The ever-growing list of marketing rules I live, work and market by.

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I’ve been running Honey Copy for a couple of years now. Perhaps, a little less. That’s me, up above, on a bike.

Just kidding. I am part Asian, though.

Anyway, living and working with Honey Copy has been lovely. Together, we’ve written words for some pretty incredible brands and just recently launched our very first product. It’s a copywriting guide called, How to write words that sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.

I’m not entirely sure why I am saying “together” and “we” and “our”… it’s really just me but I view Honey Copy as a living breathing organism like a beautiful bumblebee.

Naturally, running and growing my creative writing business has come with tons of marketing lessons… many that have been learned in the form of mistakes and heavy-handed knocks. Below, I’ve shared these lessons as rules.

7 marketing rules and many, many more coming soon.

A very good friend of mine here in Nashville named Taylor does something called “Life Rules”… it’s a practice inspired by his belief that it’s okay to make a mistake, it’s just never okay to make the same mistake twice.

So, when he fucks up, he’ll create a “Life Rule” to ensure he doesn’t make the same fuck up again.

He and I actually created a life rule a few weeks back. The two of us were at an open bar and since it was “open” we took full advantage. We didn’t make asses of ourselves but we could have very easily. So, we created a “Life Rule”… in the event of an open bar, only enjoy up to three drinks and no shots.

The marketing rules you’ll find in this article are kind of like the one above… but about marketing, obviously.

Marketing rule #1 —

If a customer asks for a refund (always, always, always) give them a refund.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve sold 100 of my copywriting guides. Of the 100 I’ve sold, not a single customer has asked for a refund… until this morning.

When I read the email from the customer requesting the refund, I wanted to reach across the screen and slap him… because it was apparent he hadn’t even taken the time to read all the way through the guide.

But, instead, I swallowed my pride and sent him a refund, immediately — he had his money back five minutes after emailing me.

I think as marketers it’s important to give our customers their money back when they aren’t happy with what they bought from us.

No, I can’t necessarily say it’s bad nor good for business. But, I think it comes down to being a good human. Which, brings me to my next marketing rule…

Marketing rule #2 —

Be a good human, first… a good marketer, second.

Being a good marketer and a good human don’t always go hand in hand. Unfortunately, there are a handful of black magic marketing tactics that work wonders when it comes to selling but aren’t necessarily going to get you into heaven…

I don’t have kids.

But, when I am crafting marketing and creative writing for brands I work with… I ask myself… if my son or daughter were to buy whatever it is I’m selling due to the marketing I’ve created… would I be proud?

This, generally, keeps me as a marketer on the straight and narrow.

With that said you’ll notice I curse in my marketing and writing frequently. That’s intentional. I don’t care if my son or daughter reads the word “shit” or “damn”.

I think cursing is very much a part of being human and I think good humans say some not so good words when they stub their toes… but good humans don’t cheat other humans out of their hard-earned money.

Which, speaking of being human, we’re already on marketing rule numero tres…

Marketing rule #3 —

Don’t market as a brand, market as a human.

Today, we’re seeing massive success among smaller boutique brands that don’t stay small and boutique for long because they market as a human versus as a brand.

Maude, Harry’s, Keeps and Gumroad are all great examples of this.

When you read their emails, sales pages, product descriptions and website copy… you feel like you’re sitting in a coffee shop talking with a human. That’s a beautiful lucrative style of marketing.

To craft a more human tone to your marketing communication, send me a note at “cole@honeycopy.com” — this is kind of what I am known for.

Marketing Rule #4 —

Give away something free to your customers, regularly.

One of the best investments I’ve ever made has been my blog. Up until this point, I’ve published 53 blogs in total (this will be my 54th). Many of them are over 2,000 words and they can take as many as ten hours to piece together each week.

I don’t charge my customers a dime to read them… nor do I charge for my weekly newsletter I send out, Sticky Notes. It’s really damn good by the way, you should join the 2,258 marketers, entrepreneurs and snow cone vendors currently receiving it each week.

Anyway, in addition to whatever it is you’re selling, have something very valuable you’re giving to your customers for free.

While it’s not always easy to see the return on investment with giving away free shit, there is one.

I promise.

Marketing rule #5 —

Customers always read the headlines so invest 80% of your time there.

The hillbilly lawyer taking on Big Pharma.

That was the subject line that just landed in my email inbox. I clicked it, if you’re wondering.

Email subject lines, article titles, billboard copy and the big bulky words that sit atop sales pages are all examples of headlines. And, in my opinion, they’re the most important investment you can make when it comes to marketing.

David Ogilvy, the king of advertising, ranted and raved about headlines saying…

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

No matter what kind of marketing you’re crafting, always begin and end with the headline, understanding that customers won’t watch your video, look at your picture, read about your product nor open your email if you can’t hook them with one sharp headline.

As marketers, that’s the battle we are up against… the battle between mediocre headlines and great headlines.

Marketing Rule #6 —

Shy brands die.

I’ve always been wild with my marketing. Always. The brands I’ve worked with haven’t always let me be with their marketing. But, for Honey Copy, I’m not afraid to raise some hell.

As I continue to bolster my name in the marketing space and have the luxury of choosing between clients, I will push this more aggressive, bold and edgy style on the brands I work with.

Why? Because it works.

Today, so many brands struggle with offending someone. And, as a result, they whisper. They whisper and whisper and whisper and wonder why no one can hear them.

I used to tell brands to not be afraid of being a little bold with their marketing. My philosophy has since changed. I now tell brands to be afraid to not be bold.

Shy brands die. Period.

Marketing Rule #7 —

Be reassuringly expensive.

I first heard this piece of advice from a copywriter friend of mine named Robert Lucas, he’s a wizard when it comes to crafting sales pages.

He told me one day over a cup of coffee to be “reassuringly expensive” and I’ve always remembered it.

Being the cheapest is a race to the bottom.

You charge $100.

Your customer charges $95.

You undercut them heavy and start charging $75.

They play hardball and start charging $50.

This goes and goes and goes until you or your competitor go out of business.

Long story short, nobody wins.

At Honey Copy, I don’t play the inexpensive game. I’m expensive to work with. I’m very expensive to work with. Depending on what customers are looking for, I charge anywhere from $2,500 — $10,000+.

Customers and brands value products and services that are more expensive.

There have been stories and studies about patients taking more expensive placebos and reporting that their pain drops by up to 50%.

Price is directly tied to perceived value and due to the fact that our perception is real, higher prices give our products more value.

Now, I am passionate about helping all brands write prettier copy that sells like hell. So, if they can’t afford me I point them in the direction of my FREE blog and FREE email newsletter and $97 copywriting guide.

Choosing to be more expensive isn’t saying fuck you to the customers who can’t afford you (especially if you’re offering cheaper and even free resources they can use)… but choosing the be expensive is offering more value to the customer who can afford you.

Always, choose to price your products or services higher rather than lower. Be reassuringly expensive.

More coming soon… in the meantime, sign up for Sticky Notes, my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to write pretty words and sell like hell.

By Cole Schafer.

You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.


The ever-growing list of marketing rules I live, work and market by. was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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