On today’s show, James and Phoebe are joined by Ray Edwards, a sought-after copywriter, author, speaker and communications strategist (and true legend!) who has worked with some of the most recognizable names in the industry. Ray discusses the conflict we often have about wanting to be of service to others while making money at the same time, the distinction between manipulating and persuading your audience, and so much more.
James feels that everything comes down to copy, and to improve any aspect of your life, communication has to be involved in some way.
Ray started his journey by entering the radio business at the age of 14. He realized from the beginning that it was the salespeople, and not the on-air personalities, driving the nice vehicles. He befriended the sales staff and their clients and began coming up with promotional ideas and writing ad copy for them.
After 30 years in the radio business, Ray recognized that technology and the Internet were changing the way content was being consumed. He knew he had a talent to create copy that motivated people to buy, and he transferred this skill to the online world.
Ray missed being on radio and got into podcasting, by hosting his own weekly show. He shares that the medium has had an enormous impact on his business, and that it allows him to get in his audience’s ears, without censoring his content.
He’s an introvert, which has been both a struggle and a gift, and he’s had to manage how much time he’s in and out of the spotlight.
Ray believes that copywriting is like any skill; there are people that are born with an innate talent for it, and there are others that have to work to get good at the art. Someone can get good at copywriting with enough desire and practice, but he feels that to get to the level of being great, it takes a special gift.
James wrote his own copy for 9 years and hired out for it during his last launch. He was always resistant to doing this, but admits that he could really see the difference in the quality of work done by a professional copywriter versus his own.
To Ray, copywriting is simply constructing language in a way that persuades people to either believe something you want them to believe, or do something that you want to do.
He stresses that you must learn to sell; if you don’t, you’ll no longer be in business. However, it’s important to do this in a humane and heart-centered way while coming from a place of service. The most effective selling happens when you actually care about the people that you’re selling to!
Ray adds that it’s good to want more money and to succeed in business. This means that you’re really helping people over the long-term as they keep wanting to give you money for what you do.
James says that people don’t value what’s for free and there’s something magical that happens when someone steps up to invest in something, and his or herself. In fact, most of his testimonials come from his paying clients, not someone that got the product for free.
Ray does put quality content in his sales copy though to give to his audience something for free, as a way of compensating them for their time to read his material.
There is a line that is fairly visible between ethical and “salesy.” To Ray, it comes down to the intent of the seller, and also his or her ability to accurately assess how helpful the product is to the purchaser.
There is a difference between manipulation and persuasion. Manipulation uses external pressure, such as embarrassment, to get someone to do something. With persuasion, internal pressure is used and it highlights the true inner need that the person has
Ray realized early on that as an individual providing services, he could only work with so many people. For that reason, he started offering products to help multiple people, starting with group phone calls and leading to courses that people could purchase to learn from him.
Storytelling is one of Ray’s favourite topics and he says that you absolutely must use it because it’s the most powerful way of communicating with, and persuading, others.
He learned from Donald Miller of StoryBrand that a good story has a character with a problem, who meets a guide that offers a solution and a plan. The character can either follow the plan and enjoy the success, or not do this and meet failure.
Ray says to make sure the story relates to the listener you’re selling to; you’re not the hero of the story, they are. Also, the story you should tell is the one you’re most afraid to!
If you try to “squeeze” your brain for a story, it will refuse to co-operate in these moments. Every time a new story happens to him, Ray writes it down to refer to later, and he uses bullet points and tags the themes to remind him of what the story is about, or what lesson it is trying to teach.
It’s the seemingly small or insignificant stories that people will really relate to. Ray suggests people “bath” in their stories, and he uses the following acronym for coming up with your own stories: Make them Brave, Authentic, Transformative and Healing!
To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink
The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell