Much better copywriting with one simple dollhouse. I mean exercise.

Dollhouse for a dollhouse!!
A dollhouse for a dollhouse. META.

Harry wrote an ad:

Dollhouse for sale.

He got two calls, both of which ended very abruptly when he told them the price. So he wrote another. And when that one failed, another. And four more. Ten more.

He’d heard of split testing, so he mixed it up a bit:

Teak dollhouse for sale.

Hand-crafted dollhouse for sale. 15 rooms. Furnished.

Dollhouse, 1 metre x 0.8 metres. For sale.

For sale, well-made dollhouse with fittings.

Et cetera. Et cetera.

Eventually, Harry admitted to himself that while he was a champ at building dollhouses, he was pretty crap at talking about them.

So he hired Tara, a copywriter. Tara came over to his house to look at the dollhouse.

Tara’s mouth stayed open for the entire forty minutes she spent with the dollhouse. Tara told Harry to get some professional photography done, and she’d get the ad written. As she left, Tara said, “Thank you for letting me play with it.”

The final ad started like this:

This is the dollhouse you dreamed of when you were young, the one that only seemed to exist in Hollywood. It is incredible.

All fifteen rooms are furnished, with small-scale versions of the real thing. Tiny woven rugs, a tiny bath with tiny taps that produce warm water – use the tiny bottle of bubble bath, if you like. Perfectly carved wardrobes full of hand-stitched clothes for the residents, with a tiny clothes brush in case they get dirty playing with the chests of fascinating junk in the attic. A hundred tiny books in the tiny library, every one of them readable if you have a magnifying glass.

You can claim you’re buying this for your children if you like. But no-one would dare say that it’s inappropriate to play with this dollhouse. This place is the purest source of delight and wonder you will find this side of heaven.

Look, the tiny doorknobs turn!

The moral of the story

It doesn’t matter how magnificent you make something if you don’t market it competently. Because no-one will know, and so no-one will care.

That’s horrible, you say. Tell me how I can avoid this trap!

We all know the basics (know your niche, only talk to your Bestest People), so here’s a tip you’ve maybe never heard before.

Talk about abstract products in concrete language, and concrete products in abstract language.

When I’m working with service providers (especially coaches) I make them describe their benefits as if someone was trailing the client with a video camera. So instead of saying, “They feel more confident,” – ‘cos the camera can’t see that – they describe the results as, “They offer their opinion more readily and without apologising. They stand up straighter and make better eye contact. They initiate conversations with strangers.”

And when I’m working with crafters, copywriters, web designers and artists – all of whom produce a physical result; electrons count – I get them to talk about their results in terms of feeling and meaning. So instead of describing their work by saying, “It’s a 17″ x 11″ oil painting of two girls swimming” they describe the piece as “It’s that perfect moment with a friend that you don’t think is important at the time, but it becomes the way you think of them for the rest of your life.”

Of course, what everyone ends up with is a bit of both. And that’s the point! I want to know precisely what I’m buying (three hour-long consulting sessions/a home page redesign with two revisions) AND I need to know why I care (I will quit smoking for real/I will have the feeling of power and possibility that comes from a great-looking website).

Is your description entirely abstract, entirely concrete, or both? Tell me in the comments!

Want more nifty tricks to better sell your dollhouse? Check out I Love Sales Pages.

You and I talk about niches. (And penguins.)

Penguin Ornaments
Hey sweetie, we need to have a talk. (That came out sounding a bit ominous, didn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s cool.)

A talk about what? you say.

It’s about your niche… and how you don’t really have one.

I do too! you say.

Oh really? What is it?

Well, my website is about penguins, and so it’s for anyone who is interested in penguins.

Isn’t everyone kinda interested in penguins? They’re a part of the human experience.

Yeah, I think everyone has a need for penguins, deep down. And that’s why I want to make this work, because so many people would benefit from it!

I know. And that’s your problem.


Look, if I took a hundred random people off the street – some businesswomen, and a grumpy guy from the post office, a few gothy teens and little old ladies and a muscle-bound dude headed to the gym, and lots of others – and put them in a room… could you rock their world? Create big shifts in their attitudes about penguins? Get them taking action?

I could educate them!

Does that matter? Is it important that they know more about penguins, or that they change their life to create more penguin-y goodness?

Well, if they knew more then they could take the action…

Really? Are you saying they don’t already know pretty much everything they need to about penguins? Because most people do, the same way they know that smoking will kill you and that multi-level marketing is Satan’s toilet paper.

I guess you’re right. But I really want to help them take action! I know how much penguins could improve their lives!

The problem is that unless you chain the doors closed and kidnap your audience – and I’m pretty sure that’s illegal – you can’t force anyone to change.

I know, but…

…but you really wish you could.


I know, sweetheart. It’s tough, but it’s the way things are. Since you’re not going to resort to Stockholm Syndrome, you need to stop trying to convince everyone that they need more penguins, and start talking only to the people who are ready to take penguin action.

Why can’t I talk to both?

Remember that room with a hundred random people in it? Tell me one phrase that will inspire every single person in that group.

Umm… penguins are great! The more you get them into your life then more your life will improve!

Can you imagine the politely skeptical faces?


Okay, what if you were talking to Bulgy McMuscles over there? What would you say to just him?

If you get more penguins in your life, you will have more energy, and a much faster recovery time from muscle strain!

And the goth triplets up the back?

You know those moments when you really connect with the music you’re listening to? Your whole life is more emotionally intense when you’re connected to your penguins!

And the little old ladies?

Penguins make you feel twenty years younger!

Okay, now swap those statements. Do the little old ladies care about building up their lats and delts? Do the goth triplets want to feel twenty years younger?


So if you try to talk to everyone, you talk to no-one. If you choose one specific group to talk to, you can rock their world.

But the other people still neeeeed meeee…

That’s your opinion, not theirs. You can’t change anyone who doesn’t want to change. You can have sorta-kinda success talking to people who are sorta-kinda ready to change. Or you could create massive and transformative change for the people who want more penguins, value more penguins, and believe they can achieve more penguins.

I look really pouty, don’t I?

You really do. I have some good news for you, though.


Imagine that you focus on Bulgy McMuscles – and people like him – and ignore everyone else. As a result of that focus and personalisation, you bring an exponential number of penguins into his life. How does he feel?

He’s never felt so good in his life.

And so what does he do next?

He… tells everyone about it?

Indeed he does. He tells all of his buddies at the gym…

…and that leads to lots more clients for me.

It does, but it’s better than that. He also tells his girlfriend, and his work buddies, and his little sister the goth, and his grandma. He spends hours telling them how penguins would rock their world, too.

Oh, and maybe Grandma decides that she could use a bit more penguinosity in her life!


And I can help her get it!



Sorry, duckling, but you have to choose one group to serve. But you CAN send Granny to another penguin wrangler you know who specialises in people over 60.

So how do I choose which group to work with?

That’s easy. Who do you love the most?

Why does that matter?

You’ll be spending a lot of time working with these people, creating penguin products for them, answering their penguin-related questions… you need to know this group intensely, be able to speak with them intimately, and to identify their hidden problems and objections and fears. It’s much easier to do that with people you know and love. Also, it’s more fun for you.

I’m pro-fun.

Me too. So are you gonna do it?

I have to, don’t I?


Okay, I will. And stop looking so smug.


The moral of the story

For maximum impact, you need to get specific. Diluting your message to reach as many people as possible – or even everyone who you know would benefit from it – leads to homeopathy-strength communication. (Take one drop of your message, and a big bucket of water…)

When you commit to serving one niche, and only that niche, your message becomes a 10cc syringe of impact right to the brain. Here’s the big caveat: your niche must value the benefit you are offering. (Not the solution, necessarily. That’s a magical pink donkey, remember?)


Make the decision to choose a small group: gym junkies, geeks, perkygoths, world-changers, horse-riders, marine biologists, Mythbusters fans. Note that they aren’t demographics. (Because demographics suck.) This is about something much more powerful: identity. We choose our identities, we value them, and we make decisions informed by them.

So choose an identity group that you love. You already know how to move them, delight them, and make them cry. You know how to make them feel welcome, and special. You know how to rock their world.

And why would you settle for less?

If you want to know more about how to choose the right niche for you, then Goddamn Radiant is here to help.

Magnificence and mailboxes

Wheatsheaf - There's a Whale

This is the story of Jonah. Not the reluctant prophet who took a time-out in a whale, but a man named after him by a mother who should have known better.

Like his Biblical namesake, Jonah had a calling. Not to preach, but to create something. If you asked him about it, at twenty-three the conversation would have gone something like this:

“What are you making, Jonah?”
“Oh, I’m working on mumblemublemutter.”
“I’m sorry, what was that?”
“You know, just a rhubarbrhubarbrhubarb.”
“Alright, it’s a decorative mailbox! Okay!?!”

Young and self-conscious, Jonah gave in to embarassment and stopped making his mailboxes. He became an electrician instead, which is a job that’s much easier to explain at parties. He married Marie-Claire, joined the local football team, and was content most of the time.

But Jonah was haunted by mailboxes. In his dreams he invented mailboxes shaped like Kodiac bears, mailboxes that brought the mail to the front door in a model train, mailboxes that played carillons when parcels arrived.

Through his twenties, Jonah tried with some success to suppress the dreams and live his unconscious life in as ordinary and normal a way as his conscious life. It was easier when the kids arrived; the never-ending activity kept him busy.

On his thirtieth birthday, Jonah surprised everyone…

…including himself, by getting a tattoo. It wasn’t the idea that was shocking – tattoos not being terribly rare amongst electricians – but what it said.

When asked to explain why he’d gotten this quote by James Lowell on his arm, Jonah could only say, “I dunno. I just liked it.”

The quote?

Not failure, but low aim, is crime.

But still, Jonah was an average bloke with an average life… if you didn’t count the dreams of mailboxes.

Everything was ordinary for a long time, but Jonah got pretty damn twitchy in his late thirties. He started sleeping badly and drinking one too many beers on the couch at night. He fought with Marie-Claire and yelled at the kids. One day the younger, Harry, said: “I don’t want to be around you, Dad. You’re mean.”

Jonah started crying and couldn’t stop for a very long time.

He started going to a therapist, on the quiet for fear that the other guys would find out. She was nice enough but didn’t help, so he tried another one.

Three sessions in, Brian asked, “Do you remember your dreams? And why did you look so ashamed when I asked you that?”

Soon the therapy sessions stopped being about feeling his feelings, and started being about mailboxes.

Brian asked, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you followed this dream and started making mailboxes again?”
“And what’s the worst thing that could happen if you don’t follow that dream?”
“Which is scarier?”
“The nothing.”
“Yeah, I thought so.”

Jonah quit the footy team and started locking himself in the garage.

Six weekends later, he sheepishly asked his family to come out and have a look at something.

It was a tree, three foot high and strangely familiar, with a treehouse at the top where mail went in. Marie-Claire’s forehead creased and then she shouted, “It’s one of the trees of Lothlórien! From Lord of the Rings! Oh Jonah, it’s beautiful!”

His grin went from embarassed to excited. “You like it? I mean, I made it for you.”

Marie-Claire and the kids looked shocked, from Jonah to the tree and back. “You made this, darling? Really? I know you said you used to make a few mailboxes when you were younger. But this is… amazing! You made it from scratch?”

“Yeah. I was thinking I’d make a few more, if that’s cool.”

Three years later, Jonah quit his job to make mailboxes full time. For reasons he never consciously understood, his first professional design was a whale.

The moral of the story

Magnificence is fucking scary.

I don’t think it’s rare because few people have the talent to create it, I believe it’s rare because so few people have the guts to go for it.

It’s up to you to decide whether the persistent discomfort of selling yourself short is more or less uncomfortable than the soul vertigo of reaching for greatness.

Which do you choose?


If you’ve chosen to strive for magnificence (and you’d prefer not to take as long about it as Jonah), then Goddamn Radiant is for you.

Creative Commons License photo credit: artwork_rebel

The path through The Palace of Marvels

Hohenschwangau Castle - Bavaria

Henry built a house of wonders.

Feeling exotic, he named it Le palais merveilleux, which translates to The Palace of Marvels. Then, realising that most people in his city couldn’t pronounce merveilleux, he called it both names.

(It’s pronounced mer-vey-eugh, if you were wondering.)

How marvellous was the Palace of Marvels?

Well, once he invited Flinn Bordin, the current holder of the Most Blasé Man Alive title, to tour the palace. By room three Flinn’s eyebrows has escaped his control and gave him an unquestionable look of surprise. By room seven, a smile had definitely started in the corners of his mouth. By room eleven, Flinn was sobbing like a baby and grinning like a fool. He lost the title and stayed to work as a ticket seller.

For of course Henry sold tickets. He had built the Palace of Marvels with a bag of fairy gold he’d found in a disused well, but even fairy gold runs out eventually in the face of that much ambition. Henry’s plan was to sell enough tickets to finance his acquisition trips, to expand the house, and to buy P.T. Barnum’s top hat.

He sold some tickets, mostly to the friends and family of people who had visited before, but to achieve his goal he needed to increase his ticket sales from a trickle to a flood.

To attract these new visitors, Henry built up his front yard. He added a formal Japanese garden. He built a three-storey-tall thrill slide. He constructed a sorbet fountain. He added steam-powered mechanical elephants who played God Save the Queen. “Ah-ha,” he said, “All of these wonderful attractions will be sure to increase my ticket sales!”

A month later he had to admit that they had not. He climbed to the top of the Prisoner’s Turret with a spyglass and tried to figure out why.

He watched as new people crowded through his front gate. They oohed and aahed at the elephants, dipped their spoons in the sorbet fountain, refreshed their wa in the Garden of Tranquillity, screamed like dervishes coming down the slide, wandered around to count the monkeys – did I mention the monkeys? – and eat a little more sorbet… and then they looked at their watches, rubbed their feet, and left.

Henry twirled his moustache thoughtfully for an hour, and then he went to the bulldozer shed.

His new visitors arrived the next morning to find a new addition to the front yard: a path. The path led past the steam-powered mechanical elephants who played God Save the Queen, through the Garden of Tranquillity, past the sorbet fountain, up to the thrill slide. And when people descended, screaming like dervishes, to the bottom of the thrill slide, they found themselves at the door of the Palace of Marvels, which bore a sign:

Many more wonders inside!
See the delights which destroyed the composure of The Most Blasé Man Alive!

And delighted, calmed, tingling with sorbet, thrilled and hoping for more monkeys – a hope soon to be amply rewarded – the crowds lined up to buy tickets. They lined up in such numbers that Henry soon started making plans to acquire P.T. Barnum’s entire wardrobe.

All was wonder in the Palace of Marvels. As it should be.

The moral of the story

Physical businesses generally have a clear path to the money, whether it’s the Pay Here sign over the cashier, or the Exit Through the Gift Shop. They work for business owners – of course – and for the customers.

Businesses win because they get paid. Customers win because they don’t have to spend their precious mental energy and attention deciphering where to go next.

You’ve seen this done badly, especially in dimly-lit stock clearance stores. Remember how tiring and frustrating they are? Life is too short to spend stumbling around looking daft, attempting to find what you want, find the cashier, and find the exit.

Far too many websites are like this.

In the jumble of Free! Downloadable! Thingie! and Sign up for the newsletter and Please Like This on Facebook and Teleclass Next Tuesday, most people behave like they’re in the front yard of the Palace of Marvels: they wander, admire, and then leave.

No-one wins here.

For both of your sakes, you need a path.

Your people can leave the path and wander as they want to, of course! But give them an intelligent default on one path that will guide them from “Never heard of you before” to “You wonderful creatures, here’s my money”.

You’ll both be ever-so-glad you did.


Creative Commons License photo credit: joiseyshowaa