Chris Worfolk's Blog


How to Write a Good Advertisement

May 8th, 2017 | Books, Business & Marketing

In How To Write A Good Advertisement: A Short Course in Copywriting Victor O. Schwab lays out a systematic approach to writing killer ads. That process is:

  1. Grab attention
  2. Show them the advantage
  3. Prove it
  4. Persuade people to grasp this advantage
  5. Ask for action

Each section is broken down into individual chapters. There are a lot of examples. In fact, one of the earlier chapters is just a list of a hundred effective headlines.

There is a lot of useful information in here. More importantly, it is presented in a logical narrative without the distraction of jumping around or confusing diversions.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

May 7th, 2017 | Books

Mark Manson came to fame because of his blogging and has since gone on to publish some bestselling books, including The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

His writing style shines through his book, too. It’s engaging and entertaining. You laugh at points. You identify with all of the material. It keeps you interested.

This made me think about longevity, though. Manson’s style is entertaining partly because of all the pop culture references. But a few times, it did cross my mind that in ten years time, nobody would know what he was on about. The truth is, my memory of _Everybody Loves Raymond_ is already fading.

His storytelling is compelling. I was with him on the edge of that cliff. I felt the same feelings.

He makes some good points, too. Life is about giving a fuck about the right things, and not caring about the rest. Nobody who is happy needs to stand int front of a mirror saying positive affirmations. But I think the reason you do that is that you’re not happy. And given how often our emotions are driven by our behaviour, I don’t write it off as a useless tactic.

Given all of that great delivery, though, I am wondering how much I take away from the book. He threw so many great ideas at me that I struggled to take it all in. And, which a not very conclusive conclusion, I was a little confused by the end. I’m a simple man: I need the take-home message spelling out for me. And maybe that was the title. But I would have liked a clearer finish.

This book is an entertaining and enjoyable exploration of Manson’s philosophy. Whether it helps you, I’m not sure. But you are unlikely to feel it was time wasted.

The Boron Letters

May 6th, 2017 | Books

The Boron Letters is a series of letters written by Gary Halbert while he was in prison, to his son. It is held up as a significant piece of work in the copywriting field.

The thing I struggled to get past is that it is not discussed why Halbert was in prison. My guess is that it is something to do with fraud. Fraud from his copywriting. And therefore I am sceptical about how much to take from his work.

However, there is good stuff on here. There is a relentless focus on finding buyers, rather than making a product. Everything stems from finding the marketing opportunity first. And there is some practical advice on how to do it.

He also offers advice as to how to make someone feel special. To explain to them why they have been selected for such an amazing offer and create a sense of scarcity.

The letters made some important points. However, whether it adds as much value as books like Ca$hvertising and How To Write A Good Advertisement, I’m not sure.

A Woman in Berlin

May 5th, 2017 | Books

Let it never be said that I do not listen to my wife. Elina said I should read A Woman in Berlin and I did. And I’m glad because it is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.

It reads like a novel, but it is, in fact, a real-life memoir of a woman who lived in Berlin during the Second World War. It tells the story of the Soviet invasion and the rape of an estimated two million German women.

It’s not something you hear about a lot. We did the world wars extensively in school. But most of it focuses on the fighting, or on the British side of things. This is only to be expected when you are in Britain. And we did cover All Quiet on the Western Front, which gives a German perspective of things.

Two million is a lot of rapes, though. It seems like that deserves mention. But even in Germany, it was rarely talked about, and it was only the re-publication of this book that brought it into the spotlight.

There is not a great deal of graphic detail. It is just the story of one woman getting on with life. A life that involves having your property stolen, being taken by two soldiers on the stairs, and being forced to prostitute yourself to a Soviet officer to get protection from the rest of them.

Certainly worth a read. I even based a chunk of my 2017 public speaking world championship speech on it.

Smartcuts

May 4th, 2017 | Books

In Smartcuts: The Breakthrough Power of Lateral Thinking Shane Show presents his ideas for her you can shortcut your way to success by working smarter, not harder.

He starts by taking about the video game Super Mario. How did his friend turn the record time for completing the game from 30 minutes to 6? He used the tubes that the game designers put in for easier testing. Whether or not this is relevant, I’m not sure. But who doesn’t love Super Mario?

Lateral thinking plays a part. For example, Great Ormond Street wanted to reduce the number of children who were dying (not that it was loads, but ideally you want it to be none). So they brought in the Ferrari Formula One pit crew. They learnt how Ferrari work seamlessly as a team and took lessons from it.

Snow argues that being the prime mover is not that important. According to his figures, only 11% first movers stay ahead in the long term. This is because fast followers can copy what has come before and are not held back by the initial technical problems.

He also makes a case for pattern spotting. The best surfers spend a long time learning to spot the perfect wave so that when it comes, they know which one to hit. Similarly, as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to spot the best opportunities so that you can ride the wave of success without wasting time on those that will take you nowhere.

Mentoring is also important. Find someone who has the success you want, and get their advice.

It’s an interesting read, but I’m not sure I took a huge amount away from it. I normally have a lot of notes at the end of a book, and I didn’t have a huge amount from Smartcuts. But maybe I just need to re-read it to take it all in.

Do More, Worry Less published

May 3rd, 2017 | Books, News

I’m pleased to announce the launch of Do More, Worry Less: Small Steps to Reduce Your Anxiety. As of yesterday, it is available in the Worfolk Anxiety web store, as well as via Amazon and iTunes.

Like any book, it takes a long time to put together. Arguably, this was a quick one: it’s taken me over six months, but the restaurant guide took years. However, it has been a long time in the making. The research in the book has taken years to accumulate. And there is a lot of it. 291 footnotes and citations to be exact.

The book takes you on a journey, exploring what anxiety is, why it prevents us from reaching our goals and the proven strategies and tactics to overcome these problems and hit your targets. It then explores every aspect of lifestyle: exercise, diet, sleep, relaxation, personal growth, relationships and community to find the things that improve your mental health and what to do about them.

You can find out more about the book here.

I’ve found a new monger!

April 28th, 2017 | Life

As everyone knows, there are four primary types of monger. A fishmonger, a rumour monger, an ironmonger and a warmonger.

I turned out to be a popular phone-in on Alan Partridge’s radio show.

We’re asking, what is the worst monger? Iron, fish… rumour… or war?

But, last week, my world was turned on its head. There is a fifth kind of monger! A “costermonger”. Here is the description from Wikipedia:

Costermonger, coster, or costard is a street seller of fruit and vegetables, in London and other British towns. Costermongers were ubiquitous in mid-Victorian England, and some are still found in markets. As usual with street-sellers, they would use a loud sing-song cry or chant to attract attention. The costermonger’s cart might be stationary at a market stall, or mobile (horse-drawn or wheelbarrow).

What an age to be alive.

The Worst-Case Scenario

April 27th, 2017 | Public Speaking

My speech for the 2017 international speech contest was entitled “The Worst-Case Scenario” and told the story of how things going wrong can so often produce our greatest achievements.

Club contest

I managed to see off some tough competition in the form of Simon and Paul at the club level. People say that the club level is often the most difficult to win. This is often attributed to questionable quality judging, but I think it has more to do with the amazing speakers we have at Leeds City.

Area contest

For the Area 15 final, I decided I had to sort my outfit out. If I was going to speak about running, I needed to be a runner.

As it turned out, the evaluation contest was taking place before the speech contest. So I quickly had to change back into my civvies and then get changed again.

Division contest

At the Division E final in Birmingham, the story ends. I didn’t even place. I’m a pretty bitter loser. It’s frustrating because the only feedback people ever offer is “I loved your speech”.

It robs Toastmasters of it’s most important ingredient: the feedback that allows you to grow. And it also makes you question whether there is much objectivity to what we are doing.

Or maybe it conforms to Robert Pirsig’s definition of quality and is simply incredible. We know a great speech when we see one but we can’t say why. The magic eludes me, but it doesn’t seem to based on sound fundamentals.

Still, that’s the talk of a loser. Onwards and upwards.

And, on the plus side, it did make a nice road trip for Venla.

Why optimise your Facebook ads for conversions?

April 26th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

When creating Facebook ads, you can choose a variety of campaign objectives: website traffic, clicks, conversions, purchases, leads, page likes, the list goes on.

For most campaigns, you will be choosing between clicks and conversions. Some people have suggested it doesn’t make much difference. But my testing disagrees. We’ve seen a large amount of difference between who clicks and who converts.

The audiences are different

Over at Restaurant Psychology we have a survival checklist to help restaurants owners create a great experience. It is a pared down version of my book Why Restaurants Fail – And What To Do About It. To promote it, I launched a Facebook ad.

It’s not a fancy design. I tried fancy designs, and this converts better.

To start with, I wanted to make sure everything was working and that people responded to the advert. So I set up a campaign with the objective of clicks. The audience responded well, and we achieved around a 3% click-thru rate, which is pretty kick-ass for Facebook.

What is perhaps more interesting though, is that it was predominantly women who were clicking on the ad.

What happens when we changed the objective?

Once this was done, I set up a new campaign. This one had the objective of getting conversions. That means it was optimised for people to sign-up to get the checklist, rather than just click on the ad. Facebook went to work and found these people.

And they were different.

Despite the fact that women were more likely to click on the advert, they almost never signed up to get the checklist. They made up 62% of the clicks, but only 4% of the conversions.

What is going on here?

Facebook is very good at predicting what a user will do. Scarily good.

And it knows that, for example, women are more likely to click on my advert, while men are far more likely to sign-up when they do click on it. Therefore, it delivers the advert to a very different audience based on what campaign objective I choose.

What objective should you choose for your campaign?

What objective you pick will depend on what you want to happen. If you want clicks, choose clicks. If you want conversions, choose conversions. But make sure you know what you want before you launch the campaign because it does matter.

How to serve .well-known on Heroku

April 22nd, 2017 | Programming

If you want to use Apple Pay on your website, you need to serve a file from inside the .well-known directory. This is a nightmare.

For a start, you can’t create a directory called .well-known on Mac. So you have to find another solution. mod_rewrite to the rescue perhaps? You may be able to get this working, but I couldn’t. I just got a 403 permission denied on Heroku.

client denied by server configuration: /app/public/.well-known

So I decided to try Alias instead.

This was easy to configure on my localhost. I created a directory without the period and then used Alias to map it.

Alias "/.well-known" "/Users/me/Projects/ProjectName/well-known"

To configure it in Heroku, I created a custom Apache configuration file.

Alias "/.well-known" "${HEROKU_APP_DIR}/well-known"

And then configured my Procfile to load this.

web: vendor/bin/heroku-php-apache2 -C heroku-apache.conf public/

So far, so good. Except this didn’t work either because I had not given the directory permission in the Apache config. So I expanded my custom config file.

<Directory "${HEROKU_APP_DIR}/well-known">
    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride All
    Require all granted
</Directory>

This got it working. However, it took my homepage offline. It seems that when you include a custom Apache configuration file, it knocks out the standard DirectoryIndex that Heroku has. Or, there is something else really obviously wrong that I am missing. That’s entirely possible, but I haven’t spotted it yet.

And I did manage to fix it by adding in a new DirectoryIndex to my .htaccess file.

DirectoryIndex index.php

Finally, you have Heroku serving the directory correctly.