Joey Percia is the king of copywriting, and he’s also an expert on selling. Based in the USA, he’s a fitness-coach-turned-marketing-consultant, and he’s also a bestselling author. My students will know that I’m a big fan of Joey’s and I’ve used his tips many times in my business career, especially when it comes to writing a kick-ass sales page. I was very excited to welcome Joey to my podcast, The FastForwardAmy Show, to talk all things sales, setting boundaries, and learning to say no.
On transitioning into a new field
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might know that I used to work in the fitness world before I transitioned into business coaching. Joey had a similar journey to me, even getting his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Exercise Science. So what was his route into copywriting? “I was training all sorts of people for a while in Manhattan, working with models and celebrities, and also trying to build my online business, but it wasn’t really taking off,” says Joey. “I was at an event, and my friend was talking about copywriting. I said to him, ‘you’re just talking about words, right?’, and he said, ‘basically, yes’. That was it: I got obsessively into it, and decided to master that skill.”
Colleagues in the fitness world started paying Joey to write for them, and in throwing himself into this new skill, he lost his passion for coaching fitness, so he decided to put his focus into that.
Transitioning from one industry or job to another can be a scary process, because your identity is so wrapped up in what you do. For Joey, the transition wasn’t so difficult, because he planned on continuing with his fitness coaching. As it happens, he moved from fitness being a major part of his life, to hardly even training himself for months. One of the reasons that transitioning can be tough is because we’re scared of what other people think. I was really interested to hear Joey’s tips for dealing with criticism and opinions from other people all the time.
“So many people are so fucking sour about everything in life,” he point out. “They’ll say things like you haven't built a business of this size, so you have no business teaching this’. Well, no, I don’t reach business. I teach you how to persuade people to do things. I’m definitely not telling you how to build an 8 figure company…”.
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Don’t listen to all the advice you get
People will always have opinions on what you’re doing. One of my favourite quotes is “successful people have coaches and mentors, and broke people have friends with opinions.” How do you know if you should be listening to someone?
Joey suggests working out if that person’s opinion matters to you. “I work with 100 million dollar companies, who are happy to pay me a lot of money,” he says. “They don’t feel the need to ask if I’ve built a 100 million dollar company, because they know that’s not how that shit works! They know that they’re hiring based on skills. I’m coming to the table to bring this one skill.”
Look out for other people’s hypocrisy. Joey gives a great example of football coaches (you can substitute ‘soccer’ if you’re not a fan of American football…). People can sometimes be suspicious of your ‘right’ to be doing what you do, but would never criticise their favourite football coach, even though he was never a star player himself.
If you’re worried about what other people think, Joey suggests thinking about whether that person has earned the right to have an opinion on what you’re doing. For Joey, that person must have his best interests at heart, and must earn the right over time. If not, his boundaries protect him.
“So much of that problem can be solved by having clear boundaries for yourself,” he says. “If you don’t have boundaries, everything will make you feel something.”
This is something that I struggled with for a while, until I realised that that’s entrepreneurship: growing through those phases. I’ve been practising my boundaries for 3 years, but it’s still a daily thing.
Someone once said to me the most important thing you’ll ever learn is how to say no.
And it’s not about ignoring what anyone at all thinks. There are some people whose opinion I really value: my really close personal circle, close work circle, my mentors… But random people on Instagram? I don’t really care what they think. But so many people will hold themselves back because they’re scared of what random people will think.
Joey has a filter that he uses to work out if he should let a comment bother him. “If there’s a situation, you can run it through this lens, and you understand whether it’s reality, or it’s you turning it into something that it’s not,” he says. “Having that process allows you to go ‘okay, there’s some truth to that’, or ‘No, I’m blowing it out of proportion.’”
Don’t let your ego run your business
Often, it comes down to ego, and when someone says something, you want to defend yourself, but ask yourself if you actually need to defend yourself. Ego is something that comes up a lot, especially when you run your own business. Often people tell me they want a massive team or something, but they don’t really. That’s just what they’ve come to believe is the definition of success.
Joey agrees. He points out that it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else wants, or what you think you should want. But more important, get to the bottom of what you actually want. “I don’t want a 100 million dollar business,” he says. “I work with tons of them and I know what goes into that. I don’t need that to be happy, especially at this point. Sometimes I wonder if I should want to be doing more, and I’m like, ‘nah, I’m doing good’. My priorities are covered.”
I get caught up in this myself from time to time. I recently caught myself wondering if I wanted something that someone else had, and then I realised, no, I actually don’t. I tell my clients to state their wants and needs, because you can’t expect people to know what you want. But the very first step is actually working out for yourself what you want.
Don’t let your ego run your decisions – or your business.
The #1 mistake people make with sales emails
Since Joey is the king of copywriting and sales emails, I really wanted to pick his brains on these two topics. First things first: what actually is copywriting?
“I used to say words that sell things, or words that get people closer to taking the action you want them to take,” says Joey. “But now I take a step back and say, it’s just words and how you’re communicating. It doesn’t have to be to buy something.”
Joey has seen a LOT of sales pages and sales emails in his time. What’s the #1 mistake people make when writing sales emails?
“Ugh, there are too many,” he laughs. “Probably the biggest mistake is the overarching idea or theme isn’t clear. People throw a bunch of shit in there and try to see what happens. I don’t know what you want me to feel. I don’t know what you’re trying to get me to do. I don’t know what the clear next step is.”
Joey calls himself an offer architect, so the copy itself doesn’t even have to be amazing, but you’ll still want to buy the offer. “It comes down to the deliverables and features and benefits,” he explains. “Sometimes people will have an offer already and I’ll come in and will look at what are all the pieces of the offer and we’ll see what we’re missing. We have all of these elements. What are we missing? Usually what we’re able to do is get someone to double what they’re getting for the offer. It’s so much more than “here’s what you get” which is how a lot of people talk about offer creation. Well, what are the deliverables? Do they get ebooks, modules, stuff like that?”
This is also something I think about a lot. It’s related to peoples’ personalities: some people like that ‘how’ aspect. The really ‘blue’ people in personality tests need the list of the deliverables are. For me personally, I don’t care whatsoever. I’ll jump on the train. But your clients will be a mix of personalities, and you need to cover all your corners.
Does your marketing take people on a journey?
Joey uses a great analogy to describe the sales and marketing process.
“I like to look at sales and marketing as a baseball diamond: you’ve got home base here, first base, second, third.
Someone who’s not in your world at all isn’t on base. Our goal at that point is just to get someone on the base. It’s not to hit a home run, which would be to get someone to buy something.
Once they’re on base, our marketing messages move people around bases. I don’t think of marketing. I think of it as pre-selling.
Marketing is moving people around the bases to eventually, if they’re a good fit, get them to home base.
Otherwise, they’re either out and they get off the baseball diamond, or they stay on the same base forever and they never move around. That’s our fault for not creating the right pre-selling messages.
People move around the bases for different reasons. It’s beliefs shifting, it’s connecting dots, and giving them ‘aha’ moments. It’s question answering, and objection killing. You kill objections during pre-selling, before they even come up and that helps people around the bases.
You can be bad at sales but get more people to buy, just by being good at pre-selling.”
The one thing everyone needs to know about sales
If you’ve been part of the FastForward world for a while, you might know my #1 tip for selling: be obsessed with your offer. I mean, obsessed as f*ck. So obsessed you practically have an orgasm over it. So many people come to me asking “Amy, why isn’t my product selling?”, and it’s because you’re not overjoyed by the thing that you’re selling.
You can apply as many sales techniques or whatever but if you’re not actually enthusiastic, why would anyone else be enthusiastic?
Joey’s top tip is ensuring that people actually want what you’re offering. “You have to know what your thing solves and if it’s going to solve it for this person. People sometimes jump in my inbox asking if I want to build a six-figure agency, and I’m like, ‘no, I’m good man’. There’s no desire there.”
In an interview I did recently, I said something along the lines of “create from a need, not from your ego”. All of my successful programmes and products were created from peoples’ needs or desires and my unsuccessful things were because my ego wanted to make them and I didn’t really check whether anyone wanted them.
When you’re trying to come up with a new offer, one of the easiest things to do is to listen to:
- what people are trying
- what they’re fed up with
- where they’re trying to go
- what they don’t like about it,
and then you create the solution.
Joey says that people creating products that they want, rather than what their clients want, happens a lot with people who are really good at what they do. “They’ve been in their space for so long as an expert,” he says, “so they’re so disconnected with the people coming in and what their thought processes are.”
How to get in the flow with writing
People often talk about being ‘in the flow’ when it comes to productivity. But how can you actually get yourself into that zone?
Joey has a few tips that make writing way easier. “Part of it is getting rid of distractions as far as the stuff on my computer,” he says. “I use an app that blocks certain sites, so I literally can’t go on Facebook.”
He also suggests using a timer and the Pomodoro technique. “Certain sounds, music or soundtracks will anchor certain states,” explains Joey. People often say that a song reminds them of a certain time, and makes them feel a certain type of way – an old song you associate with summer, for example – but they don’t think to use that for their work. “You can apply it to anything! You can anchor feelings and a particular kind of zone by using songs. I have a playlist and now I use brain.fm which is an app I really enjoy. I also have a playlist on YouTube with Hans Zimmer soundtracks.”
One of Joey’s top tips that I’ve also tried and benefited from myself is don’t stop writing. Stopping to edit your work will interrupt the creative process, so try and continue writing until you’re done. For me, when I’m writing emails, I’ll write them all at once and then go back and edit.
Breaks and exercise are important, too – especially during lockdown when we’re all working from home more than usual. Joey has a standing desk, which helps him avoid a sedentary lifestyle. “Now, I’ve been golfing at least once a week and I go on walks a lot with my wife and my baby,” says Joey. “And I do body weight stuff, 20 mins in and out and I’m done. It’s more about staying active and feeling better rather than adding more muscle or staying lean.”
Don’t worry about going to run 20km or work out for 2 hours. A short break walking in the park is already a great start.
Always be authentic
There are endless tips out there about marketing and sales. You could read 100 books or articles, and each one will tell you something different to do. Joey advises: “don’t make the mistake of thinking you necessarily need to sell a certain way, or market a certain way just because it’s working for someone else.” If it doesn’t feel authentic for you, it’s probably not going to work anyway.
A lot of marketing works on the basis of shaming people. You ‘need’ to get a bikini body, or you’re not going to be a success if you don’t spend 1000s a month on business resources. Joey calls this type of marketing ‘shame fingers’.
This might work for some audiences, but it won’t work for everyone. “Not everyone likes to be shamed,” says Joey. “Some people do take action when they’re shamed, but there’s a really big part of the population that want to feel inspired to take action instead. You can find a way to market and sell in a way that fits you best.”
If you remember the episode with my dad (aka Dadster), he talks about how instead of closing a sale, you should think of it as opening a conversation. For a lot of people, that really resonated. When I speak to people who are interested in joining my programmes, I sometimes tell people I don’t think they should join. That makes them feel respected and heard. Sometimes, they end up joining anyway, but for a totally different reason.
Joey has experienced the same, and he says that saying no can actually help him sometimes. “It usually comes back to you in a good way! Either they’re finally ready, or they tell people ‘you should check out Amy because she wasn’t super pushy and she gave me these resources to help me do this’. Not closing that sale can lead to amazing referrals.”
That’s because there’s abundance in saying no. Remember, it’s one of the most important things you’ll ever learn.
What would you tell your 16 year old self?
“Something along the lines of you’ll figure everything out. I can’t remember what I was doing at sixteen. I was probably just skating at that point and that was it. Those next few years, I had a lot of shit going on, so you’ll figure everything out is probably the one thing that would connect the most. All of the bad things that have happened to you thus far, you’ll figure out to get through it some way.”
To find out more about Joey and his sales magic, head to www.fastforwardamy.com/joeypercia.
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