A person is looking at the Enhancement Marketing website on their laptop. The laptop is sitting on a gray wooden table and you can see the words "The Gurus Think We're Crazy" on the laptop screen.

Introducing Enhancement Marketing™

For a while now, anyone familiar with this space has caught me talking a lot about the current state of… well, I guess it’s the current state of connection. The global population is on track to hit eight billion people in about two months from this writing. And while there are more of us than ever before, you could make the argument that as a people, we’ve never been lonelier.

Here’s an audio version of this piece for your dining and dancing pleasure.

Sure, part of that came as a result of COVID, and one of the worst turns of phrase in the history of the English language: Social Distancing. As soon as those two words caught on and gained traction in the media, I knew we’d come to regret them. There was a tiny group who favored the term Physical Distancing instead, and even in the earliest days of the pandemic I was using my various platforms to urge people to think about the fact that our social game was in more need of polish than ever before. Yes, I argued, we had to be apart physically, but there might be an even bigger price to pay if we lost the ability to connect.

It’s something I’ve been witnessing for a while, Effective communication has been at the core of everything I am since that third-grade speech I gave to help my classmates learn a particular regional dialect that’s specific to the northeast of England. My wife and our four year-old will tell you that I still have a ton of work to do it terms of getting my communication game to where I want it to be, especially in those moments where you don’t get the time to come up with a first draft of what you’re going to say, review it, edit it and get it nicely polished before it comes out of your mouth. I promise you – and them – that I’m working on it.

However, in those times when we do get to calculate our words and their impact, I see us falling far short. We see it all the time. Political figures and the reporters who cover them, deliberately choosing the most provocative words, instead of the most effective and helpful ones toward connecting people with the process of governance. The endless hot takes and half-baked opinions that have turned Twitter into a cesspool where the goal is to get the most clicks and not forge the strongest connections. Advertisers and marketers who’ve decided it’s more important to use bots to attract other bots than to connect with the actual humans who ultimately put food on their tables.

Seth Godin – who is, for my money, perhaps the wisest marketing voice of a generation – talks about something he calls interruption marketing. He talks about it almost like it’s a garden hose. You’re enjoying something – it could be anything from a TV show to a drive in the country – and you’re drinking it all in when a marketer suddenly comes along and puts a kink in the hose, insisting that whatever it is they’re about to tell you is far more important than whatever you were experiencing and enjoying.

Starting today, I’m hoping to change that, with something I call Enhancement Marketing™. And I want you to join me for the ride, because there’s plenty of room for everybody.

Enhancement Marketing isn’t just a copywriting course. I think it’s a seismic shift in the way we communicate. With apologies to Liam Neeson, and his Bryan Mills character in the movie Taken, it’s a shift that requires “a particular set of skills”. And, as with so many skills, true mastery requires guidance.

Enhancement Marketing, to borrow a phrase from Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits”, begins with the end in mind. And if you think that as marketers, the end we’re after is to get the sale you’re quite possibly part of the problem. Rock and roll bands will tell you that fans are far more important than sales. Concern yourself with making sales, and you’ll do okay. Work instead on cultivating fans, and then you’ve got something. Fans will buy everything – even that questionable farm animal-themed album you did. Your fans don’t just love your album. They love you. And perhaps most importantly, they will happily evangelize on your behalf. Why? Because they feel connected to you. And they want to share that connection with their connections.

That’s the sweet spot for Enhancement Marketing. It starts with service. Whether you want to call them the audience, the customer, the constituents, whatever, serving your audience is the most important thing. It’s the filter everything has to pass through. When you’re having a sale, you’re not just walking around with a price gun and checking off boxes. You’re thinking of your audience and serving them by discounting the things that matter to them, not to your Regional VP. You’re discounting them enough that it actually hurts a little, instead of figuring out the minimum price reduction that will legitimately allow you to call it a “sale”. You’re legitimately picturing a customer who’s so excited by the discount that they call a friend to tell them about it.

And when it comes to your advertising and marketing efforts, that’s where you might see the greatest impact of all.

Enhancement Marketing means that instead of hitting the “Skip” button when your YouTube ad comes on, someone thought it was so good they found it and shared it on Facebook so their friends could see it. It means when that host-read ad came up in your podcast, someone hit the “Back” button and disconnected their AirPods out so they could play it for their partner. They stop to take a picture of your billboard on the side of the road. They rip the page with your ad on it out of the magazine in the doctor’s office.

Most of us, sadly, have been conditioned to believe that those kinds of reactions aren’t possible, unless it’s Super Bowl Sunday. We’ve become so used to interruption marketing and copy that doesn’t care about us, that we’ve forgotten there’s another way.

Fun fact: It costs just as much to write a commercial that runs in the SuperBowl as it does to write one that runs on a local cable access station in Minot, North Dakota at 3 in the morning. Sure, there’s a bigger cost to run it in the football game. There’s often a bigger cost to get it produced. But the only thing you need to write a good ad, whether it runs on a football game or a Facebook group, is a particular set of skills.

That’s where I come in.

Enhancement Marketing is a modified version of a post-graduate writing program I developed and taught at Humber College in Toronto, Canada. When I say “modified”, it’s for a few kind of obvious reasons. First of all, it’s online, not in a brick-and-mortar institution of higher learning. Instead of participating with a live class, you’re consuming that content after it’s been distilled down into five impactful one-hour sessions. However, just because the instruction happens on video does not make it a robo-course.

I’ve seen several courses that are completely self-contained. You watch the videos, do the multiple-choice quizzes, and you move on. To me, that’s like buying a book that promises to teach you how to be a better golfer.

If you want to be a better golfer, the best thing you can have is a coach who will look at your swing and help you fix it. Maybe it’s how you’re holding the club. Maybe it’s the angle of your back. The position of your feet. The height of your backswing. Maybe it’s the fact that you should probably be playing a different sport altogether. You’ll never get the answers to any of those questions from a book. (And frankly, you won’t get it from a video series either.)

At the end of every one of our sessions, I’ll give you at least one assignment, and that piece has to be completed and evaluated before the next session becomes available to you. As a result, you’re getting constant, consistent, personalized feedback on every element of the course. By a conservative estimate, I’d say that every student enrolled in this course gets at least four to six hours of individualized attention and feedback, and a final assignment that includes you and I having a one-on-one marketing strategy meeting.

You don’t get that from a series of videos you can watch in a handful of hours.

I think the personalized attention is unusual in the online course world. Another thing I think is unusual is that once you’ve completed the course, you can join an affiliate program, where you can put your newfound skills to the test. You’ll get an exclusive referral code and when somebody signs up and completes the course because you sent them, I’ll send you fifty bucks. Have you sharpened your skills enough to convince somebody else to take the course? We’ll see.

For our best students who are interested in picking up some additional freelance work, we’re happy to steer you whatever we can. And there’s a private message group for graduating students to connect, collaborate and continue their development.

There’s nothing but a win here. For you, for me, and maybe even for the way people connect with one another.

Don’t laugh.

“The pen is mightier than the sword,” says the play from the 1830s. And especially at a time where people seem inclined to reach for the swords first, there will always be demand for those who can skillfully wield the pen.|

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