Episode #85 – Bret Thomson on Hard-Work, Persistence and RESEARCH As Traits That Will Always Keep You Up Top

by John McIntyre

There’s no such thing as an overnight success.

Whether success came fast or slow,

There’s usually always a backstory.

…one that includes lots of hard work, determination, and a bullheadedness that leads the way.

Bret Thomson knows that type of success.

He’s currently one of the highest paid conversion strategists and direct-response copywriters in Australia.

And he attributes this success to his willingness to work hard,

To at the end of the day… make it happen.

In this interview Bret talked about his rise to the top and a few things that enable him to stay there.

And how if you hold this mindset,

You too will one day become the most popular copywriter or whatever your trade is in your country.

Put on your philosophical caps for this one,

Actionable advice? Yes, some.

Load of food for thought? Absolutely.


In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • how as an entrepreneur or freelancer, you might wanna watch out for S.M.E. (try to lay off Facebook or even blogs for a bit)
  • that working on yourself everyday, ei. personal development, can fill the void in your day to day life that attracts negative thoughts
  • the dangers of becoming complacent as an up and coming hustler entrepreneur
  • how the comparison game is a double edged sword (use it to hurt your progress or catapult you to success.. you choose)
  • the right way to turn energy into productivity.. don’t let fear halt your progress (an all too common setback for entrepreneurs)
  • the early morning (or night?) hour Bret wakes up everyday to begin his grind towards even more success
  • the self-doubt smashing technique in order to always perform at your peak level
  • the 2 BIG things to creating successful copy (nail these two things, and you’re golden)
  • how a failed campaign gave Bret an “aha” moment and what he discovered that sticks with him today
  • how getting good conversions does NOT come down to your writing skills
  • Bret’s highly effective past ten clients interview approach that makes writing copy easier and FAR more effective
  • why you should ask for product customer stories instead of opinions when doing copy research

Email Marketing Podcast Episode 1


Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO


Raw transcript:

Download PDF transcript here.

John McIntyre: It’s John McIntyre here, the Auto Responder guy, and it’s time for episode 85 of the McMethod Marketing Podcast, where you’ll discover how to get more customers with less time and less effort AND make them spend way more with you every time they do business with you.

I’m liking that little tag on there- anyway today, I’ll be talking to Brett Thompson, an Australian guy. He’s one of Australia’s highest paid in demand copywriting and marketing and conversion strategists. He’s a best selling author, a speaker, a coach and a mentor to thousands. I actually met Brett at the Titans of Direct Response seminar back in Stanford, Conneticut a couple weeks or months back, actually, by the time this episode goes live. And I heard of him before, I knew he was a copywriting guy, and he’s a friend of a friend, and I’ve been wanting to get him on the podcast so I popped the question and he was keen so we went home. He went to Australia and I came back to Thailand and jumped on Skype and we had a conversation.

And what’s interesting about this one is that this was very, not just casual- it was a bit philosophical. So I thought, we do talk about.. the idea was we were gonna talk about research. About how he gets amazing conversions and some the work ethic that he applies to that research that he does when he writes copy. But what sort of happens is we went down the rabbit hole of talking about what makes you successful at business and life. This is my favourite kind of conversation; it’s one of my favourite style of podcasts that I do. We get to talk about some of the bigger ideas instead of just tactics, okay? So today is a bit philosophical but there are some stuff you can take away today and apply in your business.

Now to get the show notes of today’s episode of the McMarketing Podcast, go to  themcmethod.com/85.

This week’s McMasters inside of the week is a book recommendation. The book is called All The Money In The World, and I picked up this book when I was in the US recently. It’s about the Forbes 400. All the guys, all the men and women on the Forbes 400. The 400 richest people in the world, okay? So the fortunes that these people have is absolutely incredible. I think the lowest, the minimum- that you have to get on that list is right around  billion dollars. A billion with a B, so, this book goes through: how they made their money, how they spent it, how they lost it, how it plays through their family.. And anyway, it’s just a fascinating book and it’s opened my eyes to the level that you can go to in business and entrepreneurship. Absolutely worth the read if you like getting into that stuff. Will sort of reframe how you look at some of the companies online, successful people- It’s made me kind of look at guys that used to be idols, used to be people I used to look up to, and thinking, man those guys are small. You look at these Forbes 400 guys and that’s big. That’s really, really big. So I highly recommend you go and check out that book.

Now to get more insights like this- It’s not much of an insight, it’s just a book recommendation. (laughs)
But  anyway, McMaster’s- It’s a private forum, private community that I run, and there’s a forum called the library which has some of the book recommendations. And really, it’s just about helping you: helping my customers and clients get more customers for their business. And so there’s a forum, where I’m in there, and you can hear other people in the forum and there’s a whole bunch of training products on e-mail marketing and sales funnels, and all that great stuff.

If you want to learn more about that, that’s the mcmethod.com/masters  and I’ll see you inside. It’s for a monthly fee. Okay?

So that’s it for now, let’s get into this interview with Mister Brett Thompson.

It’s John McIntyre here, the Autoresponder Guy. I’m here with Brett Thompson. Now, Brett is a direct response copywriter. He is one of Australia’s highest paid in demand copywriting, marketing,and conversion strategists. He’s got a best selling book out. He’s a speaker, a coach and mentor to thousands. Now, what’s really cool is that I met Brett two or three weeks ago at the Titans of Direct Reponse, which will actually be three months ago by the time these podcasts goes live, give or take a few. But we bumped into each other as comers and talked about copy, and talked about Australians coming up into the world and sort of showing these Americans and these big business guys that we actually, as convicts,we got exported out to Australia from England, that we can do marketing too.

We had a good little laugh about that and I thought afterwards, why not get Brett to come on and talk about some stuff that he’s known for, which is really to get some crazy conversions. According to him, we were just talking that a lot of that comes down to his work ethic when it comes down to marketing. So today, it would be really cool to have a chat not about copywriting, not really about stories or any of that. Sort of after the copywriting and after that fact, to really look at what sort of attitude you’ve gotta have when you approach marketing and approach copywriting, before you write a single word to actually get good conversions.

So that’s the “how to have a good work ethic,” all right, the right ethic you need to be a good marketer.

Something along those lines we’ll get to in a minute. Brett, how are you today?

Bret Thomson: Right on time too, awesome. Thanks for having me mate. Look forward to it.

John McIntyre: Good to have you on the show, man. Good to have another Aussie, we should get more Aussies around.

Bret Thomson: Haha, beautiful.

John McIntyre: All right, so before we talk about some of these work ethics stuff, I’ve given you a quick intro there. Can you give the listener a bit more of a background on who you are and what you’re up to.

Bret Thomson: Sure mate. Look, you did a pretty good intro, mate. I’m kind of excited to hear what I’ve got to say after that one, I must admit.

(Both laugh.)

Bret Thomson: But mates, look. I guess what I love about my story is that I kind of went all through school and didn’t read a book. I failed English. And a lot of copywriters have  similar stories, but I was a… All I did when I finished school: I remembered celebrating never having to work- never having to read a book again for my whole life. I thought it was fantastic. So I started a kind of a ten year career of being a full time investor, and I invested about ninety percent of my income in my social life.

(Both laughing.)

John McIntyre: I like that man.

Bret Thomson:   I was picking [xxx] But I guess that’s why I became a good storyteller, and I suppose I got a lot of confidence and guts to have it going wash. But I only tell that story to give people hope, right, because a lot of people saying “Where are you from?”

In the seventies, you’re doing this… you’ve generated over two hundred and twenty million dollars of new sales. But that thing gets, you know, very rare, but really anyone can do it, and I love giving people a lot of hope that if someone like me, who went all through school and didn’t read could do it, anyone can as well with the right attitudes and disciplines.

John McIntyre: It’s really cool actually when I’ve spoken to people before… like I’ve only started getting this because I haven’t been this for just as long as you have, but people come in and sometimes the attitude that they have is that, “Wow you’re amazing,” “I can’t believe you did that,” “I can never do that,” “It’s just, you know, it’s incredible.” But when you’ve been in the game and you’ve done this stuff you realize that it’s not that- if you’re good, and you work hard, and you practice, and you research, there is no magic to it. You get better over time and you get bigger jobs, and things just pick up steam and you just gradually build. It’s really not that difficult, it’s just about staying in the game, staying in the ring, and showing up every day.

Bret Thomson: Absolutely mate, and there’s no doubt that I am definitely amazing. Like, you can’t forget that.

(Both laugh.)

Bret Thomson: Uh, not really. But you’re spot on right it’s funny. Like a lot of kids, a lot of people look at the outside and think that you must be this amazingly talented person. But I think us, as in entrepreneurs, when you’re in the trenches- you don’t really see yourself as that. I mean, you probably should tell yourself that more, but it really is, it’s just that you’re in the grime and you’re just going that extra mile and if anyone’s prepared to do what you do, then for sure they’ll get the same results. It’s not really a matter of skill. I have to try and outwork a lot of my competitors because a lot of them are more skillful than me.

John McIntyre: Well let’s skip over that man, we were just talking about this work ethic thing. I asked you what you wanted to talk about and what really defines you as a marketer. What sort of really sets you apart of the other people, and you mentioned that the work ethic you bring to copywriting, and you bring to sort of marketing and doing the research. So tell me about that.

Bret Thomson: Yeah, mate , well I guess when I first learnt copywriting… I’ll tell you this quick story, I don’t know how much time we’ve got mate, so I’ll try to keep it tight, but I started my business because I thought I had a fantastic idea to kind of motivate kids cause I read my first book when I was in my mid twenties. It was called Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. And so my whole philosophy became personal development and I became a walking, talking person, but like a robot. I pretty much burnt all my friends very quickly from that, and so I had this idea.

I’m going to teach this to kids between seventeen to thirteen years old, because I was a dad with two twin boys at the time. So I handed in my resignation after fifteen years and kind of jumped inside of my own business. And everyone said,you’ll do great, fantastic- everyone thought it was a brilliant idea. And then I learned very quickly that you can have a good idea in one area, but if you don’t understand marketing then you can lose a lot of money.

And that’s pretty much what happened to me. Lost my money, found myself in a marketing seminar and a guy came up on stage called a millionaire maker in Australia and he said, “What I’m going to teach now is to put more money in my bank account than anything I’ve spent in my whole life.”

So I said, “Whatever comes out of this man’s mouth, I’m going to do it.” And he said it’s the out of writing [xxx] words on paper and then there’s copywriting. And oh no! I only just started reading, and I hate writing, but I gave it a go and I’ll tell you that story because I had no prior training to this industry. All I knew was if I was going to get good at this, I mean- in my first year of business I made sixteen thousand dollars. And that’s pretty hard when you’re bringing up a family.

I knew I had to hussle hard and really put in so much time studying. So I really just followed the path and read all the books that everyone suggested. All the great books. And a lot of the best gems are in the books that were written 20, 30, 50 years ago, right? And so I studied them. I would do everything that all the others weren’t doing. I would write out sales that is.. I pretty well had to put my own title. And then I had to kind of hussle for clients. In my first years as a copywriter, I went from sixteen thousand dollars to over two hundred thousands dollars cause I was cause at seminars. Just every time there was a speaker on stage, everyone would line up waiting for them to kiss their shoes and all that and tell them how awesome they were. I’d wait until the crowd died off and say, “Hey, I’m a copwriter. I’d love to help you out with your marketing.”

Cause I knew I was only a week away from my phone ringing and people asking for money, so I guess, that really was an attitude. It really had nothing to do with skill there. Cause it’s really an attitude and an urgency, which really kind of separated me from the rest.

John McIntyre: It reminds me of- there’s a story that Tony Roberts, now that you mentioned him and Awaken the Giant Within You. He tells the story.. plenty of people tell it about.. I don’t know, I can’t remember the actual story who its about. Basically its ancient Greece or something like that and they go sail to another land to conquer it or they get into a fight, basically. And they land the ships and the commander gets them to burn all of the ships. And all the soldiers see the ships burning and they have no choice but to fight their way the enemy and lo and behold, they win the fight because they have no other options. Is that what you were talking about, is you ended up in a situation… You know, your back is up against the wall, this was me in the Philippines, actually. Two hundred bucks left in my bank account. I was about to buy a ticket on my credit card to go home and go get myself a job, and that’s when things finally began to click.

So it’s funny how that works. When you finally get to the point you realize, look I’m going to do whatever it takes. I have to work twelve, fourteen, fifteen hours a day just to make some money just so I can stay in the game and keep doing this. That’s what I’ll do. When you get to that point, that’s really when the magic starts to happen.

Bret Thomson: That is a good story. You told it really well, by the way.

(Both laugh.)

Bret Thomson: But it is true, it’s all attitude and through that, through persistence- I mean they talk about doing ten thousand hours and work harder. I don’t know, but I swear I would’ve done, maybe in the first three years, I think. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I really had to work and so there’s nothing glamorous about it. There is no skill or natural talent that I can share with anyone. It was all the gems, and everything you do is just standing before you on the shoulders of the giant before you, isn’t it?

John McIntyre: Right, one thing that I struggled with personally sometimes is that things are doing pretty well and I’m happy, but I get caught up sometimes. I might look at, it might be a marketer, it might be someone more successful than me. They’re making more money, they’ve got a bigger business or whatever, and sometimes I feel like that they’re doing it faster than I am and I start to feel frustrated. This isn’t always conscious, sometimes it’s just a negative feeling of I can’t keep up or I’m not doing as well as I’d like and it creates a lot of tension.

Well sometimes it might be, I’m looking at Elon Musk. Sort of like a billionaire inventor. Sort of co-founded Paypal and now he’s doing the electric car with Tesla, Solar City… Just doing some crazy stuff. I told you about a book about billionaires, or it’s about billionares.  So sometimes I’m looking at that and I come back to my own business and I’m like, what am I doing? This is so small, and so tiny, and so slow..

I mean, how did you… Have you ever had to deal with that in your journey? Obviously, you have to work hard and you gotta put that together, but have you ever had to deal with that feeling of however fast you’re going or however well you’re doing, you’re still like “Aw, it’s not good enough.”

Bret Thomson: Mate, first of all, I’ve gotta say: I love your honest in bringing it up. I believe everyone goes through that and it’s clout for you to admit that and bring it up. It’s something all of you go through all the time, but I honestly believe that in some way, and it’s a bit of a claim, but I reckon that nearly everyone on this Earth has some form of them feeling not good enough in some way. That might sound like a big statement, but I know good friends of mine making ten, fifteen million dollars a year. I’m thinking, wow man that’s pretty sweet. I’ve been in mastermind groups with fifteen dollars an entry and surrounded by these guys and it very rarely comes in. The strategy comes down to feeling good enough about themselves to go to the next level.

Look, the comparison game is a double-edged sword. One side it can stop you in your tracks and you could freeze, be intimidated- it could be subconsciously and your output could be very poor and you’ll beat yourself up. And that could go for some days, or weeks, or months, maybe years. The other side of it you can use as a motivator and that’s something you have to consciously choose to do sometimes and use it to get far and up.

I mean here’s a thing- I believe you should never compare yourself to others. You should try and be better than others. You just try to be the best you can be. And that sounds really nice and it’s true, it’s just a daily thing for me, mate. I see other people really smashing it and I’ve got to make sure I’m just on the right side of the fence with this. I heard someone call it SME, which is Social Media Envy in a call. So, again you see other people on social media and you think, wow they’re smashing it. For me, as I kind of touched on earlier in the call, I work on my personal development every single day, cause if I don’t, if there’s a void, I think it’s a human nature- we kind of fill that void with negative. So I can’t allow that to happen, because it directly results in lack of productivity, which slows in the money flow.

So I have to make sure my cup is full and the way I see it. I used to teach these sermonees, I used to kids pers [xx?]. Everyone has like a bucket- a self esteem bucket and everyone’s got holes in their bucket. You can read a book, listen to a podcast, get a seminar and feel pumped up and on fire, but slowly, slowly, slowly it leaks out and you always, always gotta keep refilling it. And that’s something I’ve got to do every day. So you’re not alone man, and I’m glad you brought it up cause that’s cool.

John McIntyre: Well that’s the funny thing, the reason I brought it up is that sometimes you’re working really hard, and I get this- sometimes it’s really inspiring to hear a story about guys who are much more successful than I am. But then sometimes, like you said, it creates that freeze. You feel overwhelmed. Well there’s no way I’m going to catch up or something like that. What I’ve been actually reminding myself of… I guess the analogy that I use to break out of that is that I am lifting weights. So when you go to the gym, and there’s a Crossfire gym that I’ve been going- I’m not going right now, but I have being going for a lot of this year, and it’s interesting going in there cause I’m a really competitive guy so I look at this other guy and he’s lifting more than me so I have to be outlifting that. But the thing is if you look at the whole situation, like take the whole emotion out of it, and you look at it scientifically- The way for me to lift, let’s say I’m lifting 200 pounds, or you would say 100 kilos, if we were talking Australian. A hundred kilos, and he’s lifting 200. The way for me to go and lift two hundred is not to just go and pick up a two hundred kilo bar. The way for me to lift two hundred is for today to lift one hundred, tomorrow lift a hundred and two point five. The day after lift a hundred and five and basically go up in small increments like that.

Scientifically, that’s just how the body works, so I can’t go from one hundred to two hundred. And so, you know with business, on sidenote, to go back to the gym, you’ve got to be a little bit zen about the whole thing. Well, you take your emotions out of you and go like “What needs to happen for me to go that next step?” And you sort of map out that thing and what’s reasonable cause it’s not reasonable for me to go: well I want to be a billionaire tomorrow. That’s just not going to happen. I’m not going to make a hundred million dollars tomorrow. But what I can do is get a little bit better tomorrow than I was today and then so on like that, and once you take the emotions out of it and look at the path you’re going and making a billion dollars is in it. What’s that Chinese proverb, you know? The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It’s that.

Bret Thomson: Spot on right, spot on. It’s constant, never ending learning isn’t it. Never growing, I suppose, and you’re a great example. You’re surrounded and interviewing some of the greatest minds on the planet right now in this area, and I’m sure this topic comes up so often in all of the best entrepreneurs in any field. It’s constantly building up on itself and trying to get that next level. [xxx] of it if it really stops.

John McIntyre: It’s funny you mention that, cause in this book about billionaires that I’m reading, they’re talking about Larry Ellison, whose the third richest guy in the planet and he basically competes with a couple of Microsoft guys. Bill Gates, and Paul Allen is one of them… Steve Balmer. They are all around the same level- 20, 30, 40, 50 billion dollars total in terms of their net worth. This guy is forever competing with them- trying to have a bigger boat, or a bigger house, you know that sort of thing. So it’s just funny to notice that you could be one of the richest guys on the planet and you could still fall into that trap of feeling like you need to compete with someone else. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a hamster wheel. You don’t get any of that.

Bret Thomson: No that’s right. As long as you’re on the right side of it, because those guys… they know how to turn that energy into productivity. But I think that’s the difference because a lot of people get intimidated and that envy kind of makes them doubt themselves. And out of all of the hundreds of people that I mentored- These really skillful, talented people, right? And I could give them the best strategy and the best copy in the world, but a lot of them just don’t do it. Cause there’s a fear there. These are highly intelligent people and it really comes down to their self worth. It is a constant thing with entrepreneurs and I guess that the better you get at channeling that into positivity and keeping yourself in the right zone, then the best success you’ll get from it.

John McIntyre: One that’s also interesting-  Well the original topic we’re going to talk about is work ethic and how it applies to research, but this is fascinating. I love this kind of stuff, it gets me so pumped up. One thing I am interested in hearing about is sometimes I think, I get caught up in this, is that my business needs to be… well I need to have more money so I can… not necessarily buy more stuff, but it just needs to be bigger, better, more automated than it is now. Something that is other tha what it is right now. And the trap of that is that it’s again a hamster wheel. I might not be competing with someone in terms of bikes or yachts or personal jets like Larry Ellison is, but it’s still the same kind of thing where I’m always comparing right now with what it could be and creating a sense of dissatisfcation, and so it brings up this question of do you play the business game because you feel like that is what you need to, I guess, keeping up with the Jones, or do you say “Hey, look I’m making some good money right now.” Like in my case I could be like, well I’m making some good money right now, I’m in Thailand… Why don’t I just chill out, sleep in every day, ditch the alarm clock, go to the pool, sit in the sun, read a book… Why don’t I do that every day? Because a lot of us… Once you get good at making money, you sort of get into a position like that, where you don’t really need to hustle as hard as you used to. You get those days where your back is against the wall, but then you’ve got times when money is flowing freely and you don’t have to worry about much. And then it’s like, do you take time to smell the roses, or do you stay hungry?

Because on the one hand, there’s sort of like, you’ve got guys like Tony Robbins. Motivational gurus who always preach that you should always be growing, and always be trying to get somewhere. But then there’s the other side where everybody dies, and we’re all going back out of it, just the same place where everybody came from right, we’re going back into the ground. That’s just a fact of life, so does it really make sense to bust your balls all of your life to really build a big business?

Bret Thomson:   Well, that’s deep buddy. A big question, mate. And the thing is that the cool thing about the question is that is the answer will be different though who you’re talking to. See right now, this stage of my life, all I felt [xx?] A number of years ago, I got comfortable. I had some great recognition in Australia. You know, doing some events with a few other people, making some good money, and still working hard, but just not really pushing myself if that makes sense. And here’s what I think, and this is touching back on something else. When I see someone really smashing it right now, in the years I’ve been in this game, I know that things happen in waves. You look at celebrities- They can be the flavour for a year, and then they’re out of the spotlight again. Same with entrepreneurs and business owners… It’s very rare to see someone on top of their game all the time, and it maybe Dan Kennedy is an exception, but he’s a bit of a freak. I see people come up in the spotlight and I used to think, “Oh my gosh, they’re really smashing it.” I used to sometimes doubt myself and think maybe I should do things better and faster and harder. But then I just gotta go out of the spotlight again and I’ll [xx?] number of years, so I know that things happen with waves, and even with myself. So when I was one of those kind of victims… Everyone knew me in Australia, I was getting great recognition. Then I finally got comfortable and I let other people kind of surpass me. So, I tell you that because you’re asking me that kind of question right now at the time when I’m really hussling and hungry more than ever before. I’m on the upcurve to the point where, and this might scare some people, my day starts at three A.M. in the morning.

John McIntyre: Are you serious? Dude, I was at Thailand at one of these dinners and I was speaking to one of these guys from Early To Rise and he said he got up at 4 A.M. and I could not believe it, and now you’re telling me that you get up at 3 A.M.

Brett Thompson: 3 A.M. And you know why? Because no one else is doing it. That’s why?

John McIntyre: What time do you go to bed though?

Bret Thomson:   9:30.

John McIntyre: How do you manage to go to bed at 9:30 and wake up at 3? And then you stop all day?

Bret Thomson: All day mate, all day. And I’m not saying that I’m boasting about it right, but I don’t really..

John McIntyre: The thing that boggles me is that if I get a few nights sleep at 6 hours, I get depressed, man.  My mindset goes off and self doubt creeps up and all that. Whereas if I get a couple 8, 9 hour nights, I feel like a million bucks.

Bret Thomson: Yeah, that’s true. It depends what you do in your waking hours really. I don’t mind telling you what I do, right? Cause I know it’s not duplicatable and it’s not something that I teach. I mean, I won’t do it all my life because I’ll probably, in a number of years, say, “You’ve got to have a balance, and you’ve got to spend more time with your family.” I’ll probably have one of those talks, and we can have a conversation later on  about it, but right now you’re talking to me at the time I’m going so hard because I’ve got such big goals.

I’ll tell you where it happened. I was going to a seminar. This was only 4 or 5 months ago and they go by the name of Eric Thomas. He’s called a-

John McIntyre: The motivational guy.

Bret Thomson: Yeah, yeah. So he came out to Australia and was doing a talk and I was surrounded by a couple hundred people at the seminar. Well, probably actually around 400 people and he was talking about how he gets 120 percent on anything he does. He yells everything and he says, most people they’ve gotten 60 percent, 70 percent, and all the rest. So he took a survey in the crowd and goes, “Who reckons they got 120?” and no one really put their hand up. He said, “What about 100 percent?” and I put my hand up, looking around, hoping everyone would see me cause I was thinking I was going pretty hard. And then he kept on asking, and there was a bunch of people putting their hand up at 60 or 70 percent, and I thought that’s so embarrassing man, why don’t you just work harder? And then he told me what he does for 120 percent and he gets up at 3 A.M. because his competitors get up at 6 or 7 and he’s got like a 4 hour start on them, and he told me [xxxtated.. fruitated?]. And I was going, wow, that is a whole new level.And he came back and did another session, and he asked the same question again to the audience, and this time I put my hand up for 60 percent. Cause I thought I was I was going to 100 percent, but sometimes-

John McIntyre: Well sometimes I am, that’s the thing, man. I’m like, man, I’m doing pretty good. I’m waking up at 6 or 7 most days and get started and then I hear guys like you- crazy, crazy, doing shit like this. 3 A.M. That’s insane.

Bret Thomson: Look it is, but I’ve got a lot of urgency with what I’m doing right now, right? I guess I’m fueled on by a lot of things. Like I told you, my beautiful bride [xxx] and I have 6 kids between us. I was kind of the black sheep in my family where everyone’s done the traditional route where they’ve got a job, got an education, got a deposit for a house and stuff like that, where I’ve kind of just jumped into business, throwing money at business all the time, and just so many peaks and trusts. And then I found out a little while ago my younger brother just sold a property for 1.8 million dollars, and I love my brother, but that annoyed the crap out of me. I thought, man, he’s just under it, but it seemed like he was- And that was a fuel, I thought “I’ve got to really hustle.” All of a sudden, my kids and [xxx] get me out of bed in the morning and some bigger financial goals that I’ve got as well. So I guess for me mate, the getting up at 3 A.M. was… it sounds absurd and ridiculous to a lot of people, but for me it’s fantastic because I knew that a lot of people in my industry who are a lot more talented than me and stuff like that, and I have to study and research, and I have to work on my personal development, and so in that 3 hours I work on my personal development. I kind of sock myself up, I go back into the books and research and write and do all that kind of stuff. So by the time it comes around 6 or 7 o’ clock, you know, every day I get 3 or 4 hours of really good solid stuff, so I don’t give myself time to… It’s very rare at this stage for me to have a lot of self doubt. It still happens, but my routine is really kind of shaped to get me in the right zone.

John McIntyre: Interesting, man. So one thing that… cause I mean we said we were going to talk about research. I feel like we’ve got to squeeze this in somehow. So now I’ve heard about some of the work ethic and some of the mindset stuff. I mean, you mentioned that one of the things that puts you ahead of the other copywriters, and other competitors, and others in the game is that you are willing to go to an insane level in terms of the work that you are going to put in to make sure something wins. So with all this extra time and the amount of commitment that you have to something, you put a whole lot more effort into this research before you write a word of copy.

Bret Thomson: I’m glad you asked me, I’ll tell you where it all first started. When I first started I learned from Pete Godfrey- He is now one of my best mates and so I got very good, very fast, because to write a successful copy I think the two big things, I think, is coming up with a big idea, and out of that you get the big headline, and the other thing is writing the conversational tone. There’s a 1001 things, but I think those 2, if you can nail those two, you can get pretty good success so I started getting some huge success really early on in my career, and then people started offering to pay me some good money to write a copy. And I thought I was a bit of a legend in my mind, because I had no evidence to prove me wrong. Until one time, one of my campaigns failed and I was like, “What?” I just couldn’t understand it and I just did not like that at all. So then what I realized is.. I found out why I couldn’t ring up clients and I found out why they didn’t buy. And that just gave me a good indication that I hadn’t done enough research, and I really understood that to get good conversions, you don’t really have to be a great writer.

You just have to understand the psychology of your market and really what they want and how to communicate it to them. Now I spend probably 70% of my time researching the market and interviewing people. A lot of people… Like, if you had an average copywriter they’ll say,”Yeah, I’ll take on someone’s project. No worries.” They say go fill out this questionnaire, and the business owner will fill out the questionnaire saying: “This is who my market is, this is the 3 daily frustrations, this is the problem that keeps them up at night.” You know, this, this and that. The copywriter will go, “Oh, thanks for that and they’ll start punching out copy and giving it back to them.”

A lot of the times, it doesn’t really work because the business owner is not the client. That’s the big distinction. So when I get them to fill it out, I say, “Thanks very much. Can I also get a list of your top 10 clients, most recent clients.” Then I’ll ring these clients up and  I’ll just say, “Good day, this is Bret Thomson. I’m working with Bob. I asked Bob for a list of his top 10 clients, and you’re at the top of my list. So I was wondering if you have a couple of minutes, I’d love to ask you a few questions cause I want to help Bob get his product out and help people.”

I’ll do that call over and over and over again and that’s where all the gems come from: those interviews. I used to ask really dumb questions like “What headline do you think will work these days?” and just don’t ask them their opinion, all right? The way you get the gold is to ask them to tell their story. Say “How did you come across Bob?” Cause they can’t fudge a story, right? If you ask them their opinion, people have this… They consider that they have to try and give you the right answer or try and sound smart. But if you ask them to tell their story, then it eliminates any of that, and you just get the pure gold. Inside that story, you can ask them: “Who are you looking at, why didn’t you buy from them?” and you kind of dig deep in that. So, that’s kind of the extra level that I go to when I write copy because by the time I’ve gone through those kind of calls, I know exactly what the market is feeling right now.

Not two years ago, but right now.That’s just one of the things I do and I know not a lot of other copywriters do that, but it’s my reputation on the line. If I want to get good conversions and maintain my reputation, I’ve got to go that extra mile and spend more time on the research and doing the writing.

John McIntyre: Good stuff man, I like it. I like the idea of getting their story instead of asking them about their facts or headlines or that kind of thing. We’re right on time, so before we go though, if someone’s listening to this and wants to know more about you or buy one of your products or anything like that, where is the best place for them to go and do that?

Bret Thomson: Cool, thanks man, I appreciate it. I’ve got a blog which is probably a little bit neglected last couple of months, but I’ve got a lot of really cool teachings there at bretthomson.com. By the time this recording comes out, I’ll have a site going called Marketing Maker of A HQ dot com. But if you really wanna learn a deeper level of what I do and how to get the core results that I’ve got, it’s all wrapped up in a book called Client Rash. So you go to clientrashbook.com. I’m really proud of that book as an information marketer. I mean, I’ve put programs together that are worth 1000 dollars, 1500 dollars and I’ve invested a lot of those as well, but I can honestly say that the stuff that I’ve put in that little 25 dollar book is probably equal to a 1500 dollar home study course. So yeah, that is a good way to get introduced to more of me.

John McIntyre: Good stuff man, I will link to those sites in our show notes at themcmethod.com. Bret, thanks for coming onto the show.

Bret Thomson: My pleasure, mate. You’ve made it really easy and I love what you do on [xx?] Big fan of yours so keep charging, buddy.

4 thoughts on “Episode #85 – Bret Thomson on Hard-Work, Persistence and RESEARCH As Traits That Will Always Keep You Up Top”

  1. Wow! This was by far the best podcast so far!
    It really resonated with me. Specially the part of self esteam being a leaky bucket which needs constant re-filling. If not filled with positive ‘personal growth stuff’ we easily fill it with self doubt.
    By bucket was full 3 years ago. Empty now. Time to shake it up again.
    Well done John! I really like what you are doing.


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