224. How you can grow your Brand and Authority using Content with Bernadette Schwerdt
Ash Roy and Bernadette Schwerdt Video Transcript (This transcript has been auto-generated. Artificial Intelligence is still in the process of perfecting itself. There may be some errors in transcription):
Ash Roy: Bernadette Schwerdt is an award-winning Australian entrepreneur, author, TEDx speaker, and advertising copywriter. She's the founder of Copy School, the Australian School of Copywriting, and the country's leading copywriting coach, Bernadette's Flagship. Online courses help marketers, business owners, and freelance content creators.
Create cut-through content that places them at the top of their field and on page one of Google Today, I'm delighted to welcome Bernadette Schwerdt from copy school.com, and we are going to be talking about how you, our listener, and viewer, can grow your brand and your authority using content. Welcome to the show, Bernadette.
Bernadette Schwerdt: Thanks for having me, Ash. It's great to be here.
Ash Roy: I'm very excited to have you. I've been, reading some of your books, well, one of your books particularly, and I found it to be very, very succinct and punchy, which I absolutely love, and very biased towards that sort of content that doesn't waffle a lot, [00:01:00] and that's a very Aussie approach to most things, in my opinion.
So, Great to have you. So Benette, let's start there. Let's talk about your approach to content creation in the awareness, consideration, and decision stages and how you approach content creation in each of these stages.
Bernadette Schwerdt: Well, I think what you're talking about there, Ash, is the marketing funnel, isn't it?
You know, it's how do people come into your ecosystem as a business owner. And a lot of business owners don't know this, right? So this is a, it's a great question to ask because it does help work out what you wanna say. And that is one of the first questions a client will ask you is, well, what do we write?
And that's not a simple answer. You have to. Take a few steps back and look at the creative brief, which is another thing I talk to a lot of my students about is having a creative brief. So you don't just go straight into the writing of something, you actually do a whole series of, of, of question and answers, sort of, uh, responses.
So what I do, um, ash and what I train my students to think about is, well, [00:02:00] firstly, who's your customer, right? Pretty basic. Who's your customer avatar? You try and get down to the one person, not so much a group, you know, 25 to 34-year-old women who, you know, buy groceries. That's not that helpful. I like to think, okay, within that, that subset, who is this woman?
You know, what is her name? Where does she live? How many children's, how many children does she have? Um, what does she do for a job? What's her concerns? What's her problem? You know, what's the, the, uh, the, the problem she'd love to solve here? So once you go down to that, it doesn't take very long. I can do it in about two minutes with my clients, but once you get down to, okay, it's Gemma and she's CEO of a.
Association for, let's say, I don't know, cat lovers or something, um, you go, okay, well what's her issue? So that's step one. And then you work out what are you selling. And that's another question that often gets overlooked in an advertising brief. It's like, what are we actually selling here? Because often clients think, oh, just wanna sell my business, I wanna sell myself. It's like, let's take Commonwealth Bank, you know, there's. 200 products within a bank. An accountant has probably 10 products. You know, a bass service, a tax service, A S M S F service. So it's really important to work out what are we actually selling here, you know, in a particular campaign that you might be running.
And then you think, okay, well based on all that we know about the customer avatar, where are they at in their knowledge? Of this particular organization? Are they, are they familiar with us? Have they bought from us before? Are they brand new? Are they lapsed? You know, where are they at? So from the awareness point of view, you think, well, if they're not aware of us, we can't very well sell it, can we?
So just taking copywriting as an example, cause that's what I do. You know, if I was to say, From the awareness point of view, where are people at? I'd say, well, in the awareness stage, they don't know anything. They don't know even what copywriting is. So from a content point of view, you think about the FAQs that that particular customer might have or the avatar.
And for me, it'd be like, well, what is copywriting? So I'm gonna be viewing blogs on what is copywriting, you know, how much can a copywriter earn? What is the difference between content creation and copywriting? So when you think about the questions people have in that awareness stage, when they don't know much about you, it's really easy to start writing content cuz you just answer the questions.
And then you move to say the d the uh, the consideration. And that's moving people through, the funnel where they know about you. They've maybe read your book or they've listened to your podcast or whatever they might be doing. And then you think, okay, they might be considering a course. So, the questions they might be having, uh, well, what is the best course for me?
You know, do I need a degree to do this? What experience do I have in order to get the most from this, et cetera? So you answer those questions and then it comes down to the, um, The purchase cycle. Well, you know, making a decision and they, well, they're thinking about other courses. How is my course different from the others?
What are my success stories? What is my process? What is my money-back guarantee? You know? So you can start to see if you just know the customer, what you're selling, what questions they have, where are they at in the purchase cycle in terms of how much they know about us. Then the questions. Become self-evident and then you answer the questions and you copy.
So that's kind of a very long-winded way to be succinct. Succinct, um, in terms of how you actually use this purchase cycle and marketing funnel to work out what you need in content.
Ash Roy: That's great. Thank you for all that context. I would like to add a couple of things to that as well. So first of all, I spoke to Joe Polizzi and we talked about.
Something very similar and something that really stood out for me when we spoke is he said, to create content that meets your customer where they are on their journey. And I think you touched on that as well when you said that's where you need to be aware. Of whether the customers of the awareness, consideration, or decision stage.
Another, I've, I've seen that similar framework on HubSpot as well. I'm a HubSpot solutions partner, but I've also seen people describe [00:06:00] it as top of the funnel. Middle of the funnel. Bottom of funnel Funnel is a word that I don't quite like. But um, anyway, it's, it's basically the awareness stages, kind of answering questions like, Uh, the what kind of stuff?
What I think, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think these are called, uh, is it navigational keywords versus, um, oh, I can't remember now. But anyway, um, it answers answering what type questions, the consideration stages, answering maybe, uh, how will this work for me? Type questions and the decision stages.
Typically comparison-type stuff where the customers. Product aware, solution aware, and they're just deciding between product A and product B. Would you agree with that?
Bernadette Schwerdt: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah. I mean, there's lots of different models and funnels and eu, Eugene Schwartz, which you've just referenced, you know, they're all there and it's just a matter of just working out what questions do people have and trying to order those questions appropriately.
Ash Roy: Yeah. We have a similar approach in our nine [00:07:00] step business growth framework, and the first five steps are just dedicated to understanding. Your customer? Who is the customer? What problem are you trying to solve? That kind of thing. And I think that's a very, very important question, which is who a great way to find out more about the who is to also do what I learned as the Amazon strategy, which is basically looking at reviews of books that solve problems around that particular pain point.
And then reading the reviews, typically the five-star ones and the one-star ones, and looking at how. The voice to get the voice of customer data. How did the customer feel? The book solved their problem or didn't solve their problem? And in there is that nugget, which is the problem as they see it in their words.
Um, okay, let's move on to the next question, which is public speaking. I'm gonna shift gears a bit here. I know you said in your book you hate doing public speaking, but you delivered a TEDx talk. Congratulations. That's a. Amazing achievement. Can you tell us how you did it? And for people who are considering it, what should they think about any frameworks or any ideas you would like to share about, you know, if someone wants to do a TEDx talk, someone starts.
Bernadette Schwerdt: Yeah, look, I actually like public speaking ash, so I'm not quite sure where I said that, but I trust you. Um, that I might have said it, but I do. Maybe I get nervous about it. You know, I think I, like to make that point. Cause I think as a former actress people think that actors and presenters don't get nervous and they really, really do.
Uh, so what I do with, with my training and I teach public speaking, is I teach people to deal with their nerves. First. Yeah. You know, because if you haven't got the nerves under control, that doesn't matter what your content's like, even when your delivery is like, you know, it's gonna be compromised. So from a TEDx point of view, it's, they, there's a whole bunch of formulas and models out there, but I actually haven't found them to be that useful.
You know, when, when I did mine, I just had [00:09:00] to work it out for myself. And you only have, I only had 12 minutes. So it, it's a very, very, um, short amount of time to convey quite a complex argument, which is a lot of what the Ted talks are. And so I guess if I was to give any advice, it'd be, get really clear about what is it you wanna say, you know, what is the one-liner that you could possibly use as the name of your talk?
If it had to be a how-to phrase, dot, dot, dot, what would, how would you fill in the rest of the how-to? And for mine, it was how to bumble your way to success, which was a very unusual topic because who would publicly and willingly put themselves out as a bumbler, you know, to a global audience? I did think a lot about that cuz I thought, is that a brand I really want to be embracing for myself?
But. I did feel so strongly about the concept that I, I thought, no, we'll take the risk and put it out there. And it's had an amazing reception and people still talk to me about it all these years later. And I still use it. And that's why I feel strongly about it because the concept is in any creative process, be it learning a new skill, learning and write a, you know, writing a piece of copy, um, learning how to do a podcast, building a relationship with someone, uh, learning a new instrument or a language.
Whatever that task might be. The early stages of it is generally filled with bumbling and there's lots of different names for that, but I've just called it bumbling cuz that's what it felt like for me. And, um, you know, in new, in new tasks and if you accept that there's gonna be a bumbling stage, then you, you tend to give yourself a little bit of.
Slack and you're a little bit kinder to yourself when you will inevitably muck up or it's difficult or it's unpleasant. All those things that happen with a new project, because what happens, the, the, the reverse of that is if you don't understand that that early stage is gonna be unpleasant, you blame yourself.
You think, why can't I do this? I'm so dumb. I'm not good enough. I'm not intelligent enough. I'm not trained. Who do I think I am? And all those kind of negative beliefs that come out and that stops you from progressing. And if we want to change and grow and do the things we want, do we have to accept those early stages of a new task?
You're going to be unpleasant, and if you just give us up a little bit of time to get through it, like I'm writing, um, A course at the moment, a brand new course, and it's been quite a massive project. And every time I start a new module, I'm thinking, Ugh, bumble, right? And it gets me through and it makes me know that there's an end to this.
It won't always feel this badly. So anyway, that's kind of what the Ted Talk was about, but to answer your question about structure, I think you gotta work out your top line. Like what's the opening line? And I often think it's, it's really helpful to talk about it from a universal truth. It's like, it's no secret that dot, dot dot.
Right. You know, whatever that is. Or it's, let's face it, we all know this to be true. Dot, dot, dot, um, You know, there's often these, they, they're prompts. I use 'em in copywriting all the time, but they're very helpful little, um, devices, triggers, you know, devices to help me understand what is the nub of this whole idea.
And for example, I'm just making this up now, but for mine, it would've been, it's no secret that starting a new project, relationship or instrument is gonna be difficult. You know, so if you just know that that's the opening line, then you, you've got the audience for a start because they're thinking that's true for me.
And we're always looking for truth and connection. And once the audience are going, Hey, that means something to me, then you've got them at least for 10 seconds. And then you've gotta obviously elaborate. But then you move right down to the end of your speech. The last line is like, what do you wanna say?
What do you want them to do or feel at the end of your presentation? You know, do you want 'em to feel excited or motivated? Do you want 'em to feel cautioned or alarmed? Um, and what do you want 'em to do? You know? Is it to talk to somebody, to ask a question, to fill out a form, whatever it might be. So I think if you top and tail it with those two kind of devices, it helps you.
Structure it and helps you work out. Well, I've only got 12 minutes and the other thing I do, Ash, is I work out how many words I can speak per minute, which is about 150. Generally, that's most people. And you think, okay, 10 minutes, 120 words, it's 1200 words. So therefore you go, okay, I've got two and a half pages of content to fill.
And if you know you've only got 1200 words, why write 10,000? Now you might do that just to get to your idea, but. It's very confronting when you've got 12,000 words and you've gotta cut it back to 1200. So if you know that only 1200, you think, what are my greatest hits? What are the best lines that I've used?
You know, what are the best stories that I've been telling that resonance? So you just kind of narrow it down a little bit, you know, cuz you, if you don't know what you are heading for, it's very difficult to write copy.
Ash Roy: Wow. That's a copywriting lesson right there. You know, start with. The, what's that? What did they say?
Don't bury the lead, you know?
Bernadette Schwerdt: Yes. Yeah.
Ash Roy: Core message. And I think another very important word you used was a connection. Uh, I would add one more word to that, and that is alignment. Um, a great book, and we've talked about this before, I think is Make the Stick. I really love how that book approaches the idea of, Um, connecting with people and breaking their guessing machines and so on.
If you haven't heard of it, I recommend checking it out. It's called Make to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath. Um, so you've just given us some really great insights around how to think like a copywriter. I remember one of my mentors, John Moro, said to me if you wanna write great quality copy, don't think like a writer.
Think like a street performer. And I think that is. More and more true today as people's attention spans shrink, I think you have to win the first three seconds to then win the next 10 seconds, to then win the next 30 seconds, and so on, and hopefully, you will have to love it, enough value to keep them for life.
But if you don't win the first three seconds, you're not gonna win any attention from the audience, which is sadly increasingly fleeting. Sure. Sorry. Go ahead.
Bernadette Schwerdt: I was just gonna say, one of the things I, I train my students is to think about the, the opening line and the opening headline and that you could have the best offer in the world.
You know, you could have this, everyone who reads this ad wins a million dollars. Right? But if it's buried in like paragraph four, if they don't read the first line, they're never gonna get to that one. So the best offers in the world get buried. And I know there's a real temptation with writing copy, and I've done this myself, where you think I'm just leading up to it.
I'm just. Ramping up, you know, I'm just sort of setting the scene. It's like, no, get to the point. Tell them what you're selling as, you know, gently as you can [00:16:00] early on. So they've got context. Cuz if you've got this kind of concept of just rabbiting on at the beginning about how good this thing's gonna be and people don't know what you're actually selling, there's nothing to hang it on, you know, there's no architecture to hang the, uh, the idea on.
So I think get to the point, another point. Good mate.
Ash Roy: Uh, some other episodes by the way, if you are listening or watching that you might find useful, I've interviewed some other great copywriters, including Brian Clark, episode one 16. So that's productive insights.com/one 16 and Sonya Simone productive insights.com/ 1 0 7 And, um, Um, John Morrow, productive insights.com/one/three.
So, Bernadette, I asked Neil Patel this in episode 212, and I'm gonna ask you the same question because I'm interested to know what you think. I asked Neil, do you write for the audience first and search engines second? Cuz he's all about SEO or the other way around. And I would love to hear your thoughts on it.
Bernadette Schwerdt: I think. We have to write for the human first, obviously, right? Because if you just write for Google and you might get on page one, but the person's gonna read it and not connect with it. So it defeats the whole purpose of doing it. But what I would say is you can blend the two at the same time. So for example, let's say for me, copywriting, uh, Courses is a key phrase that I want to be found for.
Then if I know that, then it makes it a lot easier to write my copy because I can use that as the basis for my copy. So I don't just say willy-nilly, I'm gonna start from scratch with no concept of what the keywords are. I think, okay, they are the words, so therefore I might be thinking something along the lines of best kaoni courses in Australia.
Top kaoni course success stories. You know, so you can sort of infiltrate those keywords into your copy, but you do it sort of, you merge both the human need and the, and Google's need so that you come up with, uh, a piece of copy that's gonna, um, appease both camps.
Ash Roy: You know, one thing that absolutely kills me about it, now I wanted to ask your opinion on this, is I find SEO really.
Restricts or inhibits the creative process for me because I may want to write about something and I go and look it up on, you know, uh, keywords everywhere or whatever, and I find, damn, there's not enough search traffic for that. And that kind of just messes me up. And I asked Seth Godin what he thought and episode 200 and he said, I don't use SEO at all.
I asked Derek so was the same question, and he doesn't either. So there's just for those who are listening and watching, you don't have to use SEO to guide all your writing. I like to, but I'm curious to know, Bernadette, how do you do that? How do you not allow that? Technical SEO process to interrupt your creative process where you feel moved to write about something, but then the damn SEO O tells you not to write about it.
Bernadette Schwerdt: Yeah, I think you, it is a blend. I don't think you can ignore SEO O completely, but at the same time, I don't think you can ignore your instinct and impulse as well. And I think I know. Well, people know their audiences fairly well. I listen to what my students say. I listen to what my customers or prospects say.
I hear the questions that they're asking me. Um, and I take that. Into a, an accommodation as well when I'm writing copy. But I, I just think, what would the normal person, this customer avatar that I've got in my mind, what would they ask? You know? And I think then you, you, you kind of start with that and you think, okay, well how can I niche that?
How can I longtail it a little bit so that I do? Um, create a really interesting phrase or blog or whatever title that might get found a little bit more easily than some of the other ones that have got a lot of, you know, competition. So I think you can play the game a little bit, but I think you've gotta just always start with the customer in mind.
If you don't, it's like where do you begin? Yeah. You know, it's impossible actually, I think, to write copy if you don't think about the customer at, at the heart of it. [00:20:00]
Ash Roy: So let's talk a little bit about that actually, because. To me, and please feel free to correct me if you don't agree, but to me, copywriting is about 80%, if not more research, because if you are not in the right conversation, it doesn't matter how good your sentences are.
So, What are your favorite research tools where you go and find out about your audience, who she is, where she hangs out, and so on?
Bernadette Schwerdt: Yeah, I think, well, I have a creative briefing document that I call it my single source of truth, and I use that with all my training and. All my students love it because they never knew there was a brief to start with, and I think that's a revelation for a lot of people that you can actually document or codify the creative process to some degree.
And rather than as copywriters turn up to a client not knowing anything about their business, it feels quite intimidating. You know, you talk to a manufacturer of, I don't know, rubber hoses or something, or tires or tiles, and I've worked with all those products, bizarre products that I've worked with. I know nothing about them.
I've never used them. It doesn't matter. Yes, I'll do my research before I go, but if I just have the client in front of me, that's a great starting point. And I ask them these very specific questions and they are very specific. Um, that gets me started and it gives me enough knowledge to be a little bit dangerous.
Then of course, I'll talk to their customers. I look at the testimonials, and you mentioned that just a moment ago, which is quite interesting, and I've got this technique from Liz Green, one of my copywriters, so it's not my idea, but she's one of my students who's done exceptionally well, and we were talking the other day.
And she said what she does, she's very good with the voice of customer research or VO C and uh, what she does is if she can't get access to the clients and, or they don't have any clients yet, they're brand new, what she does is she goes to the competitors and she looks at their testimonials that what they say, good and bad, or even, you know, bad reviews.
Hopefully not, but ne if they're there and she says, what's the number of this? What, is important to these, to these people? And so it's interesting, you know, you can actually get it from other competitors, what's important for your client as well. So that's good if you don't have access to clients. Um, Use the product.
You know, that's why I say to my students, pick a topic that you really enjoy using yourself, you know, or a product or service that you love yourself. Like it might be yoga, it might be pets, you know, it might be, um, wine, it might be travel because every industry needs a copywriter, so why not start with something that you actually enjoy so that it's not a chore to research, to research that particular product.
I've had a student of mine called Ruth. Who, um, uh, loves wine, right? So, we did some coaching. We worked out, let's narrow this right down to how you can find that first gig. And she did, and Nash's working with Treasury Estate and she was, the last time I spoke to her was a McGill in South Australia on a hill drinking wine and writing about it.
And she goes, Bernadette, you've changed my life. You know? I said, well, you did it. You know, we worked together to, to create that. But you had the knowledge and the, and the guts, and that's the part of it as well, have the guts to honor. What is it you love? What do you really wanna do? Don't just say something just cuz you think it might make money.
What do you really love to write about? Uh, or what do you really love just to do? What do you read? What's on your bedside table? What would you do for free? You know, what conferences do you attend for free? And when you get clear about those ideas, then you know that there's gonna be a market for that.
Cuz every industry needs a copywriter and life just gets a lot easier because you can research to the cows, come home, you don't mind, you're getting better at what you do, and um, you know, you're enjoying the process.
Ash Roy: You know, I first heard about the Amazon research technique from a person called Danny Ini um, who's quite a good copywriter himself.
And I wanted to also ask you, do you use things like Cora or like, I took the Amazon strategy and took it to Udemi and did it the same thing on there. Do you use those tools at all to do
your voice? A lot of my students do, especially the younger cohort. I don't, um, No, no particular reason. But yeah, I know a lot of my students love all that stuff, and I think if you are struggling for ideas or you just like to get a really good broad section that, you know, like Reddit's brilliant for that kind of stuff.
Um, but no, it's not something I would turn to for the, in the first instance. I'm not saying I wouldn't occasionally do, but, I don't tend to, they're not my first go-to points of call.
Ash Roy: I'll tell you what, in our nine-step framework, we are very big on this and, uh, that is, Talk face to face with the customer if you can, because while it's not scalable, having a face-to-face conversation gives you so much more nuanced feedback on what matters to the customer, what doesn't.
We have a lot of communication that happens that we don't even know about through Microexpressions and stuff like that. So even a Zoom call, if you can get on a Zoom call with a customer and ask them, maybe you use the. You know the spin framework if you want to apply that Neil Rackham selling framework.
But this is not just for selling, even for customer research, you can try and understand your customer better by speaking to them face to face. And the second best option is maybe on the phone. And the third best is through surveys. Surveys are very scalable, but. I am very biased towards the face-to-face, and once you have enough of a field, which is what I sense you do Bernadette for your ideal customer, then all these other things just become more, you know, um, Uh, what's the word?
Uh, supportive. Really supportive to backup. Augment your, yeah. Your, yeah. Augment. That's it.
Bernadette Schwerdt: And the other thing too, Ash, is podcast. You know, I have a podcast and I interview a lot of my students cuz I'm thrilled and fascinated by how they've progressed. And it gives me permission to say, how did you do that?
What, what was the, you know, what was the defining moment for you? When did you just leap into the unknown and give up your job and start copywriting? What was going through your head? You know, what did you do to find your first client? And so, Just people listening. You know, if you, if you do have a podcast, bring your clients onto it and use that as an elevation for them and also market research for you.
And that's not why I do it, but I'm, I'm always intrigued as to how people succeed. So, um, you know, that's a nice way of doing it in a really respectful and fun way for both.
Ash Roy: Oh, I couldn't recommend it more highly. I did a podcast with one of my clients, Amanda Farmer. She's a lawyer. And we interviewed her twice, actually, first, when she was six weeks post-launch for her podcast.
I helped her launch a podcast and then 20 months in, she ended up on Sky News and Channel 10. She really took her to the next level and it was a great way to showcase her skills, but also that this. Framework that I have actually does work. Um, couple more tools I would like to recommend to people listening or watching.
Uh, Sparktoro which is the newest bit of software created by Rand Fishkin. I've been using it for about a year. I find it incredibly helpful. It actually looks at people's profiles to get a better understanding of the customer. It's not keyword centric. It's more person-centric. So you really understand your audience better, and you can learn more about that in my conversation with them in episode 1 59.
So that's productive insights.com/ 1 59. And the other tool, which we'll just quickly touch on, is chat, G P T, which is all the rage at the moment. Um, and it's basic, basically a, you know, a form of artificial intelligence. You can learn more about email@example.com. I'll just say this, that chat, G P T three is believed to have about 170 billion parameters, and it's good, but it's good as a research assistant, in my opinion, it is not gonna take away people's copywriting jobs at this point.
But G P T four is set to have a hundred trillion parameters as opposed to 170 billion, and that's gonna be a different order of magnitude. So what that will do, I don't know what level of, uh, content it will create. I don't know. Also chat, G P three. G P T three cuts off at 2021. So basically just scours the internet and has a whole lot of, you know, sampling of the internet.
G P T four might be more up-to-date. So again, we don't know what capabilities that will have. Um, I see a lot of other interesting things happening in the space because I think Google probably has better technology at the moment. They just haven't released it because it goes against the revenue model, but, We'll see what happens there.
But I would say if you're not using G P T three as a research assistant to deal with things like blank page, uh, problem or you know, to save you time on research, what used to take me seven, eight hours is now taking me, you know, maybe half an hour. So you should be using that. Otherwise, you're a competitive disadvantage.
If there's anything you'd like to add to that, you're welcome to do so.
Bernadette Schwerdt: Yeah, it's a hot topic, isn't it? Everyone's asking about it and, with good reason. You know, it's an amazing [00:29:00] piece of technology and I think it has opportunities and it has threats, and I think you are absolutely right. Get on it, use it, and start to see how it can be useful to you.
And as copywriters, I don't think it's going to, you know, cut jobs out any, any time soon. It might. Compromise some things like product descriptions and things like that, which I kind of wrote and very, um, formulaic in some respects. Or it can, it can fast track that, you know, you still need the human touch, but I think where.
We, can really have a point of difference to the, to chatbot is to think about the higher level thinking skills that are required here. You know, every brief requires who's the customer, audience, who, and what stage of the process are they at. You know, what, uh, are the, the things that matter to them, you know?
And I think we have to get the strategy right. Before we even bother ourselves with writing the content. And I think that's not what the chatbot can do. It can't do strategy, you know, it can't work out what is it we need to say and should say. And that's what US copywriters and marketers and digital marketers need to, um, to be good at.
So I think once you've got that sorted, By all means, it's gonna make my life a lot easier. But I think when we're talking to clients and a lot of copywriters are concerned that they might be losing, you know, revenue or whatever, I think to be honest about it. Say, look, I use it, but you're gonna get a better result because of what I'm doing, my time, my expertise, my work.
You are gonna get a better result. It doesn't mean I'm not writing it, it just means I'm using it as a starting point. So we can fast-track the writing process. So I think it's got opportunities and threats and you just have to use it and see how it works and see where it's going.
Ash Roy: I recently attended a conversation, a conference with Brian Clark and Robert Bly and so on, and I really like one of the things that came out of that, which was to use it as a research assistant, um, also that it produces what they call B grade copywriting, [00:31:00] which means that you can still use it, but it doesn't have things like emotion.
It doesn't have, you know, uh, examples of how. The particular product works or how, what you're saying actually unless you ask it for those examples. So it it, it's not perfect yet. Um, I personally think that chat G p t is, like they said, a research tool, but I also think that. Um, it's completely slipped my mind.
What I was gonna say. Well, I think
Bernadette Schwerdt: what it can also be is a great research tool for you researching your client. You know, I was just talking to a colleague just a moment ago about this, and he was looking at toddler sunglasses and he put in the prompt, you know, tell me about toddler sunglasses. And he got all this information about that he wasn't even conscious of about ISO standards and quality control, which, you know, he, he was able to take that.
And, and bring it into his copy. But he had no concept that that was important [00:32:00] to that particular topic. So I think we can use it as all like a tree, you know, sort of, the pillar of the kind of content pieces that we'd like to investigate. And we go, okay, didn't know about that bit. I'll grab that bit and then I'll, you know, research that again.
So it can be a lovely sort of fountain of, of, or source of information that we might not have been privy to previously.
Ash Roy: A great research assistant. In fact, I just remembered what I was going to say before, and that is, It's a case of garbage and garbage out at this moment in time. I dunno how the next version's gonna be, but in this version, if you don't ask the right questions and if you don't put in the correct input, you're going to get very substandard output.
So that's where the skill comes in. Your experience as a copywriter or a business owner or whatever it is you do. It's about asking the right questions of the device, it o of the software. Um, you know, researching is important, but an important part of research is knowing [00:33:00] which book to go to, who are the authorities in the field.
You know, you don't go and read some big great book and assume that that is correct. Not everything on the internet is true. So you need to be able to filter, you know, the curation element is really important and that you don't get in this version of chat. G P T. Yeah. Mm-hmm. All right, so let's talk about how your skills as a copywriter help to change a life or a business.
Bernadette Schwerdt: Well, I, part of the reason I love what I do, Ash, and this is only. You know, come about since I've started the training you realize people want something different in their lives. Mm-hmm. You know, I get a lot of teachers coming through my program, and I use them as an example because their world is being impacted by this very technology that we've just been talking about.
And, you know, covid in impacted them dramatically and they're, they're coming to a point where they say, you know what? I can't do this anymore. So I've had a lot of teachers say, is this really? A thing, you know, could I possibly make a career out of this? And it's an, it's a serious question because they're giving up a job to go and become a copywriter.
So they need to know the truth. And, um, so, As I was mentioning, I've interviewed a number of my students on my podcast, so I know their stories quite intimately. But, and I won't mention names because um, you know, that's not necessary, but there's one woman I'm thinking of who was a teacher, head of a private girls, girls school of English, head of the um, department, and.
Just wanted to be home, you know, wanted to be with her dog, wanted to walk on the beach during the morning, didn't want the stress of, you know, the classroom and everything. And so she took my advice and she did the training and she saved up a little bit of money just to have a bit of a backup. And she just resigned from a very high paying, very res, you know, respectable and prestigious job.
And she just went to a first networking event. She was terrified. She used the script that we gave her. She found a first client, [00:35:00] um, she did it again and again and basically rinsed and repeated the process. And now she looks back and she says, I can't believe I'm learning as much as I was as a teacher. I work when I want, with whom I want, I'm challenged.
It's creatively stimulating, it's intellectually demanding. Um, I'm respected for what I do, and the need is growing, you know, and I can work with, the clients that I want. So, I get a lot of those stories, you know, where people have given up jobs that they didn't, oh, this woman didn't hate it, but she certainly didn't see a future in it, and they feel stuck and I don't know, I just get a lot of Joy that from being able to see people make progress and take information and apply it. And I don't create credit for that. I give them all credit because knowledge is there. It's who applies it that really, you know, makes a difference. And, um, you know, I've seen students that I've worked with 20 years ago, like one man.
I won't, again, won't mention names cause I don't think that's fair to do so, but he was just a young guy out of R M I T, studied web design and then, he got a bit of confidence from the course as well. You know, that was the other thing. People get, they get confidence, and he, um, Did, uh, awards school, which is like a sort of industry training program.
He was like one of the top performers in that particular program. He got picked up by Clemmings. Uh, he rose at the top of Clemmings was the creative director. He won every, um, K award, which is the advertising equivalent of the Oscars, like 28 of them. Wow. And. You know, just extraordinary. Now he's on my podcast as well, and I'm still in touch with this beautiful man, and he just says, your, your course was the gateway drug.
And I look at his life now, and I look again, don't take credit for his, his resp, you know, what he's achieved. But I was, I was privy to the beginnings of it, you know? Yeah. And so when I see these people progress, and I've been around for a long time now, you know, I'm a certain age and, um, And I've been able to see people move through over the [00:37:00] 20 years I've been doing this, and it gives me enormous joy just to see, you know, how people can take the information, apply and change their lives.
Ash Roy: I love your generosity and your acknowledgment that as consultants or coaches or whatever you wanna call copywriters, we can provide frameworks, but we can't. Lift the weights. We can't do the execution. It is up to the business owner or the client to do the execution, unless of course, it's a done for your service, um, which is another conversation altogether.
Could you, are you comfortable sharing? How our audience can listen to that podcast because this
Bernadette Schwerdt: person Yeah, of course. All these people I've been mentioning are on the podcast. Um, it's so you wanna be a copywriter? Mm-hmm. And so you can just look that up on wherever you get your podcast. You can go to copy school.com, that's my website and you can find it there.
And if you wanna be a copywriter, you can work out. What you can earn. We have a rate card that you can download. It's a lovely matrix that tells people what mediums you can work in and how much you can earn. And we've got like a beginner price. We've got, an experience price. We've got an in-between price in case you don't feel very confident, cuz we know people, one of the things I do say is, you know, try and move from.
Free a fee as quickly as you can because the amount of work you put into something for free is the amount of work you put into something you pay for. So what's the difference? It's just your belief, isn't it, in the material that you've created? So yeah, if people wanna learn how to, uh, to get paid for their work, there's a beautiful rate out there they can download.
Ash Roy: And I just wanna say, I was gonna ask you, the next question was gonna be, um, how do people find out about you? But it's wonderful. You've already mentioned how they can, and I will check with Nick Hill before I publish this bit, but I wanna say that. Niel speaks very highly of you, and he's a friend of mine, Niel Regani, and he's really accomplished a lot as a copywriter.
And in fact, he introduced us. So I'm very grateful for that fact. Um, or rather, I'm very grateful for [00:39:00] the introduction. I. Um, how do people find out about this rate card? This sounds really interesting. Do they just go to copy school.com and what do they look for on your website? Yep. There's
Bernadette Schwerdt: copy school.com and there will be a little, um, icon saying download the rate card and you can download it and get it instantly.
So it's on the homepage.
Ash Roy: I'm gonna do that. Um, one tip I wanted to share with our listeners and viewers is the benefit of. Using something called the Alter Ego Effect, which I learned from a guy called Todd Herman, who's written a book by that name. And he was a guest on episode 1 76. And for me, I do have a lot of mindset issues, which have got a lot of baggage from.
Childhood and so on. But I found the alter Ego effect approach to be very useful in sight stepping a lot of the baggage rather than having to deal with the baggage, which I still think you need to deal with. We all have our demons and we need to work through them, [00:40:00] but um, I found it as a very quick, I don't wanna use the word shortcut, but it's a quick sidestep.
So I'm just gonna give a really brief overview on how it has helped me, and maybe it will help people who are watching or listening to this. So the idea of the auditor Go Effect is not new. It is something that Todd Hermann himself says, is it new? And it's been around forever. So, you know, David Bowie had Ziggy Stardust and the Beatles had Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heights Club Band, and um, Um, Beyonce, who I would like to say I'm not a fan of.
I just don't like music. Um, Created Sasha Fierce, which was the name of her first album, but one of B, actually Beyonce is a good example. One of the challenges I believe was she wasn't comfortable with all the, you know, suggestive kind of dance moves that you had to do to make it big in music because she was raised in a fairly conservative background.
So she created Sasha Fierce and that became her, her old ego. And that helped her to, you know, breakthrough, break out of her own mental stories that were holding her back. So if you are struggling as a writer or a business owner and you are having difficulty, you know, getting rid of those stories, a great way to do it is to create an alter ego.
Another version of yourself, if you like. In Todd Hermann's case, you'll see the book has a pair of glasses on the front. So he has his reverse Superman where he puts on the glasses and he's like, you know, Superman kind of thing. Um, And you step into that ego, you have a totem, and that totem kind of activates that alter ego and then allows you to do things that the normal you would otherwise.
Fear, uh, would be fearful of, but over time the alter ego and the real use sort of meet in the middle and you form a sort of a new persona if you like. And there's a ton of different use cases for this. And Todd's worked with Todd Herman's worked with Olympians and all sorts of athletes of various levels, and it seems to work so. That's my 2 cents.
Bernadette Schwerdt: I love that so much. And I've heard other variations of it, which I find really interesting too. Like one of the ones is um, uh, one woman, I dunno personally, but I heard her tell a story that she was starting up a business and she didn't have any staff and she felt really uncomfortable emailing people about sales.
You know, like, are you gonna buy my product or not? Or can I ask, you know, can I get a testimonial? So she created a. An assistant called Lucy or somebody who didn't exist. And so whenever she sent the email, it was from Lucy, the pa, or Lucy, the publicist, or Lucy, you know, whoever it was. So even though it was her because it was under the different name of somebody else.
Um, she felt a bit of a distance, so she didn't actually have to go through the emotional, you know, wear and tear of sending it herself. So I thought that was really interesting and I, I've often said to my students that asking for testimonials can be quite challenging. So either. Email it so that you don't feel you have to ask it personally or do get a PA or a VA to do it for you so you don't even know it's being done, or when it's being done, it just gets done.
Or if you can't afford that, use this alter, alter ego that you've just mentioned. I love it. Great idea. Yeah.
Ash Roy: And don't forget to have a totem to activate it. So one of the people that inspires me the most is my wife, who is an incredibly strong and accomplished human being, and she received an. Monogram.
Is it a monogram or an anagram? I never get that right. Uh, with, with her name on Oh yeah. Monogram. Yeah. Yeah. So she received a monogrammed, uh, coffee mug. So I kind of stole it from her and I have it on my desk and I look at it. And when I look at it, that's my way of saying, well, if she can achieve what she has and overcome the obstacles she's overcome, I can do it too.
And that's the other thing your. Idol or your hero doesn't have to be someone who's, you know, written 25 books and whose name is up in lights. It could be someone you're married to, it could be your kids. My, my, you know, my kids are very inspiring to me. So it could be your, your clients. Yeah.
Bernadette Schwerdt: Yeah. Yeah, I think it's great.
Another way is, you know, rent ahead is like, well, what would so-and-so do in this situation? What would Oprah Winfrey do here? What would Donald Trump do? What would Elon Musk do? What would the Pope do? You know, what would Gandhi do? So sometimes just stepping into the realm of another persona, um, who's renowned for that particular quality that you want to adopt, you know, that's, that's often a useful thing to do as well.
Ash Roy: Well, that was a wonderful conversation. Is there anything else you would like to add, Bernadette?
Bernadette Schwerdt: Nothing. I think you've, um, covered a great, uh, plethora of topics there. Ash. It's been a delight talking to you and thank you very much for having me.
Ash Roy: Lovely to have you, and maybe we'll talk again soon. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Bernadette Schwerdt: My pleasure.