Jon Benson is the father of the VSL and one of the world’s top copywriters. He is the author of Open Click Buy and about a gazillion best-selling books on fitness. From relationships to sanity to subject lines – Jon Benson is raw & uncut on List Building Lifestyle
How To Write Email Copy That Sells With Jon Benson
Jon Benson is the father of the VSL and one of the world’s top copywriters. He is the author of Open Click Buy and about a gazillion best-selling books on fitness. From relationships to sanity to subject lines – Jon Benson is raw & uncut on List Building Lifestyle
Igor Kheifets: I'm Igor Kheifets and this is the List Building Lifestyle, a podcast for anyone who wants to build a wildly profitable email list working from home. If you'd like to make six figures, travel the world, and help people improve their lives in the process, then this podcast is for you. I also invite you to attend a free workshop at Igor.ac, where I'm teaching how I made $21,779.25 in affiliate commissions by sending just 481 to my affiliate link in one day. I'm also explaining why I walked away from ClickBank and I don't promote ClickBank offers anymore, as well as the five things I look for in the perfect affiliate offer. I'm even going to show you the one page website that I used to make over half a million dollars in affiliate commissions this year. I'll even bribe you to attend this workshop by giving you a $497 value course that shows you how to cherry pick high converting affiliate offers for your next affiliate promotion. In addition, I'll even give you the three offers I'm promoting right now that are making me money as we speak. All of that and more at Igor.ac. Now, it's time to attain your list building lifestyle. Welcome back to another edition of the List Building Lifestyle with your host Igor Kheifets. My next guest is a fitness and copywriting legend. He is widely referred to as role model of influence by some of the world's top print persuasion masters, including Perry Marshall, the author of 80/20 Sales and Marketing, John Carlton, the Marketing Rebel, Ryan Deiss, the founder of Digital Marketer, Yanik Silver, Eben Pagan, Mike Filsaime, Andy Jenkins, Frank Kern, and dozens of other experts. You may know him as the father of the VSL. I know him as the only person who keeps beating me in affiliate competitions for some of our mutual partners. He's also a bestselling author of Fit Over 40, The Every Other Day Diet, and The Seven Minute Muscle. By the time I'm done reading this intro, my guest will actually probably have published another book, so without further ado, please help me welcome Mr. Jon Benson.
Jon Benson: Hey. How you doing, Igor?
Igor Kheifets: I'm doing great. I'm really, really excited. Especially since reading your latest copywriting book, Open, Click, Buy, about email marketing. I do to have to ask you though, and be serious, I really want the truth here, do you really speak monkey?
Jon Benson: Yeah. Actually, everyone that knows me knows that the only person that likes monkeys more than me is probably Eban Pagan. But I would say I'd give him a good run for his money on that. So, yeah, I really want a monkey. That book was completely littered with a lot of things about monkeys. Yeah. The people that got the humor loved it. It became kind of like a cult classic. Other people were like, "What the hell is this guy trying to say? Why don't you just tell us what to send in an email?" But that was too boring, so.
Igor Kheifets: I love that you've done it that way. First off, it shows that a boring thing like copywriting can actually be entertaining. Second thing, it actually is a good way of introducing the whole concept of the monkey mind, because it is what governs our decision making.
Jon Benson: Right.
Igor Kheifets: This is actually where I want to start. I would love for you to chat about how to leverage or how to influence the monkey mind to help it decide to buy from us.
Jon Benson: Yeah. It's one of my favorite topics in copy. There's a lot of terms I use for it, the persuasion quadrant, the four quadrants of persuasion, et cetera. Basically, monkey mind is a funny way of saying you've got your lizard brain, you've got your mammalian, the lower evolved part of your brain, and then the prefrontal cortex, which is the last part of the brain to evolve. It's also the last to really get what's really going on underneath the surface. Everything from amygdala stuff to these base emotions that we carry in the- I'm going to speak euphemistically here, just because it's easier than getting into all the science of the brain. Think of your brain in three parts. Right? You have the lower part, the mid part, and the high part, which is where you tap your forehead. Right? Your lower parts and mid parts are where a lot of your emotional decision making comes from, and most decisions are made from emotions. Even people that don't claim they feel emotions are making it based on emotions, they're just not aware of it. Without speaking to that, you can't tie in the logical part of the brain. I'm grossly oversimplifying here, but the logical part of the brain, the front part of the brain, the evolved part of the brain, is never going to click in. There's a saying that I love. That is that you buy based on emotion, you justify based on rationality. That's basically what a copywriter's job is, to appeal those quadrants of the brain. Even though I'm talking about three, there's actually four persuasion quadrants, what I call the four areas that you need to tap on as a copywriter, which is wants, needs, fears, and actions. Actions are logical decision making stuff, so it's the last on the tier. Where needs and fears are in the middle for a reason, they're the most vital. Wants are superficial. Wants are the, "I think I want an ice cream cone." We don't need an ice cream cone, you want one. What you need is escape. What you need is to reduce your stress levels. What you need is comfort. That's the need under I want to go get ice cream. No one needs an ice cream. Right? If you don't speak to somebody based on that, whether it's through email or a sales letter, especially, or a VSL, you're going to lose customers. I'll blatantly use the words you want something like this and underneath you need something like this. You can spell it out or you can write around it and just do some clever ways of not being so obvious. The monkey brain doesn't care. You can be as obvious as you want, which is why a lot of great copy is on the fourth grade level. When you run it through the Flesch-Kincaid score, it's fourth grade or fifth grade level. What is that telling you? That the copy that converts the best, it doesn't matter if you're selling to doctors or what, it's written at the fourth or fifth grade level. That's definitely the lower part of your brain. Your prefrontal cortex isn't even fully developed at that age, so that tells you how little your logical brain, your higher decision making brain, plays into making purchases and making even life changing decisions.
Igor Kheifets: I love it. I love it how most of us think we're so logical and smart. We're subscribing to a belief system that says that we are making decisions, when most of the time we're just reacting to some internal under surface feelings or things like that that drive us, like you said. You gave the example of the ice cream. For me, it's PlayStation. For the longest time, PlayStation served as an escape. I thought that I'm playing because I'm a gamer, but it turns out that ever since I was a teenager playing games was the comfort. Playing games was the escape that I used whenever I didn't feel like admitting that my life kind of sucked. Same thing for sweets, of course, and sugar and stuff like that, which is way harder to eradicate than to just to throw my PlayStation out the window, which I at one point did and the stabbed it with a screwdriver. That is absolutely rational behavior. Absolutely.
Jon Benson: You went all Dexter on it.
Igor Kheifets: Yes. It's just fascinating to see how most of the time we're not even aware of what makes us tick, therefore we always struggle to make other people buy from us. The moment we start and we get on this journey of self discovery, if you will, we start asking ourselves these complicated questions, we start better understanding the people we're marketing to.
Jon Benson: Oh yeah. Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I've said this many times. I've said it a couple of times when talking to John Carlton. That if you don't know yourself, you can never be a good copywriter. Which basically means that if you look at the elite guys, on some level they've done the work, they know themselves. I can think of, in particular, Chris Haddad. You get a guy that has gone through lots of mental torturous stuff. He's gone through diseases and having to come to terms with who is as a person. But no one can say Chris isn't reflective. Right? You have to get in and dig deep. He's definitely one of the best and one of the best guys at doing that. That's something that I don't know that you can, you can't really teach that. That has to be, when I use the word enlightened moment, I don't mean in the woo-woo I'm enlightened kind of nonsense that people claim that live in Encinitas. I'm talking about a moment of enlightenment that comes across you. Call it self-actualization, if you will. Maslow kind of stuff, where the light bulb goes on and you realize, whoa, there's a lot more to me that I don't know and I need to ask the questions. Yeah. It's having great partners, great relationships, a meditative practice, whatever your practice is, something that allows you to go internal is going to make you a better writer because you can become in touch with your own wants and the differences between wants and needs. I write a lot in relationships and I love the topic. I'm writing a book on love and relationships right now, I've been working on it for a year-and-a-half. One of the most powerful exercises I've ever done with couples, and just this has been a fascination of mine for 15 years, is talking about wants, needs, and desires. You break the three out, what do you desire, what do you want, what do you need. If you learn this technique, whether it's your girlfriend, your wife, your husband, or whatever it may be, you can diffuse so much stuff that most people will never share with their partner, they'll keep it bottled up and that stuff just explodes. This allows you to dive into a whole different realm of intimacy. Likewise, in writing copy, the more intimate you can be with your prospect, just think about it. I'm talking about intimate not on a sexual level, but on a how well can I know you level, which is what intimacy really is. Right? Man, you write on an intimate level with somebody, I guarantee you that you're going to get the sale. I'm not saying faux intimacy. I'm not saying I'm just going to sound like I care kind of stuff. I mean actually really dive deep. You can't do that unless you dive deep with yourself. Probably some people can fake it, they're sociopathic.
Igor Kheifets: I've met people who can fake it.
Jon Benson: Yeah. They're sociopathic. I'll use the term sociopathic in the sense that they don't have a true conscience. If you can fake it to a level where you're writing on that level and you're really faking the concern across the board. On some level, that will work. In the long run, that will burn out. Even if it works in the long run, you'll never be happy. Let's face it. What's the point in doing any of this if you're not happy?
Igor Kheifets: Yeah. That would be challenging. That would be challenging. All right. In the book, I know we kind of went into the relationship niche for a second there, but I want to kind of zero in on something really interesting in your book. I think you're the only person, aside from myself, who ever spoke about this, because I haven't heard anyone talk about it before. You encourage us to break down our list not by demographic or the product purchase or whatever, but rather by fan versus subscriber.
Jon Benson: Right.
Igor Kheifets: Or fan versus visitor. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Jon Benson: Yeah. If you think about who you want on your list, do you want a list of what I call raving fans or rabid fans or do you want a list of subscribers? Do you want to think in terms of a list? When you write an email, are you thinking I need to get an email out to my list? I've said that, again, just talking off the cuff or whatever, "Hey, we need to get an email out to the list today about X." Right? Well, really what you're doing is you need to write an email to one person and you just happen to forward that to a bunch of other people. But they all need to feel like they're the only person that you wrote that to. Even if there's an invite. When you get down to the invite thing, "Look, I'm inviting some of my closest posse into this inner circle webinar," even that sounds more personal than, "Come register for this webinar so I can sell you shit." It's the tone and the posturing that you can take inside of a sales letter, or an email, or whatever you're writing that can feel as if it's written to one person, which is to me the most obvious thing in the world. It's the most obvious thing that's not obvious to, especially, beginners, but people who have been in the business a long time. Where you read and the worst cases of this, the worst cases in the world of this is if you go to any Fortune 500 website and you read any of their crap on their sales page. Can you get more narcissistic and boring and completely uninteresting and uninspired? Of course, there are exceptions. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but clever companies that are based around creativity are going to be an exception. The people that we feel the most connected to, the ones that make us feel like we're the only person in the room at the moment, not forever but at the moment. In other words, you have my undivided presence. Think about how powerful that is. Again, going back, I liken everything back to relationships, but with friends or whatever. When somebody is really present with you, you feel it. It's palpable. You know that. You know it's going to have to end, they're going to have to go home or whatever, but it doesn't matter, because in that moment you're the only person in the universe. If you can make the customer feel that way, or the prospect feel that way, they become a fan because they believe that they're the only person in the universe. Not because you're faking it. Of course, they're not. But because you're writing to them with the respect that that kind of presence deserves. I'm just encouraging people to be present with their lists. Yes, we all get in a hurry. Yes, I've got a software platform that actually generates copy, but the copy is all written in a singular person mindset. The only exceptions to that are the really generic things that have to go out, like for B-to-B stuff. Even that, we try to personalize a lot. Making someone feel that way for a moment could be the highlight of somebody's day. I can't tell you how many people, especially on my large fitness list, email support saying, "Thank you so much for sending me this. It's almost like you were reading my mind. It's so great that you took the time to write me." Because that's the way they feel. I want to make them feel that way. Again, I'm going to stress this one more time, just in case it's not clear. Not to manipulate somebody. I know that this could be used for evil and manipulation, absolutely. I just simply want to communicate that way to somebody, because I believe if they're spending time reading an email I want them to be entertained, I want them to feel seen, I want them to feel heard, I want them to feel validated. Those are the words I use a lot; seen, heard, and validated. You do that as a copywriter and I'll tell you exactly what's going to happen. People will either go, "Ew, that's TMI. Yuck. Unsubscribe." Right? The people that you don't want, because that person will never buy from you. And if they do, they will be a pain in the ass and you will hate them forever. They're the person that emails customer support twice a day. Or the person that goes, "My god, that email. I'm going to forward that email to a friend. That really got to me. That was awesome. That person sees me or understands me." That's who you want. Those are fans. So, I'm trying to build a list of fans.
Igor Kheifets: I think one of the easiest ways to get more fans is to tell more personal stories about yourself with a tie-in to what you're marketing, or the solution, or the problem that your customer is experiencing. For example, earlier today I sent out a seven minute VSL where for about four minutes of that VSL it's all about me sharing a story of how my dad went through this series of ups and downs financially throughout his life. He would do well, then have a heart attack, then recover for three weeks, and kind of lose momentum, then try to get back up on it. Then a few later, again, another heart attack, the same thing happens. Then after he moved to Israel, the final and the most fatal one of them all, where he couldn't recover from it, he couldn't get a job afterwards, and he kind of spiraled into a 10-year debt from there. That's a great story to, A, connect, B, create those fans, and C, to really illustrate a good point. Look, things will happen in your life that you don't expect and you better be prepared financially with a business that can sustain itself and make you money even if you're in the hospital.
Jon Benson: Absolutely true. I've dealt with major health challenges, including a heart attack in my 30s, so I've got the genes for that. That was the impetus for my first book. Yeah. Those kind of wake up calls are pretty potent. If you can share them and share them openly, like I remember thinking I can't tell anyone I had a heart attack and write a fitness book. No, that's a good reason to write one. To say, look, my carotid arteries used to be almost a quarter blocked and now they're clear. I'm doing something right, because that was a long time ago. Yeah. You can take something bad and turn it into something good. That's really what you have to do. You have to do that. If you tell a story, like you're telling, and you flip that story around, then it becomes a hero's journey story to where they can see themselves in it. I'm not telling you how to write copy or anything, but telling a story like that is like asking the reader to say, "Have you had anything like this happen in your own life?" Maybe it's health, maybe it's somebody losing their job, maybe it's somebody losing their spouse. How were able to turn it around? I'm really interested in hearing that. Almost everyone has a story like that. It's how you turn it around that makes all the difference. That's just going to happen. There is nothing that you can do about this. Not to get all meta on people, but I have this conversation. I was a philosophy major, so it kind of comes with the territory. I have this conversation a lot, especially with a lot of my friends who are just really optimistic people, they're very light shining bright kind of people. I tend to be an outspoken optimist most of the time as well, but I'm a realist and an optimist at the same time. With this girl I know, we had this conversation about at first she was like, "I just see the world as being really beautiful and orderly," and all this kind of stuff. I said, "See, I am the exact opposite of you." I see the world as mostly chaos with little dots of order and beauty. That makes me appreciate those little dots of order and beauty so much more, but I expect the chaos. If you look at the universe, as a scientist, if you look at the universe, you're going to see galaxies running into each other, stars going supernova, you're going to see meteors hitting the earth, for example. Hopefully not a big one any time soon, or an asteroid. But you see that happening all the time, to the moon, to Mars, et cetera. It's chaotic. But in the moments where it's not chaotic, there is so much beauty. So, yes. But focus on the beauty without losing track of the chaos. That allows someone to get a little deeper when they write. Let me just share this one thing. Who did I tell this to the other day? I forgot. I forget who it was. I was having a conversation about, oh, the most unsexy boring woman. I'll use a woman because I date women, so feel free to insert gender here. To me, absolutely, it's a much better solution to you might as well castrate me, is the I'm always upbeat and happy. Everything is so awesome, Jon. Isn't it great? The saccharine is just you might as well inject it into my veins. It's terrible. I'm not saying someone goes around mopey and down all the time, but that's not true. Even on the most optimistic version of life, you have to look at, even if you're life is going great, there's a lot of stuff that's not great around the world. If you come to terms and going the world is pretty fucked up and there's a lot of chaos out there, but, man, look at how much more this beauty inspires now. Whether it's a painting, or a lover, or something beautiful that happens, or something that happens in your business, something happens where you get a huge sales month or whatever it may be. Knowing, like you said, the money can dry up in a heartbeat, you can have a heart attack, you can have three, there is nothing you can do to prevent life from happening. Something is going to happen and it's just the nature of the beast. But if you can say, "I'm going to look at every moment and find the beauty in every moment," being aware of the chaos, you don't have that saccharine drivel that comes out in email or sales copy that, my god. Like I said, go to any Fortune 500 website. You might become suicidal, if you're a copywriter, just reading that stuff. It's just dross, man. It's just terrible. If you're listening to me and you want to be a copywriter, or you are a copywriter, it's exactly the opposite of what actual persuasion is. Kind of setting the big emotional tone here for what we're talking about. Real persuasion is talking like we're talking here, only talking to one person, talking to your list as one person. I'm not saying start off with the world is chaotic and it sucks, but I'm just saying you need to have that perspective. Most intelligent people, most people who have thought through it, they understand that there's darkness and light, and there's this delicate balance. But it ain't 50/50, man. It's not a yin-yang kind of symbol. It's not 50/50. I'm talking about in the universe as a whole, meaning that 99.9999% of all the universe is completely inhospitable to all life as we know it. It's certainly not 50/50. The fact that we live on this beautiful blue dot, this pale blue dot, as Carl Sagan said it, and we have order and chaos, we have hurricanes and sunsets. Right? To look at the sunset, but also to know that there's the hurricane and to be able to speak to both, that's what I'm talking about. About knowing yourself, knowing your prospect, turning your prospect into a fan, relating to them on all levels. You can't do it if you're like, "Isn't this awesome?" That's just the worst thing ever. I'm giving you my opinion. You probably wanted to talk to me for my opinion, but that's it. I know I've met people that are like, "Oh, I've just lost both my legs, but it's still an awesome day." Dude. If this is not a bad, what the fuck is a bad day? Auschwitz? It's like come on. That level of rah-rah. My dad, who fought in World War II, instilled this in me. I have a much older father than most people have, he was 53 when I was born. He fought in a World War. He fought in the World War. If you can imagine this. I hear it with people today, euphemistically, they're actually not being euphemistic, they're just being idiots, calling people they disagree with Nazis. My father killed real Nazis. So that's a gross insult to everyone I know that's Jewish, a lot of my friends, everyone I know that lives in Israel, my father, his memory. So, fuck you. That's the kind of thing that I want that fuck you to come out in your copy. I also want the fact that I'm so fucking in love with this whatever it may be, this new meal, this new girl, this new guy, whatever it is. It all comes out. That's how you get someone to say, "Wow. I really like that person. I don't agree with him here, but I don't care." Think of who you follow on YouTube. Do you agree with everything they say? If so, you're in an echo chamber. If not, you're listening to somebody that actually is connected.
Igor Kheifets: Yo. It's Igor. If you're loving the content, hop on over to listbuildinglifestyleshow.com for more free training and a free transcript of this episode. Oh, I'd really appreciate if you logged into iTunes and rated the show. It really helps. Thanks. I think it's a really good idea to actually do an occasional fuck you in your copy and to almost deliberately push some people away with your opinions, your thoughts, and your belief systems.
Jon Benson: Oh yeah.
Igor Kheifets: Because, first off, it pushes away the people who won't buy. Then, of course, it sort attracts and further indoctrinates the people who will, because typically they will share the same opinion as you do.
Jon Benson: Yeah. Absolutely true. There's a fine line in finding that balance. Ironically, because of your podcasting, when I was really growing my list, I had no idea that what was I doing was not normal. I had no idea. Looking back, I'm like, wow, what was I thinking? I had a blog that grew to 20,000 followers in a couple of weeks. It got voted, it got nominated for Forbes Magazine Best of the Web and came in second, which was pretty cool. I didn't do it, but somebody else did it. I had this rabid following of people that were, for whatever reason, jiving on my bizarre sense of humor and moments of darkness inspired by a lot of light and a lot of making fun of this whole thing of fitness and weight loss and all this stuff, but also giving out good ideas. Yeah, there was a lot of moments in there where I'm like getting on people's cases and stuff like that, telling people, look, if you're not going to do this, if you're not going to follow this, if you're not going to do the system, fuck off. That's exactly what I would tell a friend. That's where I want to go with this. If I had a "friend" that was not showing up, that was just kind of drifting out on the fringes, I would have the go fuck off conversation. Why wouldn't you do it? If you start thinking of your list as a group of potential friends, some will be fans, some will be neutral, and that's cool, but others need to be kicked off. Others are causing and bringing toxins into the system, so to say. It's not that they're bad people, it's they're just not a good fit for you. Like I talked to you earlier about that thing with Joe. It's not that that guy was a bad person, it just wasn't a good fit. Looking at it that way really helps, instead of looking at it as evil, as tribal. As you know, I'm probably not the first person to notice this, but it's a pretty tribal world right now, especially in the United States. It's incredibly tribal, to where what used to be considered just normal common sense is thrown completely out the window for such radical extremism on both sides of the political aisle. More on the left, to me, than the right, but even more on the left. Where the most nonsensical ideas that most people would have laughed at five years ago are now being entertained as rational thought. When you have a broken system, which is what we have, and where people cannot be honest, this is what you get. On the other hand, if you get somebody who has a shred of honesty, who is coming across as being, hey, I'm being completely honest with you here, even where he's not, I'm talking about the President, but he has an air when he's running for office, that attracted a lot of people because people are hungry for it. Granted, an honest politician is an oxymoron. Some less honest than others. Right? How much more attractive are you going to be to your list if you're just honest? If you tell the story that you told about your father and what he went through, but even more about yourself? It's like there are days where I stare at the blinking cursor of death and I have no idea what to write next. There are days where I feel like, there are times where I've written a letter that bombed where I question whether or not I'm really good at all. By the way, that's all true. Even though I'm known for writing really fast, I can write really fast, but if, for whatever reason, I'm off my game that day, I've got the blinking cursor of death or whatever. My god, man, I've written a lot of bombs. To hear from that people, if it takes down your mystique a little bit, fine, let it. If people are looking for legends, man, they're in the wrong place. They need to go fucking read Game of Thrones.
Igor Kheifets: But don't read the ending.
Jon Benson: Yeah. Well, don't watch the ending. Yeah. Wait for the real ending. My god. You can stop after season four. If this helps anyone who hasn't gotten into Game of Thrones, you can stop there. The first four seasons are brilliant, writing and everything else. Yeah. Not to pivot to Game of Thrones, but the characters in Game of Thrones that almost everyone resonates with the most are the ones that are the most blatantly honest. The ones that are the most real and the ones that are the most broken. I can list my favorite characters off the top of my head, and they're the ones that were the most broken. When I say broken, I mean not like morbid depression or anything, but people that were just being real with themselves. And they would have these moments of brilliance. A la Abraham Lincoln, for example, who was a broken human being, if you know anything about Lincoln. My god, if there is a poster child for failure, just look at Abraham Lincoln's case track record. If you read that track record, you would think this guy is a complete loser. One of the worst track records you'll ever see. Yet, Lincoln did a couple of the greatest things ever and a horrible Civil War that killed more people than any other. You get this mix of greatness and debauchery, or greatness and insanity, that I think people resonate with. People remember Lincoln. They'll remember Kennedy. They'll remember, I wrote my thesis on Jefferson, so obviously we'll remember Jefferson. If you look at the culture today, they want to tear down monuments to Jefferson because he was a flawed human being. What a fucking pathetic thing to do to anyone for any reason. Yeah, you have to have standards, like if someone is a serial killer or something.
Igor Kheifets: Even serial killers get movies.
Jon Benson: Yeah, they get movies. But you want to look at yourself. Talk about throwing rocks living in a glass house. It's more like you've got a grenade launcher and you're aiming it toward the master bedroom. It's just absurd what this lack of self honesty has gone to. Whenever honesty is lacking in your copy or in your life, you can tell because it comes out as virtue signaling. That's what you sound like. When you write or when you speak, it's virtue signaling. Anyone with half a degree of introspection will sense it and they'll know something is wrong here. You're just not honest. I want to talk to and relate to people and read people who are honest. I'm not always honest. That's an honest thing to say. I'm not always honest. I'm not always writing on this level. All of my copy is not doing this, because sometimes I get distracted, sometimes I'm too busy doing other stuff. But that's my goal, that's where I want to go, and that's where most of copy has been. I don't know if any of this is helping.
Igor Kheifets: Actually, none of it helped, but we are just happy to listen to you. You're a great orator.
Jon Benson: People listening to me rant and rave about virtue signaling.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah. I love it.
Jon Benson: If you can take the meta and apply this to more of a working model of how honest can I be. Can I send out an email to my list tomorrow and write it as one person, and just tell a story? Whether that story is bad, negative, positive, or a mix. Like hey, this negative thing happened, and then something else happened that's positive. Make it relatable, obviously, to whatever the topic that you're writing about. But ask for somebody else's opinion, "I'd love to hear what you think," and watch what happens. The people that will leave are the people that are virtue signaling, because they're too afraid to look at themselves.
Igor Kheifets: They're the people who will leave anyway. That's what I'm noticing. Anytime I email, especially the emails that get the highest response in terms of opens and clicks and sales, those are usually the ones where I'm mostly getting the highest unsubscribe rate. They will leave, it's just inevitable. Either because they'll lose interest, or because they don't like your face, or they don't like the sound of your voice, or they don't like the fact that you're Jewish or whatever. I had one guy actually stay on list because he hated me for being Jewish and he was sending me death wishes and stuff like that, just for fun. I wouldn't unsubscribe him either. It was just a really interesting reason to be on my list. People hate you.
Jon Benson: Wow. I don't think I would have that level of restraint. But, yeah, that's interesting. If you think about keeping your enemies closer, think about if you could "convert" someone like that, if you could change someone's position, ironically, by not appealing to emotion but appealing to reason. I've seen people change in my life just by having a better argument, by having a better position. They simply came to the conclusion that their position wasn't as valid, and on some major issues. So there's always a chance. Granted, you have to walk a fine line there. By the way, when I'm referring to being honest and all that stuff and the chaos, I'm not referring to being some sort of bigoted human being or anything. But, here's what's interesting. Anyone that knows me would say definitely that's not in his genetic makeup. Right? But some of the things that I've posted online, and specifically Facebook, I've been called everything under the sun that you can think of, from a leftist lunatic to a Nazi. I'm neither. I'm not even close to either one of those factorums. That's someone's projecting. Your customers will do this, too. They will project what they see in themselves, or more specifically what they're afraid to see in themselves, onto something that appears to be tapping the RID in their brain. Oh, that looks like this, therefore X. Right? That's what the brain has basically evolved to do, pattern X equals Y, even though pattern X has nothing to do with Y. If you hear a rumbling in the jungle, in the bushes, you're going to run even though it's just the wind, because you're thinking, oh, tiger. The genes that got passed down are the ones that ran. The ones that stuck around got eaten tigers on the rare chance it was a tiger. Thinking of life that way, knowing how easy it could be to be reactive, makes it much more imperative to be introspective and to write this way to your list. I'm not talking to the guys that are sending out the super short emails that are like miracle cure over here, Betty lost 87 pounds. I've done it, I get it. You want to get the clicks, because you want to drive people to a more entertaining VSL. Cool. I get that. But if you build your career off that, it's just going to be empty. You want to do other things. You want to do cooler things. Right?
Igor Kheifets: Yes, sir.
Jon Benson: I think everybody wants to be John Carlton. We just don't want to admit it.
Igor Kheifets: Well, you're coming close, because when I interviewed John he went on for a good hour or so. You're giving him a run for the money, for sure. If I didn't know I was interviewing Jon Benson, I would be like this sounds, this style is really similar to Carlton's.
Jon Benson: Let me put it this way. When Carlton and I usually talk, after about 20 minutes he'll look at me and go, "Man, you are fucking weird. What the hell are you talking about?" So, yeah. I think I may be a little bit more off the deep end than Johnny. Yeah. I think that having his insight in the world, which no one would say Carlton is a chipper person, he's not like Mr. Optimistic, but he's also got all this amazing talent and beauty in his life. He just doesn't talk a lot about it. He talks about his music and stuff. But, yeah, that just tends to be who tends to be the most persuasive. You know what you're getting. You know that he is who he is. It's refreshing. Even though people all have got their secrets, some are just a little more open than others. That's what I think you want to be with your readers. Be a little bit more open than others for both the "good and bad," even though I don't like to make those categories per se, and watch what happens to your clicks. Yeah, your unsubscribes will go up, too, but the people staying on your list will be fans and they will buy from you. We all want people to buy from us. We're still living in a capitalistic world. At least until 2020 comes around. At that point, I'm not too sure anymore. But for right now, we're living in a capitalistic world, a capitalistic society at least, where we want to make money and we want to be persuasive. That's good. I have not problems with that, as long as what you're selling makes a difference in people's lives. Because they won't be persuaded otherwise. You have to be persuasive. People are too inundated with noise.
Igor Kheifets: So, what are you working on right now?
Jon Benson: The biggest project of my career, man. Three years ago, I released Email Copy Pro, which was the first version of what's become copypro.ai, which the second generation of that will be true artificial intelligence combined with the best copywriters in the world. I wanted to create something that basically reminds me of my first book, Fit Over 40. When I wrote it, I knew that it would be too solipsistic to think that I could be the only person in the book. Right? That my story of going from obese and having heart disease and all this stuff to being on the cover of Fitness Magazine, that's a good article, but it's not a good book, in my opinion. So I interviewed 52 other people and got their stories, and put their stories in the book. Between 40 and 80, so it was kind of cool. I had just turned 40 when it came out. Likewise, my copy is good and sometimes it's great, but is it universally best? No. No one's is. I was lucky enough to have done a lot of favors for people, written VSLs that made a lot of people money, and we had everyone from Digital Marketer to Agora, to Todd Brown, to Jason Fladlien. I'm going down a list of the great copywriters that said if you can put this into a machine, knock yourself out, pal. And I put it into a machine and I sent it back to them, only for a totally different market. They were like, "Holy shit. How did you do that?" Right? Well, it took three years to figure out how to code this thing. That's what copypro.ai is, it's the best copy in the world that anyone can now use. We're talking everything from full sales pages, or webinars, to short email campaigns, to Facebook ads, to everything. The coolest part about it for me is that instead of putting copywriters out of business, the version two, which comes out as soon as we are fully funded, which hopefully will be in the next four months, that is going to employ more copywriters than any other platform, I think. We have a way of employing copywriters to where we can sell their copy, and sell it over and over and over again, because it's syndicated. That's what's taking all of my time. It's a completely new paradigm for copywriters. It gets rid of I didn't get my check, I'm not going to get my residuals. You get paid instantly. It gets rid of people waiting for copy, because you're literally syndicating your copy. It's pre-written and the machine puts their words with your words, and then rewrites it and spits it out, and it reads as if I wrote it, or Todd, or whomever wrote it. That's copypro.ai in a nutshell.
Igor Kheifets: Wow. If you don't mind me asking, what does a project like that cost?
Jon Benson: You mean how much have I put into it personally?
Igor Kheifets: Well, what kind of funding is required to build something like that?
Jon Benson: Well, I put I guess over the last couple of years at least $2,000,000 into it myself. Then our funding is we're raising $15,000,000, or $20,000,000 rather. We may do $25,000,000, but $15,000,000 will probably be enough. We're doing this in multiple rounds. Our first round is just $1,000,000. Our second round might be another $1,000,000 round. Then the third round would be the $15,000,000 or $20,000,000. It just depends on how much it's going to take to get it. It's more people than you imagine. Otherwise, you just get shit in, shit out kind of stuff. The copy that goes in has to be vetted by multiple people. All of the copywriters are certified. Josh Pellicer is running the certification program, so they go through 16 weeks of being certified. We make everyone better copywriters, but we only take people that pass a quiz that's not easy to pass. It's pretty labor intensive. I'll put it that way. Yeah. We're looking at, to make that a reality, probably minimum $15,000,000 to turn the AI portion on and to turn the full front end portion on. Think about iStockPhoto. You know how you get credits for iStockPhoto and you can go I need this photo? It's kind of the same thing. We're going to be on a credits system. Copy Pro 2 will be I'm going to buy 1,000 credits that I'll use some for a Facebook ad, some for an email swipe, some for a webinar. You'll just keep buying credits as you need them. Every time you buy them, whomever wrote that copy, unless they're internal guys, if an external guy wrote the copy, they get paid instantly. So, they can sell it over and over again.
Igor Kheifets: Wow.
Jon Benson: That's the model. It's pretty cool. We've got a lot of copywriters that can't wait to go through the program, because they want to have a better way to sell their services. Think about it. How many great email campaigns have you written? Right?
Igor Kheifets: Yeah.
Jon Benson: Campaigns that you know will just kill it. Well, what if a machine could take that and if you wrote it for, let's say, Amazon book sales or whatever, and I could turn around and spin it and sell it for weight loss, so it's not competitive to you at all but it's your same patterning. It's pretty cool.
Igor Kheifets: That's just amazing. The level of thinking that is required to create something like that is pretty cool. I can truly appreciate that.
Jon Benson: I have a headache this morning. I wasn't able to train this morning, because I went to bed last night and got sick, I have a headache. Nothing in my diet is bad, so it's not anything in my diet. I'm like, oh my gosh, this is just from thinking too much. So, yeah, a lot of thinking. I'm kind of tired, but it's worth it.
Igor Kheifets: All right, guys. You can check out this project at copypro.ai. Make sure to keep your eyes on it, because it's most likely going to dictate the next step for our industry, just like the VSL did several years ago. With that said, Jon, thank you so much for taking the time to rap with me. I really appreciate it. It's been an honor and a pleasure.
Jon Benson: Same here, Igor.
Igor Kheifets: Until next time we chat, have a good one. Thank you for listening to the List Building Lifestyle. Get access to previous episodes, the transcription of today's show, as well as other exclusive content at listbuildinglifestyleshow.com. Also, don't forget to claim your free seat at the workshop I'm hosting this week, where I show the two-step system that made me the top affiliate for people like Matt Bacak, John Crestani, Richard Legg, Michael Cheney, and many, many others. In fact, on this workshop I'm going to show you the exact approach I take whenever I promote an affiliate offer, the exact offers I promote, as well as how I was able to make over half a million dollars in commissions using my small list of just 18,000 people promoting a weird type of product that almost no one else promotes. All that is yours at Igor.ac, so go ahead and claim your seat right now, and I'll see you there.