’t impact my life much.

And if you do think that, I know one thing about you…


Because – even for someone who sits on his arse for most of the day…

Bashing my toe has been a major inconvenience.

I can’t walk in shoes – even my super duper comfy ones – without a girlish scream manly wince.

(You know, like action heroes do when getting their wounds tended by an attractive female)

Not only can I not get my daily steps in (there goes my three-day, 500+ steps-a-day streak), but I also realised I was going to struggle with something else…

How I deal with getting stuck when writing.

Normally, when my brain throws in the towel, I do what a lot of writers do…

Crack open the gin and pop in my VHS of “Tim Henman’s Greatest Wisecracks”.

Go for a walk.

Nietzsche famously said, “all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”.

I’m not going to argue with that, even when he’s dead.

I get some of my best ideas while striding masterfully through the English countryside avoiding dog poop.

(Apart from the golf ball throwing thing…)

There’s just something magical about being in a different posture in a different place that unkinks your brain hose and releases all your best ideas.

But for the next week or so, walking’s no longer an option for me. 

I’m going to have to discover a new “anti-kinking” habit.

I usually turn to the internet for solutions, but fear what results Google would throw at me for using a combination of “kink” and “brain hose”

So I’m testing some ideas…

Today, I’m experimenting with looking out of my window as I limp around my office listening to binaural beats to see if it has the same magical effect.

This feels like a good plan though, to my neighbours, I probably look like a man on the brink of doing something vaguely “terroristy”, as I stare blankly out into the void, bobbing my head to music only I can hear.

Anyway… if I don’t end up in prison, this might be a good alternative to walking in nature. 

Why am I telling you this? 

(Aside from wanting you to testify in my defence if needed)

Constraints are a beautiful thing.

Just like tennis is more fun when you’re playing on a court, trying to keep it in the lines…

… marketing can be more fun when you give yourself some boundaries to play in.

Blank pages can be terrifying things, but…

“Come up with an email angle about your purpley toe” is a constraint that gives you something to play with.

It’s often working within “restrictive” boundaries when you come up with your best ideas too.

If you ever feel “stuck”, try imposing some restrictions on yourself and see what happens.


P.S. I feel like this is something I could dive deeper into…

If you’d like me to think about it a little more (while terrifying my neighbours), hit reply and let me know.

A portable repository full of mammals // Can you hear me?

If you know I’m a bit of a Cal Newport fanboy, you might be surprised to discover how inefficient I am with one of my particular daily tasks.

Not just an incy-wincy inefficient either, like taking the scenic route, or moving your entire family to a new continent because you can’t find that hairy spider that crawled under your bed.

No, I’m 60 TIMES as inefficient as I should be.

It’s not as if it’s a willpower-sapping task either, like dieting. This would be super easy for me to fix.

You see, part of my daily routine involves keeping track of virtues, habits, goals… meaningful shit like that.

The app I use for this starts you off in the morning by having you commit to your intentions for the day.

It gives you two ways of doing this:

1) Tapping and swiping on individual virtues, goals, or targets

2) Go “Nuclear” – the “one tap commit” button

The first option takes about a minute, max. And that’s if I’ve been shot with 16 tranquiliser darts. 

The second… well, it takes as long as it takes you to tap your phone.

You’d think being the millisecond-pinching productivity geek I am, I’d be all for the nuclear “commit to all” option. 

Why tap the screen forty-something times, when it can be done in one?

I’ll tell you why – the “one tap” option doesn’t work…

… for me.

I don’t mean the button doesn’t work, function-wise. I mean it wasn’t effective.

Turns out smashing a generic button isn’t as motivating as committing to specific targets.

When I see each target, the image pops into my head. It hits harder. it crams it into my skull a little deeper. It’s more real.

You don’t get that with:


There’s something about reading things in your head.

It’s not “out loud”, but you still hear it out loud, right?

When your customer devours your words, they hear a voice – maybe even YOUR voice – reading the words.

It’s like Jackanory.

As they “hear” the words, they also sometimes picture the image.

You don’t need to force this either. They’ll do it themselves.

All you have to do is casually mention a blue backpack full of baby tigers and… BOOM – it’s there.

(Weird, isn’t it?)

The more specific you are, the better. The more heavy lifting and detail filling YOU do, the easier it is for THEM to imagine.

For example, I could’ve said:

“All you have to do is casually mention a portable storage repository full of mammals and… BOOM – it’s there.”

But you’ve got a lot of blanks to fill in before that becomes crystal clear.

“What kind of portable storage repository?”

“There’s a lot of mammals you know, Holt? I’ve watched Attenborough”

Being specific is a great way to get inside your client’s heads… without forking out for that hypnosis course.

There’s another benefit to this specificicicicicicicicity lark, but I’ll save that for the P.S…

(Because I haven’t written a P.S. for agggggges)

John Holt

P.S. So here’s another benefit of being specific…

It helps your customers make confident decisions.

If you can give them an unmistakable image of what you’re offering, they’ll be no “maybe”s.

Paint that picture for them and you’ll get a clear “yes” or “no bloody chance, mate”.

That might not sound like much, but if you’ve ever hopped on a “quick” call with a “maybe” client and discovered they’d be a bloody nightmare in the first five seconds…

… you’ll realise how specificity could’ve saved you the agony of an excruciating 30 minutes on Zoom!

Stepping on Schwartz’s scales

If you’re looking for an easy £600-1,000 write-off to add to the advertising and marketing section of your tax return, head over to Amazon and search:

Breakthrough Advertising.

It’s a great book written by one of the members of the marketing Illuminati, Eugene Schwartz.

(The other members are David Ogilvy, Howard Gossage, and Andi Peters)

Every copywriter bangs on about Breakthrough Advertising, so it must be good.

(Me? I’m still working my way through “Peter and Pamela Grow Up”. I’m up to chapter 4 – “What’s all the fuzz about?”)

One of the most talked about ideas in Schwartz’s masterpiece is his “Stages of Awareness”.

Schwartz identifies five stages, but essentially it boils down to this question:

How aware is your customer of you… and the problem you solve?

For example, if you’re a business owner who’s never heard of marketing, instead believing an enchanted goat called Ronald delivers you clients every time you open a pack of Twiglets…

Flogging my copywriting services to you is going to be a challenge because you’re “Unaware” of:

1) My uniqueness as a copywriter

2) The power of Greyskull copywriting in general, and

3) How Twiglets work

To get you to the point where you’d happily pay me thousands to craft you an email sequence would take time and effort the likes of which would make Sisyphus think:

“Can I have that rock back?”

I’d have to start from square one… explaining both how copywriting works AND why you should choose me over the other 14 copywriters on the planet.

At the other end of the awareness scale, we have the “Most aware” client I hopped on a call with last week…

She’s used copywriters in the past, so knows how we work (as little as possible)… and has a good grasp of the value we bring.

(To the point she was able to use spreadsheet wizardry to forecast expected results from campaigns)

She’s sold on funny, personality-stuffed emails and willing to pay a premium for them…

She’s aware of me too, having been on my list for yonks. In fact, she’s already approached me a few times, checking if I have availability…

Totally different sales conversation.

I’d have to take three weeks off to answer all the questions from the “Ronald the enchanted goat” client.

The second client only has one question: 

“Are you available?”

The takeaway from this email is NOT:

Only spend time marketing to people who are already totally sold on both you and the solution you provide.

No. They might be an easier sell, but they’re also a tiny fraction of your market.

Here’s the takeaway:

Meet your customer where they’re at. 

Enter the conversation they’re having in their head.

Don’t paint them a picture they can’t fully appreciate…

And don’t patronise them by treating them like a newbie when they’re only one step behind you and looking at you with an open wallet.

“‘Space’ is what exists outside the Earth’s atmosphere. It has things like stars and other planets in something we like to call ‘The Solar System’. Now… am I going too fast for you Mr deGrasse Tyson?”

Wherever you are… whoever you’re talking to…

Figure out where they are right now.

That’s where you come in.


OK, well not literally, but very nearly literally.

John Holt